When it comes to his first self-published fiction novel, Kevin Zdrill is happy to kiss and tell. At least, to a point.
The Royalwood resident has released No Kiss Good-Night, which features numerous Winnipeg communities — including Corydon Avenue, Osborne Village, The Exchange District and The Forks — and landmarks and establishments past and present.
The story centres around Zdrill’s main protagonist, Gus, a relationship counsellor approaching his 40th birthday who is looking for his true love through a dating service.
"This book basically points to a man turning 40, which is a milestone in his life," said Zdrill, who worked in the financial services industry for nearly 20 years before changing direction to become a mental health clinician with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
"His twenties are long gone, his thirties have flown by and he’s staring at his fifties. So for a lot of guys, we take a look at ourselves and take stock of where we are in life," he added, noting Gus is "unattached and wondering if he will ever have a wife and be a father."
"He’s been 10 years out of a relationship and that last relationship has frozen him in time and dictated who he is now. Being a relationship therapist, he’s good at his job, but on a personal level, he falls a little short. Dating has changed a lot in the last 10 years."
Zdrill said an important part of the story is its Winnipeg backdrop, and the book is peppered with retro Winnipeg locations, such as the Bombay Bicycle Club and the Blue Note Café, and the cover features a picture of Gus and a graphic of the street sign at Confusion Corner.
"In the beginning, I considered making the setting generic, but Winnipeg is such a diverse place that I decided it really spoke the character. Winnipeg’s communities are stories within themselves," he said.
"The symbolism of the cover is that it appears that arrows are cutting through half a heart, which represents coming to terms with the past, getting a release from the past and realizing that we need to be who we are in the present and not let the past dictate who we are."
In terms of his writing process, Zdrill tries to write at least a couple of pages of script every day and finds it particularly inspiring to write at his cottage in the Whiteshell Provincial Park area.
"I like creating identifiable, unique characters. Autobiographically, I think there’s always a piece of you in a story. Sometimes it’s subconscious, but it can’t be helped," he said.
The book is available at McNally Robinson, online and also in eBook format. For more information, visit nokissgoodnight.com.
Zdrill is currently finishing the final edits to the sequel to No Kiss Good-Night, which he hopes to release this summer.