When Wilkes-Barre resident and author Kenny Luck, 27, told friends and family that he was writing about the controversial figures and events that often take the spotlight in northeastern Pennsylvania, he was met with some hesitation.
Luck said that he hasn’t taken any backlash on his positions in the recently published “Nepatized! Behind the People and Controversies That Define Us and How Things Can Change,” but he did say that those close to him suggested that he not write about figures like local businessman Louis DeNaples.
“Since the book is out, it’s been the complete opposite. I haven’t heard from any of my foes. I’ve been getting nothing but positive e-mails and reviews for the book,” Luck said. “I’m starting to think that maybe I’ve silenced the people that were coming out against me.”
“Nepatized!” borders on the controversial itself in digging up new and old information on subjects like DeNaples, the so-called Luzerne County “Christmas Display Incident” and the rise of the Tea Party. Luck spent several months interviewing the people behind them, getting their perspective on the events that made them locally famous for even the shortest of times.
Luck, who is a contributing writer to Go Lackawanna, said the idea for the book began in 2008 when the CD player in his car had broken. Without the financial means to repair it, he tuned in to local talk radio stations.
“There was a lot going on in the papers about Bishop Martino, and the ‘Kids for Cash’ scandal started a few months later,” he said. “At the same time that these big stories started happening, I started paying attention.”
Through saved copies of newspaper articles and his own interviews from March to May 2010, Luck began to craft the tone for “Nepatized!”
The most difficult chapter to write, he said, was the one focused on public corruption and the so-called “Kids for Cash” scandal involving the Luzerne County judiciary. Because litigation in the case was ongoing during the time he wrote, Luck had to rely on media reports and court records and was not able to conduct any of his own interviews.
“I had to be a little more creative in terms of finding information that was objective and correct,” he said.
He said he particularly enjoyed writing the chapters on former Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino; then-Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, now a United States congressman; and WILK personality Steve Corbett.
“Those were the three that were the first subjects I thought of,” he said. “I got a lot of amusement out of it, including some of the things like the Martino Monologues or the Common Corbett Fallacies (each topic headings in respective chapters on the men).”
Against his original intent, Luck said he sometimes found sympathy for those affected by drilling in the Marcellus Shale region and other interview subjects.
“Doing the book almost turned me into more of an activist,” Luck said. “You start interviewing people and you want to stay objective, but then your heart starts to go out to the people that were suffering through a lot of these issues – people getting fired or getting threats and things like that.”
Booksignings for “Nepatized!” with author Kenny Luck are set for the following dates:
• April 22, Barnes & Noble, 421 Arena Hub Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, 7 to 9 p.m. Details: (570) 829-4210
• May 6, Northern Light Espresso Bar, 536 Spruce St., Scranton, TIME. Details: (570) 342-3200.