By 2010, the book business was beginning to feel the squeeze of cheap, easily shared digital books. After 9-11, publishers drastically reduced their advances and few authors were making a living doing what they loved. When a chance came to publish with Sweetwater Books, a small regional publisher, Kenny saw it as perhaps his last opportunity to have someone else foot the bill for a book. With Sweetwater, he published The Wise Man Returns, a return to his "Parables of the Carpenter" world, only this time the main character is a soothsayer astrologer in the court of the Egyptian governor in Alexandria who, reading the signs in the stars, finds his way to Jerusalem to honor the newborn king. It is he who takes Joseph and Mary and the child to Egypt, where they dwell for a time. And it is he who returns thirty years later to ascertain what has become of the promising child who was born to be king of the Jews.
Always fascinated by the relationship between fathers and sons, in 2012 Kenny returned to the short form with Dad, Are You There? a parable about the cycles in a male's life and what it takes to become a man.
Beginning in 2011, Kenny edited and contributed to a collection of short stories for Parables for Today, which features the winners of a contest he sponsored in partnership with Cedar Fort Books. The book contains twenty-five modern parables dealing with timeless principles but placed in modern settings. As the participants learned, writing a parable is a true art form.
Fifteen years ago, unable to find a publisher for his first novel, Kenny Kemp self-published I Hated Heaven, the story of a believer who finds himself in the afterlife with unfinished business on earth: to keep a promise he made to his wife that if there really was a God, he’d come back and tell her.
After selling thousand of copies from the trunk of his car later, Kenny started on his next project, a memoir about his father titled Dad Was a Carpenter, which went on to win the International Self-Published Book Award in 1999, sponsored by Writers’ Digest magazine.
Shortly thereafter, publishing giant HarperCollins purchased the reprint rights to Dad Was a Carpenter and signed Kenny to a multi-book deal to write the “Parables of the Carpenter,” a book series, in which Kenny placed the young carpenter from Nazareth in the very parables he would later teach in his ministry. In books such as The Welcoming Door and City on a Hill, Kenny fleshed out a unique vision of Jesus’ “lost years,” elucidating the parables of the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, the unjust judge, the talents, and several others.
A foray into fantasy followed, with Oki’s Island, a parable about the search for faith among the isles of the South Pacific. Moving further afield—his writing interests following his reading interests—Kenny then wrote Lightland, a sci-fi thriller about a man whose six thousand year-old mummy is cloned, and his soul, dwelling in the afterlife with his family, is wrenched back into mortality to inhabit a familiar body in an unfamiliar world. Lightland also deals with issues of belief, as the scientists who clone the protagonist must come to terms with the undeniable existence of the soul.