Kinder has published several books, including Snakehunter, Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale, and Last Mountain Dancer: Hard Earned Lessons in Love, Loss, and Honky Tonk Outlaw Life. Kinder, who lists coal miner, moonshiner, bartender, bouncer, bandit, prizefighter, circus performer, tango teacher, white-water river guide, and cowboy among his previous job titles, read from the prologue and first chapter of the latter book, which, he admits is “full of lies”.
To gather stories for the book, Kinder said he would find a clean motel in a small West Virginia town and hang out at the local diners and bars. To get things started, he often told people he was a relative of Hank Williams, which Kinder admitted is not exactly accurate.
Kinder said he learned the art of storytelling by listening to his aunts (pronounced “ants” of course) and grandmother in the family kitchen when he was a boy in the Huntington area of West Virginia. He said they were fantastic storytellers who would often add new “memories” to enhance stories. If grandma approved, the memories might become part of the official tale to be retold time and again at similar gatherings. In this way, Kinder said, he learned he could “change history” through the technique of “faction” (part fact and part fiction), which makes a story juicier and more memorable.
Kinder admitted his regret that his book was not fully banned in Beckley as was his friend Lee Maynard’s book Crum. “That was the best thing that ever happened to that book,” said Kinder. “That got everyone interested and he sold a million copies.”
Kinder closed by saying that West Virginian’s should stop being defensive about being labeled hillbillies. He said that West Virginians should be proud and happy that they are not bland like the rest of the country. He also lauded the great West Virginia and Appalachian storytelling traditions.