Hailing from a long line of skilled communicators, Kathleen Kinsolving was inspired to chronicle the vivid and varied life and work of her father—one of the longest serving members of the Washington Press Corps—after helping write a film about the notorious death cult his reporting exposed.
Like the children of many giant-sized personalities, Kathleen forged her own colorful career path. She was born in Pasco, Washington, the same town where Rev. Les Kinsolving’s church was burned down a few years after his fiery sermon, “The Damnable Doctrine of Damnation,” sparked enough controversy to catch the attention of Time Magazine.
Raised primarily in Berkeley, California, during the turbulent 1960s, Kathleen moved to the east coast after finishing high school to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and, later, New York University’s film school.
Returning to California to write screenplays, film essays, and news stories, the descendent of reverends, bishops, actors, authors, poets and reporters co-wrote the movie treatment for Madman in Our Midst: Jim Jones and the California Cover. The bizarre story that ended in mass suicide—doled out in a poison-laced flavored drink—is well known today. But when Les Kinsolving first investigated Jim Jones, the cult leader had many protectors and apologists. The film left Kathleen fielding a flurry of question about doing a book on her dad. She knew his broadcasting career eclipsed his own memoir-writing motivations, so Kathleen took up the task, certain that the tale would hold humor, history, and controversy. Now married to Kevin Willmann, a Texans blues guitarist and conservative blogger, and the mother of a son, Spencer Thomas, she lives in Reston, Virginia and teaches English and journalism at Centreville High School in Clifton, Virginia.