Kerry Zukus – Musician, playwright, businessman, politician… Novelist. In his debut novel, The Fourth House, Kerry has written about what he knows well – the desires of escape, ambition, forgiveness, secrets, lies, sexual mores, and the pull of coming home again. As the son of a church organist and grandson of a coal miner, Kerry grew up in Frackville, Pennsylvania, a town with a “population of 4,000 and shrinking.” Born in a hospital founded by the father of author John O’Hara (Appointment in Samara, Pal Joey, Butterfield 8), Kerry has returned to invade his literary idol’s “Pennsylvania Protectorate;” picking up, so to speak, where the late Mr. O’Hara left off.
Fleeing this small town in Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region (known to its natives simply as “the region”), Kerry matriculated at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, counting among his classmates and friendly acquaintances Melissa Ethridge, Branford Marsalis, Aimee Mann, and Steve Vai. Most of his other classmates are now driving cabs.
Long a fixture on the New England theatre scene as an actor, director, and musician, he eventually developed into a frustrated composer, lyricist, and playwright. Developing into a frustrated Red Sox fan goes without saying (how many people can say they were actually AT the Bucky Dent game?). Since his Boston days, he has created THE HONEYMOONERS…THE MUSICAL, the greatest Broadway musical never heard. Also in development are two other musicals, BACKSTREET, based upon the novel by Fannie Hurst, and FOOLISH LOVE, an original story. He has been commissioned by famed impresario Sid Bernstein to bring his autobiography to the musical stage. Entitled HYSTERIA!, it is the story of Mr. Bernstein and Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles, and the behind-the-scenes story of their bringing the Beatles to the world and the bittersweet aftermath.
Finding that one can make a killing in the arts but rarely a living, Kerry met a nice girl and moved from Boston to Red Bank, New Jersey, where he became a slightly less frustrated entrepreneur and businessman. Ironically, having successfully escaped a hometown on the decline, he found himself in another as an adult, one derisively referred to at the time as “Dead Bank.” Demonstrating leadership first as a citizen volunteer and then entering elected politics as a city councilman, Kerry created Red Bank RiverCenter, a Special Improvement District that so revitalized the municipality that New Jersey Magazine called it, “The Hippest Town in New Jersey.”
Regarded today as an expert in urban and downtown revitalization, Kerry has entertained dignitaries from as far away as Australia, Japan, and Great Britain, has spoken extensively on this subject, including serving as a guest lecturer at Rutgers’ Graduate School of Planning and Public Policy, and is featured in the textbook Business Improvement Districts by Lawrence O. Houstoun, Jr.
Today, Kerry continues to write plays, songs, and musicals, finds it far less frustrating, and is in the midst of his next novel, a paean to another of his great loves: baseball. He is the proud father of two boys who are far smarter than he is.