An alumna from UMKC’s Creative Writing MFA program, Anna Kniggendorf, has recently published a book about the more hidden parts of Kansas City.
“Secret Kansas City: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure” is not the typical city guide. Instead of exclusively writing it for tourists, author Anne Kniggendorf marketed it for locals as well.
“As a local journalist, I always try to walk that line,” Kniggendorf said. “I try to think about what it is I can write and how to make it interesting to locals, since that is most of the audience. Because the book is about places I had to hunt for, I knew other locals would also likely not know the stories either.”
Kniggendorf, who has lived in Kansas City for most of her life, says it was not her hometown that inspired her to write the book. Inspiration came via message from a publishing company that fielded the idea to her in 2018.
“I’ve been freelancing in Kansas City in one way or another for about 12 to 13 years,” she said. “Reedy Publishing had apparently been looking for freelance writers in the area to write this book, and eventually found me.”
The publication process was unusual for Kniggendorf. Before she could even begin writing the book, her publisher asked her to create a marketing plan and create a list of things she would include in the book.
“I probably started with about 120 things on that list,” she said. “But after reviewing it and realizing some things didn’t quite make sense, I narrowed it down to 83.”
Before she started writing the book, Kniggendorf exhausted all possible options for information on strange places in Kansas City. She read dozens of local guide books, consulted with librarians and raked through internet articles.
“I even asked strangers wherever I went if they knew about places that had weird backstories,” said Kniggendorf. “Sometimes one story would lead to another, which was really cool.”
For example, there was a grave in Mission, KS, off of Johnson Drive, located right next to a Goodcents store. Finding the placement of a burial site next to a sandwich shop strange, Kniggendorf researched the area. She found that the land used to be a family plot, but commercial lots enveloped it as time passed.
“I’ve found that a lot of the places that we think are weird haven’t always been weird,” she said. “We make them weird by what we put around them.”
“Secret Kansas City” is available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble and in local bookstores. To directly support the author and receive a signed copy, the book can be purchased at annekniggendorf.com.