Lake Geneva resident may be best known for growing up Catholic in Chi-Town
The many faces of Lake Geneva author and motivational speaker John Powers. Terry Mayer/staff.
LAKE GENEVA -- He'll spin a dozen anecdotes in 15 minutes, ranging from his feelings on Facebook and a dinner with Roger Ebert to the universe and eternity. John Powers' quicksilver tongue and rapid-fire mind are, to many, the mark of a creative, inquisitive writer.
But to a few people, they're signs of something else.
Years ago as a guest on "Oprah," Powers listened as an audience member told him about her son's attention deficit disorder.
"I said, 'That's too bad,'" Powers recalled. "She said, 'What do you mean too bad? You have it."
If Powers' boundless energy gives him the appearance of ADD, it's also led him to venues ranging from producing his own musical to founding a motivational speakers' institute.
"Someone said to me a few months ago, 'You've really reinvented yourself a number of times,'" he said. "I never thought of it that way. I just get bored quickly."
Powers held an impromptu interview at Caribou Coffee last month, just blocks from his home, a three-story Victorian on Main Street, where he lives with his actress wife, JaNelle. He's a familiar face at the coffee house, where he's greeted by a handful of patrons.
He's arguably most known for a trilogy of novels written in the mid-1970s that detail the life of a young man growing up Catholic on the Southside of Chicago: "Last Catholic in America," "The Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice Cream God," and "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect up?"
For the last 20 years, Powers has been an inspirational speaker, talking to about 90 companies, organizations and community groups across the county in a year.
Read the full story in the Jan. 21, 2010 edition of Weekender Turn to page 8.