An Author Named Kincaid
For Greg Kincaid, writing has brought adventure and success
Published in 2022 Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers magazine on November 8, 2022
Greg Kincaid spends his weekends working on his novels, the most famous of which—a series centered around dogs—have been turned into Hallmark films.
“Writing is my golf,” he says. “Some people hit the course to find Zen; I turn to writing. It’s nice to have that creative space.”
Growing up, Kincaid loved reading and the adventure it brought, and in the ’80s, while at a corporate firm, he tried his hand at writing. His first book, a young adult novel called Death Walk at Acoma—centered on two teens who stumble across a secret, underground military installation—was published in 1993. “It was an updated Hardy Boys kind of thing,” Kincaid says. “Once my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins bought copies, that was about it. Writing is a tough business—worse than the law.”
Around the time he opened a solo practice, Kincaid became committed to literacy advocacy—especially when it comes to children. While representing troubled children, he often visited jails, halfway houses, and treatment centers. At each location he noticed one stark similarity: “I visited these places, and I would notice these large, empty bookcases—not a single book on them,” he says.
So Kincaid decided to help: first, by organizing 5K and 10K races and asking people to bring books with their entry fees, and then by reaching out to school and library officials. “When the library system realized they were missing an important part of their population, they stepped in and I became superfluous to the task,” he says.
In his own writing, Kincaid’s break came with A Dog Named Christmas, which won a Genesis Award from the Humane Society of the United States for raising public awareness for shelter dogs.
“I had very low expectations, even though Random House is a big publisher. They said they’d run 15,000 copies, and that sounded like a lot,” Kincaid recalls. “It ended up selling well over 100,000. Every day was just amazing—getting calls like ‘Walmart just bought 25,000 copies,’ or ‘It’s going to be published in Italy, Germany and France.’ It was a rocket ride. I hit a home run, and while I’ve hit a few doubles and triples since, it’s very hard to replicate that kind of success.”
When People magazine reviewed the book unfavorably, saying it read like a Hallmark movie, Kincaid got an idea: “Hallmark is based in Kansas City, so I reached out to them and pitched the idea. They loved it.”
The movie aired in 2009, and in 2012, a prequel, Christmas with Tucker, was also released as a Hallmark film. He has since written two more A Dog Named Christmas books, but things at Hallmark have shifted.
“The first one was done by Hallmark Hall of Fame, which was a top-notch production,” Kincaid says. “Hallmark Channel did the second movie, and while it’s owned in part by the Hallmark company, it’s a different deal and has morphed away from family movies to more romance.”
Within the series, there are many parallels with Kincaid’s own life; he snuck each of his kids’ names into the books. “When I was growing up, I really enjoyed the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories of what it was like in Kansas in the last century. It dawned on me that farm life is very different today than when I was a kid. So I wanted someone to pick up, say, the Tucker book, and get a feel for what it might’ve been like to live and work on a farm in the ’60s.”
Around the time of A Dog Named Christmas’ release, Kincaid began a pet-fostering concept in his Kansas community nearly identical to the one described in the book, where people could adopt a dog for a week. With the backing of Hallmark, Petfinder, Random House and CBS, Kincaid estimates 30,000 dogs were adopted that holiday season.
“What we found, contrary to some people’s assumptions, [was that] nobody sends those dogs back: They have a home forever, not just for the holidays,” he says.
As for the future, Kincaid has three books in various stages. The next one you’re likely to see with his byline, however, is a children’s picture book. “It’s about a girl struggling to learn to read, and the dog who helps her,” he says. “It’s tentatively called A Dog Named Holiday.”
A Book Named Mockingbird
It’s a cliché, Kincaid admits, but the novel that made him want to become both a lawyer and writer is To Kill a Mockingbird. “If you’re a lawyer and haven’t been impacted by reading that book, what’s wrong with you?”