Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich added "author" to his list of credentials (senator, congressman, mayor, reporter, et al.) with the Phoenix Books release of The Courage to Survive, a stirring, lyrical memoir that details his working-class childhood in a large, struggling Cleveland family.

Nearly every presidential candidate has published a book recently. Did being a Presidential candidate influence the writing of The Courage to Survive?

No, but I was encouraged to tell my story because many thought it was relevant to the strivings of so many people in America today. When people learn that someone can come from a position of being an underdog in life to achieving one's dreams, I think it gives people great encouragement for their own lives.

Can you describe the writing process for The Courage to Survive?

I can’t say that I have a photographic memory, but it’s probably pretty close. I can actually look back in time and I have these mental pictures, and I try to paint a picture in words of what I’m seeing. And it’s fun! There can be a certain amount of pain connected to [reliving one’s childhood], but you get to a point where the pain’s not there, and there’s a great deal of joy in sharing.

What would you like readers and voters to take away from your childhood story?

That it’s possible, through the power of our own hearts—and the heart has enormous power, the power of love, the power of compassion, the powers of courage and determination—to create something new, to apply our creative talents to situations, and suddenly everything changes because you get involved. I have seen from my own life what happens if you just hang in there, and apply your ingenuity and creativity and (in a word from another generation) moxie, and create a different outcome.

How do your early experiences—of hardship, diversity, health issues—shape your vision for the presidency?

When you grow up like I did, where there’s constant chaos and fighting, you learn to love peace, and you also learn that the conflicts we have in our lives aren’t inevitable, it’s not that we’re made that way. People learn violence, and we can also learn nonviolence. Imagine if a President was able to share that lesson with the nation—I think that people would listen. I see us at war; we can have peace. I see us in poverty; we can have plenty. I see people with unemployment; we can get them back to work. I see people without health care; we can have a not-for-profit system. It is possible to envision those things, then to call forth that vision, name it, send it into motion, and create a new world.

My childhood prepared me to lead in a rather unique way because I understand what people go through. I had a chance to grow up in a situation where there were so many different colors to life that it was extraordinary. I am very grateful to have had all those opportunities to surmount adversity. What I never forget is that I didn’t do any of it alone.