Hello! Today at Author Stalker, we have the Amazing Kennedy Ryan. Yes, I call her that. Not just Kennedy Ryan or Miz Ryan, but the Amazing Kennedy Ryan. She is amaze-balls! I had said it before and I will say it again and again. If I put all my favorite authors side by side, the one thing they would have in common is fearlessness. I love writer who dare to write about topics that people want to shove in the dark. The Amazing Kennedy Ryan is one fearless writer.
Me: <waiting for Kennedy and lists down my intel on her> She’s a bestselling author. She is a founder and director of a foundation for autism. She’s been on TV. She made Grip…
Kennedy: Hi Kaydee!
Me: Aghh!!! You scared me. My stalking skills need work. Please sit down. <star struck and just stares at Kennedy…>
Kennedy: You had questions for me?
Me: Oh, yes. Sorry about that. Dunno what happened there. How long have you been writing? Do you write full time or part time?
Kennedy: I’ve been writing for a really long time. LOL!
I started out in Journalism. That’s my degree. My first “professional” writing job was when I was 16 years old. I saw that our newspaper was looking for new editorial writers. Being the presumptuous teen that I was, I thought I’d be perfect for the job! LOL! And I actually got it! So I started writing editorials then and did so until I went to college. I had been writing poetry just for myself since I was maybe 12 years old. Poetry is my first love, but professionally I wrote mostly non-fiction. Freelance writing, some ghost writing, technical writing for non-profit organizations, contributing writer for magazines and Chicken Soup for the Soul
around issues of autism. So it was always non-fiction. I ventured into fiction kind of on a whim, and submitted “this book I wrote” to one editor with a NY publisher, not expecting much response, but they offered me a 3-book deal in 2014. I’ve been writing full-time since then.
Me: Wow. Just wow. What was the first book you published? How did you feel when you published it? Excited? Scared?
Kennedy: My debut novel was WHEN YOU ARE MINE. It felt…surreal. I’d secretly always thought I would try my hand at fiction, but it happened so…easily. I had heard everyone talk about a stack of rejection letters before they were offered a deal, or NEVER being offered a deal. I pitched my novel really as practice at the urging of other authors in my local chapter of RWA in Atlanta. When the publisher offered the deal, I just remember staring at the email for so long like it was a joke. LOL! I was excited, but I was also really naive. I had a lot to learn really fast about how to SELL a book. I knew how to write a book. I’d been kind of preparing for that my whole life. But marketing, selling books, all of that was really new to me. I felt a lot of pressure to figure things out quickly, and just like my “dream” was coming true and I didn’t want to screw it up! LOL! I really had to figure out negotiating the journey of telling your story when you don’t have the ultimate say anymore. A publisher OWNS your book when you sign a deal. So they get to make decisions that really affect how the reader experiences it. I have since started self-publishing, and enjoy both trad and indie publishing, but understand how vastly different those experiences are.
Me: What can you tell us about your new book that is coming out?
Kennedy: I’m so excited (and terrified) about my next book. LONG SHOT is…a sports romance, but definitely different from most of what we’ve seen in sports romance. It’s set in the NBA, and it’s deeply emotional. I don’t want to give away too much, but it addresses some of the current issues we’re wrestling with culturally in the realm of sports. I want women to walk away from this book empowered, understanding the complexity of certain struggles better, and prepared to offer support and grace where we can to each other. I think the thing I hear most consistently from those who enjoy my books is that they are “more than romance.” That isn’t to belittle romance at all. I love that stuff! LOL! I think there is usually something I’m addressing that really undergirds the love story, and probably goes even beyond it. I heard that most about my GRIP series, which was (I hope) an epic love story spanning 3 books and 15 years, but which also addressed issues of social justice, systemic racism and bias, etc…That series really crystallized my voice for me and I think for my readers. LONG SHOT doesn’t deal with those issues at all, but it still tackles something that is current and I want to give voice to; to elucidate from my perspective, at least. You won’t walk away from my books without wrestling with the questions and issues the characters do, and because they are REAL LIFE and current, you find yourself actually thinking about something that is completely relevant. Maybe your eyes are opened some, or maybe you learn or consider something you didn’t before, or maybe you are solidified in what you already thought coming to this reading experience. Whatever the case, you will feel AND think and examine
when you read my books.Or at least I want you to! 😉
Me: Kennedy, you inspire me by just talking. You are amazing (I know I said it multiple times already. Will say it again.). What is your advice to new authors?
Kennedy: My advice to new writers is multi-fold. Please learn to write. It’s not enough just to have this great idea and look around and say, “I bet I could do that.” LOL! Learn how to construct a good story. Storytelling is a craft. Respect it. Work on it. Even though I’ve been writing professionally for 30 years, and hold a journalism degree, when I started writing fiction, I realized it was a different animal. I took craft courses to learn how to tell a good story and to ensure I understood the fundamentals. Read great books! One of the best things you can do for yourself as a writer is make sure you’re reading books that challenge and inspire you. Books that are well-constructed and stories told through unique voices as you find your own. And study the market; the business of being an author. This has always been my weakness! I’m still playing catch up. It’s frustrating to have a great story, but no one can find it or you can’t figure out how to sell it. It takes both sides – the craft and the business/marketing. And find your people! Writing can be a lonely endeavor. Make sure you have a core, no matter how small, of people you can trust when you experience disappointment, which is inevitable, and with whom you can celebrate without worrying they will be jealous or insecure about any success you have, and vice versa. This will extend your life in this business. Help you not to burn out or become disheartened as easily.
Me: Thank you for answering my questions. I’ll see you again at the “A Night of Corruption” book signing in Los Angeles and the LoveNVegas event.
You can learn more about Kennedy Ryan on the following: