Hello SASSE Readers, let’s welcome Kennedy Ryan to our SASSE World. Pull up a chair and tell me if you prefer pizza or grilled chicken salad on fresh spinach leaves for our little chat.
Kennedy: Unfortunately, pizza is my all-time favorite food! Toppings: feta, mushrooms & spinach, please! J
SASSE: Oh, yes, serve me up a slice. My daughter and I have it every Friday. Now that our mouths are full of ooey-gooey, cheesy delight, tell the readers a little about yourself. How did you get into writing? Have you always thought you would be a romance writer?
Kennedy: I always knew I would write fiction. As a little girl, while the other kids were playing kick ball, I would go to my grandmother’s back porch, use her mop as my long-haired heroine, and make up stories. I started writing poetry, editorials, short stories for newspapers in high school, and my degree is in journalism, so I got sidetracked by true stories for awhile. I still do some non-fiction, but am really enjoying writing love stories.
SASSE: What was the first romance book you ever read? What did you think? What was your first impression of the genre?
Kennedy: Gosh, I think it was Kathleen Woodiwiss, The Wolf and the Dove. I was blown away. I love history, so the medieval era fascinated me. And I loved Wulfgar, of course. Woodiwiss is a pioneer in the romance genre, so I started with the best! I had to smuggle them into my house because my mom wouldn’t let me read them. So they were always tucked under mattresses and stashed in closets. I devoured them. I’d read literally until the sun came up, roll out of bed, go right to school. I loved them.
SASSE: How did you come up with the idea about the Bennett series?
Kennedy: I had put my dream of writing fiction on the shelf. My son has autism, and assisting him and then starting a foundation for families living with autism consumed the last decade of my life. Everything I read was about Autism and advocacy. My son, like a lot of ASD kids, adores water, and during the summer, we are at some body of water every night. Two summers ago, it was the Chatahoochee River. This scene came to me of a girl standing between these two best friends ready to come to blows over her. I started fleshing that out every night we’d go, and their story took place in a fictional town called Rivermont, inspired by those long summer nights entertaining my son by the river.
SASSE: Are there more Bennetts to come after the first two?
Kennedy: Oh, gosh, yes. Well, one more. I just turned book 3, BE MINE FOREVER, in to my editor. It releases on my son’s birthday, February 3! It is part of the series, but will be able to be read as a standalone.
SASSE: Contemporary romance is a classic, what do bring in your stories to keep it fresh?
Kennedy: I like to step outside of some of the boxes people expect. I don’t rescue my characters from those situations that make them, and often the reader, uncomfortable. For example, and you could find this out in a preview on Amazon, so it’s not much of a spoiler. WHEN YOU ARE MINE opens with the hero, Walsh, offering the best man toast at his best friend’s wedding…to the heroine, Kerris. The woman Walsh is in love with. I tell you from the beginning, this is going to be messy. No one is going to stop this wedding at the last minute. She’s going through with it, and you’ll have to sort this out with me. I think making those decisions, taking those turns that readers don’t expect, keeps things fresh. I also love diverse casts. So often, stories are homogenous, which is fine, but we are less and less homogenous as a society. The lines are blurrled and blended. I choose to write stories that reflect those different hues and that cultural shift. Kerris and Cam, her husband, are both multi-racial characters. It is mentioned, you know it, but it is not the focal point of the story. You’ll always find characters of diverse backgrounds in my books.
SASSE: In When You are Mine, Kerris and Walsh has such strong chemistry and found themselves in a situation that seems impossible. How hard of a challenge was it to write such a complicated love situation as theirs? Make readers root for them.
Kennedy: The first thing I had to do was set aside my judgments. I allowed the story to unfold between them without judging their emotions. I was also very disciplined in how much of Cam’s, Kerris’s husband and Walsh’s best friend’s, perspective you were allowed as readers. When you only hear from Walsh and Kerris, it becomes easier to sympathize with them because you are a part of their struggle. How hard they fight their feelings for one another. So many readers said they hated how I made them want something they shouldn’t want: For Kerris to choose Walsh over her husband. I would never want that in real life either! But I needed readers to feel the pull as strongly as the characters did so they would understand the tension they’re experiencing.
SASSE: Tell the readers what they can expect with book two Loving You Always when it comes out October 7th.
Kennedy: Book 1 is pretty angsty. There is more of that, but you can expect a lot of growth from these characters. The three books span about six years. Book 1 introduces the characters at their genesis. They are the most immature in this first book, fresh out of college. LOVING YOU ALWAYS picks up mere weeks after WHEN YOU ARE MINE ends. Kerris especially has to figure out what she really wants, how to make things right in the wake of mistakes she made. Everything comes to a head in this book. It is not an easy road to happily ever after, wherever she lands, and there are no easy choices. Everyone will be hurt, and she has to take responsibility for her feelings and actions.
SASSE: Thank you Kennedy, this has been just delightful to sit back with you and learn a little more about you and your story.
SASSE READERS DON'T MISS THE PARTY AND CONTEST!!
Two-Week Book Party!!
There’s a group reading WHEN YOU ARE MINE together! Everyone in the group qualifies to win a $100 VISA Gift Card, or a prize pack of signed books from Kristen Ashley, Jill Shalvis, Rochelle Alers, and Jessica Sorensen. We’ll award prizes EVERY DAY! Great guest authors will make appearances EVERY DAY!
Just join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1465306783742747/
Learn more about Kennedy Ryan:
Kennedy Ryan writes contemporary romance and women's fiction. She always give her characters their happily ever after, but loves to make them work for it! In an alternative universe and under her government issue name, Tina Dula, she is a wife to the love of her life, mom to a special, beautiful son, and a friend to those living with autism through her foundation Myles-A-Part, serving Georgia families.
Her writings on Autism have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, and she has been featured on the Montel Williams Show, NPR, Headline News and others. She is splitting 25% of her royalties between donations for her foundation, and to her national charitable partner, Talk About Curing Autism (TACA).