Loving You Always
By Kennedy Ryan
Author Interview and Book Giveaway!
Loving You Always-Book 2 of author Kennedy Ryan's trilogy is set to release this October 7th! I had the opportunity to speak with her and find out what made her begin writing. Her back story is one with tons of footnotes and a story that is all BUT fiction. With 25% of her royalties going to resourcing families living with Autism, her charitable partners include Myles-A-Part, which she established in 2008 and runs, and Talk About Curing Autism (TACA).
Author Gives back to families living with autism
Catheryn: So I read you were a journalist before becoming a romance writer, how hard was it to "break" into that area of writing?
Kennedy Ryan: My degree is in Journalism – Public Relations. I didn’t write for newspapers or television. I wrote for non-profit organizations a lot, did some ghost writing. Programming and event planning for non-profits and churches, mostly. I knew I wanted to write fiction, but didn’t expect it to happen as quickly as it did. Well, I say quickly. I put it off for a decade while I was taking care of my son and starting my foundation for families living with autism. But about two years ago, I wrote the story which was just published, When You Are Mine. I pitched to one agent, she signed me, and to one editor. She acquired the book. It was a quick process for me, but I know it isn’t that way for most people. It has its pros and cons. The learning curve was enormous because I had not been in the world of publishing. Kind of got thrown into the deep end!
Catheryn: Did you find it difficult to continue the Bennett story to fill 3 books? And was that the initial plan?
Kennedy Ryan: Filling books is never the challenge. It’s always cutting for me! I write long, so I always have deleted scenes and a cutting room floor covered with stuff I didn’t use. I wrote books 1 and 2 of the Bennetts series as one story originally. It was more than 600 pages. The publisher basically let me know the only way we’d have a deal was to make it two books, obviously. They offered a 3-book deal, but I only had 2 books! At first, it took me awhile to find the story for book 3. I just handed it in to my editor, and will say it is my favorite of the series.
Catheryn: I also read that you have two other projects in the works now that you have completed the Bennett trilogy, how are those works coming along? I'm personally really interested in the one concerning your families journey with Autism.
Kennedy Ryan: I have several irons in the fictional fire. All at various stages of development. Two books I have written and am revising for my agent to pitch. One is women’s fiction and one is New Adult. Other books I’m ideating, researching, spending time with the characters to see who talks the loudest and pushes their way to the front of the line.
The non-fictional book about my family’s journey with autism is probably one of the most exciting things on the horizon. Our story will be the backdrop, but not the point. I’ll focus not on how you deal with autism, as much as how you face life challenges. Make the most of hurts and difficult experiences. How to survive, thrive and mature through adversity.
Catheryn:: Are their any major corporations that contribute to the Myles-A-Part foundation or is it all mostly small private donation driven?
Kennedy Ryan: We are a small foundation focused on Georgia families. Most of our funding is from private donations. Bubba Cathy, VP of Chic-Fil-A underwrites all expenses for our married couples retreats. Otherwise, it’s all small, individual donations.
Catheryn: I see 10K in scholarships will be granted for medical expenses, is this new or the amount? That is amazing! Between how many families will this be split?
Kennedy Ryan: We have done these scholarships and stipends before. It varies based on availability of funds. The $10,000 will be split among 20 families, mainly to offset summer camp expenses, or other services families may need a little assistance with.
Catheryn: How is your son Myles? Did you go the "Normal" therapy routes, any out of the box stuff?
Kennedy Ryan: Myles is doing well. He is happy. He has not made as much progress as we had hoped when we started this journey 11 years ago. And, yes, we’ve done the diet, ABA, speech & OT, hyperbaric chamber, sensory therapy, brain balance, biomedical treatments. The works, but autism, for us at least, has remained a mountain moving only incrementally. We are grateful for the gains he has made, and will continue to press for more progress. We never give up hope.
Catheryn: How do you see Autism awareness coming along in your state/ more needed? Acceptance? How are services now as compared to when Myles was first diagnosed?
Kennedy Ryan: Things are WAY better than they were 11 years ago. I think because it has become so pervasive, people’s awareness is much higher, which makes more people educated and sensitive. Also, services have improved. We need broader services, though, here. A lot of the services are concentrated in certain parts of the state, and less in others. I think our most pressing concern is getting Ava’s Law passed in Georgia, which would secure insurance coverage for some of the treatments we know work, but are still not covered. It didn’t make it up for the vote last year, so we’re all working hard to ensure this year it does! Most people don’t realize how crippling the costs associated with therapies and medical expenses are. Our families are struggling to get their children the services they need. A condition this pervasive, affecting this many, should have more and better support.
Catheryn: Where do you see the foundation in 5, 10 years? Any plans to expand to other states?
Kennedy Ryan: You know, I’m a bit of a workaholic. Always have been, and when I told my husband I wanted to start the foundation, he and I made a deal. We agreed that I would only do what I could do well, without the care and energy I need to devote to my own son waning or suffering. And I gave him permission to step in and tell me when it wasn’t working for our family; if it ever detracted from what he or Myles needed from me. We have volunteers, but I manage a lot of things still and have never taken a salary. I worked a full time job and managed the foundation. I think as I am less involved in the day-to-day, and strategic positions are filled, we may consider expanding. I don’t feel any pressure to, though. I like being a boutique instead of a department store. There are huge organizations doing huge things. I have no desire, nor do I see the need, to replicate their efforts. I have identified a need in marriages, for single parents and funding that isn’t being broadly acknowledged or serviced. That is where we fit. That is our little niche, and we help the people we assist deeply and significantly. I am fine with that for now. We’ll see about the future.
In talking with Kennedy, it felt like talking with an old friend. No matter how profoundly affected a family may be by autism, we all have a bond that is undeniable. This recent surge of children that has been hit with autism is the model for awareness and acceptance and we have had to learn each of our individual's road map along the way, all trying to reach the Same destination.
Her families struggles and their triumphs just goes to show what a determined and amazing unit they are and the continued help they give to their community through their foundation is one of pure devotion and compassion for those affected by autism. To live with a family member affected by autism takes tons of work and dedication even with the lightest affected, the more extreme cases, it's a whole other ball game . Loss of relationships, financial security, self and the child you had dreams of raising and the fear of what their future will hold. It's with the generosity of people like Kennedy that families affected by Autism can seek a bit of relief and find support to continue their daily lives with a renewed outlook.
I would like to thank Kennedy for taking the time to talk with me, for her selfless dedication to helping other families that are living with Autism and for writing books that are a gateway of escape for so many and that in return help fund Myles-A-Part. OXOX
1-Winner will receive a copy of Kennedy Ryan's First Book - When you Are Mine and the latest Release of
Loving you Always
Click on the links below to order your copy, find out more about the first book, or read the reviews.
You're invited! Celebrate LOVING YOU ALWAYS with Kennedy Thursday, October 9 at her release party! - CLICK HERE
Be Mine Forever,the final book in the trilogy, releases in February 2015, all through Grand Central's Forever Romance imprint.A