Ask the Author: Brian Kennedy
What would you like readers to know about you?
I’m a young adult author who lives in New York City with my husband, our dog, and a pile of unread books that seems to grow faster than I can get through them. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I started a poetry club in 4th grade, and now my first novel is going to be published in the summer of 2022, by HarperCollins / Balzer + Bray.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY is about two boys who are working at Wanda World (a Dollywood-esque theme park) for the summer. Emmett’s a singer-songwriter from Chicago who wants to be the biggest, gayest country music superstar there is. And Luke, an aspiring chef and the grandson of a disgraced Nashville singer, is a Tennessee native who hates country music more than anything. So…of course they meet and fall in love. However, when a long-lost secret about Luke’s grandma and Emmett’s idol (country music legend Wanda Jean Stubbs) comes to light, it threatens to unravel everything. Unless the boys can uncover the truth of what really happened between the two stars, their dreams for the future and new relationship could go down in history as just another Sad Country Love Song.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
Dolly Parton! She was definitely the inspiration for the character of Wanda Jean Stubbs. But really, this book is a love letter to country music and finding your authentic self (in this case, through the lens of sexuality). I didn’t fall in love with country music until my early 20s, which, coincidentally, is also around the time I came out as gay. And while this story is definitely fictional (trust me, you do NOT want to hear me sing), I still put a lot of my own thoughts, feelings, and quirks into it.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
I was a theater major in college, so I had a lot of fun writing the scenes where Emmett is performing in his show at the theme park. But I think my favorite scene to revisit is the first date between Emmett and Luke. I won’t spoil it, but if you like warm summer nights in Tennessee (and maybe a little kissing) I hope you’ll like this.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
I think I read just about every Hardy Boys book growing up. (Though I was secretly more of a Nancy Drew fan. They had a crossover series where they solved cases together, but sadly, those books were only released a few times a year.) I also loved The Boxcar Children series, The Chronicles of Narnia series, and The Dark is Rising series. Any book that could transport me to another world (real or imaginary) inspired me to become a writer.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Find writing friends who will support you and lift you up along the way! Being a writer is hard. You sit alone at your computer a lot. You stare at a blank word document a lot. You get rejected a lot. It helps if you find people you can commiserate with. And even better than having commiseration buddies, is having a group of people you can celebrate with as you cheer each other on. Even for the small stuff. You finished a chapter? You’re doing amazing, sweetie. Now write the next one.