Q&A with C. Kennedy: Author of Safe
My guest this week is C. Kennedy author of the sexy coming of age novel Safe He kindly stopped by to tell me more about his book, as well as discuss the traumatic effects of abuse, and pushing the boundaries when it comes to sex in young adult fiction.
Welcome to The Boys on the Brink blog, Cody. Let’s start with something fun. Can you tell us three interesting facts about yourself?
Thank you for having me, Jamie. I’m excited to be here! Interesting… hmm, let’s see… First, I have an inordinately inquisitive mind. I spend at least an hour each day researching facts and information that have no readily apparent value. I simply want to know things. Second, almost all of my ideas for novels come to fruition in dreams. Third, I detest waiting in lines and love to unhook those wretched guide ropes from stanchions. My favorite ones to unhook are the thick, velvety ones. Bonus answer: I am painfully shy and epically awkward.
And when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was compelled at birth. Not only is writing an expression of my internal dialogues as a shy person, but my grandfather was a prolific author and I wanted to be like him. Except for his Yoda-like appearance. I did not want to be that much like him.
Hahaha! I don’t know. Yoda’s pretty cool. So, what’s your favorite way to relax when you’re not slaving away at the next novel?
Reading, of course. Helen Hayes once said, “From your parents you learn love and laughter and how to put one foot before the other. But when books are opened, you discover that you have wings.”
One of the main themes of Safe is the physical abuse Nico is forced to endure at the hands of his father. Have you known anyone who went through a similar situation, or did this storyline come solely from your imagination?
Though the events contained in Safe are purely products of my imagination, they mirror the tribulations of several young adults I know; young adults who are unable, for whatever reasons, to escape abusive environments including bullying at school. Teen years are difficult enough to endure and to have to cope with the secrecy (or not) and shame of abuse can be crippling. Worse yet, victims don’t recover from abuse. More accurately stated, they compensate for it when and if they are able. It’s traumatic, it’s debilitating, it’s heartrending, and leaves everlasting, invisible scars. My greatest wish is that my stories give victims hope and inspire young readers to help those who may be in these circumstances. Friendship is invaluable to victims and lends to healing in ways most people can’t imagine.
Well said! It’s obvious from the first that Caleb and Nico are made for each other. Is the concept that we all have a soul mate out there somewhere one you believe in?
Absolutely. No matter your appearance, personality, or circumstances, there is someone out there especially for you. Somewhere, someone is looking for exactly what you have to offer. Dare to believe. Never stop believing.
This is billed as being for young adults, and some might say the content is perhaps a little too sexually explicit for the intended audience. How would you respond?
Thank you for raising this question, Jamie. It is an important one. The answer is that the sexual content contained in Safe is not too explicit for young adults. Sexual reference is everywhere in society and is obvious, and young adults will practice sexual exploration irrespective of age, law, and popular opinion. To avoid writing “things as they are” or “life as it is” in a contemporary novel is disingenuous. I would feel like the naked emperor in the fable The Emperor’s New Clothes if I ignored the reality of society as I penned stories.
Sadly, no sexuality education exists in our school systems for GLBTQ young adults. They are left to gather and process information from a range of unsanctioned and potentially unreliable sources. Writing about normal, healthy sexual exploration in teen same-sex relationships is propaedeutic in that it provides introductory information to young adults that they may not otherwise find or have access to. It also goes without saying that a young adult is always far better prepared for the outside world if armed with knowledge.
Lastly, censoring and withholding vital information from young adults in the name of protecting them from themselves is often applied inappropriately and to extremes; and speaks to a lack of confidence in them. Young people can read and think for themselves and I wholly support their right to do so.
Couldn’t agree more, Cody! What’s up next for your writing? Any new novels for us to look forward to?
I am currently plotting a novel that centers on a gay bullying victim who finds help from an unusual and wholly unexpected source, the details of which are top secret! As for my upcoming novels, Omorphi (Pretty) is a romantic suspense about a boy struggling to find his way after years of abuse, while Slaying Isidore’s Dragons is an action-packed romance which follows two young guys who lose parents in the same London car bombing.
Thanks so much for giving me this interview, Cody. Where can readers find out more about you and your books?