It’s June and that means it’s time for another year of Pride Month spotlights! I’m so excited to spotlight A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy and share the interview with the author!
Welcome Brian! Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?
Thanks for having me! I’m Brian D. Kennedy, author of the YA rom-com A Little Bit Country. I grew up in Minnesota but have called New York City home for most of my adult life.
How would you describe A Little Bit Country in one sentence?
A Little Bit Country is a love letter to Dolly Parton, country music, and learning how to be your true, authentic self.
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of A Little Bit Country?
Emmett Maguire is a 17-year-old from Chicago. He wants to be country music’s biggest, gayest superstar. He’s spending the summer with his aunt while working at Wanda World, the theme park owned by his country music idol, Wanda Jean Stubbs.
Luke Barnes is a 17-year-old from Jackson Hollow, TN. He hates country music because he thinks it ruined his family’s life. But Luke dreams of being a chef someday, and when the opportunity to work at one of the kitchens in Wanda World comes along, it’s too good to pass up.
What representation will readers find in A Little Bit Country?
Emmett is gay, and very much out. Luke is pretty sure he’s gay, though he still trying to discover exactly how to label himself. And for now, he’s not ready to be out.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
I love outlines and always have a clear ending in mind when I start. However, I also give myself (and my characters) plenty of freedom to deviate from that. My original outlines never match the final product, as I usually find new and better things along the way.
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
Wanda Jean Stubbs is my fictionalized version of Dolly Parton. And as a HUGE Dolly fan, I had a lot of fun writing her dialogue. But my favorite scene to write was probably Emmett and Luke’s first date. No spoilers, but if you like hot summer nights and kissing, you might like this.
What is something readers will find in A Little Bit Country that they may not realize based on the synopsis?
Original lyrics! I mean, maybe it’s not a surprise that there are lyrics in a book about music. But I did write them myself. Which was kind of fun. And a little terrifying. I can’t promise they’re any good, but it definitely gave me a new appreciation for songwriters
What’s something you hope readers will take away from A Little Bit Country?
That is okay to be yourself. But also, that you can do that on your terms. It’s great to take pride in being out, but not everyone’s in an environment where it’s safe to do that, and not everyone’s ready. Find what works for you. Also, if anyone reads this book and it inspires them to listen to some country music…well, that might be the greatest compliment I could get!
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed A Little Bit Country?
If you’re looking for another book about two boys falling for each other, Erik J. Brown’s All That’s Left in the World. If you’re looking for another foodie book that will make you hungry, Kaitlyn Hill’s Love From Scratch. If you’re looking for another book that celebrates music, Ebony LaDelle’s Love Radio.
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
I have a second YA rom-com coming out in 2023. It’s not related to country music, but it does involve another kind of music I love. (That’s all I’m allowed to say for now!)
ABOUT THE BOOK
Emmett Maguire wants to be country music’s biggest gay superstar – a far reach when you’re seventeen and living in Illinois. But for now, he’s happy to do the next best thing: Stay with his aunt in Jackson Hollow, Tennessee, for the summer and perform at the amusement park owned by his idol, country legend Wanda Jean Stubbs.
Luke Barnes hates country music. As the grandson of Verna Rose, the disgraced singer who had a famous falling out with Wanda Jean, Luke knows how much pain country music has brought his family. But when his mom’s medical bills start piling up, he takes a job at the last place he wants: a restaurant at Wanda World.
Neither boy is looking for romance, but sparks fly when they meet – and soon they’re inseparable. Until a long-lost secret about Verna and Wanda comes to light, threatening to unravel everything.
Will Emmett and Luke be able get past the truths they discover…or will their relationship go down in history as just another Sad Country Love Song?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian D. Kennedy writes books for young adults. Born and raised in Minnesota, he now lives in New York City with his husband and their very photogenic dog. When he’s not writing, Brian can be found working at an LGBTQ non-profit. His slightly unhealthy obsessions include: seeing as many Broadway shows as possible, buying weird trinkets off eBay, and all things Dolly Parton.
His debut, A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY, will be published June 7th, 2022.