Interview with Peggy Kennedy, Author of “Approaching Neverland: A Memoir of Epic Tragedy and Happily Every After”

Please join me in welcoming author, Peggy Kennedy, with some exciting news about her fabulous book.

1.    Where are you from?  I’m a Bay Area girl – I grew up in Oakland and San Leandro and now live in San Ramon – didn’t get too far!

2.    Tell us your latest news? My book Approaching Neverland  just received an outstanding review from “The World’s Toughest Book Critics,”  Kirkus Review.

“A captivating memoir of love, loss, mental illness and redemption.” — Kirkus Reviews

3.    When and why did you begin writing?  As I approached 50 I realized I was carrying a heavy load of emotional baggage from my life experiences. The only way I could see lightening my load was to start emptying the bags by telling my story.

 4.    When did you first consider yourself a writer?  I knew I was a writer when I visited book clubs and they would read their favorite lines from my book out loud to me.

5.    How did you come up with the title?  Finding the right title was tough: I wanted something that would capture the potential reader’s imagination and also was meaningful on a number of different levels. Approaching Neverland refers both to an incident where my mentally ill mother attempts to take me and my siblings to Neverland as well as to finding a place within ourselves where all of our dreams can come true.

6.   Do you see writing as a career? Yes because it’s the only work I’ve known that provides a continuous roller coaster ride complete with dizzying turns, crazy highs and devastating lows. I admit I’m addicted and hope to continue writing throughout my life.

 7.   Who designed the cover? My brother Patrick, who’s featured in the story. He’s always been an artist and currently re-designs hotels in South Beach, Miami. He came up with the idea of showing the 5 of us children on our living room couch drifting through a childlike version of space featuring clouds fashioned after the flowers on the couch.

 8.   What was the hardest part of writing your book?  The toughest part was reliving all of the emotionally wrenching scenes in the story. Although it was painful, I found it amazingly therapeutic. My saving grace was when I got the scene and dialogue right, lost family members seemed to rise off the page and take a seat next to me by my desk.

 9.   What is the wisest thing anyone has said to you? My sister Sue, also a writer, said “Don’t edit your book as you go along. Write from your passion and your writing will fall into place.”

 10. Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer?  Yes, I have a few:

  1. Start with ½ piece of paper so you’re not pressured to fill a whole page. You’ll be amazed at how often you run out of room on the paper!
  2. Write from your emotion. Put yourself in the emotional space of your character and what he/she is going through and your setting and story will follow.
  3. Integrate moments and details from your everyday life to add an “up close” quality to your writing that will help to bring it to life on the page.

Peggy has recently completed the screenplay of her book.  Read the entire Kirkus review of Approaching Neverland here.

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5 comments to Interview with Peggy Kennedy, Author of “Approaching Neverland: A Memoir of Epic Tragedy and Happily Every After”

  • Thank you, Judith, for presenting us with yet another fascinating interview.

    Peggy Kennedy (someone I know personally and love as a sister) has penned a truly remarkable account of her family: five siblings blessed with great talent and special promise. Yet, like those other Kennedys, Peggy’s family was also plagued by personal suffering and heart-breaking misfortune. The mental illness of her mother–although a loving and unendingly supportive woman–cast a shadow over Peggy’s early years. Yet she and her siblings became even more tightly bonded by holding their mother’s condition a secret to the world outside of their immediate family.

    But “Approaching Neverland” is far from a downer. Peggy’s memoir is a mesmerizing read that is both a deeply moving account of a complex family and a celebration of triumph. Anyone who has ever faced significant loss or overcome great challenge will especially relate. This book is a tale of unconditional love, joy, and accomplishment. True to the promise of Neverland, it’s a must read that will leave you smiling with tears in your eyes.

  • admin

    I totally agree and I highly recommend this book. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Barbara Zimmerman Noorda Krul

    Your book absolutely haunted me when I read it last year. I never knew about what
    happened to your sister or what your lives were like growing up and I was at Roosavelt
    and Bancroft when you and Joan were there. I am Patricia Casey Silva’s cousin and
    live in Grants Pass, OR since 1980. Your book hit me on so many levels, 1 because I
    got pregnant 2 or 3 months before Joan and went on to get married and have a baby at
    15…realizations early in life that were not living a fairy tale life.
    Barbara

  • Oh My Gosh, Barbara – so amazing to hear from you! I remember you from Pat’s house. I always loved talking to you when you were there. You took on so much at such a young age! I hope that you have been able to realize some of your own dreams along the way. I’m actually seeing Pat this weekend! I hope that if you’re ever here in the Bay Area visiting to have the chance to get together with both of you.
    Warmest regards,
    Peg

  • I enjoyed your interview so much – love your zest for life and writing, Peggy. And I’m loving reading your book. I’m about halfway through, and I can’t wait to board my plane this afternoon so I can finish it on the way back to SFO.

    What you said about writing your memoir being therapeutic is exactly what I hear from many of the TellTale Souls who’ve written their Mother Memoirs for my guidebook. I’m inviting you to do a guest post on the Story Woman blog, since I know my readers would find your memoir not only interesting, but also a model of intriguing writing.

    Keeping Spirits Alive,
    Lynn
    Paperback & Kindle available on Amazon: “TellTale Souls Writing the Mother Memoir: How to Tap Memory and Write Your Story Capturing Character & Spirit”

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