Behind the Cover Story: Flow & Grip by Kennedy Ryan

by Kennedy Ryan
Also by this author: Still

Behind the Cover Story is a cover reveal with an exclusive guest post from the author about said cover. Maybe, it’s an explanation of how they came up with the concept. Maybe, it’s how they found their model. Maybe, it’s more than that.

Resisting an irresistible force wears you down and turns you out.
I know.
I’ve been doing it for years.
I may not have a musical gift of my own, but I’ve got a nose for talent and an eye for the extraordinary.
And Marlon James – Grip to his fans – is nothing short of extraordinary.
Years ago, we strung together a few magical nights, but I keep those memories in a locked drawer and I’ve thrown away the key.
All that’s left is friendship and work.
He’s on the verge of unimaginable fame, all his dreams poised to come true.
I manage his career, but I can’t seem to manage my heart.
It’s wild, reckless, disobedient.
And it remembers all the things I want to forget.




If I could undo your kisses
If I could un-feel your touch
If I could unhook this heart from yours
I would
But I’m trapped in the memory of what we were
Stuck with the reality of what we are
Tempted by the promise of a future
Afraid of possibility
I don’t know how our story ends, but this – this is where it started.





~ Guest Post ~


“You are the perfect verse over a tight beat.” – Brown Sugar

My black-hearted beauties!!! Thank you so much for sharing the covers of GRIP, and its prequel FLOW! To talk about what was behind the cover, I really have to talk at least a little about what is behind the story itself. The quote above from one of my favorite movies, BROWN SUGAR, rang in my head a lot as I was writing. GRIP is a love story about two people from completely different walks of life, from completely different circumstances, who meet each other and feel like they’ve known one another forever. They just click. It’s not insta-love. It’s anything BUT. FLOW, the prequel, actually takes place 8 years before GRIP. At that point, Grip is just starting in music and Bristol is a sophomore at Columbia. They connect around conversation and opinions and music and a lot of the things that typically come up when you first meet someone. And also around a lot of things that typically don’t. It’s not the things they have in common that fascinate them. It’s the ways they’re different. An innate curiosity drives both Marlon James (Grip) and Bristol Gray, and I think that is what makes them work. They don’t allow their differences to keep them apart, but leverage those differences to understand each other.

Hip hop is like a secondary character in this book. If you don’t like hip hop, you’ll still “get” this book; I hope still love it because it’s ultimately a deeply romantic story. But if you DO love hip hop, you’ll enjoy hearing names like Kendrick Lamar, Tupac, Biggie, Jay Z. Grip is a hip hop artist, and later on Bristol is his manager. But he, like Tupac, attended a School of the Arts. And like Tupac, started as a poet, a writer. He’s very broad-minded. Very well read, articulate, but authentic. Still really grounded in the community where he grew up, even as his star rises. He, like Kendrick Lamar, grew up in Compton, and has to reconcile the sometimes disparate experiences of that setting and the very cultured context of his arts education. He’s been grinding for years – writing and producing for other artists, putting out underground mix tapes, featuring on artists’ tracks – and now it’s HIS turn. He’s about to drop his first solo studio album. All of that goes into the concept behind the cover. 

Grip is hot. So I did want some “body” shot, but the story is very layered with a complex plot and a lot of “real life” current issues raised. So I wanted to elevate a little above “just” abs. Nothing wrong with abs! LOL! But with hip hop being such an influence I also wanted to integrate the cityscape; an urban/big city tone. And diverse characters are important in my work. Every book I’ve ever written features a cast of multi-ethnic characters. I wanted this visual to be…anything when you look at him. Is he Black, his he Hispanic, white? Diversity and embracing/understanding our differences actually is one of the main themes of the book, and their relationship – how they are so different, but manage to listen to, respect and ultimately love one another – becomes a metaphor for one of the book’s broader themes. So I wanted the aesthetic to be almost race-neutral. 

The FLOW cover has a bit of a younger vibe than GRIP because they are younger in the prequel. They’re college-age In FLOW, so they don’t have the same responsibilities yet, and the beach and the Ferris wheel communicate some of that. GRIP takes place when they’re about to turn 30, and their lives have become really complex, especially with Grip’s celebrity, so it has a more mature context.

I hope you enjoy BOTH books! FLOW will be FREE everywhere on Feb 25!!! And GRIP goes straight to KU on March 2!


About Kennedy Ryan

Kennedy Ryan grew up in North Carolina, but loves living in Atlanta with her husband (tall – check, dark – check – handsome – check), and her handful of a son. Though she knew, like writers often do, that she was supposed to tell stories, the road to fulfillment has been paved with “some of everything” jobs that kept her family eating and living indoors. With her degree in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Tar Heels!), she has focused on writing for non-profit organizations and even doing some non-fiction ghost writing. Only in the last few years did she start telling stories again.

In addition to being a devoted wife and mom, she’s also passionate about serving families living with Autism. Her son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two, and she has made it her mission to help as many families as possible find the resources and services they need.

I am just as passionate about the REAL LIFE stories I tell as I am about the worlds I build in fiction. Some of these use my given TINA DULA and some are written under my pseudonym KENNEDY RYAN.

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