Are you keeping your New Year's resolutions?|
Story Archives: Wisner native dedicates first novel to grandmother
|Wisner native dedicates first novel to grandmother|
Wisner native Kenny Rials thinks about a perfect day in his life and he remembers back to June of 1985.
"It was a Sunday afternoon and I was a kid, but I remember it perfectly," Rials said. "My mom (Sue) and dad (Jimmy) took me, my two older sisters and a baby brother to the zoo. It sounds silly, but it wasn't the zoo or the animals that made it a great day. It was the fact that it was the last time I spent an entire day with my family as a whole. My dad died a few months later so that day is bittersweet. We were all together. We were a family. My sister took pictures and in those, we all look so happy. I remember us laughing and enjoying the day and enjoying each other. If time could stand still, I'd want it to be on that day."
Time is now standing still for Rials, in the form of his first-ever novel, "Time Stood Still," published by Amazon.
In the book, Kerrigan McAdams' life is coming apart at the seams. After battling her estranged mother over her grandmother's estate, her marriage begins to fall apart. It isn't long before her husband, Ryan, is moving out. Now, all Kerrigan has is her lackluster job as a mortgage officer and her assistant's friendship.
But those troubles almost pale in comparison to the migraine headaches that she's been battling for years. Seeking to gain some sort of control over her life, she visits Dr. Savoy, a well-known doctor, who offers an experimental treatment that may make her headaches disappear for good. When Kerrigan wakes up from brain surgery, her headaches are indeed gone, and her estranged family and husband are back at her side. Everything would be perfect, but there is one big problem - most of her memory is gone. Unfortunately, as she begins to recall the past, waves of hurt come back into her life. Kerrigan faces the feuds and fights from the past and tries to find a better future in Time Stood Still.
The book is dedicated to Rial's grandmother, Rubye, who lives in Gilbert. She taught at Wisner Elementary School for over 30 years.
"The novel is commercial fiction and along the same genre of books by Nicolas Sparks," Rials said. "The book is doing quite well so far and I've had a few book signings in Manhattan, Pa., and recently in Connecticut. I just signed with a new literary agent at Vanguard and she and I are finishing up the touches on my second novel."
Rials is moving to London in April with his company, JPMorgan Chase.
"I also want to finish my second novel while there," he said.
Rials' dad was the oldest of nine brothers, his mom the oldest of seven sisters and his childhood was spent playing with his multitudes of cousins and annoying his older sisters.
"I spent my childhood weekends in Wisner hiding under the kitchen table listening to my older sisters, mother and aunts spill stories of love and loss," Rials said. "Those tales gave him a different perspective on relationships, which shows in 'Time Stood Still.'"
In 1986, tragedy struck Rials with the death of his father. At the young age of twelve, Rials discovered writing as a coping mechanism.
After graduating with honors from high school, Rials enrolled at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. During his years there, he accepted a scholarship to sing with the university choir. He was also active in the local theater performing in Romeo & Juliet, Grease, Phantom of the Opera and others. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1996, Kenny fled for the excitement and opportunities of New York City in 1998.
Upon arrival in the Big Apple, Rials began writing articles for local publications including Dish du Jour Magazine – a restaurant guide for the borough of Queens.
"The magazine was mostly a restaurant guide with reviews, but I was hired to write articles about cooking, food and wine," Rials said. "I love to cook so it was great researching information for the articles. A few published were Sushi for Beginners, Cookware 101, and History of Mardi Gras."
Rials also studied acting at the School for Film and Television and Terry Schrieber Studios. During this time, Rials began to write "Time Stood Still "and used extractions of the novel as performance pieces. With over a dozen off-Broadway shows under his belt, the passion of writing took over and Time Stood Still and three other novels were completed.
"The idea for the novel began in college after conversations I had with friends," Rials said. "The question was posed, if you could go back and say yes to a question instead of no and vice versa, would you? Would correcting past mistakes still cripple your future? Ultimately, I believe everyone has an 'I should have' moment. For instance, 'I should've tried to save my marriage', 'I should've been a better daughter or son', and etc. For example, self tanning lotion. What was I thinking? I was so orange. I looked like a traffic cone."
"In the novel, there is a sentence that reads, 'Time doesn't have the courtesy of slowing down during the good times,' and I believe that whole heartedly," Rials added. "It's not fair that we get one chance at a perfect day. We are always playing catch up. So, when I began to write the novel, I wanted a character that gets a second chance. I wanted a character that is able to do what we talked about in those conversations. Kerrigan gets to do what we all dream of. She gets to fix her past mistakes, but she also learns if reliving your past can still cripple your future."
Rials said he can relate to his book subject's migraine problem.
"Unfortunately, I've had headaches since I was a kid," he said. "The older I got, the more intense they became. These days, my migraines are somewhat under control. I've learned what triggers them and I have a prescription that helps."
Rials said there are no connections with his characters in his book and people he has met throughout his life.
"I tend to incorporate things I've experienced in my life, like my migraines, but I let my imagination go wild and end up with characters that take me, and hopefully the readers, on a journey," he said.
Although he's lived in New York for ten years, Rial's southern accent is as strong as his love of fried Catfish and his Grandma Rubye's pecan pie. He is currently adding the final touches on his next novel.
And looking forward to his next trip home.
"Most of my family lives in Franklin Parish and I try to fly home at least two times a year and devour Johnny's Pizza and the cheese dip at San Marco's," he said.
Rials began writing in the eighth grade.
"I read a Robert Frost poem called, 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,'" he said. "When I read it, I could picture myself in the woods surrounded by trees covered in snow. I'm from Louisiana where it rarely snows, so I loved how the poem allowed me to experience something new. Snow for instance. From there, my love of reading grew but so did my writing. I wrote short stories and poetry all through high school."
Rials said his love of writing continued at ULM.
"I had a great English professor and she assigned writing exercises," Rials said. "After finals, she pulled me aside and said she'd enjoyed my stories. It was a great feeling. When I graduated and moved to New York, I continued writing, but I also study acting. I found it difficult to find monologues to perform, so I began writing my own. Soon after, I was writing monologues, scenes, and one act plays for my classmates. Those scenes and monologues led me to writing 'Time Stood Still.'"
As for any recent 'I should haves'?
"I have some whoppers, but my Grandma might read this article so I better not," Rials said. "But, I think everyone can relate. If you've ever had a hangover, you've had an 'I should've' moment. If you've ever opened your credit card bill and cried, and sold DVD's on Amazon.com to pay the bill, you've had an 'I should've' moment."