Approaching Neverland The Book

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Peggy Kennedy Author of Approaching Neverland, A Memoir of Epic Tragedy & Happily Ever After. Here’s her story:


What inspired you to write Approaching Neverland?
The truth is I missed my family and wanted to bring them back to life. For that reason, I wasn’t satisfied with what I’d written until my descriptions of them were so close to the real thing that my family members seemed to walk off the page.

Have you always been a writer?
No. For the last 20 years I’ve been producing high profile events like the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade. Before that, I sold real estate. But as I began closing in on my 50th birthday five years ago, I realized that if I didn’t write our family’s story, it would be gone forever. So I worked with a writing coach for nearly three years and signed up for as many writing seminars as I could afford.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?  The most rewarding?
The most difficult part was reliving all the sadness of the tragedies we’d been through – my father’s Alzheimer’s, my brother’s death from AIDS, and my sister’s murder. However difficult, these were all a part of our family story, so needed to be included in the book. My reward came when I knew that I had captured a family member’s spirit through description and dialogue and could  hear their laughter.

Your mother’s mental illness played a large role in your life. Her disease – bipolar disorder – is known to be at least in part genetic. Were you ever worried that you might inherit the disorder?
Absolutely! Mom was institutionalized for the first time at 19. As I approached my late teens I often checked in the mirror to make sure my eyes weren’t shaky and would intentionally slow down my speech to make certain that I still could control it. I became fearful again after having my first child as Mom always went off the deep end after giving birth. Luckily, I was fine.

At a point in your life when you seemed to have it all, you left the comfort of the suburbs and your husband (your childhood sweetheart no less!) to move to the city and pursue a career for which you had very little experience. Why did you leave?
I realized that I had allowed my husband’s dreams to become mine and my own dreams had all but disappeared. I had always wanted to live a creative life in the city. When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity arose, I felt I had to take a chance and go for it. It turned out to be the best thing I ever did.

To what do you attribute your ability to face your mother’s mental illness and all  your family’s tragedy without bitterness?
Our family was blessed with a dark Irish sense of humor, which helped get us through some pretty tough times. And I never got away with feeling sorry for myself. None of us did. Anything that didn’t help make things better was considered a waste of time.

What do you hope other people will gain from reading Approaching Neverland?
I hope my book inspires them to live life to the fullest and love those who share their life’s journey.

To learn more about Peggy Kennedy and get a copy of Approaching Neverland, go to: www.approachingneverland.com

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  1. I’m thrilled to read your interview with Peggy Kennedy! I’ve had the great pleasure of reading her book and literally could not put it down. The story of her remarkable family, who were given many gifts but dealt with so much tragedy, and her personal journey towards carving out her own future is awe inspiring. This book encompasses it all: love, death, family, career, and the true meaning of life with all its joys and sorrows. It’s a must read that will touch your heart like no other!

    Eileen Williams’s last blog post..Women Over Fifty—Our Work Continues

  2. Thanks for the interview – it was great fun. Just read your last issue of WE from cover to cover — what a wealth of information about finance, networking, beauty, developing a business and keeping fit! Your recipes look great – can’t wait to try them.

  3. Diane Fosson says:

    I loved Approaching Neverland. I literally read it in two days. I could not put it down. I loved the honesty and the complete ability Peggy had to look forward with optimism. So often in life, we try to put on our “good” faces for all to see and never want to expose the sides of ourselves that are suffering, or less than “perfect.” I love Peggy’s ability to be open and help us all realize that everyone has trials in their lives, and through those trials we come out stronger and wiser people.
    Thank you Peggy!

  4. Patty Hoyt says:

    Thank you for interviewing Peggy Kennedy about her memoir. It is such a wonderful story; heartbreaking, unbelievable, funny, inspiring and in the end uplifting. I hope this results in lots more people reading Approaching Neverland.

  5. Wendy Niewiarowski says:

    Peggy wrote a wonderful book. My mom and I couldn’t put it down. I was afraid at first that it might be depressing but it was written so well that my fears were unfounded. I loved getting to know her family through her words and descriptions. I admire them all for their strength and flexiblity. I felt like I was right there with her and that is a gift. Thanks for the great book.

  6. Jeanni Hull says:

    Great book. I stayed up all night to read it! (I couldn’t put it down!) I have recommended to all my friends and family, and everyone I’ve recommended it to loves it as well. Bravo! Thanks for being brave and telling your story. Hopefully the rest of us can come to terms with the mental illness that existed in our families, and come out on the other end with such a good, wonderful story! Everyone should read this book!

  7. Kristy Lee says:

    I just finished reading Approaching Neverland last night.

    I could hardly put it down when I come to my sister’s house every other weekend which is where we are keeping it so that we both can read it. (going to purchase my own copy)

    Peg is an absolute inspiration. Her honesty, humor and strength made this book so enjoyable. I literally laughed out loud and hid my face as I cried on the couch at night reading it.

    Beautifully written, just marvelous memoir.

  8. Rachel Hurd says:

    I enjoyed your interview of Peggy Kennedy. I enjoyed her book and getting to know her family. Their love and humor definitely carried them through more challenges and trajedies than most families encounter. It was inspiring as well as enlightening about mental illness and how far treatment has come! I also that it is a local “East Bay” story.

  9. Fabulous interview and a wonderfully written story:

    I thoroughly enjoyed Approaching Neverland, the story was
    truly inspiring to see someone become so happy and successful
    after such tragedy. The story had me smiling and crying: what
    a ride!