More than a pen name

RI author defies doctor’s expectations and self publishes his own series of children’s books

Posted 10/25/23

Brady Knight may not be a household name, but it may soon become one as the 23-year-old Bryan Wolfendon continues to use it as a pen name when publishing his own line stories for children from …

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More than a pen name

RI author defies doctor’s expectations and self publishes his own series of children’s books

Author ‘Brady Knight’ discusses his latest book.
Author ‘Brady Knight’ discusses his latest book.
(Beacon Communications photo)

Brady Knight may not be a household name, but it may soon become one as the 23-year-old Bryan Wolfendon continues to use it as a pen name when publishing his own line stories for children from Kindergarten to sixth grade.

Already for sale on Amazon, and soon to be on sale through Barnes & Noble, his brand is growing and with it his confidence. Knight has refused to be held back by his autism or the other health issues he has that left doctor’s believing he’d be wheelchair bound for the rest of his life.

“It makes it difficult at times to do the things I want to do,” said Knight. “It also gives me a different perspective. When it comes to my writing I can take what I go through and talk to others about and put it into a different perspective than what other people might see when they say ‘Oh, that’s not that interesting.’ I can turn it into a story that’s full of messages.”

From a young age Knight was told what he couldn’t do. When he was born his parents were told what he couldn’t become. However, through a combination of determination and a positive attitude he has proven several of those expectations completely wrong.

Just three years ago a mitochondrial condition put Knight into a wheelchair. At the time he was told that he would never walk again. His parents, Kathleen and Steven Wolfendon, looked for a new home to accommodate a wheelchair and did everything else they could to provide for their son in a troubling time.

“It’s a miracle,” his mother said. “They told us he wouldn’t be able to do anything like this. They told us by 20 he would be wheelchair bound, and he was. At 20 he was in a chair, and I still didn’t think he’d get out of it. I was so proud of him when he wrote that first book. They said he couldn’t do any of this and he’s done it all.”

Seeing Knight walk into a room, you’d never guess that he spent the last three years in a wheelchair or that it’s been only two months since he got out of it. What secret does he have that, after three years in a chair and several doctors telling him he would never walk again, got him to this point? — Hard work.

He was tired of being told by doctors that he wouldn’t walk again. After all, they’d already been wrong about so many of the things they said he would never be able to do.  At one point it was believed he’d never talk, but after the first time he had surgery on his brain as a child he looked at his parents from his hospital bed and uttered the word “home.” His mother said the entire room broke down crying.

Knight, taking his fate into his own hands, decided it was time to ignore the medical opinion that his legs were now just for show and to hire a personal trainer to help him at least try to walk again.

“Our friends at the site of the Warwick Toy and Comic Palooza  (Oct. 1) at the Knights of Columbus saw him stand up and walk out of the car and everyone was like ‘what is happening?’,” Kathleen said. “Two months ago, that’s how recently he was in the chair. He’s constantly breaking through what people think he can do.”

Knight is proud of his ability to adapt and to not let things stop him from achieving goals he sets his mind towards. Whether it be learning to walk again or self publishing his own line of books, little seems to be able to get in between Knight and his dreams.

It all started years before with journaling. As a young man dealing with a variety of health complications he saw a therapist. The idea of keeping a journal to help him keep his thoughts and feelings clear came up.

“It was when I was ten,” Knight recalled. “I had a psych therapist who wanted me to journal. I ended up getting hooked on writing. At the time I couldn’t verbally talk too well, so everything had to be written down or typed up. After that I started making stories. They started out as three page stories then they went up to ten pages, fifteen pages and now I’m up to full chapter books.”

Full chapter books, picture books and short children’s books are all part of Knight’s current library, but he plans to expand from there.

“They’re for children, special needs adults, people with short attention spans, and I even do picture books for kids who can’t read yet,” he elaborated. “I’m trying to expand into the young adult age brackets. Like I said, being autistic and having the medical issues I have gives me a different perspective on what issues I deal with. A lot of my books are realistic fiction based on real life events that I’ve altered either in sequence or in details and wording to make them a little more age appropriate.”

With uplifting stories like “Miracle of Friendship,” a tale of overcoming bullying through the power of friendship and respect, to “Tale of a Hero,” the story of a young boy in foster care believing his life won’t amount to more before becoming a legend, Knight’s tales all have an inspiring and uplifting element that reflect his own struggle to make his life better. These stories all hold a piece of himself in them, and it’s those pieces of determination, hope and spirit that he hopes to share with his readers to inspire them.

“They’re not just about challenges that people dealing with medical problems might face, but also about problems that any child might face,” Knight said. “They’re about problems like bullying, making friends and some of them are fun too. I have one about going on an arctic adventure. One is about going into the woods and meeting an eagle, even a bobcat helping a deer find his mom was one story.”

We all face a variety of struggles in life, and Knight has faced more than most, but his sheer determination to grow and thrive proves that we don’t have to remain bound by other’s opinions of us. Knight hopes to share the message that with enough hard work and faith we can all make our dreams a reality.


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