a wonderful read
August 16, 2010
Thanks so much for allowing me to blog on your site, Susan. You gave a wonderful endorsement on my new book that I’ll always treasure and have put at the end of this blog.
To readers, first, let me introduce myself. I’m Kathryn Shay and I’ve been published by Harlequin and The Berkley Publishing Group for the last fifteen years. THE PERFECT FAMILY, released from Bold Strokes Books, is my thirty-seventh book. My work has been characterized by reviewers and readers as highly emotional, poignant and heart wrenching.
Those adjectives certainly apply to THE PERFECT FAMILY. The story follows the Davidsons: they’re an average American family with a good life and they consider themselves lucky to have each other. Then their seventeen year old son tells them he’s gay and their world shifts. They have no idea what they will go through after Jamie’s disclosure: Jamie’s father Mike can’t reconcile his religious beliefs with his son’s sexuality. His brother Brian is harassed by his jock buddies and angry at Jamie for complicating all their lives. Maggie, his mother, fears being able to protect her son while struggling to save her crumbling marriage. And Jamie feels guilty for the unhappiness his disclosure has caused. The book is full of both conflict and love, ending on a redeeming note.
I’m frequently asked why I wrote this book. When my own son came out gay, I decided I wanted to tell a story around that issue. THE PERFECT FAMILY is fiction, but touches on some of the things my own family went through. I wished then I’d had a book like this to help me understand that a family’s struggle when a teen comes out is okay, but he deserves love and support from them, too. I was also a high school teacher for many years and I know teenagers. I know how they react to people who are different from them, how sexual orientation can freak them out and how they can be cruel. But they can also be unbelievably loyal and supportive. I tried to show all this in the book.
Having raised kids of my own, I’m also aware of how a child’s problems can affect the whole family. I originally wrote the book in first person narrative from the mother’s point of view (it was called A MOTHER’S STORY) because I knew what Maggie, the mom, was going through. I’ve also experienced the pain when spouses disagree on what’s best for their children. However, it wasn’t long before I realized this book was more than Maggie’s story; it was each family member’s journey. On the first of many revisions, I put in the viewpoints of Mike, Brian and Jamie. I think this expansion enriched the book and made it more relevant. After several revisions, I also added a secondary storyline to mirror the first which gives the book an added dimension.
The character of Jamie is based on my own son, Ben. He read the manuscript twice, the beginning draft and the last one. I was amazed at the insights he had into the characters. His comments led me to make some further revisions. And we have a gift for my readers. Ben is a singer/songwriter and made a CD in high school about “loving a boy” and other adolescent issues. We’re offering it free at the publisher’s website when you order a book from them (http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/products.php?product=Perfect-Family%2C-The-%252d-by-Kathryn-Shay ) and it will be also be offered on my website, www.kathrnyshay.com while copies last.
I’m sure you can tell from my comments that this is the book of my heart and a labor of love. I hope readers enjoy it.
Here’s Susan’s quote: “The Perfect Family is the perfect read, a poignant and realistic look at the things that take a family apart, and the way love can bring it back together. Written with grace and sensitivity, this novel celebrates the healing power of forgiveness and understanding.”
PS—If you’re interested in reading my other books, I’m working on new projects now so check my website for that. I’m also making plans to put nine single title novels up on Kindle and Smashwords by the time THE PERFECT FAMILY is released.
Kathryn Shay is a lifelong writer. At fifteen, she penned her first ‘romance,’ a short story about a female newspaper reporter in New York City and her fight to make a name for herself in a world of male journalists – and with one hardheaded editor in particular. Looking back, Kathryn says she should have known then that writing was in her future. But as so often happens, fate sent her detouring down another path.
Fully intending to pursue her dream of big city lights and success in the literary world, Kathryn took every creative writing class available at the small private women’s college she attended in upstate New York. Instead, other dreams took precedence. She met and subsequently married a wonderful guy who’d attended a neighboring school, then completed her practice teaching, a requirement for the education degree she never intended to use. But says Kathryn, “I fell in love with teaching the first day I was up in front of a class, and knew I was meant to do that.”
Kathryn went on to build a successful career in the New York state school system, thoroughly enjoying her work with adolescents. But by the early 1990s, she’d again made room in her life for writing. It was then that she submitted her first manuscript to publishers and agents. Despite enduring two years of rejections, she persevered. And on a snowy December afternoon in 1994, Kathryn Shay sold her first book to Harlequin Superromance.
Since that first sale, Kathryn has written twenty-five books for Harlequin, nine mainstream contemporary romances for the Berkley Publishing Group, and two online novellas, which Berkley then published in traditional print format. Her first mainstream fiction book will be out from Bold Strokes Books in September, 2010
Kathryn has become known for her powerful characterizations – readers say they feel they know the people in her books – and her heart-wrenching, emotional writing (her favorite comments are that fans cried while reading her books or stayed up late to finish them). In testament to her skill, the author has won five RT BookClub Magazine Reviewers Choice Awards, three Holt Medallions, two Desert Quill Awards, the Golden Leaf Award, and several online accolades.
Even in light of her writing success, that initial love of teaching never wavered for Kathryn. She finished out her teaching career in 2004, retiring from the same school where her career began. These days, she lives in upstate New York with her husband and two children. “My life is very full,” she reports, “but very happy. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to pursue and achieve my dreams.”
You can visit Kathryn’s website at www.kathrynshay.com.