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Archive for May 21st, 2008

Dear Novel Thoughts and Book Talk Readers,

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to blog on your site. First, an introduction. I’m Kathryn Shay and I write for The Berkley Publishing Group and Harlequin Superromance. I have a total of 32 books published. My current release is TAKING THE HEAT from Berkley, on the stands now. It’s the story of widower Liam O’Neil who lost his wife three years ago to cancer and is ready to date again. He meets Sophie Tyler, rough and tumble female firefighter from the FDNY, and is attracted to her. But his sons are still suffering over the loss of their mother and Liam feels he can’t risk getting involved with someone in such a dangerous profession. Too bad, though, because they can’t help themselves and sparks fly, emotionally, physically and on the line.

I’ve been asked how I choose the subject of my books. Often it’s by profession, as with firefighters. In 1997, two years after my first book came out, I was thinking about my next Superromance and decided I hadn’t seen too many books out about America’s Bravest. And some of those that I had read never showed anything about the job itself. Also, I thought these men and women were true heroes, as the world saw after 9/11. They potentially risk their lives every day when they walk into that firehouse. I began to wonder what kind of person can do that? How does his or her family react? So when Harlequin bought a trilogy (that turned into four books), I knew I had to research the job. I started by visiting firehouses, riding the trucks, going to the fire academy classes and simply talking with everyone from the fire chief to captains to paramedics to line firefighters. For me, this is the best kind of research because it’s hands on! And it was fun, to boot!

In the past thirteen years, I’ve decided to write other books based on a profession. I ask myself questions like, what if a judge and a lawyer got divorced? How would that play out? What about an anti-gang specialist and a national senator? How about a cop in a classroom and the teacher herself? Or the principal and a newspaper reporter who criticizes him? A pilot who does emergency airlifts and the female entrepreneur who funds the base? An architect responsible for the fall of a building? This is how many books enter my head.

I also get ideas by thinking about a situation. My Serenity House trilogy from Harlequin came to being when I wondered what would happen to three girls who spent time in a group home as teenagers? Would they stay in touch? Be friends as adults? I also wanted to write about school violence. I knew there was federal research out there, but I thought it had been done by the FBI. Nope—the Secret Service wrote all the manuals for schools and interviewed the shooters. So far, I done two Secret Service books and wouldn’t mind returning to that profession.

Often, issues in society call storylines up for me: date rape, teen suicide, estrangement from one’s family, how to deal with teenage gangs, the pressure we put on kids today, and PTSD—imagine what’s going to happen when all those soldiers finally get out of Iraq and come home.

And finally, something just comes up: my friend asks me if a book was ever written about….whatever. I see a widower on TV, hear the sounds of a construction site or even meet someone I don’t like. These often lead to characters in my books and plotlines.

I’ll end this by telling you that I’ve been writing stories since I was fifteen. I used to read them to all my young friends. In college, I took as many creative writing classes as I could, and my teacher told me I was a wonderful storyteller. As I taught kids to write, I wrote with them—short stories, memoirs and poetry. I guess I was destined to seek publication later in life!

If you have any questions, I’d be glad to answer them.
Kathy Shay

****Don’t forget to leave a comment! One reader will receive a copy of TAKING THE HEAT.

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