Today I welcome a guest post by Patricia Kiyono.
The Road to Escape by Patricia Kiyono
Book One in The Escape Reunion Series, a multi-author project
A Group Effort
When my publisher put out a call for authors willing to work on a multi-author project, I immediately jumped on board. And since I was the first to join in, I somehow got the job of coordinating the project. I set up a secret Facebook page for the project and held brainstorming sessions to hammer out the details that we would all need. I started out with this basic idea: an aging patriarch receives the news that his health will prevent him from continuing to work on the family farm. He decides to call his children together for a reunion before the farm passes from the family.
Five other authors joined me in this effort, though one eventually dropped out. I wanted to write the patriarch’s story, since I enjoy writing about more mature characters. But then I had to make decisions about his character so that the rest of the authors could form their stories. Thanks to our online brainstorming sessions we decided the father’s name would be Tom Cooper, and he would be an alpaca farmer in the town of Escape, Indiana. The location is a nod to our publisher’s home state. We set up a photo album on our Facebook page, where we shared our visions of our characters, our locations, and whatever else we thought others should know. As we completed our manuscripts we shared our final chapters so that we could compare details.
We also needed a unifying theme. We decided that each child had a reason for leaving home and not coming back. And then each character had to go through a personal journey leading him or her back home. Tom harbors guilt over his wife’s death, and he inadvertently pushes his children away. His self-condemnation also prevents him from starting a new relationship – until he realizes that he can’t do everything alone.
It’s been a great experience working with these authors on this project. Thanks to our hard work, I think we’ve got a lovely set of stories, and hope readers agree!
About the Author:
Patricia Kiyono was born in Japan and raised in southwest Michigan, where she lives with her very tolerant husband, near their five children, nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Her first career was teaching, which she still does part-time at a local university. In addition to writing, she likes to sew and scrapbook. She also loves to travel, always on the lookout for special locations and historical details for her books.
The Road to Escape Blurb:
Tom Cooper left his high-pressure law practice in Indianapolis for life on an alpaca farm in the tiny northwest Indiana town of Escape. Though he continued to practice law, the farm provided a good life for him, his wife, and their four children. But when his wife died, grief consumed him and the children all left. He’s resigned to doing things alone, but a disturbing medical diagnosis could change things.
Laurie Matthews left her nursing job in shame. The town of Escape has welcomed her, and she now owns the local diner. She’s attracted to the handsome widower who comes in for coffee and a hot meal, but keeps her distance, because everyone she’s ever loved has died – her grandparents, her parents, her husband, and one other.
A romantic relationship isn’t on the agenda for either of them, but when the diner falls on hard times, Tom steps in to help, paving the way for them both to escape the loneliness in their lives.
The Road to Escape Excerpt:
A dozen years ago, he’d been a fair cook. He’d actually enjoyed grilling steaks, burgers, and other meats. He’d teased Amy about doing some of her work for her, but he’d loved it. He’d even fixed the side dishes, especially when Amy’d felt tired. If he’d known then that her fatigue had been a sign of her heart failure, he’d have gladly done all the cooking. Why hadn’t he paid more attention, when she’d started complaining about being so tired? Why hadn’t he done more to share the burden of keeping the house and raising the kids? Anyone could see she was a dainty little thing. He should have hired extra help for her in the house, not on the farm. Then maybe she’d still be here…
The guilt he’d carried after Amy’s death had been crippling. After the funeral, he’d shut himself up in their room and hadn’t come out until he’d heard Jani crying outside the door. Remembering that he still had a twelve-year-old daughter and a teenager to raise had brought him out of his stupor, and he’d come out full of resolve. No more junk food in the house. No lying around watching television when there were chores to do outside. The girls had complained, of course, and eventually they’d left him.
John had assured him that Amy’s death hadn’t been his fault, but he’d never been able to get rid of the guilt. And he’d never been able to begin a relationship with a woman since then. He didn’t trust himself to give her anything but pain.