Closer Home, by Kerry Schafer (Interview)

I usually only post reviews on this blog, but I’m making an exception today. This is a pretty cool post for me to be able to do, because I love to talk about the KerrySchafersuccesses that my writer-friends have had, and Kerry is one of the writers I’ve been friends with the longest. Our relationship goes back decades, to when we were both young and foolish and aspiring writers living a few houses away from each other on a cul-de-sac in Oshawa, Ontario. We’ve kept in touch during all the years since, and Kerry has gone on to release a fantasy trilogy and a paranormal thriller under the name Kerry Schafer. Now she’s trying something new: this week her novel Closer Home comes out under the name Kerry Anne King. Since my novel What You Want has also just come out in paperback, and since writing women’s fiction is a bit of a change of direction for both of us, we are interviewing each other on our blogs today. I’m excited to tell you a bit more about Kerry and her new book. Read a quick synopsis of the book below, then continue on for my interview with Kerry.

When Lise Redding’s estranged sister, country-pop star Callie Redfern, is killed during a publicity stunt, the small-town music teacher is dragged from her quiet life into the spotlight.
Lise hadn’t spoken with Callie in ten years, ever since Callie’s betrayal split them apart, so she’s shocked to discover that she’s inherited her sister’s massive estate. Not only that, but Lise is now the guardian of her sixteen-year-old niece, Ariel, to whom she’s practically a stranger.
Overwhelmed by grief and her new responsibilities, Lise thinks things couldn’t get worse. But overnight she becomes the paparazzi’s latest obsession. Suddenly she and her longtime friend Dale are plastered over the front pages of the tabloids. Desperate to escape both the media and her memories, Lise sets off with Ariel on a search for the girl’s father. Yet instead of granting Lise a reprieve, the quest brings her face-to-face with long-buried secrets. Only by learning to forgive will she be able to find her way back home.

Trudy: When we first met nearly 30 (!!!) years ago, you were working on a fantasy novel. Since then you’ve published a fantasy trilogy and a paranormal thriller (under the name Kerry Schafer). Is writing women’s fiction something completely new for you?

Kerry: It can’t really be thirty years. You’re a writer – please tell me you’re making that up! I am not going to do the math myself. The answer to your question is, technically, yes. Writing a novel in the women’s fiction genre was actually my agent’s idea, and something new for me. She pointed out that all of my books feature strong women characters, and that I seemed to be passionate about that. As usual, she was right, and making the transition was very natural for me.

Trudy: Your Kerry Schafer books all have what I’d consider a dark side — an unflinching look at things that are terrifying and dangerous. Is there any dark side to Kerry Anne King and Closer Home?

Kerry: Yes, I think so. Maybe there aren’t any dragons or slime toads or invisible blood sucking paranormals, but Closer Home deals with emotional betrayals and complicated grief. In some ways, writing about the darker side of human emotions and relationships is scarier than something obviously fantastical. A lot of us enjoy being frightened by scary stories that we know could never happen to us, but we are all going to have to deal with loss and betrayal at some point in our lives, and we tend to avoid the emotions that come with that.

Trudy: Back when you and I lived on the same block, I was a teacher, you were a nurse, and we were both aspiring writers. Since then, we both went on to get a degree in counselling (although you’re actually using yours and I’m not). Does your counselling background, and your day job, inform your writing in any way?

Kerry: Yes, absolutely, although right now, since I’m working as a nurse again, I’m not technically using my counseling degree either. But patients come in and they all have a story. Some of them are so incredibly brave – these wonderfully bright, transcendent souls who have overcome multiple griefs or who are coping with terrible chronic pain. Some are loving and forgiving, some small and cold and vengeful. When I was working mental health crisis I met people on the very worst moments of their lives. It’s inevitable that those powerful emotions are going to find their way into my writing.

Trudy: Which character in Closer Home did you most enjoy writing about, and why?

Kerry: I loved writing my main character, Lise. She’s a small town woman who is thrust against her will into the bright lights of a big city. Life hasn’t ever been easy for her, and she’s built up a hard protective shell. Grief, along with the sort of crisis that shakes her well regulated life down to the foundation, cracks all of her defenses and pushes her into an emotional growth she would have spent her life avoiding, given a choice. I love writing growth stories, and Lise has plenty of opportunities for that.

Trudy: What was the most difficult thing about writing Closer Home for you?

Honestly? This book almost seemed to write itself. Once I had the characters and the situation down, it was just a matter of finding the words to tell the story. The most difficult thing was a tight deadline, and the reality that I also had a deadline on Dead Before Dying, a paranormal thriller written under my Kerry Schafer line. So there was a lot of juggling between two very different books.

I can’t wait to read Closer Home, and I hope you can’t either! I’ll post a review as soon as I’ve finished it. You can read Kerry’s interview with me about What You Want here on her blog. Also, everyone who comments on this post will be entered in a draw to win a copy of both her book and mine!


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