Today I am delighted to welcome author Kay Thomas!
I met Kay in San Francisco last year when I attended the RWA conference and when I learned of her release, Better Than Bulletproof, I invited her to be a guest on the blog. I was thrilled when she took me up on the offer and here’s my interview with Kay…
Welcome to the blog. Congratulations on your debut book. Can you please tell us a little about Better Than Bulletproof?
Sure. Thanks for having me, Jennifer. It’s great to be here today.
This romantic suspense thriller is about a Marine and a perpetual “screw-up,” who join forces to rescue an autistic boy from a web of murder and government conspiracy.
Gina Rodgers, a struggling advertising artist, has just landed the account of a lifetime when her sister mysteriously disappears and leaves behind a five-year-old autistic son. Even though she has no idea how to deal with her nephew’s overwhelming needs, Gina drops everything in her Dallas job and travels to Mississippi to care for Adam and look for her sister. There she discovers an unexpected ally in the child’s play therapist, Harlan Jeffries, an ex-military sniper seeking redemption through working with special needs children.
As they search for her sister, Gina and Harlan are caught up in a conspiracy involving murder, betrayal and a pharmaceutical company cover-up that reaches to the highest levels of government. Everything they believe about themselves and the people they love will be challenged as Gina and Harlan are forced to race across the country to find and protect her missing sister’s explosive research study that proves the vaccine-autism connection.
It’s a wonderful book. Can you share with us what inspired the story?
Eight years ago my son was diagnosed with autism and we immediately dove into an intensive array of biomedical and traditional therapies for him. He worked hard and responded amazingly well. I will be forever grateful to a multitude of people that I can never repay for giving me back my son. People who worked with him, played with him, prayed for him and for my family. Incredibly generous parents I’ve met through autism groups online but never met in person who shared their hard won knowledge and advice when we got stuck in various stages of treatment. Doctors, teachers, therapists, and friends who gave so much over the years. It’s a very long list.
Even with exceptional treatment, you don’t always get the kind of results we did. It’s been an extraordinarily humbling and overwhelming experience. Today I look at my son when he’s yakking away (a miracle in itself), and I think about where we were 9 years ago. I’m completely awed.
BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF is very much the “book of my heart” because the subject matter is so steeped in autism and treatment. I struggled not to “tell too much” as I wrote and to stay focused on the characters—not getting too carried away on a topic which is so close to home. It’s my greatest hope that readers can enjoy Harlan and Gina’s story and be entertained by it as well as learn a bit about autism—an epidemic that is sweeping the country and stealing away some of the brightest children of a generation.
If someone wanted to learn more about autism or become involved in helping where would you recommend they start?
There are many great autism resources on the Internet now.
My favorite is National Autism Association
Their motto is “Think Autism. Think Cure.”
They have fabulous resources for treatment options, conferences, and the latest news in the autism world. Practically every reputable autism site on the web is listed at NAA—Autism Research Institute, Talk About Curing Autism, Generation Rescue, Autism One. Please check them out.
And if you lose the address or can’t remember it when you’re chatting with someone, I have a list of autism resources on my website under links. NAA is at the top of the list.
As I mentioned, this is your debut release. Can you tell us your “Call Story?”
Last year in mid-January, I was packing my family to get ready for a trip to visit my Dad for his 81st birthday. The phone rang and it was my wonderful agent Helen Breitwieser. She usually emails so I knew this was momentous news. She said Harlequin Intrigue really liked my story but it was too long for their line and would I be willing to cut my single title story to a category length.
(This meant cutting about 80 pages of the manuscript.)
Was I willing to do that?
“Of course I can.”
“Okay, let me call them back. I’ll email you, it will probably be tomorrow before we hear anything.”
Well, after that awesome call I had to get in the car and drive eight hours to my parents’ house. And let me tell you, it was a good thing we were almost packed because I don’t think I could have remembered to pack underwear or shoes or anything, I was so excited.
We didn’t really have a deal yet. Just a “Gee, we’re interested.” And I didn’t know if they’d want me to do all that cutting first and see it before they made the offer or after. And I had a long drive to think about that, too. A very long drive.
When we got to my parent’s house it was 2 am, and everyone was wiped out from the drive, so I didn’t want to get into the news just yet. But my Dad has always been such a cheerleader for my writing. Growing up he always told me I could do whatever I set my mind to. When I went to tell my parents good night after the kids were finally in bed, I just had to tell my folks that I thought I “might” be about to sell my book. The looks on their faces were priceless.
I couldn’t sleep after all that and I had to go online to see if there was any news. I really wasn’t expecting any until much later that day. It was now about 3:30 in the morning and everyone was fast asleep but yes, there was the email from Helen! Harlequin had made an offer.
I was shouting on the inside but I couldn’t go wake anyone up to say it was finally real. They’d all just gotten to sleep. But oh, that evening we got to celebrate my Dad’s birthday with the rest of my extended family and my book sale. I don’t think I could have given my Dad a greater birthday gift than telling him about my dream come true in person.
That’s a great story! So what is your favorite thing about being a writer?
Besides working in my pajamas? : )
I love being totally absorbed in a story. I’ve never done anything besides writing where I lose myself so completely. I look up and so much time has flown by. I learned early on that I had to set an alarm because I kept missing carpool and being late to pick up my kids. Completely mortifying and totally affirming that I’d found my niche.
Who has inspired you as a writer?
My college English literature professor who taught me about writing tight and loving language at the same time.
He said, “Write on one side of the paper only. You can write all over the page if you must, but one side only for your papers.”
You really have to understand Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” to do that. You can’t B.S. your way to a conclusion in a one-pager unless you have the concept down. I fell in love with that kind of writing and I still keep in touch with that professor. He edited my first two books. He’s in his eighties now. A wonderful man.
What do you like to read?
A little of everything…
Romance, suspense, romantic comedy, paranormal, thrillers, YA — I prefer happily ever after endings!
Describe yourself in three words.
Persistent, persistent, persistent
If you could trade places with anyone (real or fictional), who would it be and why?
Wouldn’t do it…I really like my life, my family. The road we’ve traveled hasn’t always been easy, but it’s made all of us stronger. I wouldn’t trade that.
What’s next for you?
I have an April Intrigue titled BULLETPROOF TEXAS. The release date is April 14, 2009. And I had a blast writing it. BULLETPROOF TEXAS pulls in a plot thread and characters from BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF.
It’s a romantic suspense thriller about a sexy research scientist and a brooding caving guide who are forced to work together extracting cancer-eating bacteria from a flooding Texas Hill Country cave. As the sparks fly and the sexual tension increases, so do the dangers when a competitor decides this potential cure shouldn’t see the light of day–and is willing to kill anyone who gets in the way.
That sounds great! I can’t wait! Do you have anything you’d like to ask my blog readers?
I love to hear from readers. Please contact me at my website (KayThomas.net) and sign up for my newsletter or contact me through facebook or myspace. The links are all there at my website. I’d love to know what you think of the book.
Thanks so much for being my guest!
This has been great, Jennifer. I appreciate your interest and the opportunity to tell you about my book. My very best to you and your readers.
Readers, you can learn more about Kay and her books at her website: http://www.kaythomas.net
And be sure to look for Better Than Bulletproof in stores now!
I’ll be posting my review of this release this weekend!
Oh, and here is a neat widget for Kay and her release: