Novelist Makes Return Appearance Here
BY SARAH BROWN
Novelist Juliette Fay, of Massachusetts, calls herself a "late bloomer" in the writing world.
After more than two decades working in human services with homeless, abused and mentally challenged children, Fay published her first novel, "Shelter Me," in 2009.
"(Becoming an author) was not a dream of mine. It was never something I'd planned on as a career," she says.
Fast forward three years from that first publication, and Fay is celebrating the recent release of her third novel, "The Shortest Way Home," with a cross-country book tour. She comes to The Country Bookshop in downtown Southern Pines to talk about her latest title Thursday, Nov. 15, at 4:30 p.m.
Her tour will take her to several cities in Arizona and make stops in North and South Carolina, in addition to bookstores around the New England area.
Prior to her foray into fiction, Fay had never published any written work.
"I started by writing down a story I'd had in my head for a while," she says. "After that, I just fell in love with writing."
After "Shelter Me," which was designated as one of the 10 best works of fiction in 2009 in Massachusetts, Fay's second work, "Deep Down True," was published in early 2011.
"The Shortest Way Home" focuses on Sean Doran, a nurse who has spent his adult years trekking to third-world countries and caring for the poor. The man is at risk for Huntington's disease.
Knowing that his days could be numbered, Doran has been on a quest to live life to the fullest.
"(Huntington's) led him to become a nurse. Because he could easily die early, he wants to do as much as he can while he can," Fay says.
She has a friend whose mother died of the condition.
"My friend was at risk (for Huntington's), and she knew it," Fay says. "There wasn't a test for Huntington's then. She had to wait and see if the symptoms came."
Seeing her friend have to endure this ordeal moved Fay to incorporate Huntington's into her new novel.
"Watching her live her life, I was always so impressed with how she handled such a horrible thing hanging over her," she says. "The novel's story is based on my thoughts. What would I feel like if I was in that situation?"
In the plot, a burned-out Doran returns home to Massachusetts from his world travels for a short visit, but he encounters unexpected developments with his elderly aunt, his sister and his nephew.
They are having a "natural disaster" at home, as the sister puts it.
During his stay, a former high school queen bee complicates life for Doran with a touch of romance, and an old school friend - who was little more than a wallflower in class - also enters the picture, causing Doran to question his own destiny in a humorous, heartfelt and hopeful tale.
A couple of the characters from "Shelter Me" make an appearance in "The Shortest Way Home," and the story takes place in the same setting as the former book.
Although it is not a sequel to her first novel, Fay says she wanted to "tie the two stories together" in her new title.
"This allows readers (of 'Shelter Me') a peek into the next chapter of these characters' lives," she says.
Following her visit to the Sandhills last year to speak about "Deep Down True," Fay says The Country Bookshop actually reached out and invited her to return for this book event.
"I'm thrilled to be going back," she says. "It's a beautiful bookstore, and it was a fun experience to be there."
Sarah Brown was an intern for The Pilot and is currently serving as Hoofbeats correspondent.
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