Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is there such a thing as the perfect family? by Kathryn Shay, Author of The Perfect Family

Today's special guest blogger is Kathryn Shay, author of The Perfect Family.

Seventeen-year old Jamie Davidson doesn’t think being gay should be such a big deal…until he comes out to his parents and friends. Even as Jamie celebrates no longer needing to hide his true self and looks forward to the excitement of openly dating another boy, the entire Davidson family is thrown into turmoil.

Jamie’s father Mike can’t reconcile his religious beliefs with his son’s sexuality. His brother Brian is harassed by his jock buddies and angry at Jamie for complicating all their lives. Maggie, his mother, fears being able to protect her son while struggling to save her crumbling marriage. And Jamie feels guilty for the unhappiness his disclosure has caused.

What happens in their small town community, in the high school, in two churches–one supportive and one not—as well as among friends and relatives is vividly portrayed. Finally, every member of their “perfect family” must search their hearts and souls to reconnect with each other in this honest, heartwarming, and hopeful look at the redemptive power of love and family.

Is there such a thing as the perfect family? by Kathryn Shay

Dear Book Connection Readers,

Thanks for inviting me to blog on your site. First, let me introduce myself. I’m Kathryn Shay and I’ve been published by Harlequin and The Berkley Publishing Group for the last fifteen years. The Perfect Family, released from Bold Strokes Books in September, is my thirty-seventh book.

The question posed in the title of this blog, “Is there such a thing as a perfect family” has a simple answer--a definite no! So why is it the title of my new book?

The story is about an average family with devoted parents and two terrific sons. Mike and Maggie love their jobs and have close friends and extended family. The boys, Jamie and Brian, are happy in their environment, one an accomplished actor in school plays, one a star athlete for the baseball team. Their life is wonderful and they are extremely grateful for this.

Maggie came from a dysfunctional childhood with severe, sometimes cruel parents, a beloved sister who was disowned by them, and two other siblings she doesn’t always see eye to eye with. Her mother is still alive and causes Maggie great heartache. Because of this, Maggie has vowed to create “the perfect family” of her own. And she thinks she’s done this. But then Jamie tells them he’s gay and their world shifts. Mike, a loving, giving man, struggles with Jamie’s sexual orientation mostly because of the Catholic church; Brian is harassed at school by his jock buddies and makes poor choices because of it; and Maggie tries to keep the family together amidst her own concerns for her son and the heartbreak of watching him endure discrimination. It becomes very clear that their family isn’t perfect, and the Davidsons have to struggle to maintain their loving relationship during this difficult time. Hence, The Perfect Family is an ironic title. An overriding theme of the book is that even in a good family, problems occur and it’s important to work them through with unconditional love and support.

I know personally that there is no such thing as a perfect family. I was a high school teacher and saw families in conflict all the time. Even when there were super parents and super kids involved, problems arose. Thank God for unbiased teachers who help kids with these issues. In my own English class, I taught Ordinary People, by Judith Guest, which also shows an ostensibly perfect family in crisis. Kids really related to the book, as did I.

As for myself, my extended family of two parents and four siblings was far from perfect, but my sisters, brother and I managed to create good successful lives. We’re still close and there for each other.

I must confess that, like Maggie, I set out to create the perfect nuclear family, too. I learned more quickly than Maggie that this isn’t possible. I love my kids and husband more than anything in the world, but I made mistakes with them. However, we learned from our problems and though the kids are grown now, my husband and I enjoy a wonderful relationship with them.

So that’s a long answer to why I believe there’s no such thing as the perfect family but titled my book as such anyway. I hope you’ll read The Perfect Family to see how this story is played out. By the way, though the book is fiction, it has some elements of my own personal story when my son came out gay at seventeen. We had our ups and downs, too, but managed to stay loving and supportive. And we have a gift for readers: we’re giving away copies of a CD my son made in high school. Many of the songs are about loving a boy. You can get it free when you order from the Bold Strokes website at Or, depending on availability, you can and also get it from my website,

I’ll come back to comment during the day.

Kathryn Shay

Many people ask about my next book. I’m working on new projects now, but I’d also like to say here that if readers are interested in my backlist, I’m making plans to put nine previously published single title books up on Kindle and Smashwords by the time The Perfect Family is released.

Kathryn Shay is a lifelong writer. At fifteen, she penned her first ‘romance,’ a short story about a female newspaper reporter in New York City and her fight to make a name for herself in a world of male journalists – and with one hardheaded editor in particular. Looking back, Kathryn says she should have known then that writing was in her future. But as so often happens, fate sent her detouring down another path.

Fully intending to pursue her dream of big city lights and success in the literary world, Kathryn took every creative writing class available at the small private women’s college she attended in upstate New York. Instead, other dreams took precedence. She met and subsequently married a wonderful guy who’d attended a neighboring school, then completed her practice teaching, a requirement for the education degree she never intended to use. But says Kathryn, “I fell in love with teaching the first day I was up in front of a class, and knew I was meant to do that.”

Kathryn went on to build a successful career in the New York state school system, thoroughly enjoying her work with adolescents. But by the early 1990s, she’d again made room in her life for writing. It was then that she submitted her first manuscript to publishers and agents. Despite enduring two years of rejections, she persevered. And on a snowy December afternoon in 1994, Kathryn Shay sold her first book to Harlequin Superromance.

Since that first sale, Kathryn has written twenty-five books for Harlequin, nine mainstream contemporary romances for the Berkley Publishing Group, and two online novellas, which Berkley then published in traditional print format. Her first mainstream fiction book will be out from Bold Strokes Books in September, 2010.

Kathryn has become known for her powerful characterizations – readers say they feel they know the people in her books – and her heart-wrenching, emotional writing (her favorite comments are that fans cried while reading her books or stayed up late to finish them). In testament to her skill, the author has won five RT BookClub Magazine Reviewers Choice Awards, three Holt Medallions, two Desert Quill Awards, the Golden Leaf Award, and several online accolades.

Even in light of her writing success, that initial love of teaching never wavered for Kathryn. She finished out her teaching career in 2004, retiring from the same school where her career began. These days, she lives in upstate New York with her husband and two children. “My life is very full,” she reports, “but very happy. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to pursue and achieve my dreams.”

You can visit Kathryn’s website at

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