The Road to Escape by Patricia Kiyono
Book One in The Escape Reunion Series, a multi-author project
Sometimes it takes a village… to write a book!
Writing is often described as a lonely profession. An author spends a lot of time working alone, other than the characters in his or her mind. But I’ve found that the end result is much better when other eyes, ears, and minds are part of the project.
In the case of The Road to Escape, I presented the idea of a patriarch who’s been estranged from his children. He receives a medical diagnosis that causes him swallow his pride and invite the children all home for a reunion. I suggested that I could write the patriarch’s story and asked if anyone would be willing to write stories for his children. Several other authors in my publishing house liked the idea, and came on board. Together, we brainstormed online and came up with names, locations, professions, and conflicts between their characters and their father.
But the collaborations didn’t end there. As we began writing, we knew we had to include scenes or memories of the other characters, so we shared bits and pieces with each other to be sure our visions of the characters matched what others thought. Thank goodness for emails, texts, and Facebook Messenger!
Face-to-face brainstorming sessions really helped. My brainstorming buddies from MMRWA were helpful in helping me work out how I could make different scenarios work. Sometimes I just needed ideas, and wherever a group of creative people gathers, ideas abound. My daughter and niece always provide valuable feedback on how younger characters would look, speak, and react in various situations. My character has a teenage granddaughter who comes to stay with him, so I needed ideas on how she would be dressed, so I asked them, as well as my own granddaughters.
Last, but not least, I enlisted the help of people in the professions of my characters. Tom Cooper is a part-time attorney who owns and runs an alpaca farm. Laurie Matthews is a former nurse who runs a diner. I met and/or chatted with people in all those professions to make sure my descriptions of the things Tom and Laurie did were realistic and accurate.
So while the actual writing is done alone, it takes a wide circle of contributors to make a book come to life.
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.
Patricia Kiyono can be found on Amazon and at her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest.
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.
He was no stranger to big city fashion, but the girl standing in his doorway was unlike anyone he’d ever seen in Indy or Chicago — or any other place. From her unkempt multi-colored hair down to the tips of her worn sneakers she oozed rebellion. What was she doing here so far away from a city? His gaze went back up to her face and he prepared to ask if she was lost, but her first words shocked the thought from his mind.
“So. You must be Gramps.”
His mouth hung open and she shifted a bit. But the uncertainty disappeared under a mask of bravado.
“You gonna make me stand out here? It’s not all that warm, you know.”
He started to step back, but caution reared its head. “Wait. I don’t know who you are. How do you know me?”
She did an eye-roll. “I just called you Gramps. Doesn’t that tell you anything? Do I need to spell it out for you?”
“I don’t have any grandchildren.”
“Yeah, you do. Me.” She struck a confident posture and held out a hand. “Nickie Jones.”
He shook the hand briefly. “So one of my kids had a child umpteen years ago and never told me?”
“That sums it up.”
“Michael, I guess.”
“Now I know you’re lying. Michael’s dead.”
“Right. He died before I was born. I didn’t know much about him — or you — until yesterday.”
Pain gripped his gut as it did every time he thought about his second son. Of all his children, Tom had had the highest hopes for Michael. He’d been bright, curious, and ambitious. He’d been accepted into some top colleges. But he’d been in love with Regan—
He studied the girl again. Almond-shaped brown eyes stared back at him. That gaze that bore into him, as if reading his mind. “You’re Regan’s girl.”
A touching story about second chances on life and love. Patricia Kiyono brings ordinary characters to life in an unforgettable way. An alpaca farmer and the diner owner have loved and lost. Maybe this time they'll have their happy-ever-after. This book is the first in a series. I'm looking forward to reading the others.