Welcome to Authors Visits Kay, we are excited about your latest book, The Keeper.
Tell us this book.
The Keeper is about a young woman, an abusive man, and the lies that bind. Mandy drifts from one homeless shelter to another, sometimes sleeping under bridges or staying in shady motels with the man she calls “Daddy,” although the affectionate term begins to stick in her throat. Wylie Gafford is obnoxious, cold-hearted and mean. Some folks have book sense and some have common sense, but Wylie appears to have neither. He forbids her to have friends.
When Mandy falls in love at seventeen, Wylie’s furious and takes her away. He compares her to a trash-fish and says a trash-fish is as much fun to pull into the boat as a nice bream, but at the end of the day the trash goes back into the cold waters, while the bream—a keeper—goes home with the fisherman. “When that ol’ boy gets ready to pick a wife, he won’t be picking the likes of you. You ain’t no keeper, girlie.”
Mandy’s goal is to become a Keeper and return to Alabama to the love she left behind. But fear, guilt, and a false sense of loyalty are the invisible chains that bind her to her domineering father.
How did it come about?
My husband and I had the privilege of getting to know a unique homeless couple who drifted into our lives several years ago. We listened to their stories of being without a home, and rejoiced when they moved into an old rental house, even though the only furniture was a mattress they found at the dump for their children to sleep on. He had a fourth grade education, had been in prison, but eventually joined our Sunday School Class. I learned through that experience that there is indeed a little bad in the best of us and a little good in the worst of us.
What is the story behind the creation?
The couple we befriended had three children, but one little girl looked very different from the parents and the other two children. When we first met them, the thought ran through my mind, “What if this child isn’t theirs?” After I came to know them, I knew it was a foolish notion, but the idea for a book lurked in the back of my mind. Mandy desperately wants to believe Wylie can’t be her father. After all, how could a daddy be so cruel to his own flesh and blood?
Was your book research intensive?
A great deal of information was gleaned from previous experiences. Years ago, I visited a single mother with a newborn who was staying at the Rescue Mission in Mobile, Alabama. When I wrote a scene that takes place at a shelter, I drew from that experience.
Did you find some fun facts?
Yes, I did. A character in the book wants to convince Mandy that her father is wrong, and she is indeed a Keeper. He takes her to a seafood restaurant and tells her the chef attends a Trash Fish Festival each year, because they’ve discovered previously labeled “trash fish,” are actually delectable dishes—real keepers. I had never heard of a Trash Fish Festival, but out of curiosity, Googled. Guess what? There really is a Trash Fish Festival, and I found some wonderful information that I was able to use in my book.
Did you find not so fun facts while researching your book?
I did. But to share it would give away a portion of the book that I’d prefer to let the readers discover for themselves. My books are called Southern Secrets, so some things must remain hidden. J
Does coincidence play a role in your book? If so, what was the strangest coincidence you experienced and did you use it in your book?
Actually, it happened after I wrote the book. There was an article in the newspaper, where a young woman gave her story, and it was as if my character had come to life and had written the article. It was eerie how much it sounded like Mandy speaking—same experiences, same thoughts and actions. It was confirmation to me that I got it right.
What do you like most about writing?
I love hearing from readers. I’m in constant awe at how God uses fiction to touch lives.
What do you like least?
I’ll have to come back to that one. At the moment, I can’t think of anything about writing that I don’t enjoy.
Are you working on the next book?
Yes. Book 4 in the Switched Series.
Tell us how long it took you to write your book.
I wrote The Keeper in three or four months several years ago, but put it away to write Lunacy, when the Publishers were asking for Historicals. I pulled it back out recently, tweaked it, and now I’m glad I did.
Tell us something fun you like to do.
I enjoy taking spontaneous road trips with my husband, stopping along the way to explore Mom and Pop shops, while getting to know the locals.
What’s next for you in writing?
I’ve had readers wanting to know what happened to Ludie, a character in Mercy, so I’m working on Kinfolk, Book 4 in the Switched Series.