GigiMama is the winner!
By Kim Stagliano
When was the last time you uttered "romance, sexy and autism" in the same sentence? I never had either, until I read Kay Thomas' novel from Harlequin Intrigue, Better Than Bulletproof.
Leave a comment to win a signed copy! (BTB features a 5 year old with autism who has just started speaking thanks to biomedical treatments. A of A readers will love it!)
On secret military missions Harlan Jeffries has defied danger: he'd be damned if minding an adorable child -- and the boy's stubborn and all too sexy aunt -- would be his downfall. But when little Adam's mother went missing, Harlan had no choice but to take them both under his personal protection.
Scroll down to read my interview with Kay.
1) Hi, Kay and Congrats on your release of Better Than Bulletproof. Can you give us a synopsis of your book, a sneak peak at the back cover blurb?
Hi Kim, Thanks. It’s great to be here.
BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF 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.
2) So what's this I hear about biomedical autism treatments appearing in a ROMANCE! Do you have any idea how exciting it is (pun intended) to be able to read a book that incorporates autism and (I hope) sex too? LOL!
I agree it’s an unusual venue for this particular subject matter. As you know Harlequin is all about romance in any setting. And BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF is a romantic suspense thriller set against the autism/vaccine issue. All through the editing process I kept expecting that I would be asked to soften the vaccine/pharmaceutical aspect of the story. But I was encouraged and excited that my editor did not back away from this controversial topic. It is 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 and treatment options facing parents today.
3) Can you tell our readers who are also writers a bit about your publishing journey? Who is your agent and how did you sell the MS?
I didn’t always know I wanted to write. The first week of “Freshman Comp” my professor read something I’d written out loud to the entire class as an example of something “well done.” I still remember how that made me feel.
Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last…I was a one hit wonder in composition and was thrilled with the C that I barely squeezed out of there with. But my fourth year of college, I met the teacher who would become my writing mentor and I started to “get it”.
He said, “Write on one side of the page 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 and can write tight. 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.
A few years later, I took a couple of creative writing courses at a community college and started a manuscript. Got a hundred pages into it, got stuck, and life got complicated for a while. Finally in 2004, I joined Romance Writers of America and things started to really gel for me in terms of writing and process.
I completed three manuscripts and I targeted a contest with my new #1 “dream agent” judging (Helen Breitwieser of Cornerstone Literary) and I finalled! A dream come true in itself. She requested the full manuscript and offered to represent me. Less than a year later she sold that manuscript to Harlequin Intrigue. Six months after that we sold a second book to Intrigue on proposal.
4) Is this a standalone book?
5) Why autism?
I mentioned earlier that “life got complicated.” Eight years ago my son was diagnosed with autism and I 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. When I think about where we were nine years ago, I’m completely awed.
6) Have you written other books or is this your debut?
Better Than Bulletproof is my debut novel and my third completed manuscript. In April, Harlequin is releasing my next book titled Bulletproof Texas. It’s about caves and cancer research with continuing characters and a plot thread that carries over from Better Than Bulletproof.
Bulletproof Texas is a romantic suspense thriller about a pharmaceutical research scientist and a brooding caving guide who are forced to work together extracting a 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.
7) Will you be doing any book clubs by phone? How can readers get in touch with you?
I don’t have plans for phone book clubs right now, but I’m doing two different online bookclub/forum events in February and several blogs this spring. The details are on my website. Please check there for dates and sign up for my newsletter.
I’m also on Facebook
With a Facebook group
Bulletproof Thrills – Romantic Suspense from Kay Thomas
http://www.myspace.com/kaythomas_ (Yes, that’s an underscore after thomas!)
Come “friend me” at any of these venues. I’d love to hear from you!
Best wishes with sales, Kay! And thanks for coming to Age of Autism .
This has been great, Kim. I appreciate your interest and the opportunity to tell you about my book. My very best to you and your readers.
Readers, leave a comment to win a copy of Kay's "Better Than Bulletproof." And don't forget to support her by buying a copy for yourself and a friend HERE!
If you can leave a review that would be great too!
Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism.