Kristy Kiernan (Catching Genius, Matters of Faith) has been mentioned on this site more than a few times…with good reason. First and foremost — without this very special author’s/friend’s encouragement and belief that my idea of “connecting” readers with authors would work — The Divining Wand probably wouldn’t exist! However as much as Kristy gives to her friends and fellow authors, what she gives to readers is sheer genius.
A born storyteller, this award-winning author has been gifted with writing talent that beckons from her first paragraph. She carries you away (always to her beloved southern Florida) so effortlessly, vividly, and emotionally that in reaching the end of one of her novels it’s bittersweet to close the book. And, while most of TDW authors know the experience, this Fairy Godmother wondered how many TDW readers were familiar with Kristy.
On April 6, 2010, Between Friends by Kristy Kiernan will be released after a two year wait between books. TRUST: Our patience has been rewarded. But for those who have yet to discover this remarkable author, why not get to know her now?
The Great Blizzard of 2010 promises to be followed by yet another one this week and TRUTH: A Florida getaway is as close as your bookstore. Below is my second, all-time book/presentation — Kristy’s debut, Catching Genius, — posted on February 26, 2007 and it still holds up.
Reviews for Catching Genius
BookPage: “stunning debut,” “mesmerizing,” and “a must read…”
Publisher’s Weekly: “a moving novel about forgiveness and the fragility of family,”
Harriet Klausner, online book reviewer: “a delightful look at how childhood relationships make the adults…readers will appreciate Kiernan’s poignant look at the changing relationship between two sisters.”
If Kristy Kiernan’s name sounds familiar, you have a good memory. Introduced in the January 8, 2007 post, “An Invitation to the Debutante Ball,” Kristy explained her intention for the grog: “I wanted to bring fresh voices together and present them to readers in a one-stop shop format and let them get to know about us and our novels in a unique way before they had to search for us in a bookstore full of the same authors they’ve seen for years and years.” Until now, she has shared the weekly spotlight with her fellow five Debs, but Kristy will soon garner individual attention when her novel, Catching Genius is released on Tuesday, March 6th.
Since that date is only a week and a day away, it’s time for you to get to know her better. In the bio posted at The Debutante Ball, you would read:
“Kristy Kiernan was raised in Florida as one of the beach-rats she often writes about and dreaming of writing a novel. But the exciting life of serving Manhattans and pot stickers at a trendy, striped-shirt establishment beckoned, and Kristy answered the siren song, fetchingly bedecked in suspenders with pithy buttons and WOW pins (WOW stood for: we really should give you some money for working the past 72 hours; how ’bout this shiny PIN instead?!), and tres chic hats trailing polka-dot ribbons. She often wore matching polka-dot shoelaces.
“This glamorous life couldn’t last long, and before Kristy knew it she was married to renowned art-dealer hunk, Richard, and working in the construction industry as a purchasing agent. No more WOW pins or hats, but she occasionally tried to sneak out of the house in those polka-dot shoelaces. Luckily, she was stopped by previously mentioned hunk.
“Alas, the construction industry didn’t keep Kristy’s creative side happy (really, who could tame her?!), and Richard, never one to sit idly by while his love was pining for an outlet, encouraged her to follow her dream (actually, he told her to write a book or stop whining about it). The journey has a happy ending. Kristy’s first novel, Catching Genius, will be published by Berkley Books in March of 2007.”
Friendly, a bit glib and ever imaginative, that might be your first impression of this Deb; but check out her website, Kristy Kiernan, and you’ll find more revealing insights [three years ago this appeared]:
“Kristy was born in Tennessee and raised on the beaches of southwest Florida, where she learned to read by watching her mother draw letters in the sand. The day she discovered that the letters formed words she knew she wanted to write. “Though I don’t remember it,”‘ Kiernan says, ‘”my mother told me that when I was five I suddenly stopped building my sandcastle, squinted up at her and declared, ‘When I’m done with all the grown-up stuff, I’m going to be a writer.’ I’m not sure I’m done with all the grown-up stuff, but at least I fulfilled the writing prophecy.”"
That debut writing prophecy is fulfilled in Catching Genius and here’s a brief synopsis:
“As children, Connie and Estella were best friends — until Estella was discovered to be a math prodigy, which led to the sisters’ estrangement. Now, years later, they are forced to reunite on the Gulf Coast of Florida as they pack up their childhood home and ready it for sale. The reunion comes at a time when both Connie and Estella must come to terms with painful revelations and devastating consequences in their own lives. And once again, her sister’s genius may alter Connie’s life in ways she cannot control.”
Sound anything like your relatives? Well, maybe not the “genius” part. ;o) But, since many first-time novelists write about what they know best, I asked Kristy if she based the book’s theme of sister/family on personal experience? And she replied:
“No, the sisters theme did not come about from my family. I have an older brother, and so the sibling theme was certainly something that I’d had experience with. But what I was really interested in was the often unspoken reality that family members don’t always understand or even like each other. There seems to be an assumption that because people are related they should automatically be close, and really, how often does that happen? I think it’s both an unrealistic expectation as well as a guilt-inducing fallacy that feeling close to a family member is automatic and easy. For some I suppose it is. Not for most of the people I’ve met. For most it’s as much work, if not more, than having a good relationship with a spouse or friend. And why shouldn’t it be? Especially when you grow up. People change when they become adults, thank goodness, and when you bring the same issues developed as children to the table as adults without changing how you deal with them, well, it’s no wonder holiday dinners are so often portrayed as chaotic, bickering, resentment-fueled events.
“So, I could have written about the relationship that I should know best, that of brother and sister, but I was intrigued with the idea that sisters not only have to contend with the expectation that they understand each other as family members, but also as women. I think that in our society sisters are seen as being lucky and are always told that they are, as if they were born with love and understanding for their sister already instilled. It must be difficult when sisters don’t really understand each other, and I wanted to explore that.”
Ahem…and understanding can be a challenge as Deb Kristy — attempting to identify her protagonist(s) — interviewed both sisters and their mother in Connie? No, Estella. No, Wait, June Of course those are the sisters as adults, but — if you’d like to read more about them as children — visit the website and click on Excerpt at the top of the page. [Now, three years later, click on Catching Genius at the side of the page.]
Lovely and poignant, Kristy Kiernan’s writing is heartfelt. And that comes out naturally when reflecting on her own childhood in Bookstores and Beach Rats.
Sigh…so why not PRE-ORDER Catching Genius now? Experience the magic of this talented writer who began by writing letters in the sand, then caught and honed her own genius!
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away both of Kristy Kiernan’s novels, Catching Genius and Matters of Faith, as a duo. Please leave a comment on this post to be entered into the random drawing. The deadline is Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EST. with the winner announced here in Thursday’s post.