Message From The Author
My Big Old Texas Heartache
To Her Family, With Love
By Lauren Spielberg
Following up the warm reception for The Pink Magnolia Club, a heart-felt tale inspired by real stories from the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation, would be a tall task for any author. Luckily, Geralyn Dawson has one audience that she knows will never be disappointedher family. Her second contemporary novel, MY BIG OLD TEXAS HEARTACHE (Pocket), like
its predecessor, her previous 11 historicals and handful of novellas, revolves around "a central theme of love and family," Dawson confides. "But I think I've drawn more from personal experience with this book than any of the others."
When she was on deadline for The Pink Magnolia Club, one of Dawson's three children became seriously ill. At the same time, her 84-year-old mother was hospitalized for the third time in two months and she had the care of her elderly father to think about. "I was overwhelmed by my responsibilities, frightened for my loved ones and unable to do enough to help any of them," Dawson says.
Reassured by Steve, her husband of 25 years, that not only
was she a devoted daughter, she was also a caring mother, this National Readers' Choice award-winner says that in the midst
of this inner and outer turmoil, the character of Kate Harmon, her heroine in MY BIG OLD TEXAS HEARTACHE, flickered to life. "She had dad problems and children problems, but she didn't have a Steve."
The novel, set in the fictional town of Cedar Dell, is a compilation of the years Dawson spent growing up in a small Texas
suburb. Kate returns home to Cedar Dellthe town she left
18 years ago after an unexpected pregnancy at a young age. It's determined by her two estranged siblingsthe favorite Tom and the pregnant Sarahthat their father, who's been in a car accident, now needs a reliable caretaker until he can resume
day-to-day activities on his own. Kate's the most obvious choice.
So along with her 17-year-old son, Ryan, and outspoken confidante Adele, Kate leaves North Dallas and prepares for an icy homecoming. Not only is her cantankerous father, Jack, set in his ways and not exactly open to roommates (especially the opinion-ated Adele!), his relationship with Kate is one that ranges on
cordial to downright unpleasant, especially since she made the decision to raise Ryan herself and not give him up for adoption.
Outside the Harmon home, the topic du jour in the gossipy community seems to be discovering the identity of Ryan's absentee father. And with the boy all grown up and suspiciously resembling Max Cooper, a former high school football star and Kate's old classmate, the tongues of the Widows (elderly neighborhood busybodies) are soon wagging in full force. It turns out that everyone's suspicions are not without merit, which creates even more
of a stir, since Max and Kate were never known to be an item.
"I've written a lot of heroes," the author reflects. "But [widower] Max Cooper is one of my all-time favorites. He's handsome and sexy and a bit
of a scoundrel. He's flown fighter jets in a war and he's mush when it comes to his [5-year-old] daughter. He's not perfect; he's made
mistakes in his past, but he's learned from them. He loves his children, and his love makes him a little bit vulnerable."
With assistance from his precocious daughter, Shannon, Max slowly ingratiates himself into Kate and Ryan's world, despite formidable resistance from his son. Again, Dawson inserted facets of her own chaotic life at the time to create some major headachesand heartaches!for her heroine.
"Kate is pulled between her responsibilities
to her aging father and those of her teenaged son," she says. "Like Kate, I have elderly
parents with serious health problems. I have three teenagers with the usual teenage concerns. We've run the college admissions gauntlet like Ryanalthough I'm afraid my boys didn't make a perfect SAT score. My boys were the ones who got into
the college of their choice on a wing and lots and lots of prayers. My dad bought a red sports car on his 80th birthday like Kate's father, and six years later, Dad is still drivingin a city of three million people. This is not necessarily a good thing."
In addition to a thriving writing career, Dawson continues
to dedicate herself to a cause that's incredibly dear to her heart.
Now an advisory board member of the Making Memories
Breast Cancer Foundation, she says that as of June 1, 2003,
the foundation credits The Pink Magnolia Club with having brought more than $100,000 to the charity, which helps grant wishes to women with terminal breast cancer.
Dawson gives thanks to her publisher, Pocket Books, and
authors Kathleen Givens, Christina Dodd, Susan Kay Law, Connie Brockway, Barbara Dawson Smith and Mary Dickerson for their
contributions, which made it possible for the foundation to grant
the wish of Christi Miller, a young mother of two who wanted to
take her family to Disneyland.
As Dawson's exploration into contemporary settings continues, readers can look for Kate's former suitor, Nicholas Sutherland,
to be featured in his own story in August 2004. "After a professional mistake leads to tragedy, [Nicholas], needing time and space to heal, moves to Cedar Dell and learns to live, love and dream again," Dawson says.
And her historical fans also have new releases to look forward to. The author reveals that she's continuing her Bad Luck series, and THE BAD LUCK WEDDING DRESS is being reissued in October '04. It will be followed by the McBride Menaces romances in '05.
With all these cross-genre titles, the only heartache for Dawson fans is waiting a whole year for her next release! G
For more information on Dawson's books or the Making Memories Foundation, visit: www.geralyndawson.com.
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