Message From The Author

Author's Message

When I first envisioned the Mama Jo’s Boys series, Tommy Bristol jumped out at me, not as the man, but the wounded and broken boy that Mama Jo takes in and nurses back to health. I saw this fierce little tow-headed boy who’d known unspeakable tragedy at the hands of his own father and then I saw sweet little Cassi Nolan, the girl who would, someday, mend his heart. It was such a magical moment for me as a writer because these people jumped out at me with full histories, demanding my full attention and I’ve learned when that happens, I have to listen. I wasn’t wrong. The characters are both fierce, loyal, and determined, which puts them in direct odds with one another until they both realize they want the same thing. Writing their journey was delightful and at times, it seemed the story wrote itself.

As the oldest boy, Tommy shoulders a lot of responsibility and he takes his role seriously. As the eldest of four, myself, I could relate to his personality and his need to be the one in charge. I understood the guilt Tommy felt at any perceived failure and conversely, I knew how he would respond to Cassi’s plea for help because ultimately, he wants to be known as someone people can depend on.
With Cassi, even though she’s raised to be spoiled and willful, I knew that was simply surface stuff. Deep down, Cassi had a heart of gold, with a pure spirit. And Tommy discovered this by a single act of kindness that stole his heart at such a tender age.

Setting is usually so important to me, but in this book, the setting was simply a backdrop because Cassi roved from place to place in search of information that will help prove her innocence. With Cassi and Tommy, I pictured the two in an embrace with backdrops sliding behind them, meaning it didn’t matter where they went, all that mattered was the space between them.

However, the one place that serves as an emotional hub for all three men in the series, is Mama Jo’s place because Mama Jo became their True North. She provided the home space that ultimately healed their broken psyches. I have to say, each boy suffered terribly before they came into Mama Jo’s care and I think that’s what really called to me as a writer. I’m a sucker for the truly wounded hero. In fact, the most heart-rending scene in the story didn’t quite make it into the book but I needed to internalize it for the character. A child’s terror is a powerful thing because people react so strongly to a child in need, even fictitious children. A vision of young Tommy, hiding under his parent’s bed, listening to the horror unfolding in his own home at the hands of his father, silently wetting himself with fear…it’s an image that stayed with me and was the catalyst for the entire series.

- Kimberly Van Meter


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