Monday, June 8, 2015


Why did I write this story?

THE PERFECT SON grew out of several unrelated moments in my life. However, as with everything I write, it reflects my passion for poking holes in stereotypes of mental or neurological disabilities. 

I’ve always wanted to create a character with Tourette syndrome, and I’ve long been fascinated by the 80 percent divorce rate among families raising special-needs kids. My son has battled obsessive-compulsive disorder for most of his life, and I’ve watched many marriages in my support group for parents of OCD kids crumble. After someone asked why my marriage had survived, I started researching a story about a broken marriage and a high-maintenance teen in crisis. Then three separate events occurred. 

The first event was a routine colonoscopy that went horribly wrong. (You know, the one you’re meant to have when you turn 50, but still manage to put off for several years.) I ended up in the ICU, and the strain on my guys was unbearable. We crawled through that crisis, but a few months later, on a family trip to visit my mother in England, I was struck down by a virus that manifested as asthma. I couldn’t breathe, and the steroids I was prescribed made my heart race. Since I have genetic heart issues, honest to God, I thought I was dying. One night my husband sat up with me for hours, holding my hand while I chanted silently, “I am not sick, I am not sick, I am not sick.” The next day I wrote two pages of gibberish about a wife who has a heart attack. The final incident happened on the flight home from a literary festival in Ireland when some poor guy collapsed three rows in front of me. (Yes, I was the bad author person taking notes.) 

I ditched the manuscript I was working on and started fleshing out the Fitzwilliams. I’m drawn to dark humor, and the characters kept making me smile. Once I’d found Max, the punk / math genius who uses perfect grammar in his texts, there was no going back. From that moment on, my life was all about Harry. (That was my working title, IT’S ALL ABOUT HARRY.)


From a distance, Felix Fitzwilliam, the son of an old English family, is a good husband and father. But, obsessed with order and routine, he’s a prisoner to perfection. Disengaged from the emotional life of his North Carolina family, Felix has let his wife, Ella, deal with their special-needs son by herself.

A talented jewelry designer turned full-time mother, Ella is the family rock…until her heart attack shatters their carefully structured existence. Now Harry, a gifted teen grappling with the chaos of Tourette’s, confronts a world outside his parents’ control, one that tests his desire for independence.

As Harry searches for his future, and Ella adapts to the limits of her failing health, Felix struggles with his past and present roles. To prevent the family from being ripped apart, they must each bend with the inevitability of change and reinforce the ties that bind.

"What a moving, funny, beautifully told story! You will ache for Felix and Harry, with their big, quirky brains and their good hearts, as they grapple with the threat of loss and struggle, for the first time, to truly know and trust one another. I love these characters and this book!" 
Marisa de Los Santos, New York Times bestselling author of BELONG TO ME and THE PRECIOUS ONE.

"With clear-eyed insight and empathy, THE PERFECT SON captures the ache and beauty of love in its many forms. In a beautifully told story, Barbara Claypole White takes us on a poignant journey through the minds and hearts of a mother, a father and their eccentric son. As they all learn to love through loss, change and fear, we as readers just might find our hearts as the characters find theirs.” 
Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of THE IDEA OF LOVE.

THE PEFECT SON launches on July 1st, but since it has been chosen as a Kindle First book for June, the e-book is available now for $1.99 (or free if you have Amazon Prime). 
Here’s the link:

You can also enter to win one of 20 free copies on Goodreads: 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Ronnie's husband, Jeff, is supposed to move out today. But when he pulls into the driveway drunk, with a shotgun in the front seat, she realizes nothing about the day will go as planned. The next few hours spiral down in a flash, unlike the slow disintegration of their marriage—and whatever part of that painful unraveling is Ronnie's fault, not much else matters now but these moments. Her family's lives depend on the choices she will make—but is what's best for her best for everyone? 

Based on a real event from the author's life, The Far End of Happy is a chilling story of one troubled man, the family that loves him, and the suicide standoff that will change all of them forever.

Kathryn Craft Guest Post
The Far End of Happy

For many years after my first husband died I wrote short pieces about our marriage and his death. With these small story arcs I could try to contain the chaos that his suicide had made of our lives. I started to think of each piece as a chapter in a future memoir. It was healing to think that one day I could make sense of our story.

But memoir, which by definition is a personal narrative, fell short of providing the context that would help readers understand the issues surrounding suicide. Ironically, in order to access greater truths, I turned to fiction.

Memoir problem: I couldn’t write about my early marriage without foreknowledge of what was to come. The suicide was so impactful that it changed my entire sensibility. I could no longer write from a place of innocence. I kept thinking, “Was there a clue here?” The required chronology felt like a trap. I wanted to re-structure the story in a way that evoked that truth—and after one novel, I was already too much of a fiction writer to let that opportunity pass.

Fiction solution: If my thoughts kept snapping back to the day of the suicide, why not constrain the story to the standoff’s twelve hours? Structure would suggest meaning: this day and its high-tension, agonizing wait had seared itself into our lives and changed us.

Memoir problem: The word “standoff” implies lack of story movement. How could I create satisfying and believable character change in just twelve hours?

Fiction solution: Fiction would allow me to compress the timeline of true events so that more could happen on that one day to drive the story forward.

Memoir problem: Many suffered from this suicide, so a personal narrative felt disingenuous. I wasn’t even the only one to have loved my husband—my sons, eight and ten at the time, lost their dad. It certainly was his mother’s worst nightmare. And who wants to see their daughter suffer such severe consequences from her decision to end her marriage? In real life my parents were caught up in the day’s events, but the same shock that made me hyper aware of every single moment shut them down. Understandable though this was, as characters, they would not help drive conflict in the story.

Fiction solution: Enter new mothers. To more accurately depict the standoff’s impact I told the story in the points of view of three mothers: Ronnie, the wife determined to leave him and protect her sons; Beverly, the mother who needed to believe her daughter had a capacity for love deeper than her own; and his mother Janet, whose denial about this problems will soon be shattered. I made Beverly and Janet lifelong friends who had bonded over dysfunction in their source families. Fiction would allow me to explore what secrets were moldering inside these other women’s hearts. How could they avoid the avalanche of shame that was consuming Jeff?

Fiction also allowed me to make a statement by renaming characters. My husband’s name wasn’t Jeff; it was Ron. His mother and co-workers called him Ronnie—the name I gave my protagonist. Through its devotion to creative expression and emotional truth, fiction allowed me to let someone named Ronnie walk away at the end of that godforsaken day with hope in her heart.

In my mind, passing on the flame of hope is one of the very best uses of story.

Kathryn Craft Bio

Kathryn Craft is the author of The Art of Falling and The Far End of Happy. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania literary scene, she loves any event that brings together readers, books, food and drink, and mentors other writers through workshops and writing retreats. A former dance critic, she has a bachelor’s in biology education and a master’s in health and physical education from Miami University in Ohio. She lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and spends her summers lakeside in northern New York State.

Twitter:       @kcraftwriter


The "reason" behind my new SharingYourBook blog

Dear Readers,
Below is the blog I posted last night on my main blog page. It explains the decision to change from a weekly Friday book blog, to this new blog. I'll be posting my first guest tomorrow, and hope you join in to tell us about a book you've written or a book you've read about.   Jill

We all know that feeling in our chest. The clutching, painful stab if we dance too fast, too hard, pushing our body into overdrive. It's as if we've been strapped into the front seat of the highest roller coaster, our eyeballs popping out of their sockets as our heart beats like Thumper's big rabbit foot.

But maybe that's just me because I'm terrified of heights. Still, even with my feet planted firmly on the ground, nearly every day I feel as if I'm trying to stuff 34 hours of life into each 24 hour day.

And I'm not alone. We know we can't do it all, yet we keep trying. As though if we just dance a little faster through life, we can get every-stinking-desire-goal-dream crammed in along with our requirements of life (the day job that pays our bills, time spent with our family and friends, cramming some fun into the cracks of our lives). 

If you are old enough, you might remember the movie "I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can", from 1982. It was a biographical film about a high-strung woman relying heavily on sedatives to reduce the tension and anxiety in her life. While I've refrained from reaching for sedatives, I've also realized that over-stuffing my life with a never-ending to-do list is just as unhealthy as sedatives.

I look at other writers, or better yet, published authors, who are now having to wear a hundred hats besides their writer one. I am almost positive they have given up sleeping in order to juggle everything else that goes hand-in-hand with getting their book(s) published. They've got to feel like they're doing a fast-paced jig at all times!

I love books. Authors are like rock stars to me, especially after I've realized just how time-consuming and crazy-hard it is to write a book and get it published. My world wouldn't be the same without books, and I'm guessing, if you "follow" me on any social media, you are an avid reader too.

The weekly book blog I started last year, Fridayfictionfriend, was for the sole purpose of hearing from a guest each week about a favorite book they've read (I simply can't read 24/7 although I'd like to!) But committing to every Friday was a crazy idea on my part. What was I thinking? Okay, I know, I know, I wasn't thinking. 

I didn't think about how busy everyone is, especially as the weekend draws close. Yet I didn't want to give up on letting readers know of new authors or new books that they might not hear of otherwise. Every week I hear of another good book or author that I hadn't read yet. My to-be-read list could stretch across the U.S.!

We all need to choose a balance in our lives, so our brain isn't always doing the jitter-bug. For me, I need more time to work on my own writing so that someday I may join the list of authors being featured!

So to cut myself some slack, I'm retiring Fridayfictionfriend, and starting a new book blog:  It will feature more books by authors who are trying to get the word out about their own novels, and, I'm hoping, book lovers will still post about a favorite book they've read. I will also post random synopsis posts of wonderful books I've read, or books that others have told me about.

I may not be able to dance any faster, but I'm not giving up on spreading the word about books. And I hope you join in to share a favorite read of yours. Yes, I know, you're busy, but it will only take a minute... no longer than a spin around the dance floor. :)