A Visit with Kay Dew Shostak, Author of Next Stop Chancey
Today, we meet, Kay Dew Shostak, the author of the delightful stories set in Chancey, Georgia, the adopted home of Carolina Jessup and her family and the story of how she copes with a town of quirky, sweet characters.
“A new voice in Southern Fiction” is how a recent reviewer labels Kay Dew Shostak’s debut novel, Next Stop, Chancey. Kay grew up in the South and graduated from the University of Tennessee. She then joined her husband moving around the country as they raised their three children. Always a reader, being a writer was a dream she cultivated as a journalist and editor at a small town newspaper in northern Illinois. After moving to Marietta, Georgia, Kay submitted several true life stories which appeared in a number of compilation books over the next ten years. In 2011, she and her husband, Mike, moved to Fernandina Beach, Florida for Mike’s job.
Seeing the familiar and loved from new perspectives led Kay to write about the absurd, the beautiful, and the funny in her South in both her fiction and non-fiction. While Next Stop, Chancey is her debut novel, she has completed two more in the series and is working on the fourth book. Chancey Book number 2: Chancey Family Lies is now available.
Kay, I fell in love with your second story in the series, and life intervened. I wasn’t able to get back to the first one, though I always had every intention of doing so. I couldn’t wait, and now that I’ve read them both, I want to tell you that your stories create a longing in me to live a life like your heroine, Caroline Jessup. I’d love to know where you got the idea for these stories.
Thanks so much for having me here on your blog. One of the best things about writing is all the new friends you make! So how Chaney came to be: Several years ago, I was talking with an agent who was considering representing me. She loved lots about my writing but as she was turning me down she asked, “Have you considered changing genres?” Out of deep disappointment I started the first Chancey book. It all sprang up as my fingers typed. And yet, the story felt so familiar. I’ve lived in big and small towns, and both up north and down south. So playing off those differences just moved the story along.
As I read Carolina’s story and I laughed and cried with her, I did find that she and I are an awfully lot alike, but Carolina kept pushing forward even when she wanted to push against the tide of the good-meaning and very funny people she meets upon her arrival in Chancey. My question or you is how like Carolina are you?
Well, the desire to get lost in books is all me. And the snarkiness is me. Matter of fact, one thing the agent mentioned that he didn’t like about my first books was the sarcasm of the main character. So, I just made it first person so all the sarcastic remarks could be in Carolina’s head and not have to come out of her mouth! However, I’ve always had a houseful of people so that reticence of Carolina’s to entertain is not me. I find parts of myself in many of the characters!
One of my favorite parts of this story is the mystery of the “ghost.” It brings up some laugh-aloud moments. Was there anything that happened to you in your life that made you think of bringing this subplot into the story?
Absolutely nothing, except I’ve read lots of ghost stories and actually think I’d be open to seeing a ghost. But so far, no ghosts. However, I have wondered about the folks that say they “live” with ghosts. What’s the thinking process on that? In this story, I hoped the ghost would help Carolina believe things she can’t see, might be real. She’s a very “seeing is believing” person. Another way she and I are not alike.
Another reason the story (both stories actually) touched me so deeply is the humanity in them. These people aren’t perfect. They are different. They are quirky. They think differently than most of us. They fuss and the fidget, but yet they all seem to be the type of people you would want in your circle. Be truthful. Are a few of these folks truly in your life?
Oh, yes. At a writers conference I heard another writer speak about how his family thought he was odd at how he watched people and had to know why they did what they did. Well, that was my story. I am fascinated with why people do what they do. I love watching mannerisms and figuring out how they developed. Susan and her ponytail doing and undoing. Missus and her white gloves and refusal to use contractions in her speech. Lifelong cheerleaders. The black sheep that comes back joyfully to live in their hometown. Being a writer means I not only get to watch all these different people and actions, I get to write about them. And make them even funnier!
Two questions in one: will you share a little about the second book in this series, and please let me know if there’s a chance that I’ll be able to visit Carolina and all of the quirky characters of Chancey any time soon for a new adventure.
The second Chancey book is Chancey Family Lies and finds Carolina not only spending her first holidays in Chancey, but her first as a stay at home mom and B&B operator. As the line on my bookmarks says, “Holidays are different in small towns. They expect you to cook.” Carolina no longer has the suburban grocery stores, with full bakeries and deli’s, plus she’s determined to be the best stay at home mom ever. However, it’s not that easy. Especially when her parents pull in with their RV with plans to stay from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and her in-laws have a blast from the past with them when they also show up for an extended stay. And just when she needs him the most, her husband Jackson is traveling with work. Luckily she has a new friend in Chancey to help out. However, he might want to help her out a little too much. And then, who is that strange girl who came with the kids from college, and seems to want to stay in Chancey? Because, seriously, Carolina wonders, “Why would anyone want to stay in Chancey?
However, Carolina does stay in Chancey and in April 2016 the third book in the series “Derailed in Chancey” comes out.
I’m delighted to hear that I’ll be able to read more of Carolina’s exploits, and I hope you’ll keep me posted so both of you can “sit awhile on Inner Source’s” porch and discuss the latest.
More About Next Stop, Chancey:
Looking in your teenage daughter’s purse is never a good idea. When Carolina does, she ends up accidentally selling their home in her beloved Atlanta suburbs to move into her husbands dream home. It’s a big, old house beside a railroad bridge in a small Georgia town. And now he dreams of her opening a B&B for Railroad buffs while he’s off doing his day job. Carolina’s dislike of actually saying “No” leaves an opening for the town bully who wears a lavender skirt and white gloves. Soon, of course, Carolina is opening the B&B with the aid of the entire town of Chancey, Georgia, and it all makes her hate small towns even more than when she was growing up in one. And did I mention there’s a ghost? Yeah, teenagers, trains, and a ghost. This stuff didn’t happen in the suburbs.
Another Great Read by Kay Dew Shostak: Chancey Family Lies:
Carolina is determined her first holiday season as a stay-at-home mom will be perfect. However …
Twelve kids from college (and one nobody seems to know)
Eleven chili dinners (Why do we always need to feed a crowd?)
Ten dozen fake birds (cardinals, no less)
Nine hours without power (but lots of stranded guests)
Eight angry council members (Wait, where’s the town’s money?)
Seven trains a-blowin’ (all the time. All. The. Time).
Six weeks with relatives (six weeks!!)
Five plotting teens (Again, who is that girl?)
Four in-laws staying (and staying, and staying …)
Three dogs a-barking (Who brought the dogs?)
Two big ol’ secrets (and they ain’t wrapped in ribbons under the three, either)
And the perfect season gone with the wind.