MONTPELIER — About three years ago Montpelier’s Kathryn Guare decided it was time to do something with the collection of characters and scenes she’d been slowly building up for 12 years. Her work culminated last month with the debut of her first novel, “Deceptive Cadence: The Virtuosic Spy.”
“When I first started to write the book, I didn’t know it was a book. I had some scenes and a character, but I didn’t know who he was. He didn’t really even have a name,” said Guare, 49. “For a long time, just a lot of different scenes and characters came to me and I would just write, but none of it really went together. At some point I just started to think my subconscious is trying to tell me something. So I thought more about what the story could be and began linking things together and attacking it more chronologically.”
Her suspense novel reflects many of her experiences on a monthlong trip through India several years ago. She was living in Boston at the time, where she gravitated toward a career in health care management and consulting after growing up in Montpelier and graduating from Saint Michael’s College.
The impetus for her journey was a connection her family had with an Indian priest. During World War II Guare’s aunt, a devout Catholic, had been sending money for Indian seminarians, which she assumed was being dispersed as part of a general fund. In fact, Guare’s aunt had been funding one particular man’s education, and, to give his thanks, he found out who she was and visited the United States a number of times, staying with the family.
“I knew I wanted to write about it, so I could capture my experience. You either love (India) or hate it, I think. But I fell in love with it. The poverty is absolutely shocking, especially for me, a little Vermont girl who had never been anywhere — it was an overwhelming sensory experience,” Guare said. “But it was also so vibrant and the people were so social and wanting to just know you and engage with you and be hospitable. I’ve been back several times.”
Though the main character spends a lot of time in India, he’s actually Irish, a nod to Guare’s own family history.
“We have all these half-mythical stories of the ancestors in my family, so I went to Ireland with a friend from college the first time. It’s so wild, seeing people who look like people you know — people in your family — that Irish face. Add that to how nice and hospitable everyone is, and you feel like you fit in,” said Guare.
While the inspiration for the setting and characters was easy, when it came time to publish, Guare said the process was overwhelming. Though she heard good things from the agents who got back to her, none chose to represent her and try to sell her book to a publisher.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be a prize-winning book, but I felt confident that it was good enough, and I really wanted to share it and give other people the opportunity to read it,” she said.
So Guare prepared to self-publish. Finding a reputable firm was relatively easy, but to raise the money to pay for the comprehensive publishing package — which included copyright, ISBN numbering, printing, ebook release, warehousing, a website, etc. — Guare knew she had to get creative.
“I heard a piece on NPR about crowd funding. They were gushing over how it was going to change entrepreneurship in America, that it gives people access to funding to follow their dreams. I was in my car, hunched over the wheel listening to every word, telling myself, ‘Kickstarter, Kickstarter — you have to remember that word.’”
Guare posted a video explaining her project and her goal on Kickstarter.com, a website that allows people to donate money to a wide range of projects. After meeting her goal, she began the publishing process in October and had the book in her hands in March.
“I’ve been really pleased with the reaction people have had to the book. They are connecting with the parts that meant the most to me as well. It’s gratifying when you spent so much time developing a character to hear someone else say, ‘He’s such a great character, and I can’t wait for the next (book),’” she said.
Guare is at work on the second novel of the series. “Deceptive Cadence” is available in local bookstores and at www.kathrynguare.com and www.amazon.com.MORE IN Central Vermont
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