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The Romantic's Guide to Wilderness Survival 


The chapters in this book are so short because most of them were written during lunch breaks from my former job working at a mental health agency in Raleigh, NC. The gracious wait staff at a Southwestern restaurant on Glenwood Avenue used to set a tall glass of iced tea—gratis—on the counter for me as soon as I stepped through the door. They indulged my tying up a table for the next hour writing nonstop, barely aware of my surroundings, head in the clouds of the Pacific Northwest as I followed Billy, and Walt and Eleanor, Jamie, and Angela and Max, on their adventures.
The inspiration for the novel came from my years of living in the rugged, rainy and beautiful Northwest, exploring its mountains, hidden lakes, and salty beaches. A couple of stories in the news during those years, briefly noticed in passing, took root in my subconscious and worked their way into essential elements of this tale. One concerned a series of break-ins at some remote cabins, another told of mysterious bagpipes, heard high in the mountains, that led a lost hiker to safety.
Working at several Seattle homeless shelters acquainted me with the wreckage that poverty and a dearth of good breaks creates for thousands of fine, endearing, smart, hardworking and talented individuals whose stories of hardship easily could be yours or mine, if we hadn’t had families, friends or mentors who loved us and cared enough to nurture our dreams.
Years spent doing couples counseling in private practice deepened my understanding of the complexities and quandaries of relationship, made exponentially more difficult when important information is withheld from one’s partner, to protect them or ourselves from truths we fear to share.
This novel took the form of a quirky metaphysical romance, emerging within a struggle for survival. It is ultimately about the power of love to arrive in unexpected guises, and break through barriers that seem impossible to overcome.

--From The Romantic's Guide to Wilderness Survival

Notes on Kate's award-winning first novel:


 ...is about love transcending barriers, and the soul's immortality.

Years ago, I was in a terrible car wreck that brought me right to the edge between living and dying. While recovering, I thought, "Someday I'll write about this wreck." Much later, I wrote a piece about someone who “wakes back up” after dying and going to Heaven. This piece, with its barely-mentioned "car wreck," became the final chapter of WHERE THE LAKE BECOMES THE RIVER, and gave the book its underlying theme: the thin line between this world and the next. It seems that we can sometimes cross over that line and return, through unusual experiences, and in our dreams.

As the Civil Rights Movement sweeps into her state, Parrish McCullough is caught in the cross-fires of Mississippi's racial tensions. She's shadowed by secrets and haunted by her father's spirit--along with other, more ominous ghosts. The book involves her family, loves, and challenges, but at its core is Parrish’s struggle to understand “The Truth About Life After Death.” This enigma has haunted her since childhood, when her father died, and Parrish saw her father’s spirit sitting near his coffin—just the beginning of a series of extraordinary events.

At some point, for most of us, someone we love will step through that mysterious doorway we call “death." I hope readers will find Parrish’s adventures wildly entertaining, but also gain, perhaps, an expanded context for what the passage through that doorway may mean--and a measure of comfort from sharing Parrish’s glimpses of immortality.


The soul must speak, and longs to be heard.
                                        (Photo by Jane Abraham)


(Click to go to the "Mississippi Delta" page, with photos and recommendations.)


Where the Lake Becomes the River