3.93 STARS


from The County Times – Thursday, February 28, 2013 (pg 24)

Novelist Debuts at First Friday

March’s First Friday brings another debut novelist to Fenwick Street.

Author John J Kelley will be at Fenwick Street Used Books and Music signing copies of The Fallen Snow – a coming of age story, Kelley explained, in which the main character goes through some realization steps and attempts to move on with the rest of his life when he returns home to America after World War I.

The audience follows Hunter on two separate timelines – they flashback to witness his experiences during the war and live through the aftermath with him when he returns to Virginia.

According to Kelley, Hunter suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He is scared about returning home, and must go on with the rest of his life.

“He’s numb and trying to please [members of] the community when he’s still broken inside,” Kelley said. He comes home with the idea it will be easy to put the events of the war behind him, but it’s not.

The subplot explores the strained relationship of Hunter’s parents – his father has less than a year to live, which further elevates the family’s stress levels.

Hunter’s mother faces the harsh reality of what life will be like with her “clearly different son” and the loss of her husband moving forward.

“Her expectations of him play a part in the climax.”

The novel cites real problems that were occurring in America nearly a century ago, including influenza and a boom and bust economy.

The historical background of the time period gives Kelley an appreciation for mankind’s ability to push through difficult times.

The more he researched the novel, the more he came to appreciate it.

“I felt like it was time to do it,” Kelley said, adding he did not want an unfinished novel to be one of his regrets down the road.

Kelley began forming the books idea during his time at Virginia Tech, where he was a member of the Corp of Cadets.

During a five-year stint as an engineer in the Air Force, Kelley went through periods of writing short stories and scenes in the book.

In 2008 he became motivated to complete the novel – he has spent the last year and a half revising and editing the story.

Finally, he completed the book, 28 years in the making.

A friend of Kelley’s, Leonardtown Business Association member Carol Picon, suggested he make a stop in at March’s First Friday.

The book is available on Kindle and ebook at Amazon.com as well as at Fenwick Street Used Books and Music this Friday, where Kelley will be on hand signing copies from 5 to 7 p.m.

He did his own self-promoting, and is excited to be sharing his book in a local bookstore as opposed to a larger, franchised venue.

“I think smaller bookstores have a niche that larger bookstores can’t fill,” Kelley explained. “It becomes a community place.”

staff writer:  alexpanos@countytimes.net

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