Novelist John J Kelley Explores Love and Loss in Virginia at close of World War I
WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — DC author John J Kelley takes readers from brutal battlefields to Parisian avenues to besieged Virginia forests in his debut novel, The Fallen Snow, set at the close of the First World War. And for a limited time this weekend, the cost of the journey will be free for readers with Kindle devices.
The Fallen Snow, launching Friday, February 22, reveals the struggle of a young soldier returning to a fictional Virginia community reeling from war, influenza and economic collapse. But what begins as the story of one youth soon grows into a tale about the ways people find love, even in savage times. As Kelley explains, “I’ve always been fascinated with how people cope with tragedy, learning from experiences shared across generations, among friends, between lovers. In the novel I explore how those bonds shape Joshua Hunter, a young man paralyzed by guilt from the war, and how his return impacts those around him.”
Joshua’s tale unfolds in two timelines: one following his return to Virginia, the other his time in France. “A key issue with ‘shell shock,’ now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Kelley explains, “is the victim’s inability to escape the past. All the emotion circles back, binding the sufferer. I felt it was important to draw the reader into that cycle, for them to experience it with the protagonist, in a sense.”
Even when the action shifts to other characters, the author keeps a tight focus on themes of love and redemption. One subplot involves Joshua’s mother. Says Kelley, “Elisabeth Hunter fights to hold her family together while facing numerous challenges: bouts of depression, a strained marriage and her husband’s failing health. Then her son returns from battle, broken and distant. While seeking a way forward herself, she sheds light on Joshua with insights only a mother could offer.”
Kelley says researching the novel was eye opening. “While delving into details of the war and the 1918 influenza pandemic, I learned a great deal of Virginia history as well. Though I’ve long enjoyed the state’s natural beauty, I had never realized the extent to which abusive logging practices had devastated its native forests. In the western highlands, the situation created a boom and bust effect. Logging companies of the time would sweep into areas, plunder unregulated natural resources then move on, leaving barren hillsides and struggling communities in their wake.”
Despite the brutal backdrop, Kelley hopes readers will find the novel inspiring. “The characters, though flawed, are quite capable too. The times they faced were harsh. Yet still they pressed on, fell in love, experienced joy. I think that’s a message that resonates in today’s challenging times, or in any time.”
In celebration of the novel’s launch, complimentary Kindle-edition downloads will be available at Amazon.com Friday, Feb 22 through Sunday, Feb 24. A paperback edition is also available for purchase.
About the Author:
John J Kelley is a fiction writer crafting tales about healing, growth and community. Born and raised in the Florida panhandle, he graduated from Virginia Tech and served as a military officer. He now lives in Washington, DC, and is a member of The Writer’s Center.
Visit http://www.thefallensnow.com for character sketches, scene excerpts and setting notes.
The Amazon Kindle product page is at http://amzn.com/B00AQJ6XYM
SOURCE Stone Cabin Press