For Kathryn Pincus (known by many as Kate), daily runs along the Brandywine were more than just exercise.
The debut novel centers on the events that unfold after a woman running along the Brandywine River is attacked. Writing from experience (though she noted she isn’t a victim of assault) was essential, she said. “I want my readers to be able to see the people and places I describe and feel as if they are in the book—a true vicarious experience.”
Indeed, Delawareans will have the chance for that secondhand experience as they’ll recognize many local references in the novel: Rockford Tower, Trolley Square, Hockessin, the New Castle County Courthouse on King Street and many more make appearances.
Pincus, a mom of four (Matt, 30, Jen, 27, Josh, 17, and Eric, 15) and wife to Bob, left her law career in 2005 to spend more time with her family. Though she was happy with the choice, she missed aspects of legal writing. The UD alum (and Georgetown law grad) found an outlet in writing after inspirational runs, and says she now has a second novel in the works. It, too, will have Delaware ties: It’s a crime thriller about a young woman studying law at Georgetown University who works for the summer at a big firm in Washington and spends some weekends at Rehoboth Beach.
Read on to see what Pincus has to say about the novel, Delaware connections and advice for budding authors.
TSD: Tell us about your inspiration for Long Hill Home.
KP: As I ran daily though the wooded trails of the Brandywine River Valley—Alapocas Woods and Brandywine Park, past the historic Breck’s Mill and Hagley Museum, a story evolved out of my own fears—a woman running alone always has to worry about the “what if?…” After the beginning of my story was set, and a woman running past Breck’s Mill was abducted and assaulted, I started to think about the other people involved. I created a scared young man who makes a poor decision while he is trying to do the right thing, and as a result he is falsely accused of the crime and imprisoned with dangerous felons. I saw a young pregnant woman peeking out of a window above the crime as it unfolds, horrified by what she is witnessing but terrified to alert the authorities because she is in this country illegally. Every day as I ran, the story unfolded and became more complex. Once the roots and the trunk of my story took hold, they were fleshed out in my mind with smaller branches and lush leaves. The main characters all had background stories, they each had a path of adversity ahead (their “long hill home’), and I had an obligation to see them through.
TSD: A pivotal scene happens on the Brandywine River. What other Delaware connections are there in the book?
KP: The major event – the attack on Kelly Malloy – that ties the three main characters together (a victim, a Good Samaritan who is falsely accused, and a reluctant witness) takes place on the banks of the Brandywine River near the historic Breck’s Mill and Hagley Museum. There is an “image gallery” – photos of all of the “scenes from the book” – on my web site on the “Book” page, including: Rockford Park and Tower, Breck’s Mill, wooded trails of the Brandywine River Valley, Rodney Square, the New Castle County Courthouse, and even homes like those of Chad, Maria and Kelly. The homes in the image gallery are meant to give the reader an idea of the homes lived in by the characters–but of course the homes of the characters are fictional constructs.
There are three main characters in Long Hill Home, and the reader hears the story of each character as that particular character experiences it. The Delaware connections—as they pertain to these characters, are:
- Kelly (the victim) lives in a (fictional) historic home in the Highlands Neighborhood in Wilmington, she practices law in a tall office building on North Market Street and in the New Castle County Courthouse on King Street. She runs on trails along the Brandywine River and around Rockford Park, Alapocas Woods and beyond…the Delaware Greenways. She travels to Hockessin, Delaware for various purposes.
- Chad (the falsely accused Good Samaritan) lives in a (fictional) dilapidated farmhouse near the Brandywine River in the vicinity of Hagley Museum. He goes to public schools in Wilmington, works as a landscaper in various New Castle County neighborhoods, climbs to the top of Rockford Tower, and patronizes a bank and a travel agency in the Trolley Square neighborhood. Chad is held overnight in a Wilmington police station, is imprisoned in a men’s prison in New Castle County, and he appears in proceedings in the New Castle County Courthouse.
- Maria (the reluctant witness) lives in a (fictional) rundown second floor one-bedroom apartment on King Street. She works for a maid service in buildings around New Castle County–including Breck’s Mill and other office buildings in Wilmington and homes in the Highlands. She has a major life event at Wilmington Hospital (don’t want to spoil anything) and a second major life event at the Hockessin Fire Hall. She rides the Wilmington City bus to and from its stop at Rodney Square.
- Jack Barnard (don’t want to spoil who he is-except he is a lawyer and an unpleasant person) went to Concord High School, started a fight at the Charcoal Pit on Concord Pike, and lives in a (fictional) penthouse condo on the Brandywine River in Wilmington.
TSD: What advice do you have for budding authors?
KP: During the time that I was getting “thanks but no thanks” email replies from literary agents, I felt mostly frustrated that a debut novelist with no contacts in the industry cannot even get a fair look. I learned to be resilient, to put it in perspective, and to keep trying.
When it comes to writing a book (fiction, nonfiction—whatever):
- Do your research! (Research the market for your book, your intended audience, parts of the subject matter that need research, and methods of production—e., big publisher, indie publisher, self-published—all have pros and cons.)
- Garner support and surround yourself with people who can educate you – friends, family, someone who works in the industry you are pursuing.
- Love what you do.
- Pursue that path if it’s something that is a dream of yours. Whether you are writing or pitching your manuscript, or promoting your newly published book–expect setbacks, fatigue and rejections….even very successful authors have experienced all of these. Persevere.
- Have self-discipline. The hardest part is sitting in a chair and writing, re-writing and editing for hours and hours on end. That is the only way to write a novel. (But remember to have fun too, and get out of the chair and get outside to exercise and socialize!)