When life seems to spin out of control, there’s always a chance for change. From debut author Kathryn Sanoden Pearson comes an honest, uplifting story of hope and healing in her new novel Trailer Baby. Below, she shares more on the inspiration, characters, family dynamics, and what’s next.
“an excellent book on family dynamics and how they constantly change, influencing the decisions we make and ignoring the consequences as we cope.”— Denice Langley, Librarian & NetGalley Reviewer
About Trailer Baby:
Psychologist Cary Taylor’s life just isn’t what it used to be. She dreads her job and no longer finds it exciting. Her family barely spends more than a few minutes together in the same room. She and her husband are drifting apart, and their fifteen-year-old daughter has developed an attitude.
When Cary discovers her daughter is pregnant by a boy from the wrong side of the tracks—and he is the son of one of her clients—her already out-of-control life suddenly gets more complicated.
Cary’s never imagined having a relationship with a client beyond the fifty-minute hour, much less someone so different from her. Cary must come to terms with her own fears if she is going to salvage her already rocky relationship with her daughter—and piece their family back together.
Told from the perspectives of both mothers and the young couple, Trailer Baby gives us a refreshingly honest, yet uplifting story of hope and healing, and how the heart can open up to love.
- What inspired you to write the novel?
I remember being horrified at the “shock and awe” response of our country’s bombing of Iraq after 911. Then I noticed these aggressive recruitment tactics to get kids to sign up to go fight. A lot of my clients’ families were impacted, and they were predominantly lower socio-economic families. As I developed the plot and narrative arc for my novel (I don’t write from an outline) I realized that my story was about two very different families, who were similar in that they were both struggling. Their differences were in their assets and opportunities.
- Introduce us to the main characters in your book.
Dr. Cary Taylor is a professional woman in her forties. She’s discouraged by her work and her relationships with her family. Cessna Taylor, her fifteen-year-old daughter, has found a new love. Lily Ganser, Dr. Taylor’s client, has a history of choosing bad-news men, two of whom she’s had children with. She’s determined to not make that mistake again. Jeremy Ganser, her eighteen-year-old-son, is in a new relationship with Cessna Taylor.
- Did you base the psychologist on yourself?
I was asked that once when I was pitching the book to an editor. No, the psychologist isn’t me. If I based the storyline on me it would be boring, I’m afraid. But my experience as a therapist and what I know about families is deeply woven into the story. And my own experiences as a mother helped to form the sometimes contentious relationships that are part of growing, maturing and being a family together.
“The premise of this book is appealing as a parent, what makes the situation of a teenage pregnancy more of a dynamic story in this book is the complete opposite socioeconomic situations of the main characters. The juxtaposition between the two keeps the plot moving at a fast pace, and keeps the reader wanting to get to the end so we can see ultimately what decision has been made and what happens in the lives of all who were effected.”— Amy Baringer, NetGalley Reviewer
- Is the Ganser family based on real people?
No, but again, as authors know, what we write comes from the amalgam of what we experience and what has affected us. The trailer park family is a composite of multiple families and children that I worked with throughout my years as an outpatient therapist. I despaired about many of the children—in spite of their natural ability and promise, they seemed doomed to have very few choices afforded to them because of family circumstances.
- Who was your favorite character to write and why?
I liked writing the characters of Crystal, Lily’s youngest daughter, and Toby, the son of Lily’s friend. They are solid and sturdy children, who are forthright and not impacted by self-shame or discouragement. They add lightness to the story with their innocent and naive comments and demands.
- The family dynamics in the book are fascinating. Tell us more about them.
Each of us, having come from families, know that conflict is a normal part of growth and maturity. Parental handling of that conflict then shapes the outcome. The psychologist Cary glibly tells her clients how to interact with their kids but her own emotions get in the way at home and she doesn’t do it very well. Her husband’s preoccupation with other things adds to their estrangement from each other. Lily is overly reliant on Jeremy, and her older daughter is testing her as well.
- Why did you choose to write about teen pregnancy?
Cessna and Jeremy’s relationship naturally lent itself to a pregnancy and it made sense for everyone in the story to experience some kind of impact because of it. In the United States, the number of teen pregnancies has declined during the last decade, but to all of those teens who continue to experience it, there are serious ramifications. And again, socio-economic differences play a big part in their resolution.
- What message do you want readers to come away with after reading your book?
That we can often be surprised by the hope that emerges to shine light on very dark places.
- This is your first novel. How did writing this differ from the nonfiction you’ve written?
My nonfiction books, TemperTamers and Dynamite Emotions, which are used in schools, incorporate stories as a way to teach children and adolescents about their emotions, and to practice techniques to prevent them from acting in ways that get them into trouble. Those stories were a lot easier to write than my novel!
- What are three fun facts about yourself that most people don’t know?
I play the banjo (badly). I studied for a semester at a Japanese college in Kyoto, Japan. I once worked as a fry cook.
- What are you working on now?
I have a children’s book in the works called Grandpa Goes on a Diet.
About the Author:
Raised in Japan by culturally sensitive missionary parents, Kathryn Sanoden Pearson learned to speak Japanese the same time she learned to speak English. After high school she moved to the United States for college, got married, and became a Licensed Psychologist. Together she and her husband raised three sons who are all married, and now finds great joy in their eight grandchildren. She loves sushi, ramen, chocolate and a great cup of coffee. She and her husband live in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota.
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