We’re so pleased to have author Lissa Kasey joining us today on the tour for her newest release, Painting with Fire.
I have always been a big reader. I also grew up in the eighties and nineties on television shows like Saved by the Bell and Family Ties. And like most people, I believed my family was normal. We were far from anything in the books or the TV shows. But that was all fantasy anyway, right? I was never allowed over to friends’ houses or to parties. In my teens I attended church with a friend, and it was the first time I saw other families with their kids. It was eye opening.
Are there families like books and TV? Parents who care for their kids and take responsibility for their own actions? I believe so now. But I’ve never experienced it for myself. I was the middle kid of five. My father spent most of his life unemployed, usually because he had a bad habit of stealing from his employers. My mother didn’t start working until my teens, and that was only because they were running out of unemployment. We spent years on welfare, food stamps and getting only Toys for Tots for Christmas. I was a kid so none of this bothered me.
In high school I learned from friends that it wasn’t normal for me to never be allowed to go to friends’ houses, or attend sports games or after school activities. It wasn’t normal that I had to be home to clean and cook dinner for my family. It wasn’t normal that at fifteen I was working twenty-five hours a week just to pay my parents’ rent. It wasn’t normal that my parents never attended any school events like conferences or my choir concerts. It wasn’t normal that they didn’t attend my graduation and I had to pay for my own grad party in which only a few of my school friends showed up.
Shortly after I graduated high school, I admitted to my parents that my eldest brother had molested me when I was five. My father began calling me names and screamed that I was lying. My mother shrugged it off. My older sister admitted he had done it to her too, but that it was unimportant. I fell into a depression. In the span of three months I’d lost 80lbs and was doing nothing but existing as a ghost. I worked two jobs to keep money coming in so I could give it to my parents because I “owed them for raising me,” and I took a few classes at a community college. I had no direction. I wrote stories, but had no self-esteem so never shared them.
But this amazing thing happened. The internet. Suddenly, instead of being stuck at home with my uninterested family, I could speak to people all over the world. I began to share my stories and got involved in a couple of fan communities. People seemed to care and it was amazing. For the first time in my life I had family. People who actually cared.
Of course, we all know how the anonymity of the internet makes it difficult to really get close to anyone. I’ve had years of bad friendships and relationships, but now there are a handful of people who I’ve met and really do feel are family. More so than my biological one has ever been.
This past summer my biological family cut off all ties with me. I was trying to be a better family for my sister’s kids, but instead I’ve been shunned. I turned to my online family and realized family is what you make. Not who you’re born to. Painting with Fire is a book ripped from my life. There are a lot of fantastical elements. I don’t live on an island and I can’t paint to save my life. But the bones are real, based in facts and sadness. And there is hope. Maybe not for love in the way Bastian found it, but in happiness with friends as Jessie discovered. She created a new life for herself and that’s what I’m working to do.
I am stronger for the struggle. My family is made up of people who actually care. They call, text, message me to check in. They celebrate my achievements and mourn my struggles with me. It’s not about blood. It’s about love. I really hope this story, despite all the angry feelings it may conjure for something, really shows everyone how important our chosen family is.
What sort of family do you have? A blood family? A family of friends? A little of both?
About the Book
Charlie “Wood Chuck” Fox knows his best friend and fellow wildfire firefighter Jessie Row had a major family break up in her past. Charlie has adopted her into his heart and into his huge family and when Jessie gets word her mother has passed away, Charlie fears returning home is going to tear her up.
Bastian Hart’s choice of career as a doll painter has put him at odds with his family. He’s made a sanctuary for himself on the San Juan Island of Friday Harbor, an hour away from his family. He welcomes his aunt Jessie and her friend Charlie into his house as they all prepare for the upcoming funeral. Charlie and Bastian discover a spark of smoldering fire igniting between them, but Charlie is unwilling to push and Bastian hesitant to trust.
They will have to wade through pain, hate, and fear to find their future together.
“You only need to share with me what you want. You know that.”
She sighed. “I’ve kept it in a long time. Thought I could keep anyone from hurting me again if I didn’t let anyone in.” She glanced at Charlie, her eyes a little teary. “You better not be a jerk in disguise.”
Charlie grinned at her. “I’ve had ten years to use my wiles on you.”
She growled at him.
“I love you, J.”
Jessie nodded. “You’re my family, Wood Chuck. You and your whole family. I’ve tried to move on from everything. Sometimes it comes up like a sliver you didn’t know was there and just starts to burn.”
The past sometimes did that.
“Maybe it will help to share.”
“You want to know my crazy?”
“I already know you’re crazy. Running into fires and that bullshit. Tell me about the crazy you come from. You know all my crazy.”
“I like your crazy.”
“I’m likeable that way.”
“Jerk. Making me smile when I need to be sad.”
He reached out and patted her arm. “That’s what I’m here for.”
About the Author
Lissa Kasey is more than just romance. She specializes in depth characters, detailed world building, and twisting plots to keep you clinging to your book reader. All stories have a side of romance, emotionally messed up protagonists and feature LGBTGA spectrum characters facing real world problems no matter how fictional the story.