They say some stories write themselves.
For a long time, I’ve had a story burning inside me, one itching to be told, and that is Vice, my upcoming contemporary with Samhain Publishing.
Vice is the story of Kate Callender, a woman who runs a Las Vegas support group for families of compulsive gamblers. She never expects to fall in love with Liam Doyle, owner of a hot casino called Vice. And when she does, her world is upended. Liam is exactly the sort of man she’s always despised. She sees him as an enabler. How can she possibly reconcile her feelings for him and walk off into the sunset? This was a question with which I grappled as I wrote this novel.
Kate’s story is a personal one. She could, in fact, be me. I have lived some of her experiences and I certainly understand her motivations.
My father is a compulsive gambler and his addiction has affected our family in so many ways. So much so, he can no longer be a part of our lives. I would never wish this sort of addiction on anyone. It tears at the fabric of a family and it can be hard to bounce back. It was for us.
Although there are many differences between Kate and I (I have never fallen in love with a sexy casino owner), there are lots of similarities, too. It was easy for me to assume a bias as I wrote the book, but also important that I took a step back. I didn’t want to sound judgmental. Gambling will never be my activity of choice, but I would never begrudge anyone a fun weekend in Vegas.
Would I have made Kate’s choices? Probably not. But that’s the fun part of writing romance. We get to provide happy endings, and it was important to me that she get a happy ending. Even still, she does not come through her trials unscathed. Yes, I wanted this book to end on a positive note, but I also needed to inject a measure of realism. And the reality is most people dealing with this addiction don’t always get their happy endings.
Without divulging too much about my own family’s experiences, I will tell you this. Our collective world fell apart twenty years ago, and it wasn’t the first time. Two decades later, there are days when I still question how we persevered. Seeing my family hit rock bottom, a theme that is crucial to Vice, was something I never care to see again. However, we had the assistance of professionals, people who helped us claw our way back to life. Having this support made all the difference and I would urge anyone who needs help to seek support in their communities.
If you know someone who is affected by compulsive gambling, contact your local chapter of Gam-Anon. http://www.gam-anon.org/
Vice releases Sept. 22, but is available for preorder at https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5577/vice, as well as at Amazon, ARE, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.