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Naples author debuts novel ‘Captiva Island’

By Staff | Dec 23, 2009

Naples author Kathy Lee Sumner has just released her debut novel “Captiva Island,” a story that shows the isolating effects of keeping painful secrets and the self-absolution, freedom and happiness that is possible once those secrets are released.

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Auburn University, Sumner wrote and freelanced for several publications in northwest Florida, including the Pensacola News Journal, the Gulf Breeze Sentinel, Climate Magazine and Guide to the Emerald Coast. Her most recent work was featured in Entre magazine, a publication in Naples, Fla. She currently works as a communications manager at a private country club in Naples.

Though she didn’t grow up with aspirations of being a writer, Sumner said she’s always been intrigued by being around people and trying to figure out what makes them tick.

“So in a sense, I guess I’ve been doing character studies since kindergarten. Then when I got to college, studying public relations in the school of journalism paved the way for me to properly express myself on paper,” Sumner said. “I thrived on the human interest stories. “

For Sumner, writing is an outlet and an escape and she took up writing novels as a hobby in 2003. Her parents were going through a tough time in their lives – her father had lost the family business and her mother’s father passed away.

“My mother had a particularly tough time with everything, and as her ‘baby girl,’ the only way I felt comfortable in showing and telling her all the splendor that life had given her – her depression had really set in – was by writing my interpretation of her life as I’d seen it through my eyes over the years as both a child and as an adult,” Sumner said.

The first novel she wrote, as a way to convey her concern for her mother, was called “Oakwood.”

“‘Oakwood’ was more of a therapeutic piece, and after the death of my father in 2006, I decided to shelf it and continue with another story I’d written a rough draft of which became ‘Captiva Island.'”

The rough draft that became “Captiva Island” had stemmed from Sumner’s unhappiness in her 12-year marriage.

“My father was the only person who knew I was unhappy in my marriage – he was my rock; we were very close. He would encourage me to try and make it better from many different angles, but with small children still clinging, and after several failed attempts of explaining to my husband that I needed his time, touch and to be there emotionally, I purged it out in my writing,” Sumner said.

After a few marriage counseling sessions that Sumner says produced no results, she realized she couldn’t change or mold a person into who she needed them to be.

“And if we’re unhappy, it’s okay to follow the path less traveled. Initially, it’s a bumpier path, but in the long run, when I became happy again, the people around me saw the change. Clich, I know, but life’s too short not to enjoy the ride,” Sumner said.

“Now that I’m on the outside looking back, I’ve found by talking to other women that this is a common issue in many marriages – so many women think that wanting to be loved – a deep kind of love that comes from the soul – would be ridiculous to have to ask for. So I, and maybe some other women I know, continue life on autopilot. After watching my dad take his last breath, literally, in July of 2006, at that very moment, I decided to take my life off autopilot and start living again.”

In, “Captiva Island” protagonist Julia Parks is selected to interview and write the biography of a renowned romance novelist and Georgia native named Helen Van Buren, a recluse hiding away in Captiva.

After Julia discovers an unpublished manuscript, Helen reads it aloud and secrets that have been held captive for over half a century surface that connect these women in more ways than either of them ever imagined.

“I love Captiva Island and dream of owning a home there someday. And what better place to send my reader for a mini-vacation! As I wrote the story, I decided that most of the characters would hold captive some secrets from their past. It was an honest coincidence that Captiva and holding secrets ‘captive’ would tie in together,” Sumner said.

The manuscript for “Captiva Island” was chosen as a semi-finalist in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.

“This is a work of fiction to be enjoyed and, hopefully, passed on to all of those who are hopeless romantics at heart who truly believe that it’s never too late to live happily ever after.”

“Captiva Island” is available for sale online at Amazon.com and BookSurge.com. Merchants can call (866)308-6235 for a discounted wholesale rate.