When she writes, ro-mance sweeps Kileen Prather away from Port Washington, her condominium, its monochromatic siding and her average Midwestern life.
Filled with the spirit of love, she soars beyond the congestion of traffic, hectic vacation hotspots, and the struggles of everyday life as a single, 63-year-old woman working as a tour manager for Mayflower Tours.
Soon she finds herself in a world populated with hardworking, innocent, middle-aged women named Anne and older, more complicated men named Jesse.
Prather is a part-time romance novelist and writes for the over-50 crowd.
After a difficult divorce following a 36-year marriage, Prather listened to members of her tour groups and realized that many were suffering similar situations with divorce, loneliness or complications from illnesses. She realized she could combine her travels with stories she has heard and create novels.
“I always wanted to write, but wasn’t sure how to begin,” Prather admitted. “One day I was traveling down to Texas where I live with my brother in the winter months and got a flat tire. It was 20 below zero and as I was waiting to get my tire fixed, I pulled out my computer and began writing about my adventures.”
After she shared her stories with a few relatives and friends, they asked for more. Prather started writing and could not stop.
“My novels read like travelogues as well as deal with what people encounter on a daily basis,” she explained. “In fact, my book, ‘The Journey Beckons,’ is based on the story of a woman I met who lived in an abusive marriage for 45 years, and whose husband had diabetes. A lot of this book is about what I saw on my travels, what she went through and then I made up the rest.”
With several books ready to print, Prather got into the self-publishing. “The Journey Beckons” and “Journey to Port” are available on her Web site or through Amazon.com or special order through major bookstores.
are available through her Web site,
by check to:
or through Amazon, special order from large bookstores.
If ordered from her Web site, book prices are $15.95 and are autographed and include shipping.
“I wanted to have a large publishing house handle my books, but they all said that people over 50 are not interested in romance novels, especially ones that read like travelogues,” explained Prather. “I disagree, as the people on my tours are always looking for romance books to read, and for those who can’t afford to travel, my books give them a glimpse of the rest of the United States.”
Feedback from tour members who read Prather’s books en route encourages her. Their comments give her hope that she can one day cut back on her 17 tours a year, relax and devote more time to writing and enjoying life … and perhaps, experiencing a romance of her own.
“I can’t be doing tours like this when I am 80 years old,” admitted the mother of two boys, Frank and Rick, and grandmother to 4-year-old Isabel. “People who read my books on the tours really like them and they want me to write more, but it’s hard because I have to work so much. It’s also difficult to meet anyone if I am spending months on the road and alternating my time between Port Washington and Galveston, Texas.”
Her schedule also makes it difficult to feel attached to just one church.
When she is in Port Washington, she rotates her daily Mass attendance among three parishes and while in Texas, she attends St. Thomas More Parish.
A graduate of Edgewood High School in Madison, Prather earned a bachelor’s degree in history from UW-Madison and a master’s degree in school librarianship from Central Michigan University. Before she became a tour manager, she served as a school librarian in District 300 in Dundee and Carpentersville in Illinois, and then taught the gifted and talented program and served as the school librarian at St. John Vianney Catholic School, Janesville.
While there are scenes in her books dealing with sexuality, Prather tries to write sensitively and without the explicit content commonly found in secular novels.
“I try to do that because of my faith, as well as the reading audience,” she explained. “Most people in their 50s and up don’t like anything graphic. In fact, I have had comments from others, such as a fellow bus driver, who don’t generally like romance novels, but they liked mine because they were not graphic. I don’t want to do something to injure someone’s sensitivities and bring them to a point where they are turned off by reading my books.”
While she hopes readers learn about the beauty of the United States through her novels, she is also hopeful that they might learn something about themselves as well and realize that they are not alone in their trials and suffering.
“The mature reader can relate to the characters’ hopes and dreams due to their age, relationships and experiences,” she said. “And younger readers can learn what it’s like to face life while dealing with its challenges or possibly relate it to someone in their lives. These characters are ordinary people struggling with issues aging adults have to face such as changing spousal relationships, parents’ concerns or illnesses. Many women and men find themselves divorced or widowed after 25, 35 or even 45 years of marriage. These devastating experiences seem to halt life as they know it. They often don’t believe its possible to start all over again or lead a fulfilling life. They need to know that living takes place and romance is possible, no matter your age.”
For Prather, the escape into writing is a gift inspired by God – a gift she does not take lightly.
“I feel like he is leading me to write and that there is a reason that I am doing this,” she said.