First novel captures grandparent/grandchild relationship

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For Kate Stollenwerck having her first book published felt like reaching the finish line on a dream she had for some time.

However, now that she has accomplished the dream, she is soaking it in but also thinking of ways she can make the dream last even longer.

Her first book is called “Hello, Goodbye” and was published Aug. 2.

It is a tale told through the eyes of a 15-year-old girl who spends the summer with her grandmother, and instead of experiencing what she thought would be a “ruined” summer, she not only strengthens her relationship with her grandmother but attempts to solve a family mystery in the process.

Stollenwerck has lived in Ponte Vedra for about 10 years after moving from Chicago where she had a career as a lawyer. Prior to that, she was born and raised in Texas.

“I decided to stay home with kids, but had always wanted to be a writer,” Stollenwerck said. “When my youngest went to elementary school full time, I had decided I wanted to give it a go once I had all my kids out of the house. I was one of those people that would dabble over the years, and I found an old manuscript in 2019.”

She finished the manuscript in about two months and worked with an editor and agent to try and get it published.

However, as she waited for the manuscript to find its way to the public, she began writing once again and this time was determined to see it through without any major pauses in her writing.

“I had always had the idea that I wanted to write a story about a granddaughter getting to know her grandmother as a teenager,” Stollenwerck said. “I wrote it really fast in just about two months again.”

During that time, her first novel had finally been accepted by a publisher, but she just felt something special about the work she had just wrapped up.

“I told them ‘I had actually written another story, and I was thinking I wanted to debut with it instead,’” Stollenwerck said. “I sent it to them, and they accepted it.”

The idea for the granddaughter/grandmother relationship to be the focal point of the novel was something Stollenwerck was able to draw inspiration from thanks to her own upbringing and family memories.

“I was very close with my grandmothers, and I actual felt like I had three, because I had a great aunt that lived near us in Texas,” Stollenwerck said.

Two of her grandmothers died when she was in her 20s, which is when the idea first popped in her head, and she actually wrote a couple of thoughts for the book.

“When I picked it back up, not only was I not 27, but I was 45 (years old), with children of my own,” Stollenwerck said. “I have watched the relationship of my kids and their grandparents and because of COVID we went through a stretch when we didn’t see them. That just made me very reflective on what is a very important and generational relationship.”

Although the book is categorized as part of the young adult fiction genre, Stollenwerck believes that the book can relate across generations and is something grandparents and grandchildren can both read together.

“It just isn’t a relationship explored a lot in young adult fiction,” Stollenwerck said. “It is very much a crossover book, because you really have two heroines and stars of the story. It’s all about wanting to honor that relationship.”

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