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In The Works

As a long-time editor and the owner of The Roundhouse Press, I’ve always got my ear to the ground for new voices and fresh perspectives.  Here are a few up and coming projects to watch out for that are in the works.  Bookmark this page for publishing and release dates of these new and provocative titles.

Raised by Nuns and Drunks, A Memoir by Kathleen Vaughan

Kathleen Vaughan has an amazing coming of age story and the determination, not only to tell it, but to tell it all the way.

Kathleen was sixteen months old when her family of seven left Ireland for New York City. After her mother died, her father, understandably overwhelmed, allowed a girlfriend and the nuns who were teaching his kids to talk him into putting the youngest three into an orphanage. Just for six months, is what he told the children. Seven and a half years later, Kathleen finally went home.

Because it is being written by a deeply spiritual, brazenly Irish woman of great humor, this is not a one-dimensional story. Neither is it a feel-good account or a mere tale of survival.

Kathleen set out to find an editor who understood her Irish background, and she certainly found one. I consider myself something of a title queen, having developed many memorable ones over the years. As much as I love that part of my job, however, I automatically stood back and saluted when Kathleen announced the title she had already given her manuscript-in-process:

Raised by Nuns and Drunks.

Boom. There you are.

You’ll want to be in this colorful company, I promise.

We’ll keep you posted.

I don’t know if Sister Raymond from Our Lady Queen of Martyrs hesitated before approaching our father outside of church that Sunday. I imagine she took a deep breath, maybe uttered a quick bit of a prayer.

Because what she was about to say was not exactly “Good morning.” After she said what was on her mind, our lives would never be the same.

“John,” Sister Raymond said to our father, “you must know that there’s always the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Home in the Bronx to consider.”

Home. As in orphanage.

Sister Raymond’s suggestion, coming out of the blue, hit my father squarely in one of his most Celtic characteristics: his pride. All his typical concern for religious civility was now thrown to the wind as he sputtered through tight lips.

“Consider?! Consider what about it?”

Sister Raymond had heard this tone before. She had been well trained to operate smoothly in the most delicate of all situations. She knew where this rough tone came from, she wasn’t fooled into thinking she was being disrespected. No, she was confronting a grieving widower about the well-being of his wife’s pride and joy, her legacy—their children. She knew it wasn’t pretty, what flashed before his eyes that day in front of the same church that welcomed and buried his wife. John Vaughan was seeing images he never thought he’d live to imagine.

“Well, what about it? What about this….home…

Sister Raymond went on, as if she were discussing confirmation classes or Christmas vacation with a parent after Mass. Calmly, almost offhandedly, she continued. “Well, John, it would give a home for the little ones. Just think about it. There, they would be supervised, would be given a safe environment, not left to run wild.” Despite the nun’s practiced restraint, a slight edge did slip out at the end, leaving no doubt how she felt about the recent behavioral excesses of the family Vaughan.

I had been holding my dad’s hand during this exchange. As soon as I heard that implied criticism of our antics, I looked up at my beloved father, shocked to see his face turn a dramatic shade of red. Today I would describe that color as explosive, and it appeared that was exactly what he was preparing to do.

But John Vaughan did not explode out into the world this time. Instead, his voice became frighteningly soft, dangerously low, even as he resumed his incendiary conversation with Sister Raymond.

“I’ll thank ye to…“ he began, then stopped short to get a better grip on himself. Taking a slow, breath, he continued. “I think I’ll keep m’ children in tha’ home, rather than farm ‘em, like horses, thank ye. Tha’ Mama wouldda liked that. But, I thank ye, Sister fer ye kindly suggestion.”

I don’t know how he did it, but our father managed to end this conversation with a smile as charming as any he ever wore while pouring a pint at Vaughan’s Pub back home.

***

As the youngest and formerly the apple of John Vaughan’s eye, I seemed to most deeply resent Kay’s presence, especially the way she’d possessively drape herself over him, rubbing his shoulders and whispering poisonous ideas in his ears. We watched as her way of thinking started to take root, gradually becoming self-talk within his consciousness.

“This is no kind of place for small children, John.”

“You work hard, John. You deserve some time for yourself.”

“John, you’d be doing them a favor, putting the young ones elsewhere.”

Elsewhere. Thanks to the nun outside our church that Sunday, elsewhere was a real building with an address. And besides, John Vaughan now had reason to believe elsewhere was sanctioned by the Church itself.

The day finally came when our father gave in to the voices planted in his head and made a phone call.

Soon after, on an April morning, the three youngest Vaughans—Hanora, Brendan and I—found ourselves staring through the high iron gates of the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. home for orphans.