From Wiping Bottoms to Writing Novels

One day, Juliette Fay read a really bad novel and thought: I can do better than that!

by Womens Toolbox • Member { View Profile }
Juliette Fay, author of the award-winning novel, Shelter Me.

From the outside looking in, Juliette Fay looked like she had it all, a wonderful husband, a growing family, nice home, ok you get it - had it all.  But the truth was Juliette was tired of spending her day wiping...yes, I said wiping - wiping everything from little bottoms to dirty faces to countertops.   Like many Moms, Juliette wondered, was this the life she had dreamed, was this really her life?

Juliette received a bachelor’s degree in human development and theology from Boston College in 1984. Upon graduation she began a year-long stint in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Seattle, Washington where she served as an emergency shelter worker, and was very quickly treated to the bleak realities of homelessness. Juliette spent two more years in Seattle and co-founded a childcare center for children of homeless families. Returning to the Boston area she continued her career in human services, which included teaching at a school for autistic children, working at a state child abuse prevention agency, and running a parenting education program. She also waitressed quite a lot to supplement her often laughable income. In 1992 she received a master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Along the way she met and married her husband Tom, also a former Jesuit Volunteer, now an attorney in Boston. They have four elementary- to high-school-aged children. Juliette took time off from work in state and municipal government after her third child was born, and always assumed a return to that career path lay somewhere in her future.

However in 2005, with the youngest then two, fate intervened when she read a really bad book. It made her wonder if she couldn’t do a little better—if she could just commit to paper the stories that seemed to run in her head like movie marathons on a daily basis. She began tapping away at her computer each day while the younger kids napped, between the fights over who pinched who first, and late at night after the older kids had wrestled their homework to the ground.

Shelter Me, Juliette’s first published novel, was designated as one of the ten best works of fiction in 2009 by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress. It was also named to the Indie Next List of the American Booksellers Association, was chosen as one of six novels for Target’s 2009 Bookmarked Club, and was a Good Housekeeping featured Book Pick.

Diva Toolbox contributor, Juliette Faye’s next novel, Deep Down True, follows different characters with new problems and successes. It will be released in January 2011 by Viking Penguin.

Writing fiction is by far the best job she’s ever had.



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