After retiring two years ago, Renee Propes decided it was time to dust off a dream of hers and finish her first novel, “Duplicity, A Story of Deadly Intent.”
The Gainesville resident had started writing the book — which is planned to be the first in a series — while looking after her son as a stay-at-home mother. When she dove into her accounting career, the project halted, never to be revisited until nearly 30 years later.
“I’ve never known just staying at home with nothing to do,” Propes said. “This was just a godsend.”
After delving into a series of edits and gaining helpful insight from writers’ groups in Atlanta and Gainesville, Propes’ novel was published on April 23 by The Kimmer Group, a family publishing company.
She plans to hold her first book signing and meet-and-greet from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, at The Little Lady Bug on 1185 Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville. People can purchase the novel there.
What: Meet-and-greet with Gainesville’s Renee Propes, author of “Duplicity, A Story of Deadly Intent”
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13
Where: The Little Ladybug, 1185 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville
"Duplicity” is set in the fictitious small town of Abington, Georgia, which she said lies in North Georgia surrounded by Lake Lanier.
The author said she drew inspiration from Gainesville, where she was born, incorporating familiar landmarks like Scott’s Downtown, which she names Scott’s in the book, and the city’s square.
“It could be Gainesville, but it’s not,” Propes said. “Scott’s is one of the favorite restaurants of people in the book. And I like to go down there and walk around the square. I mention the brick streetscapes and mention the Methodist church off Thompson Bridge Road.”
The story, which the author defines as a “Southern literary suspense book,” follows three families in the rural town whose lives are intertwined by fate. Propes said Teddy Williams, who comes from a Realtor family, is one of the main protagonists of the book who she feels the strongest connection to.
“When I was writing that story, that’s exactly what I wanted my son to grow up to be, someone like Teddy,” she said. “Someone with a heart for people who always chooses the high road”
Readers soon find out that Teddy had a younger brother and sister who tragically died in a car accident. Propes said Teddy’s younger brother had plans of following in his father’s footsteps to carry on their family real estate business.
Teddy, who dreams of becoming a pediatrician, is on the verge of starting his own practice, when his father has a heart attack. Propes said he must choose between doing what he wants and pleasing his father by taking over the family business.
While overcoming that hurdle, Teddy is also dealing with the challenges of being married to a woman, Nancy Leigh, who doesn’t love him. Propes said his wife is one of the antagonists of the book and meddles into the affairs of his family.
Teddy later meets the granddaughter of a local farmer, and sparks ensue.
“It’s suspenseful, but there are also several great love stories in the book,” Propes said. “It’s not a syrupy harlequin romance kind of story. It was my intent that the romance be tastefully done.”
Propes said some of the hardest scenes to create involved one written from the perspective of a criminal mind and another that included a eulogy from someone who lost her grandfather.
“I wanted to write something that I felt would be moving to the point of crying,” she said when referring to the eulogy.
The book puts the spotlight on people ranging in their late 20s to 60s. Every character experiences personal growth which promotes change by the end of the novel, growth that Propes said she believes readers of all ages can relate to.
When people finish reading “Duplicity, A Story of Deadly Intent,” Propes said she hopes they take away “the importance of forgiveness in every relationship."
"In the end, it's all about grace," she said.
Kindle, hardback and paperback versions of Propes’ book can be found via amazon.com. People can also order the novel online from Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Target and Walmart.
Propes’ second book, “Fractured, A Book of Broken Ties,” in the Abington series is slated for release on Nov. 1.
For more information about the author and her upcoming books, visit authorreneepropes.com.