WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J.– Washington Township author Kathleen Gerard didn't have to look far for what she needed growing up.
Her father, Patrick Villano, inspired her. Her mother, Jacqueline, supported her.
"They instilled in me a great curiosity about things, people and places---and a thirst to always keep learning," said Gerard, whose new book " The Thing Is" debuted this month.
She got her passion for storytelling from her dad, the former principal of Linwood Elementary School in Emerson (The school was renamed Patrick M. Villano Elementary School in 1981 after his death).
Gerard credits her mother, a former teacher and reading specialist at Ketler School – now Westwood Middle School – as "the driving force behind my becoming an insatiable reader and disciplined writer/storyteller."
"She has helped me grapple with my faith despite some very serious, personal challenges in my life," she told Daily Voice.
Gerard also looked up to her three older siblings.
At 13, she wrote letters to her sister who was away at college. That led to keeping a journal and, eventually, writing stories inspired by the Pascack Valley and beyond.
Her "woman-in-jeopardy" suspense novel "In Transit" tells the tale of an under-tipped waitress from the Westwood area. And her novella "Cold Comfort" is about the impact the 2012 Nor'easter and Hurricane Sandy had on her.
"All of my books and characters have a New York/New Jersey/Metro sensibility," the Westwood High School graduate said, "and the settings are anchored in the area: local neighborhoods, watering holes, restaurants, the Garden State Parkway and [well-known] landmarks."