I stayed awake far too late wondering whether the girls would come in for a safe landing.— NICHOLE BERNIER, author of The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.
Juliette Fay was born in Binghamton, NY, the first of three daughters. The family moved to Massachusetts when she was three. With just one very cranky black and white TV in the house for much of her childhood, Juliette developed a great love of books, one particular favorite being The Boxcar Children. She was deeply impressed by the siblings’ bravery, self-reliance and the shocking lack of squabbling and hair-pulling.
At age 12 Juliette began to write a journal, a practice that would continue for many years. Though it began, as most pre-teen journals do, with a basic recitation of daily drama, Juliette soon experienced the joy of narrating her life to her own specifications. Those journals have made their way safely to obliteration, but she remembers them fondly as the vehicle that drove her love of writing.
Juliette received a bachelor’s degree in human development and theology from Boston College. 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, and worked to receive 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 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. Her second novel, Deep Down True, was published in January 2011 by Viking Penguin, and was short-listed for the Women’s Fiction Award of the American Library Association. The Shortest Way Home, her third novel, was chosen as one of Library Journal‘s Top 5 BEST BOOKS of 2012: Women’s Fiction. Her latest novel, The Tumbling Turner Sisters, will be published on June 14, 2016.
Writing fiction is by far the best job she’s ever had.