Lauren Joe Welch
If ever there was a time in America’s history in need of well-written escapist fiction, it is now: novels featuring unique, finely-drawn characters who find themselves in challenging situations and who succeed in overcoming them.
I was particularly pleased when a reviewer at OnlineBookClub.org described my fourth novel, Conciliator, as “an exciting read . . . I love this book . . . because it gives me hope." He termed my characters "endearing and distinctive" and praised the "beautiful way [Conciliator] is written." When I wrote Conciliator, hope was certainly an effect I had wished to inspire in a reader.
In my previous novel, Salvager, I also explored diverse themes, as in Conciliator; in it there are also traces of that same intent, a goal of engendering hope.
My background includes work in two Vermont State human services agencies (as welfare benefits caseworker and career counselor), and work in a variety of other occupations including as a carpenter and as a co-owner of a lumber retail business. I've made brief forays into newspaper reporting, sign making, and, once believing I would make a great high school English teacher, I added the required credential to my resume. (A brief stint as a high school substitute teacher scared the bejesus out of me so I never again pursued teaching!)
My writing style is more leisurely than fast-paced. My books cannot be described as “thrillers.” I seek reader engagement. I seek to inspire through writing. My unique characters don’t acquire their uniqueness by being great, famous, wealthy, or possessing super-human qualities of intelligence or physical strength. They are ordinary, relatable people caught up in suspenseful challenges and conflicts.
I live in the state of Vermont with my wife, Anne, and three cats; my hobbies include hiking, mountain bicycling, sailing, kayaking, and cross-country skiing.
Contemporary Fiction, Suspense, Family Drama
Even in the fictional village of Collinsville, Vermont—setting of Lauren Joe Welch’s fourth novel, Conciliator, tensions run high during the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency. When the tenant-side garage of Nate Blanchard’s duplex is torched early on a Sunday morning in May, he wonders if the destructive act could be either politically or racially motivated. Is it connected with his months-long war of words on Facebook with his father’s far-right-leaning parishioners at the Collinsville Evangelical Church of Christ, or the fact that he’d recently rented his apartment to a Black divorcee and her two precocious, highly musically-talented children? Little does Nate suspect that the fire is but a prelude to even more tumultuous events which will dramatically reshape his life.
Conciliator explores diverse themes, from crime to theology, race relations to Trump-era politics, and from fatherhood to the healing power of music. Perhaps it is best described as an inspiring love story.
One reviewer at Onlinebookclub.org described Conciliator as “an exciting read . . . I love this book . . . because it gives me hope [and for] . . . the beautiful way it was written.”
Mark Sloan, divorced, laid-off as a carpenter during the last recession and barely surviving as a part-time newspaper reporter, is suddenly confronted with the possibility someone is trying to kill him. His ex-wife Ellen? Unlikely as he is still paying child support: he is the gift that keeps giving but only if he is alive to give. There are others, however, including Jeffrey Smith, administrator of a nursing home whose mismanagement of the facility Mark has publicly exposed in a Collinsville Banner feature story. Also Little Don Dornier, respected entrepreneur, furious at being exposed as a silent partner in the corporation seeking approval of an industrial wind project on a ridge overlooking the village. Big Al, owner of the Banner, says plenty of newsworthy things happen, even in the smallest of villages like Collinsville. The paper’s growing circulation proves him right, but his star reporter is confronted with more than the rancorous issues dividing the community: Mark is embroiled in personal challenges, even having succumbed to seduction by Julie, the troubled wife of one of his best friends. His challenge is to discover what within this toxic mix is threatening his life.