DANSVILLE — Whitney Otto once wrote,“You have to choose your combinations carefully. The right choices will enhance your quilt. The wrong choices will dull the colors and hide their original beauty. There are no rules you can follow. You have to go by instinct, and you have to be brave.”


Wayland Author Kay Thomas visited the Dansville ArtWorks on June 22 to talk about her first fictional novel “Pity Becomes You” which is available on Amazon.


Thomas said that trying her hand at fiction was like traveling down a completely different road. She has written several nonfiction books on her travels, life, columns, and other adventures.


“I spent most of my time writing stories you can’t make up," she said. "I was taught by my editor to analyze each paragraph of the story, and decide if it was important. You also do a lot of research when you are writing nonfiction. You need to find out as much as you can about the people and places.”


Thomas spent many years as a columnist talking to people face to face, since doing phone interviews never felt right.


“I found out there is a lot more freedom in fiction writing,” she said. “I am working on a mystery right now where it opens with a character face down in the pool, and we spend the book trying to figure out who did it. I have been writing this book, and I still don’t know who did it. The characters rise to the surface, and telling me their stories in fiction.”


Thomas said she never thought she would have any strength in writing a fictional novel. Now she has three of them in the works. The one available now is “Pity Becomes You,” in the fall you can purchase a food critic mystery called “Agreeable,” and this latest whodunit can be seen in the future called “Bedeviled.”


“Pity Becomes You” is a book with some truth in it as it reflects on the tragedy of dementia.


“This book had been in my head for years, but I kept walking away from it,” Thomas said. “The first time I worked on it I had 30 pages put together, and found I had nothing left to write. I had to learn how to slow my pace down from being a columnist to being a fiction writer.”


At some point Thomas opened herself up to allowing her main characters to tell the story. Once she allowed them to have some say in how it was written the pages just flowed.


“My main character Vera talked to me about her story,” she said. “As I got comfortable with her and started to know her better a story began to form. I kept putting myself into the situations with Vera. I gave her the dignity that she deserved.”


Thomas soon found she had created a story within a story, and for many there may even be a third story wrapped in the others.


Thomas talked about how the book had a personal connection to her, and was very hard to write. Her mother passed away 20 years ago with dementia. She spent the last 12 years of her life losing her mind.


Thomas discovered that you have to be honest and brave when telling this kind of story.

“I learned more about the process itself when writing this book,” she said. “I learned you need to be honest and brave when telling this kind of story.”