Writer / Janelle Morrison
Photographer / Christie Cotton Turnbull
Katrina Anne Willis, a former longtime resident of Zionsville now living in Ohio, will be returning to Indianapolis this spring as one of the Christamore House Guild’s featured authors at their 36th Annual Book and Author Luncheon to be held at the Indianapolis Roof Ballroom April 15. Willis was former Executive Director of the Zionsville Education Foundation and is married to the former principal of Zionsville Community High School, Chris Willis. They are the proud parents of four children, ages ranging from 13 to 19.
Willis is one of six acclaimed authors that will speak and autograph books at the annual fundraiser that raises scholarship dollars for the Indianapolis youth of the Christamore House. Her book, “Parting Gifts,” will be published by She Writes Press April 19.
Willis’ book is described as “an unflinchingly honest and intricate debut [that] captures the struggles and meaning of family broken by their unorthodox Midwestern childhood. Sisters Catherine, Anne and Jessica Mathers search for love, acceptance and worth — often in the most unlikely places. Catherine, the oldest of the Mathers sisters, is an English professor battling breast cancer with Cytoxan, red wine and profanity. Anne is a wife and stay-at-home mother of two, struggling to make ends meet in a suburban existence that both suffocates and confounds her. Jessica, the youngest by 10 years and estranged — by choice — from her family, is an exotic dancer who feels safer on stage than in a relationship. When the sisters are faced with an incomprehensible loss, they are forced to reevaluate themselves, their damaged bonds and their fragile future. ‘Parting Gifts’ illuminates one highly dysfunctional family’s tentative, desperate crawl toward a life of meaning and worth.”
Willis has always been writer. She began writing at a very young age and will perpetually have five to 10 different books in the works all at once. “Parting Gifts” made it to the surface and was completed by Willis after a five-year process.
“I wrote my first book, an autobiography, when I was 8 years old,” Willis chuckled. “It wasn’t very long. I still have it and am going to quote from it at the luncheon. Looking back on it, it’s really quite something. I wrote my first novel in high school and another one for my senior honors thesis in college. Writing is what I do.
“The characters from ‘Parting Gifts’ were very much a part of my every day life as I was writing this book. The characters themselves are not inspired by any one particular individual, but by a conglomeration of many different people that I have known, loved or experienced throughout my life. I think that the greatest compliment for an author is when the readers can recognize themselves in the characters and relate to them.”
Willis will be featured along with her fellow New York Times bestselling authors: Lauren Belfer, Laurie R. King and Ellen Feldman and debuting authors Elizabeth J. Church and Nina Sadowsky for the 36th Annual Book and Author Benefit Luncheon at the Indiana Roof Ballroom at 10 a.m., hosted by Christamore House Guild and the Tobias Family Foundation.
Lori Wilson, Emmy Award-winning anchor of WISH-TV and a Christamore House Board member, will serve as the mistress of ceremonies. The luncheon is expected to raise $2 million in total scholarship funds.