Valerie Drees

After studying (briefly) at Otis Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles, Valerie worked for many years buying interior design materials for a bank in California as a CPM (Certified Purchasing Manager). After she’d earned a Masters Degree in (European) History from California State University at Los Angeles in 1989, Valerie began her teaching career at Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, California, where she taught World History and Geography.

Valerie relocated to Virginia Beach in 1992 when her husband was hired as a History professor at Virginia Wesleyan College (now, University). Starting in 1993, and for the next twenty years, Valerie taught European History (Western Civ.) at the Virginia Beach campus of Tidewater Community College, as an adjunct. In 2001, she earned a second Masters Degree in Linguistics from Old Dominion University, which allowed her to concurrently teach English as a Second Language, as well as History, at TCC. From time-to-time, Valerie has also worked as a proofreader and freelance editor for fellow historians. While her previous publications have been non-fiction, she retired from teaching to devote herself full-time to writing fiction.

Her first novel: The Burden of Truth was published by Austin Macauley [New York] and released May 15, 2018.

The Novel’s Synopsis:
It is the summer of 1989. Tori and Brian are in their 30s, are roommates and business partners who have been close friends for many years. She is divorced, a writer, and helps to run their bookshop and café in Williamsburg, Virginia. Brian supplements their bookshop income as a professor at The College of William and Mary, and a published poet and playwright. He knows something Tori doesn’t: a family secret that Tori’s father John shared with him, not her, through a packet of letters delivered to Brian after John’s sudden death in Los Angeles. Brian honors John’s request to keep the secret from Tori, but it strains their relationship, especially as he tries to write an autobiographical play.

In flashbacks, memories, and the cache of letters left behind by his late mother, Laurel, Brian’s early life in Santa Barbara, California is revealed: the wreck of his parents’ marriage and his mother’s determination to shield him from his father Carlton’s cold cruelty in constantly comparing Brian to his ‘perfect’ older brother Patrick; the role his Aunt Lily plays as her visit from Dublin, Ireland becomes a permanent stay; and the love Brian has for his grandmother, Claire, who visits from Winchester, England every year, doesn’t like what she finds in that tense household, and eventually rescues the boy, who spends his teen years with her in England.

The story unfolds through the encapsulation of the experiences and mores of the two previous generations. The context of the lives of grandmother Claire, and her son Carlton -- as the family’s publishing empire grows -- is juxtaposed with that of the sisters, Laurel and Lily, their Dublin family, and set against the backdrop of the strains on family life of turbulent English-Irish relations as well as the personal tragedies of World War II. Tori’s father John’s path is also a product of the war, something Tori only comes to understand when she stumbles onto his secret.

Yet, nothing is as it seems as Tori tries to navigate her life with Brian. Carrying unshared truths becomes a burden for both of them. When Tori unravels the biggest hidden truth of all, she finds she has exchanged one burden for another, heavier one, but this final secret is not hers to tell.

Valerie is currently writing the sequel to the first novel, and she hopes to have it out next year.

Upcoming events:
Valerie will have a book signing on September 15, 2018 from 2-6 p.m. at The College of William and Mary’s Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Merchants Square, Williamsburg.

She also has been accepted by the Newport News Library System for their upcoming Hampton Roads Local Authors’ Showcase, which will be on November 10, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

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