Drew Kelly, the main character in Chris Guiton’s debut novel, “A Shot at Happy,” has some characteristics of the author himself.
“Most ideas from the book came from personal experiences,” Guiton said. “The main character’s way of life is nothing like mine has ever been, but my friends have said that they see a lot of me in him, in how we share a love of basketball, but I’ve had a different path.
“Where I’m now in my life, married with three young kids, I’m kind of a mix of the main character and his friend. I think situations, I’ve drawn upon from personal experiences, are seen in multiple characters.”
Kelly loves basketball and creates a life where he can play every day.
“The book is about a guy with a unique lifestyle,” Guiton said. “He lives a very simple life with no job and no money, but finds a way to survive by focusing on the things in life that make him happy.”
Guiton got hooked on the sport at a young age and still enjoys playing recreationally.
“Basketball was my first love,” he said. “I played both basketball and baseball in high school and college but I always focused more on basketball. After college, I played professionally for a year in Europe for the Cardiff Clippers. I also coached at Haverford College, Ursinus College, and the Peddie School, a New Jersey prep school.
“I still play quite frequently,” he said. “I’m in a few leagues in the area comprised of mostly former college players. I still love playing. I’m a shooter which is a skill that generally stays with you when you get older.”
The book was a new challenge for Guiton and he had fun mixing the eccentricities of the characters together.
“It was developing the dialogue between the characters and getting into their lifestyles that I enjoyed most because I had never tried that before,” he said. “I had a couple goals for the book. I wanted it to be a love story piece. I also wanted to get into the role of money and the pursuit of happiness. What makes the main character unique is really his priorities in life. He kept things simple and neglected his relationships with his family and love interests.”
Guiton, 39, a lawyer, who lives in Flemington, N.J., is marred to 2001 Abington Heights graduate Kelly Klingman-Guiton. They have three kids: Jack, 4, Drew, 3, and Gabriella, 4-months.
“The reaction has been really positive,” Guiton said. “People have taken many different things from the book, they have taken what is meaningful to them. I didn’t intend for it to have a specific message.”
Kelly’s mom, Deanna, is a guidance counselor at Abington Heights High School and dad, Steve, is the boys soccer coach at the school.
“When we first met, he told me it was a goal of his to write a book,” Kelly Klingman-Guiton said. “It’s taken a few years, but he got it done.”
Although the couple have three small children, Guiton was able to get most of the writing done in the evening hours after the kids were put to bed, Klingman-Guiton said.
She believes his passion for basketball helped developed the storyline throughout the novel.
“I think it probably made it easier for him incorporate the sport into the book,” Klingman-Guiton said. “There is a lot of basketball talk in the beginning, I think that helped the story evolve.”