By Joanne Arbogast
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — Kim Piermattei’s life is full of so many stories it seems inevitable she’d someday write a book. She finally has, but it’s not about growing up in Sunbury or finding success after leaving the area.
Her book is about the Islamic faith and terrorism.
Piermattei and three older brothers grew up in Sunbury in the same house that, over the years, 174 foster children also called home.
The children “were great and miserable, like all siblings. The kids all came from troubled pasts. Most had been in prison for a host of crimes ... all just needed a stable home, rules and love. That’s what we tried to provide,” she said.
“It was never a ‘them versus us’ type of situation. We were all kids just having fun. We always had enough people for a baseball or football game on a moment’s notice. It was a great way to grow up.”
Not all the childhood memories are happy ones. “The worst of times involved the losses. We had a few who fell back into old habits after they left. One in particular went to New York and died of a drug overdose,” she said. “Those are the hard times.”
From that experience, Piermattei learned “not everyone is born with great parents or a great home life; sometimes you have to take that into account before you judge someone.”
Her mother, Jackie, actually did write a book about all this, but has yet to publish it.
The 1984 Shikellamy High School graduate went on to study sociology and psychology at Dickinson College then earned a law degree from Temple School of Law.
During those years, she spent time in England studying at the University of East Anglia and then interned in the British parliament in London. As a researcher in the House of Commons, Piermattei helped draft several legislative bills and learned her way around international politics.
She has plenty of stories from those years. For a spell, she worked for Tony Banks, a member of Parliament, long-term member of the Labour Party and who was briefly the mayor of London.
“However, first and foremost he was an Irishman from Belfast who loved to drink and rally on behalf of animal rights — usually at the same time,” she said. Twice he dragged her to public rallies for various causes. “I believe one was for saving the whales,” she said. Twice the press showed up and twice they were quickly escorted away in a police car.
“I had to remind Tony I was a foreigner with a security clearance that would be taken away if I was arrested. Fortunately, we were never formally charged and on the second time Tony, with all his charm, was able to persuade the officers to drop us off at a pub,” she said. “He was a consummate politician.”
Next she interned in the Philadelphia Public Defender’s office then worked for a small criminal defense firm before joining a mid-sized firm specializing in civil trial work. After more than a decade of working in the law, she found it “can expose you to both the most noble and most despicable traits of mankind.”
So she changed gears and opened a cafe in a corporate center and provided specialized catering to Fortune 100 companies and their private jets. That’s where she met her future husband, Tim, an British-born entrepreneur who had a company in the same center.
She grew restless. “I didn’t want to just suffer through work every day ... I needed to find something I loved doing,” she said.
Several years later, while on a beach, she read an article about the arrest of an Imam in California.
“I had little knowledge of what an Imam was or of the Islamic religion in general but something was planted” and she started scribbling down notes.
The scribbling resulted in a novel, released as an e-book this past fall with the paperback due in stores in 2013. “The Imam — Terror Unleashed” is a tale of terrorism in America, written under the pen name K.A. Pierce.
“Some find Piermattei challenging to pronounce,” she explained.
She gives credit to her Shikellamy high school teachers who guided her in forensic debate with preparing her for a future in law, and in writing. “They taught me how to research an issue, structure an argument and to see more than one point of view,” she said.
Piermattei is not worried about how her book will be received in the world at large.
“I am not damning Muslims, either in my book or in general, but I don’t condone the violence that comes with these protests (referring to the violent September protests overseas). In my book, the character of Jamaal represents the minority terrorist faction while Bashir represents the more traditional peaceful side of Islam,” she said.
Piermattei spends her time between Yardley, Pa., and a log home in the mountains near Benton. She and her husband volunteer for both the National Great Pyrenees Rescue, where they help by conducting home visits with those considering adoption, and a bi-weekly rescue transport. The transport relocates dogs and cats from kill shelters to rescues, fosters and adopters all over the Northeast. Piermattei typically helps transport animals from Mount Holly to Woodbridge, both in New Jersey.
She also offers pro bono legal assistance “to friends, a few strangers and a couple of start-up companies in the area,” she said.
As often as she can, she returns to town, stopping in at The Sunbury Sub Shop and the Squeeze-In for the “best food from my childhood,” she said. And she keeps in touch with several of her foster siblings, many of whom contact her mother, at least once a year.
She’s also still writing. “Borderline Business,” the second book in the trilogy, will continue to follow her characters introduced in “The Imam” and focus on the tentacles of a U.S.-based international smuggling cartel. For more information, visit www.kapierce.com.
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