Staff writer Phil Davis reports that Madison poet and short-story writer Janet Shaw's debut novel, Taking Leave, is in bookstores and, despite mixed reviews, positions her on the brink of literary stardom. "I wanted to write a story," Shaw tells Davis, "about a man who desperately wants to be a good man.... I wanted him to be married to someone who had attracted him because of the good side of his character as he saw it - his ability to help save people. And then he'd fall in love with someone who would be impossible to have as a companion and lover." Observes C. Michael Curtis, who edited several of Shaw's stories for Atlantic Monthly: "A lot of writers can dance around the problems of personal relationships, but she gets to the heart of them. Her characters are never simplified.... She sees their weaknesses and mean-mindedness, but always sees something human in them. She's like a good therapist." Now a resident of North Carolina, Shaw has gone on to a career as the best-selling author of the Kaya and Kirsten books for the American Girls Collection.