Cover Reveal: MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid!

Cover Reveal: Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Cover Reveal: Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

We’re dreaming of summer—feet in the sand, soaking up the sun, taking a dip in the pool—but what we’re most excited about this summer is the release of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s third novel, MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE (on sale July 7, 2015). While we (impatiently!) wait for the book, today we’re giving you a first look at the gorgeous cover! Plenty more information below…

ABOUT MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE:

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college, but on the heels of a disastrous breakup, she has finally returned to her hometown of Los Angeles. To celebrate her first night back, her best friend, Gabby, takes Hannah out to a bar—where she meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

It’s just past midnight when Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. Ethan quickly offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay.

Hannah hesitates.

What happens if she leaves with Gabby?

What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into surprisingly different stories with far-reaching consequences for Hannah and the people around her, raising questions like: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

Taylor Jenkins Reid
Taylor Jenkins Reid

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author and essayist from Acton, Massachusetts. She is the author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and her dog, Rabbit. You can follow her on Twitter @TJenkinsReid.

MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Atria Books/Washington Square Press Paperback | 352 pages | ISBN: 9781476776880 | July 7, 2015 | $16.00

eBook: Atria Books/Washington Square Press | 352 pages | ISBN: 9781476776897 | July 7, 2015 | $11.99

FIND TAYLOR ONLINE:

http://www.taylorjenkinsreid.com/

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A Glimpse of Hanna – Developing Character Through Writing Exercises

I’ve had people ask for excerpts of Unspeakable. I’m hesitant to do that at this point. I want people to get to know my characters, but also don’t want to create spoilers.

Before writing Unspeakable, I sketched out the backstories of all of my characters. I even typed out scenes to help me get to know my characters better. Here’s one that I did for Hanna. I hope you enjoy it.

Dianna Agron looking a lot like Hanna Rutherford
Dianna Agron looking a lot like Hanna Rutherford

 

Approximately eight years before Unspeakable …

 

They’re not fighting. It’s worse than that – they’re devoid of anything friendly. Every creek of the house pinches my shoulder blades closer together. Like the tick of a trigger waiting to release. Something will prompt a blow up, it’s just a matter of what.

 

Not a good time to ask for anything. But I have a job interview tomorrow and need to know if I can get a ride. The bus only runs once an hour on a Sunday, so I’m hoping to avoid having to arrive 45-minutes early.

 

Mom is polishing the already clean counter top, her nostrils flared, the muscles in her arm quiver. I clear my throat. Barely a sound escapes. But it’s enough. She stops – cold.

 

I inch backward, regretting my decision. I can find a way to keep myself warm in -30 Celsius weather. I’ll find a bus shelter or something. At least the three walls of glass cut the sharp wind. I can handle the cold – well, the kind related to the weather anyway.

 

But it’s too late. I’m committed. “What..is..it, Hanna?” she asks without turning, her back rigid.

 

I squeak out my request, trying to explain. My words tumble over each other.

 

It’s no matter. My mother breathes out a fiery of angry words. I’m lazy. I’m inconsiderate. I’m selfish. I’ve heard it all before. As she unleashes on me, I stand, stoic as possible. Any retort I give will just fuel her anger. I spare a surreptitious glance at my father, curled over a book in his armchair in the living room. A pain greater than my mother’s fury? My father’s curtain of indifference.

An Interview with Author S N Weddle

 

I am happy to announce that as part of his Blog Book Tour, S. N. Weddle, author of “It Starts With A Kiss”, has generously given his time to answer my questions about his journey from idea to publication, and the lack of middle-age female protagonists in modern novels. He also gives advice to those seeking publication. Please find my interview below the summary of his book.


Kiss cover _Layout 1

Summary of “It Starts With A Kiss” provided by Elite Book Promotions:

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How many women wish they could be 21 again but knowing what they know now? How many women wish they had great looks, fabulous clothes, an amazing job and the choice of any man they fancy? Be careful what you wish for …….

Rapidly approaching 50, Jennifer Green is living a life of quiet despair following her husband’s confession of an affair. She is contemplating suicide when she encounters a mysterious, half-crazed tramp who appears to know more about her than she does herself. Thanks to the tramp’s magical powers, Jennifer suddenly finds herself 21 again, but this time with the figure and face of a goddess – and, what’s more, every millionaire in New York is trying to date her. “Beauty is the strongest currency in the world.” Even her own daughter doesn’t recognise the new-look Jennifer. She and her unsuspecting daughter become flatmates.

To earn a living, Jennifer takes up ‘honey trapping’ to catch cheating husbands, even checking out her daughter’s dodgy boyfriend along the way. Eventually, Jennifer’s killer combination of stunning beauty and mature wisdom make her a star on prime-time TV but, by then she is also beginning to wonder if there is sme bizarre connection between the tramp, a handsome stranger who nearly hijacked her wedding 25 years earlier and the rich, successful and impossibly gorgeous media tycoon who is currently sweeping her off her feet.

On one level, It starts with a KISS is a romantic, funny and sexy modern-day fairy-tale with a surprising ending – a great summer read! On a deeper level, this is also a complex novel, beautifully written, and exploring themes that will touch every woman: lost youth, beauty and image, marriage, female friendships, loyalty and envy, mother-daughter relationships and society’s attitude to sex. This is a book for any woman who wonders if others see her the way she sees herself – and it is remarkable that this intimate portrait of female insecurities has been penned (from a woman’s point of view) by a man.

IT STARTS WITH A KISS: An Interview with author, S N Weddle

  1. What was the inspiration behind It Starts With A Kiss

I’d just hit 50 having recently left my long term career as a TV Producer and was beginning to reflect on what I’d achieved so far, plus what might lie ahead of me in the years to come. And so I began to imagine what it would be like to live my life again, and whether I could avoid making the same mistakes second time around. And then it struck me how it would be even more amazing if I could be young again in the here and now, rather than going back in time, and be twenty one again in the 21st Century. So either I was having a nervous breakdown, or I had the basis for a great book – same thing really!!!

2.You chose the self-publishing route for your first novel. Can you tell us what led to this decision? What was the journey to self-publishing like for you?

I went through all the traditional publishing outlets but I just couldn’t seem to get anybody interested, even with my thirty years worth of media contacts. It felt like I was on the outside looking in at some charmed circle of wonder that was never going to allow the likes of me in. There must be a way, so firstly I paid to get my Book edited by a professional. One of the drawbacks of so many self-published books is that they haven’t been through the editing process, and suffer as a result. And I didn’t want to inflict a poorly thought out and badly executed story on any potential readers. In fact, my book has had four separate edits, ensuring that it’s about as professional as it gets.

Then I stumbled upon a great little outfit called Mereo Books, who are a proper publisher in every sense of the word, except that the author pays towards his or her costs. In every other respect Mereo have ensured that my book has been beautifully presented, properly copy edited and expertly distributed throughout the world. So although it might loosely be called self-publishing It Starts With A Kiss is a quality product that would compare favorably with any of the more traditionally published books on sale today.

3.What advice would you give to first time authors seeking to publish their novel?

First ensure that your book is as good as it can possibly be. Don’t submit something which you know in your heart of hearts isn’t really good enough. If it’s no good leaving you, then it won’t get any better when it arrives on the desks of publishers or literary agents. By all means try the traditional publishing houses first, and if you can get a literary agent to represent you, even better, as they will know exactly who to approach, and will be listened to by many of the top names in the industry. You might just get lucky, but if you shouldn’t, don’t despair as there’s a whole world of so called self-publishing out there. And don’t forget, one of the best- selling books of recent years, Fifty Shades of Grey, began life on the internet, and just look what happened to that. Publishing is no longer the preserve of a privileged elite, and it’s all the better for it.

  1. A romance novel from a female perspective seems an unusual choice for a male writer. Why did you make this choice?

I’ve always loved romantic stories, right from the time I first saw Cinderella in the theater when I was about seven years old. And when you think of it, most of the great works of fiction are love stories at heart, whether it’s Jane Eyre, Gone With The Wind or Great Expectations. So after I hit upon the idea for my story it slowly began to dawn on me that it might work better if the protagonist was female. It was a tale about somebody who gets to re-invent themselves, and as I began to look around me I started to notice that it was mostly my female friends who were getting out there and doing extraordinary things like starting businesses, organizing book clubs, learning foreign languages or running off with men half their age. Meanwhile my male friends were slipping comfortably into late middle age by taking it easy, happy to go down the sports bar to watch the big game on TV. And besides, women have a much greater emotional range than men and are more relaxed about expressing their feelings, which makes them so much more interesting to write about.

However, although I now had a female protagonist, I still wrote the first draft of Kiss in the third person as a kind of disembodied narrator, simply observing the story in a Jennifer did this Jennifer did that kind of way. It was only after sending my manuscript to a professionally qualified Book Editor that I even considered writing the story in the first person as the woman herself. The female Editor thought I was too distant from the main character, and believed I could become more connected if I wrote as Jennifer. So it took a woman to make me a woman, at least in a literary sense!

Strangely, once I started writing as Jennifer it really began to flow, and so far readers in the UK seem to agree that I have passed the being a woman test. I’ve always had female Editors ever since to keep my femininity intact, just occasionally highlighting what they considered to be some far too masculine words – men and women do speak very differently in their choice of language – or changes to a couple of sex scenes too, when mostly they wanted me to spice things up!

I do appreciate that it could have been a bit creepy, a male author pretending to be a woman – but I truly believe that hasn’t been the case, as I have genuinely tried to approach the task with a real sense of respect for my subject. You see, I do genuinely like and relate positively to women, and believe that comes over loud and clear in the book. Funnily enough, I was once told by a fortune teller that I’d always been a woman in all of my previous lives, and this was my first outing as a male. Maybe that’s the real reason why I’ve been driven to write as a woman after all! Who knows?

  1. At its heart, It Starts With A Kiss is a Romance. Is that a genre you most often read? What are some of your favorite books?

I try and read as widely as possibly when it comes to genres, and having been a member of a Book Club has really helped me to read outside my comfort zone. I’ve just completed The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Richard Flanagan, a harrowing tale of Prisoners Of War captured by Japanese Forces in World War Two. And yet even within this grueling story set in the Burmese jungle, is a tale of love between the Australian soldier and the two women he has left behind him which lies at the heart of the Book.

Romance is definitely my preferred genre as a reader though, drawn towards stories about feisty women who step outside what were the perceived norms of their time and then wrongly punished for their so called misdeeds. My all time number one book in this tradition is the classic French novel Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. I am also a great admirer of Anne Tyler’s clever, funny and insightful novels, my favorite being, The Amateur Marriage, which I try and read every year. And it just seems to get better every time. Plus, more recently, I loved the truly twisted love story of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and Lionel Shriver’s Big Brother. And when I want something a little less strident I do love a spot of chick lit too. I have even been known to read the amazingly prolific Danielle Steel, plus I’ve loved all of the Bridget Jones Diary Books by Helen Fielding, which I thought were both funny and touching.

  1. According to your author biography, you live in England. It Starts With A Kiss takes place in the United States. Why did you choose this setting?

My book is all about getting a second chance, and in my mind, if you want to go and reinvent yourself there’s only one place to do it, and that’s New York. Also, I do love American Literature, and there’s something about the snap crackle and pop of American style dialogue that I really enjoy writing. Weirdly, I now find it much easier to write as an American female than as a middle- aged Englishman. Plus I do love visiting the States. Also there’s something incredibly optimistic at the core of my story, and much as I love my country, I wonder whether It Starts With A Kiss would sit comfortably in the slightly cynical and pessimistic culture we have here in the UK. It’s part of our charm that the English always expect the worst, and it’s part of yours that you always expect the best. So that’s another reason why it had to be the States.

‘It’s never too late to be who you might have been,’ is the quote I use from George Eliot to preface my story, and that’s a sentiment more easily understood by Americans than most Brits, even though an English author first wrote it.

  1. Lisa Genova was quoted as saying that Still Alice was initially rejected from traditional publishing because ‘no one wants to read about a middle-aged woman…’ Yet, the majority of the readership today is women in this age bracket. Do you feel that there is a gap in the market for female protagonists in this age range? What has been the reception to your ‘middle aged’ female protagonist, Jennifer Green been like?

Definitely! Middle-aged women are the biggest single group buying books yet are shamefully neglected by the publishing industry when it comes to featuring them as major characters in novels. It is so incredibly dumb, especially when you consider the number of sexy, sassy and smart older women who inhabit our world and have fantastic stories to tell, yet are nowhere to be seen on the printed page, although maybe things are beginning to change. In my case, Jennifer represents what so many middle aged women are doing in the real world by reinventing and creating a more exciting life for herself, and if that should include an erotic encounter along the way with a gorgeous young man or two who is drawn to her allure, then why not.

  1. Are you a pantser or a plotter? That is, did you create an outline for It Starts With A Kiss, or did you start with a premise and begin to write?

A bit of both really, but more premise then beginning to write. I had certain key incidents already mapped out in my head but then I came up with the thought while writing of Jennifer unexpectedly meeting her daughter in a New York bar, which gave me my mother/daughter relationship sub plot. Plus there’s an additional twist late on which only came to me right at the very end of writing, yet it had been staring me right in the face from day one, only I hadn’t recognized it. I better not reveal any more, in case I give too much away!

  1. How long did it take you to complete It Starts With A Kiss?

Far too long! I first had the idea back in the year 2000, then did nothing about it, although it was probably bubbling away somewhere in my subconscious in between doing other stuff. I actually wrote the first draft just over five years ago and now four drafts later I’ve finally got an end product to all this dreaming. Did I mention it’s a fairy tale for grown-ups, because that’s exactly what it is.

  1. What are you working on now?

I’m just completing a book of lightly erotic short stories, to be called either Bedtime Stories or Bedside Stories, about such diverse subjects as flirting, fantasies, fidelity, toy boys and does size matter, all from a female perspective again. Then talking of size, there’s my next full length book, a romantic adventure in the style of Romancing The Stone – if you’re old enough to remember it! – about a sassy middle aged woman who enlists the help of a dashing young man after they accidentally discover a state secret, and are forced to go on the run. Plus I have also mapped out a sequel to Kiss, as I’m certain there is at least one more story to tell about Jennifer Green, if not more.

About the author:

Publicity photos 3

S N Weddle worked as a daytime TV producer for the BBC. For much of his career he produced numerous make-over shows – and this gave him a fascination with questions concerning image, identity, beauty and the fashion industry. He remains intrigued by the insecurities that many women (and some men) feel about the way they look – and his first novel, It starts with a Kiss, explores the potential barriers of appearance and age that may prevent a person from following their dreams.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/It-Starts-Kiss-SN-Weddle-ebook/dp/B00KYX31WM

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23476799-it-starts-with-a-kiss

Smashwords:https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/snweddle

Book Tour Schedule: http://www.elitebookpromotions.com/book-tours/

Why I Write About Love: A Love Letter

 

I’m not one for commercial holidays, but the approach of Valentine’s Day has got me thinking about love, and why I write about it.

Love Books

I love romance, but it took me a long time to admit it. I discovered romance novels when I was in middle school. In grade 7, I was devouring books like a starved crow, and soon I had picked away at everything in my small school library, leaving nothing but bent paperback carcasses. So I turned my attention to the public library across the street. Finding many repeats, I eventually slunk into the adult section in search of new stories. Once I read my first romance, I was done. I was hooked on the idea of love. That there could be someone out there that sees all of you – and not only accepts it, but embraces and cherishes it. I knew that these “bodice rippers” (as one old man put it while I read in a doctor’s waiting room) were inappropriate for my age and I tried to hide them from my parents. But in the words of my late father “Yeah, right!” They knew what I was reading – but I guess they figured out what I now know – they kept me out of trouble.

romance-novels

Instead of seeking the attention from the opposite sex, that little rush from flirting with the boy who sat across from me in French class, I spent my evenings reading about MEN. Wonderful men. Exciting men. Men who could build fences, save lives and make a woman turn to a sweltering puddle with one passionate kiss. How could a pre-pubescent boy with a cracking voice and blemished skin compete? Well, he simply couldn’t.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I knew that these men were creative fiction with all their chiseled perfection coated in saccharine endearments. I grew up in a family of men (read: mostly boys). I have 3 older brothers who never filtered themselves when talking about their conquests at Saturday night’s party just because their 13-year-old sister was present. I got that men could be dogs. So I fell in love with fictional characters, and I was good with that. It was safer.

 

Today, I stay away from formulaic romances. I don’t want predictable, cliché and cheesy. But I still love a good book that has a love story at its center. And I’m no longer ashamed to admit it. I know some consider romance “low-brow” and not for the intellectual. I don’t read books to prove how smart I am. I read them as an escape – a fantasy. There is nothing greater to me than to be transported into other worlds, all without having to leave the comfort of my couch and the soft crackle of the logs in my fireplace. It is pure pleasure.

 

I feel that love is at the center of life’s journey. The pursuit of that person who understands you; all of your imperfections, your quirks, your stretchmarks, and still looks at you like you are a gift – who accepts you for you. Love is a driving force in my life, and that’s why it’s a central theme in my writing. I feel that the greatest success in life is to achieve true love – not necessarily romantic love, but love that means finding solace in meaningful relationships with others.

 

 A Person Can Have Many Layers – Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker & Spider Man

 

I don’t look at my house, handbag, or my car and think, “Wow J.R., you’ve made it.” No, that is what I think when I look at my husband. Not because he’s the best looking, the tallest, or the sexiest. No. Because he is my onion. He is a layered human being, with a tremendous heart, who is non-judgmental of others and puts his family before all things; before money and the outer veneer of success, he recognizes that his greatest success is to have a happy, stable family. To some he may look like a boring suit, but to me he is an adventurer, looking for that next place to explore and experience; to enjoy a great meal and savor that next great wine. To some he may simply be a nice guy, but his kindness runs deeper than the surface. He has a quiet intellect, always listening to others, seeking to learn, to understand. He recognizes that we all have something to offer. Every single day he tells me how sexy he finds me, even when I’m sick, unshowered, and cleaning soiled sheets (yes, maybe has a dash of crazy – but hey, I’m not complaining).

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To find that great, requited, unselfish and non-judgmental love is the most precious and joyful thing that a person can find. Happy Valentines Day to my onion.

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Update: Today, Kristen Lamb posted an interesting commentary on her blog, ‘Is Romance Devolving?‘. It’s an interesting post that looks at how abusive relationships are romanticized. I especially love her compare and contrast between Johnny in Dirty Dancing and Christian Grey in 50 Shades.

I like to write about men who are Onions. xoxo

 

“Bricks” by John Davidson

In an effort to support other writers, I am happy to host a Book Blitz organized by YA Bound Book Tours. Below is an excerpt from “Bricks” by John Davidson and at the bottom of the post there is a Rafflecopter Giveaway. Thanks for checking it out.

Bricks

by John Davidson

Release Date: 02/03/15

Anaiah Press

Bricks 1600x2400

Summary from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year old Cori Reigns learns that not all tornadoes take you to magical places. Some take your house, your school, and life as you knew it. Struggling to put the pieces of her life back together, Cori learns to rebuild what the storm destroyed by trusting family she didn’t know she had and helping friends she never appreciated.

 

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Buy Links:

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I honed my lines to a sharp point. What I would say, how she would respond, from as many different angles as I could think of. I was prepared—no matter what the script threw at me. What I didn’t count on was the toxic mix of a bubbling stomach and four cups of French Roast because everything went south when they walked in thirty minutes later.

“Stop protecting me!” I shouted, covering my mouth as I blew my first line. Mom froze. Dad sighed and pushed past her to close the door.

She manufactured a smile and cocked her head to one side. “We were only doing what we thought was best. You’ve been through a lot. I just didn’t want you to be force fed a lot of scary images.”

I cleared my throat. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to shout I just need you to understand that I—” She held up both hands and motioned for me to slow down. I took a couple of deep breaths. “I know you think you’re helping me, but my whole world is out of whack right now. Cutting me off from my friends and any news isn’t helping. I can’t act like it never happened. Our house isn’t fine. My car isn’t okay. My school and my friends are—I don’t even know how they are because I’ve been sequestered away like someone in the witness protection program.” I clenched my fists to combat the effects of the caffeine. “I want to go home. Tomorrow. I want to see Slim and Leo. If we can’t be home, I want to be closer than an hour away.”

In the background, I heard Dad sigh again as he pushed his hair from his eyes. “She has the right to know, Emily.”

“Henri!” Mom shouted with his words still hanging in the air. “This isn’t the time. We talked about this.”

“No, you talked and made me listen. But this isn’t about me. She deserves to know.”

The room was dimly lit, but Mom’s eyes burned like lasers on my dad’s forehead. I’m surprised his head didn’t explode or melt. Even more surprising, he matched her glare and one-upped her. “If you don’t tell her, I will.”

About the Author

John D author

Married to my bride for twenty-four years, I have an amazing son and a wonderful daughter.

Born and raised in central Oklahoma, I work in education, first as a teacher now in technology curriculum. I write. I read. And in the summer I make snow cones.

Author Links:

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Choosing a Setting for My Novel

A lake in Northwestern Ontario
A lake in the Canadian Shield

 

Unspeakable is set in a secluded mill town in Northwestern Ontario, Dryden. When I told my husband this, he said, “Don’t set it in Canada. No one wants to read a book set in Canada.”

I know what he’s trying to say. The majority of the readership in North America is from the United States, so in his mind, I am (allegedly) closing the door on a MASSIVE market by setting my story in Canada. However, when I had a portion of my manuscript reviewed by a Writer In Residence at The Alexandra Writer’s Centre, one of her first comments was, “I love that you set it in Canada.” So despite differing opinions, for now (until a fabulous agent/editor tells me otherwise), the setting remains.

So why Dryden of all places?

Dryden, Ontario
The Mill. Dryden, Ontario

 

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, in order for my plot to work, it needed to take place in a small town. Dryden was a small town that I was intimately familiar with. I, like my main character, Hanna, worked there as my first job as an SLP. I feel that knowing the town where she’s living and being very familiar with (parts of) her situation helped lend a greater authenticity to the story. I could describe things more accurately, the smells, the textures, the beauty, and sometimes the not so beautiful. It helped provide a framework from which to build my story.

I have come across a few dilemmas in choosing Dryden.

  1. People are going to think it’s me.

 As I was a rookie SLP in Dryden just as Hanna is, it’s natural that people will think that she’s me. My sister even asked me if one of the first scenes actually happened (never mind that Unspeakable is a romance and I’ve been with my husband since grad school – thanks sis.). So, the answer is NO. Although Hanna and I have our careers and our first professional setting in common, she is not me. She has a very different personality and is confronted with situations that I’ve (thankfully) never experienced. And let’s face it, regardless of the setting I choose, people will think it’s me, simply because I wrote it. In fact, just this weekend I was having dinner with old and new friends. It came up that I had written a novel. Each sentence that I uttered, describing the plot, was punctuated with, “So, it’s you. It’s you, right.” I don’t think changing the location will change that popular perception.

2. People are going to think it’s my former colleague, the Sue Ellen to my J.R. (This was not a concern until recently.)

Linda Gray as Sue Ellen Ewing on Dallas
Linda Gray as Sue Ellen Ewing  (J.R.’s wife) in Dallas

In Unspeakable, Hanna is the sole charge SLP. When I worked in Dryden, I started at the same time as another new SLP, ‘Miss Sue Ellen’. To help with setting and clinical accuracy, she was amongst my first BETA readers. Her reaction? “People will think this is me.” Oy.

To be honest, when I created Hanna, I made her personality very distinctive from mine. But when I created her, it never occurred to me that people would think she was Sue Ellen. In fact, after reading Unspeakable, Miss Sue told me that she had found herself in a somewhat similar situation as Hanna (I plan on writing a future post on how things in my story started to come true – it has happened a lot!) I was totally clueless to this situation, as it had arisen after I had moved away. My first reaction: Hurray, my story has major plausibility! My second reaction: Uh oh, people might think it’s Sue Ellen). Sorry Miss Sue…all I can do is assure readers, that is isn’t you either.

3.  Do I use the Dryden of yesteryear or present day?

King Streen, Dryden, Ontario
King Street, Dryden, Ontario

When I moved to Dryden more than a decade ago, the town was like a quaint little suburb, much as I describe it in Unspeakable. After I left, there were some layoffs at the mill and apparently things changed. I went to visit there in the summer of 2013, (when I was in the midpoint of writing my manuscript). I was stunned by:

a). How accurately I remembered some things: like the inside of the health unit.

b). How I fabricated things from my memory when I wasn’t aware:

Hanna’s boss’s last name is Van Horne, but when I named her I had forgotten that that was the name of the street where the health unit is located.

c). How things that I had created had also come true:

Hanna’s apartment building really exists (it’s a unique building in the town) but I changed the business under her apartment from a shoe store to a Barber Shop for my own creative purposes. Guess what is actually there now; that’s right, a Barber Shop, much like the one created in my imagination – weird.

d). How things remained the same:

The Chinese restaurant across the street is still there, exactly as I had remembered it.

e). How things have changed:

The biggest difference now is that Dryden has definitely incurred some the brunt of its depressed economy. Let’s just say it isn’t the polished suburb I remembered. For the purposes of my story, would it be better to have the place be a little more rough around the edges, adding additional challenges to Hanna’s plight? If I did this, would I offend who proudly call Dryden home? At the moment, it feels too one-dimensional and cliché to make Dryden just another small depressed mill town, so for now I’ve left it as it was in memory.

4. In order to avoid offending anybody, maybe I should fictionalize the town completely and give it a new name.

There are parts of the setting that I have fictionalized already (e.g., restaurants, bars) and parts that are quite accurate (in my mind). But you know what? You can’t write a novel and worry about what others will think. That others will think it’s about you or about them. Or that people will be offended if their town isn’t always portrayed in a favorable light. That’s a sure recipe for writer’s block. It was concerns of what people might think that stopped me from writing altogether for so many years. So I just won’t go there. Unspeakable is Hanna and Hank’s story, and I’m glad I wrote it. A town by any other name doesn’t really change it.