Thanks for letting me stop by to talk about my book Bring Me Back, and the unbelievably fabulous box set it’s now a part of, called Love Finds a Way. When my fellow authors and I were finding the unifying theme to our set, we decided on “unconventional love stories”. What makes Bring Me Back unconventional? There are several things, but the one I’d like to talk about is…dun dun dun…the “mature” heroine.
Claire Abby, the heroine in Bring Me Back, is on the brink of forty. This did not seem like a big deal when I was writing the book, which is about Claire meeting and falling in love with Christopher Penman, the British rock star she was obsessed with in high school, only twenty years later. As soon as the book was released, I quickly saw that readerscared about Claire’s age. A lot. Either they are as long in the tooth as she is, and readily identify with her or they are younger and find themselves still able to relate, but are surprised by this.
Mature. My brain sputters at the word. I’m forty-five. If Claire is mature, I’m…egad! I like to think I’m a young forty-five. As far as my brain is concerned, I’m still seventeen, just as goofy and distracted by cute boys and shiny objects as I was back then. Sure, I have kids and attend the occasional PTA meeting and am responsible enough to change the fridge filter every three months and not allow the laundry to pile up, but I don’t feel forty-five. Not that I even know what that would actually feel like. I only know that I don’t feel old.
I started to write Bring Me Back, which was the first novel I wrote, soon after I’d turned forty-one. A friend had given me a magazine for women over forty, a gift I partly resented because my friend hadn’t yet passed the four-decade mark, but I read it anyway. Inside was an article featuring a quote that stuck with me: “Now that you’re forty, look at your life and ask yourself, are you taking off or are you coming in for a landing?” I know it’s a bit corny, the stuff of office motivational posters, but it resonated with me. Just because I was beyond forty didn’t mean that I couldn’t take on a brand new challenge and begin a new chapter in my life. I have energy and inspiration and the need to express myself. I’m not even close to being done. In fact, I’m just getting started.
That right there gives you a lot of background as to why I chose to make Claire thirty-nine. I also wanted her and Christopher to meet after he was beyond the glory years of his career. Considering the decades Christopher’s band spent topping the charts, this was a matter of math. They both had to be older.
Additionally, I knew from the start that Claire was a single mom and that her daughter Samantha was in her teens. That’s one of the biggest stressors in Claire’s life—it’s been just her and Samantha for years and now her daughter is a year away from college. It causes Claire to be overly protective from time to time, which forces her to really look at herself. She’s clinging to Samantha because the most important person in her life is stepping away. Additionally, because Claire was preoccupied with Christopher at the age of seventeen, I liked mirroring this in Samantha. That’s life—things come full circle, the next generation repeats our mistakes, they have the same wants and desires.
Lastly, I wrote a book that I wanted to read. This is one of those things writers are supposed to do. It keeps you wrapped up in your own story. I wanted to see a woman my age go through the excitement and rush of new love, but on a pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming level. Certainly I couldn’t be the only woman who wanted to read such a story.We all want crazy love and hot sex, unbelievable passion and unconditional understanding. It doesn’t matter if we’re twenty-five or fifty. Add a fairy tale element with the adolescent crush you never quite managed to stop thinking about? Even better!