Right now, I am tossing a ball for my dog in the backyard where I grew up. The air feels like spring but smells like autumn, and the ground has a blanket of yellow and orange leaves. My brilliant but headstrong toddler is napping in what used to be my little brother’s room. The baby in my belly is starting to get antsy. I have no idea what to make for dinner when my husband comes home from work. And there are a still million things I need to do before I release my third book … before I officially say goodbye (at least in novel form) to the women I’ve considered friends since I first started molding them in my head almost twenty years ago.
The combination of all these things is creating one of those deeply introspective moments during which I can hardly believe how much has changed since I was a kid … since I was racing around this same swath of grass with my brothers and waiting for my mom to call us in for dinner.
It’s amazing how quickly life can move sometimes. In the past three years alone, I published my first two books, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, came to terms with two autoimmune diseases, moved to a new town, became pregnant again, and finished another novel. Needless to say, it’s been a mixture of amazing and bittersweet—and always, always memorable.
And now I stand on another precipice: the publication of the third and final book in my Desperately Ever After series. This, too, is bittersweet.
I realize it might sound silly to say I’ll miss the characters in my books—just as I once thought it silly when authors said they began a project with one plan but their characters eventually “took control” and steered it somewhere else entirely. I realize it might sound even sillier because my main characters were plucked from other people’s work. The original Cinderella story is not mine. Nor is Rapunzel’s. Or Belle’s. Or those belonging to Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or the princess who slept on the pea.
But the Rapunzel in my story is a flaming martini mixed in Samantha Jones’s favorite NYC nightclub. Cinderella is far more Lynette Scavo than Charles Perrault. Belle is a nod to every literary heroine who started out making female readers cringe but steadily grew into an example of feminine strength. I used the original tales to outline their backstories (which have nothing to do with Disney, by the way), but my imagination filled in … and questioned … and rewrote … all the rest.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the women of Marestam are as much my children as are the bundle of insanity napping in my brother’s old room right now and the tiny ninja using my insides for target practice. They are my twenty- and thirty-something imaginary friends. Bringing their stories to a close was tough not because they didn’t give me direction, but because I really didn’t want to say goodbye.
Of course, there are opportunities for novellas. There are ideas for shorter stories featuring either the main characters or others in their world. There might be a holiday special here or there. But I’ll also be moving on. When the pre-order period for Skipping Midnight ends and the book goes live on November 16, it will signal the end of one era for me and the beginning of another. But for that moment, in my head I’ll be sitting on Rapunzel’s balcony, overlooking the towers of Carpale Castle alongside Belle, Cindy, Dawn, Snow, and Penny, raising my glass to friendship and to the many different ways in which we can find love.
Image: 123rf.com, christopher hall