Every novel is an Odyssey for the author. My book ‘Green’ began with a simple premise and a clear course ahead. It ended nine years and a thousand miles later, at a destination with little resemblance to the one I started for and the journey having rendered me a different person.
I began with a question, about one of my best female friends. We care deeply about each other, laugh at the same things, admire each other’s gifts, know we can count on each other in good times and bad.
I found myself wondering: Why aren’t we in love? That would be so damn convenient!
When she invited me to Ireland, where she raises and trains horses, I took little notebooks and my laptop and made notes the whole time in character. Seeing the trip as fiction from the start freed me up. I got nervier and a bit more irresponsible. I actually had more fun than I would have if I’d been me at the time.
I wrote down a conversation between two men in a pub—and embroidered it, took it further, while I could still hear the rhythm of their voices across the room. And, just when I thought I’d finished this little piece of fiction, one of them made a comment that perfectly capped what I’d put on paper. It was flat-out eerie.
So I had a start. It took two other women to get me to the home stretch.
The first I met for one date. She was obsessed with the torment of being beautiful—her every anecdote turned on this issue. My first reaction was ‘we’d all love to have such problems’, until I realized it really was a prison. Attractive women have a power they did nothing to create, can’t control and know will wither far too soon. It’s a corruption that’s almost irresistible.
I met the other woman in NY the night before my second Irish trip, the following year. After eight exchanges of email the next day and twelve the next, I knew I’d met my soulmate, the person I’d waited for all my life. As soon as I said I was moving up my flight home to be with her, she decided she couldn’t remember my face and wondered if we could possibly get along in the same room. And made sure, once I returned, that we couldn’t.
It’s harder to have your heart broken in middle-age. You don’t expect the sting, you don’t have forever to recover. But it left me with an ache I had to understand, to explain. So I wrote. It’s the only way I come to understand anything.
They tell you as a writer that your job is to raise good questions. I surprised myself, after 16 drafts and almost nine years, by finally coming home with some answers.
Links to: Green e-book on Amazon
On Smashwords (for e-readers other than Kindle)
Green trade paperback