by Maddie Dawson
Thank you so much for inviting me to your wonderful blog (I love it!) to talk about the inspiration for my novel, The Stuff That Never Happened.
The real truth is that nobody really knows where novels come from. I happen to believe that they come from characters who float around and then magically materialize out of thin air because they’re looking for someone with a word processor who’s willing to do their typing for them.
I may, however, be alone in that assessment.
What I do know is that The Stuff That Never Happened came about when a character named Annabelle McKay moved into my head one summer afternoon. She told me she was nearly 50 and had been married for 28 years to Grant, an English professor, with whom she was happy. Well, mostly happy. The trouble was, back when she and Grant were first married, Annabelle had fallen in love with someone else, and for a brief time she had left her marriage. But then she and Grant had reconciled, moved to a small town in New Hampshire and happily raised a family together, and had agreed never to speak again of her betrayal. (Her affair becomes “the stuff that never happened.”)
But now, so many years later, with their kids out of the house and a grandchild on the way, Annabelle is facing the fact that Grant, who has grown inattentive and aloof, may have never truly forgiven her. And when she has a chance to go back to the man she loved all those years ago, she is forced to reevaluate and to think about what she really wants out of life. Really, what do we owe our families after the kids have grown and gone, and what do we owe ourselves?
I think I was inspired to tell Annabelle’s story because as I looked around me, I saw marriages just exploding all over the place—even supposedly long-term, happy, affectionate marriages with plenty of history and plenty of love. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Al and Tipper Gore.) As I talked to my friends, I realized that nearly everybody had “the one who got away,” a person they thought about from the past. It made me think: are we just designed to drive ourselves crazy with “what-if” questions? What would happen if we truly had a chance to run back to the past?
And more important: Can bad things from the past simply be pushed aside and not talked about?
The book, which takes place both in the 1970s when Annabelle and Grant first fall in love and then in 2005, when they fall out, is not only about love and marriage, but mother-daughter relationships, empty nests, women’s friendships, secrets, and most of all, forgiveness—of ourselves and those around us.
I love talking to book groups, by phone or by Skype. Visit me at www.maddiedawson.com.
I have 3 copies of The Stuff That Never Happened to give away!
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This giveaway is open to US residents only. Deadline to enter is midnight on August 19, 2011.
Giveaway copies are provided free of any obligation by Crown Publishing Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.