Back when I wrote the first part of my first novel, Ruby Among Us, I was a single mom. I
finished it after I was remarried and signed a book contract for its publication after just a few years of marriage. One of the things everyone wanted to talk about when Ruby Among Us was published was how my previous journey as a single mom intertwined with the single mom aspect of my book. I didn’t mind talking about it. At the time it was one of the biggest redirects of my life. Because that’s how we grow and change, right? It takes big events to turn us in a new direction in order for us to really discover who we are, and that’s how I got to my fourth novel, The Real Thing.
It shouldn’t surprise me or my original readers that when I wrote The Real Thing, my journey as a stepmom would come into play. Some people would like to think that the main character, Manda, is me, but I’m not nearly as exciting as she is. Still, I did write about her because stepfamilies are important to me. I’ve experienced a lot of misunderstanding about my role as a stepmom, from those who assume I wouldn’t love my sons as much because I am their stepmom, to those who assume their real mom is out of the picture when she is not. My husband and my daughter go through the same song and dance because he is her stepdad, they are close, and she also has another dad in the picture. These nuances of our stepfamily have definitely helped me to understand how my two characters, Manda and her new husband, Keith, might feel about parenting, and about the challenges that parenting might, and do, bring to their relationship.
Like Manda and Keith, parenting was the most important thing to my husband and I early in our relationship. Not that it isn’t now, but at that point, our relationship survival was dependent on the success of our being, and staying, a family. If we didn’t take care of our kids, then what was the point? When I first started writing The Real Thing, our kids were junior high and early high school. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t model Manda’s stepdaughter, Peyton, in part, after my three children. Over the years, I feel like we’ve all experienced the most wonderful highs and the hardest lows of being a stepfamily, but the hardest is watching the kids struggle and hoping and praying they grow up to be stronger, to still value marriage, value themselves even more, and to feel loved.
To explore this aspect of blended families, The Real Thing deals with the disappearance of the ex-wife and how it affects everyone in the family, but especially Manda, the new stepmom, and the teen daughter, Peyton. Peyton can’t get the idea that her mother is out there, and still wants her, out of her head. It wasn’t too difficult for me to imagine what Peyton would have felt like when I had three children who, over the years, showed me a plethora of emotions about missing their other parents when they were with us, and missing us when they were with them.
No work of fiction is ever a biography of the author, and neither is The Real Thing a biography of me or my family, but when a reader feels like the author has unique insight into a situation, it might be that they’ve been through something like it, or that they’ve walked through it with someone else. Both are definitely true for me as the author of The Real Thing. I’ve been through it, and I’ve walked through it with my family. In fact, we are still walking through it.
If you are interested in The Real Thing, please check it out Here: