Please join us in welcoming guest blogger Susan McBride, author of The Truth About Love & Lightning, Little Black Dress and The Cougar Club. She has also written a short memoir called In the Pink: How I Met the Perfect (Younger) Man, Survived Breast Cancer, and Found True Happiness After Forty. Today, she's talking about her own brush with the miraculous while writing Love and Lightning.
Just before I started writing The Truth About Love & Lightning, I had been through an emotional wringer. I’d suffered a miscarriage, my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and our cat, Blue, nearly died. So I wanted to stay away from storylines that even remotely resembled my real life.
With Love & Lightning, I decided to focus on lost love and second chances. One of the central characters is a woman named Gretchen whose mother had only told the brutal truth all her life…with awful results. So Gretchen grows up telling little white lies, figuring it’s much better—and safer—to couch the cold, hard truth in something softer. Only she ends up telling a whopper of a lie that comes back to haunt her when a man is dumped in her walnut grove by a tornado…a man who strongly resembles her first love, Sam Winston, whom she last saw forty years ago and had believed dead. The man was struck by lightning and can’t remember much of anything. So is he or isn’t he Sam? Those around her, including her twin sisters and her daughter strongly believe that he is. If this man who fell from the sky is really Sam, Gretchen is afraid he’ll get his memory back and recall the biggest lie she ever told, exposing the truth to her family and everyone in Walnut Ridge.
Oh, wait, did I mention Gretchen’s daughter, Abby, discovers she’s pregnant early on in the book? Quite a surprise since she’d recently split from her boyfriend of six years after she gave him an ultimatum about marriage. Nothing about that plotline resembled my real life, or so I thought. Then barely a month into penning Love & Lightning, I found out I was pregnant very late in life (at 47!!!). Suddenly, Abby’s story intermingled with my own. It was amazing, working on a book with a pregnant character and letting some of my fears and excitement emerge through her thoughts and voice.
Often during my work on The Truth About Love & Lightning, I found it hard to focus (go figure!). By the time I finished the revisions in March of 2012, I was just months shy of delivering a very healthy and hearty eight-pound baby girl. Somehow it seems that, no matter what topic I tackle in my novels, life ends up imitating art.
What writing Love & Lightning ultimately taught me was that lightning can strike twice, and I don’t just mean geographically. I had thought my chances of having a child at my age were over when I miscarried at 46. I can’t tell you how happy I was to discover that miracles really do happen, both in real life and in fiction. And so do happy endings.