All this month, we're blogging about love and loss. I'm working on a new novel right now but it's not a young adult novel. Called NOBODY SAID IT'D BE EASY, this is a contemporary romance about a widowed father falling in love again when it's the last thing he wants.
This book has been both a tremendous joy and a profound pain in the rear end to write. There are so many wonderful moments but always this sense of guilt and grief underscoring them. As I sat here, trying to figure out what to blog about, a significant issue with this book began to clear up -- how will Gabriel, the widowed father, go from not caring to caring so much, he's afraid of it?
This is uncharted territory for this YA author. My teen characters are blank canvases -- they're dealing with first times for pretty much any issue you want to pick. The amazing confidence from falling in love for the first time... the debilitation from breaking up for the first time... and yes, the earth-shattering loss the first time we experience the death of someone we love. These events aren't just gut-punches to teen characters, they rip their hearts out by the roots.
And that's when I thought -- what if Gabriel were a YA character? How would I write him? The more I thought about this thirty-seven-year-old father of four as he might have been at sixteen or seventeen, the easier my task became.
He married his high-school sweetheart as soon as they finished college, had four children, and lost her when the last child was an infant. He spent the next two years going through the motions, caring for his kids, but dying inside until he meets Amelia. He wasn't ready for her. He never expected to fall for anybody again. By the time he figures out that hanging around Amelia is a big risk, it's already too late. His heart's awake and it's freakin' scared. He knows what love feels like and the bigger the love, the bigger the grief if it ends. How will he survive it a second time if he loses Amelia, too?
This is the point I was stuck at for weeks until I sat down to write this post. And then I remembered that Gabriel's NOT a teenager. He's almost forty years old and with age comes maturity. He's not going to run from love. He's going to grab it with both hands and hold it close because even though losing it a second time could shred him, he knows the rewards far outweigh that risk. I can't write a teen this self-aware.
So...excuse me while I go write Gabriel's happily ever after :)
Have you learned something from a deep loss? Comment here.
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