Finding Truth in Stories

A few readers have asked me who my inspiration for Dr. Harlow James in my novel, Everything She Ever Wanted, was – if I had one.  And I sure did have someone in mind, a few in fact.  Harlow James is every woman who has ever thought herself having reached that point where life doesn’t seem fun anymore, where she’s feeling spent and hollow; where she’s questioning everything , from her dogged pursuit of success and respect in her field, and her dream of having a baby. Most of all, her inner desire to be loved.

I never set out to write an older woman-younger man romance, at least, not in the sense that it would go deep into the heroine’s psyche and carve myself hollow in the process. I had originally planned it as a humorous romp between an older woman and a younger man in four 20K-word novelettes designed to make a quick buck (or so I thought) after browsing the Amazon bookstore one day and seeing that most bestselling books in the top 100 were barely clocking at 100 pages, were part of a series, and were all primarily about sex. No deep POV here, I thought. I can do this!

Or so I thought…

Instead, something happened the moment I began writing the first paragraph. Harlow took over, and with her ‘becoming,’ I started voicing the questions I had started to ask myself whenever I would look in the mirror.

Is that a new wrinkle between my eyebrows?
Is my butt really getting bigger?
What do I really want in life?
Am I really… really happy?

And with each word, Harlow vocalized, other voices came beside my own. Like the ones I heard my past clients tell me, the ones who’d see me after they’d had their umpteenth cosmetic surgery to look younger in the industry, the ones who’d ask me to focus the floor fan towards them because they were getting a hot flash (and regale me with all the other menopausal symptoms to look forward to), and the one woman who tearfully told me that after going through a double mastectomy and then later breast reconstruction surgery (I was seeing her for back pain), her husband couldn’t look at her anymore, anyway, no matter what she did. To him, she had ceased becoming a woman.

I never realized it was their stories, and my own, that I ended up writing about. And I didn’t have a choice. Sometimes, stories from the heart just come out that way. It’s the truth that is part of all of us.

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