You’ll have to pardon me in advance because this has turned out to be a rather personal post! Thanks for letting me share it with you.
For those of you that have read the Ribbon Ridge series, you know that along with some funny scenes and, of course, romance, there’s a healthy dose of emotion, too. When I first thought of this series, I knew that one of the sextuplets would die. That he committed suicide came a bit later in the plotting (and you can thank my friend Elisabeth Naughton for that, lol). Writing a romance series about a family struggling to deal with the after-effects of the death of a loved one was tricky. It was sometimes hard to balance that giddy sensation of falling in love with the weight of their brother’s death. I think this was never more true than in book three, WHEN LOVE HAPPENS. The heroine of that book, Tori Archer, was so broken up that she just had a hard time feeling anything—like she was numb. I related to that so much. Sometimes we just have to power through the day, and in my case, sometimes I just had to power through writing these emotional scenes!
True confession: I’m a crier. I wasn’t always, and it’s not just when I’m sad. Live music typically makes me tear up if not outright cry (which can be ultra embarrassing!). Unsurprisingly, sappy commercials can trigger tears. But for me, just a happy hug from my children can make my eyes leak with joy. It’s not something I’m proud of, lol. Conversely, as I’m writing, I don’t cry often. I might tear up during an especially emotional scene near the end—usually on a read-through—but generally speaking, I keep myself together. This book (YOU’RE STILL THE ONE), however, really got to me. And there are a lot of reasons for that.
First, it’s the last book in the Archer family saga. I’ve come to love these characters a great deal and I truly enjoy writing them (never fear—there will be more Ribbon Ridge books and they will make appearances!). Still, I’m sure there was a natural sadness to be finishing this particular story regarding Alex Archer, who passed away at the start of book one. Complicating matters was a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer for a very close friend of mine. We’ve been friends for a decade—volunteering together, mothering together, being there for each other in times of great joy and laughter and moments of deep struggle. I had a difficult time translating my wild emotions during this time onto the page. I think I finally found what I was searching for when I wrote one of the scenes toward the end. When you read it, know that I wrote every word with my friend Dominique in mind. She’s already gone, but her impact on my life and on this world will be forever felt.
I (and Dominique—it was one of the many things we bonded over) used to act in high school and college. Tapping into your life experiences to find the emotion for a scene is just something you learn to do and hone. It’s very much the same for writing. Good and bad, I reach into my emotional stockpile, if you will, and hopefully find the right tone for a scene or a character. Sometimes it’s draining and other times (more often that not actually), it’s exhilarating. I’ve adored writing the Archers and am grateful for the new well of emotions they’ve given me. Thank you for coming along on the ride. I hope you’ve enjoyed it!