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Inspiration behind the book:
How many times have I seen an Amber Alert on the news which ends in the child’s death? How many times have I been driving down the freeway and read about another child kidnapping in yellow lights across a billboard? How many times have watched on the news that another child has been murdered?
Too may times. ONE time is too many.
And each time this occurs I wondered how in the world do the parents make it through such a tragedy? How do they go on? How can they return to work? How can they face interacting with family and friends after their child’s death?... How do they go on living?
This question had burned in my mind for years and I wanted to write about it. People have asked me how I can write about something that’s never happened to me. I counter with: I write fiction. All fiction writers tell a story they’ve made up in their heads. But they imbue that story with their own feelings. Which is what makes a good book. And I have a wealth of feelings that I used when I wrote Moon Over Alcatraz. I have two children. I know what it’s like to love two human beings unconditionally, with no reservations. My kids often ask me, “Do you love me, mom?” And my answer is, “Always and forever.”
So I took a happily married couple, excited to have their first child, placed them in the delivery room, and had the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck, which produced a still birth.
And that’s pretty much what happened to that couple - their lift stood still. They didn’t know how to move on from there. Instead of looking to each other for solace and renewal, they turned away from each other. Both of them, unbeknownst to the other, dealt with their grief in a way that broke them apart, instead of pulling them together.
Losing a child is devastating. And each person deals with that emotional turmoil in their own particular way. I’d go so far as to say that no one can predict how they would act in that circumstance. Emotions can be unpredictable, surprising even to the person who’s experiencing them. This is what happens to Brandy and Weston. You have a difference in their emotional upheaval. One character is the mother who carried her baby to term, and the other is the father who didn’t have that same physical experience.
How you chose the cover/characters:
I chose a woman who is strong , who believes in her marriage, desires children, and loves her husband. However, losing her child was an overwhelming experience that she needed to go through and grow through, in her own time and in her own way. She progressed through the various stages of grief, from denial to final acceptance; but her husband’s grief, as is everyone’s grief, was different than his wife’s. And he didn’t allow her the time to work through the various stages of her grief. Instead of sticking by her “for better or for worse” he abandons her to work on the East coast for months, which ultimately proves to be the demise of her marriage.
I wanted the cover of my book to show a pregnant woman because the story is based on what happens to Brandy and Weston after the death of their child. Without giving too much of the story away, it has a happy ending. Brandy works through her depression and her dream of having a child and a family is never far from her mind. How she fulfills that dream is what makes up the gist of the novel.
What do I think of happily ever after endings?:
I don’t like to read books that leave me depressed. I believe your thoughts and your actions are all colored by your attitude, that you can turn most bad situations around and find a lesson to be learned that will ultimately serve to add to your life’s happiness. That’s what I did in Moon Over Alcatraz. So, if a reader is looking to end up with a smile on his or her face, I give them that. Life is good, my father-in-law Dick used to say.
I agree with him.
“What are you doing? Where are you going? Please, let’s talk about this.”
“I work my ass off in New York while you’re at home screwing other dudes?”
I pulled the sheet around me, ran over and grabbed his arm. “I wasn’t screwing other dudes.” He ripped his arm out of my grasp. “I was the one who was all screwed up. Then you went to New York and all we ever did was argue on the phone. You don’t tell your secretary you’re married and she treats me like crap on the phone...”
By now, he was fully dressed, shoes and jacket on, wallet grabbed off the bureau. His hand hovered above the door knob. His face looked void of emotion, wiped clean of all expression. “I can’t do this,” he mumbled.
I sobbed, knowing I’d hurt him and betrayed his trust. I felt like a slut. “I’m sorry. I made a mistake. But I love you.”
He stood near the door, shaking his head, tears dripping from his chin.
My legs shook. My stomach cramped. I had to make him understand. “I know I’ve hurt you and that wasn’t my intention, but I wasn’t thinking straight. I’ll regret it forever. You don’t deserve this but I’m asking you to forgive me.”
His eyes swam with tears and his chin quivered. His Adam’s apple twitched up and down as he swallowed. “I had sex with Carol Smith.”
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