Ellen Sussman – my longtime writer-pal (since before either of our first novels released) and regular poker foe (see, e.g., my empty pocketbook) – has a wonderful new novel coming out next week! Christina Baker Kline calls Wedding in Provence “utterly charming and wildly romantic.” And Ellen somehow made time in her VERY busy schedule (read on to see why) to share a bit of wisdom about writing here. Enjoy! – Meg
I’ve been thinking a lot about love these days. My older daughter got married this past weekend. She’s chosen a guy who seems perfect for her – he’s smart, thoughtful, creative, and adores my girl. Gillian is twenty-eight, her fiancé is thirty-three. I am thrilled that they’ve chosen to commit to loving each other for a long time.
In a very odd coincidence of timing, two weeks after my daughter’s wedding (a week from now) my new novel, A Wedding in Provence will be published. No, the book has nothing to do with Gillian’s wedding – she wasn’t even engaged when I wrote it. It’s about a fifty-something-year-old’s wedding. Her twenty-something daughters cause havoc over the course of the wedding weekend. Both of the young women make wrong choices in the search of love. And the mom, who is in the process of making her right choice (she hopes) for love, tries to help her daughters find their way on this complicated path.
Autobiographical? No. None of what happens in the novel happened in my life. (Though my second marriage did take place in France. But my daughters were twelve and fourteen then. There were no romantic interludes or sexual escapades for the girls during our wedding weekend — whew!) But the emotional terrain of the novel – the complicated landscape of love – is all very close to my heart.
We writers do write what we know, even if we’re inventing stories out of thin air. It’s what’s at the heart of those stories that reveals the innermost workings of our psyche. And I think love – finding love, keeping love – is one of the most important accomplishments in our lives. It ain’t easy. I know the failures of love (marriage number one) and the success of real love (marriage number two). My daughters are working out their own loving relationships with their own remarkable guys while I watch and cheer them on.
So maybe it’s not really a coincidence that pub date and wedding date have come at the same time. Love – my daughters search for love, my characters fumblings at love, and my own tending of love – fill the air this summer. – Ellen