I wanted to write about the loss of a child. I lost a baby quite late in a pregnancy -- a very different situation, but a terrible one for us. For years I was writing around this loss, dealing with it in various ways, but I finally confronted it head on in the novel.
She needs the park -- it's her refuge, her solace. But it's full of babies, and every baby reminds her that hers is gone. She retreats to the park, but it's a terribly ambivalent experience because it fails to provide the comfort she needs.
That was a work of imagination and experience, not research. When I lost my baby, I was in a support group and we were all devastated -- laid waste by loss. And we were all really, really angry.
I think guilt is consuming. It prevents you from feeling anything else, or rather it refracts your emotions - you see only through the lens of your shame. I felt this way after the loss of my baby -- I chose to end a pregnancy when I found out the baby had genetic abnormalities. I felt a tremendous sense of horror and guilt at what I'd done.
Well, I wanted to write about the experience we all have but never admit - sometimes kids are just unlikable. They are like adults, individuals. Some people are just unpleasant. But I think William is only unpleasant because he exists for Emilia as a symbol -- of what's keeping Jack from being with her wholeheartedly with all his focus, of the injustice of losing her own baby.
I wanted the reader to discover William as Emilia does. I wanted him to worm his way into your heart the way he does into Emilia's.
I think they are so very different -- but what they have in common is almost a kind of rapaciousness. They are both capable of intense love. They are also both selfish on some level, and only when they each rise above that can they even hope to be their best selves.
I think that Emilia's problem has always been her failure to understand her mother. So much of what she does is in opposition to her mother's experience. She is so desperate not to be her mother. Her choices are clouded by that motivating factor.
Because she loves him so much. She is her daddy's girl, and wants on some level to remain that.
I think she searches for men who satisfy that part of herself, men with whom she can feel safe. But at the same time she sort of shoots herself in the foot, by choosing such complicated situations. William, I think, is her opportunity to grow up.
I think it begins that first time she lets him ride in the taxi with no car seat. The first time they have a secret together.
Well, disaster, right? I mean, she lies to Jack, to herself, and then she's ultimately hoist on the petard of her own fiction. Wouldn't it be nice if that happened more often, if people's lies contributed to their destruction?
Emilia is the one who felt betrayed. She is the one who felt cheated on. If her mother forgives her father, then she has to let go of that feeling of indignation -- or maybe confront and admit it.
I think at some point Emilia figures out that she needs to stop crossing back and forth. She needs to stop and figure out what she wants, and what she can do for herself, and the people she loves.
Healing. Those walks promise companionship and healing. I did one once and felt a certain amount of that. But the promise is an easy one to make, and Emilia is just not ready for it. She can't face what happened to Isabel, so she shakes the foundation of her life until it collapses around her.
Oh you know it. Absolutely. William is supposed to be his mother's ally. He is supposed to be a victim of his father's betrayal just like she is. She pushes him into that role very effectively.
I think it's pivotal. I think the moment when Emilia figure out that her mother not only was the person who suffered at the hands of her father, but is the only person entitled to forgive him or not, is crucial to her understanding of responsibility.
They both accept that they have a relationship, outside the context of Jack and Carolyn. They have their own independent relationship, and they can help each other. They can never be a mother and a son, but they can be something to each other that is unique.
Love -- all love, maternal, romantic, fraternal -- is a tremendous effort, that it feels insurmountable, but that it's worth it.
Yes. I'm writing a novel called Winter's End about a woman who is living a perfect life. Two perfect children, a perfect husband, a perfect house. A perfect SUV. And then it all goes to hell in a handbasket.
If you get your butt in the chair and write a single page every day – 15 minutes, half an hour, however long it takes -- at the end of the year you will have finished a book.