When I decided to try my hand at fiction after having published several nonfiction books, I decided that the only kind of novels I wanted to write were love stories. From the time I was a teenager, I’ve been fascinated with relationships and I always found myself resonating to romantic stories far more than anything else. Other genres could capture my imagination, but nothing affected me as strongly as a great romance.
I didn’t give much thought to why this was the case (though I was aware that there weren’t many other men who wanted to write about this as much as I did) until I started casting about for an idea for my third novel, the just-published The Journey Home. One of the key sources of inspiration in that novel is my mother and father’s marriage, and when I started thinking about their story, I realized that great romance had been modeled for me since I was a child.
I was the last child in the birth order by quite some distance. Some would say I was an accident. I prefer to think that my parents wanted me to benefit from the wisdom of much older siblings. Regardless, by the time I was born, my parents had already been married for more than twenty years. In most households, that would mean that their relationship had pretty much played itself out. Not in mine, though. What I saw growing up was two people who literally wanted to spend every minute together. They inspired each other, entertained each other, and supported each other. They were a well-oiled machine in terms of running the household, but they were also something more than that – they were romantic. They were always doing little things for each other, my dad making special breakfasts for my mother, my mom ironing his underwear (I know; I don’t get that one, either). I never once felt ignored or undervalued by my parents, but I also knew without a doubt that they were each the most important person in the other’s life. That gave me a far greater sense of security than if they’d gushed over me but ignored each other.
My parents were married more than fifty years when my father died. My mother was never the same without him. She literally seemed like half a person. My siblings and I did our best to keep her engaged, but the hole in her life was un-fillable.
I wrote The Journey Home in tribute to them. It’s the story of three characters on various quests for home, and one of them is Antoinette, an elderly widow who chooses to live in her head because there she can still be with her beloved husband. There’s a great deal of my mother in Antoinette.
My parents instilled in me an unfailing belief in true romance. I wanted to create a true romance in their honor.