When I write a book, the characters kind of move in with me. I can’t help it – they come to life in my heart and mind and only spill out onto the page when they are good and ready. Luckily, I really like most of them, otherwise this could get a bit tricky!
So when Lucy, the protagonist of How to Make Your Heart Sing, turned out to be a married woman in her late forties with a semi-famous husband and newly grown-up twin sons, I groaned. Oh puh-leeze, not another midlife-crisis story!! Been there, done that… but there she was, sitting in her car by that dilapidated little house out in the sticks, trying to get her bearings. The little house was the total opposite of the posh villa in a leafy London suburb where she lived with her husband. It was crummy and tiny and quite ridiculous for her to even contemplate. And yet, inexplicably, she was certain that she had finally, finally, come home.
To be fair, I thought I was writing a short story, not a novel. Lucy would leave her husband and move into the crummy little house and restore it, and in the process restore herself to a life worth living. Who knows, she might even be a painter at heart, or maybe a writer, hehe. The concept of ‘home’ was my central concern at the time, so it all made some sort of sense. Just a quick limbering up of the writing muscle for me, a fun little exercise…
Well. I am happy to tell you that Lucy is a lot more complex than I gave her credit for. Also much funnier. The crummy little house is still in the story though it doesn’t make an appearance until Chapter Twelve. I can’t actually remember how and when this switched from short story to novel, but the more I got to know Lucy, the more I became aware of her past, her dreams, the circumstances of her life that got her to this place and time. Rather like onstage, when the curtain goes up and in the spotlight you see nothing but the main character – but slowly, as the big lights come on, the surrounding cast appears, then the scenery, and although the focus is still on the main character, she now has context, and the context, too, has its own life… I love that process!
So, is How to Make Your Heart Sing about a midlife crisis? Absolutely. And it’s about family, and love, and commitment, and dreams. About courage and the willingness to change, and surprise developments, friends old and new, the determination to finally be your own Real & True, regardless. About the new that reveals itself only when the old has been left behind. About finding what makes your heart sing, and daring to live it.
How to Make Your Heart Sing is available as a Kindle eBook on Amazon.com, and all other Amazon sites, for $ 0.99 or your local equivalent. I think the paperback version would make a great Christmas gift – but then, I’m kind of biased… 🙂