Do you ever wonder where authors get their ideas? Whether it is my own life, the lives of those around me, or other forms of story, art, and musice — we find inspiration in lots of places!
For my recent CCR release The One Who Promised Forever, it was really heavily inspired by real life events.
In the book, Rebecca and Nathan have been married for 9 (almost 10) years. They have 3 little boys and Nathan leaves, moving out and declaring the marriage over. The story that follows is them trying to determine if there is anything left to save in the ashes of their marrage, struggling with their own insecurities, and trying to coparent while unsure of their own status.
When I created Rebecca and Nathan (as side characters several books earlier), the Lord had already laid it on my heart to write a redeemed marriage story. It was in a season where I was seeing a lot of brokenness in marriages around me within the church.
Men leaving their families out-of-the-blue.
Wives struggling with identity and purpose and feeling trapped in their life.
Spouses abusing their power and striking at the vulnerabilities of their partner, physically and emotionally.
It was breaking my heart, and I knew it was breaking God’s heart, too.
Some of those real-life stories ended up with marriages healed. Too many didn’t.
I wanted to write a story where God worked in the hearts of two sinful people and brought them back together in unity with Him and each other.
I’m still not sure I did the story justice. There are so many layers to a marriage relationship. So many tiny interactions that can have ripples we don’t recognize until they have combined into waves that threaten to capsize us. I struggled with the characters and their pride and stubbornness. I struggled with feelings of inadequacy that I was even equipped to tell a story of a broken marriage being made whole.
One of the most common typos I had in this manuscript was that I *kept* writing that Rebecca and Nathan had been married for 13 years instead of 9 — because that’s how long my husband and I have been together. It was clearly VERY easy for me to put myself in Rebecca’s shoes.
Writing this book has made me even more grateful for the way my husband extends grace and patience over and over where I fail… My editor wrote a note with the edited manuscript and said “I hope this doesn’t come too much from personal experience.” I’m happy to reassure her (and you, in case you’re worried) that while I put a lot of myself into the story, it is mostly the result of taking my existing circumstances (3 little boys!) and exaggerating small feelings into big crises and my worst fears into fictional reality.
I had so much fun taking the interactions of our family and turning them into scenes from the book. Things like the chaos of getting everyone ready for church or trying to watch a toddler during their older sibling’s soccer practice.
I had never written a “married romance” before, and I don’t usually prefer reading them. I’m here for all the swoony first kisses and will-they-won’t-they tension… So, of course I tried to give a glimpse of those moments as well. In fact, since the story features flashbacks, I even show Nathan’s original proposal (and borrowed almost exactly from the day my husband asked me!).
So, as you can see, this story was heavily influenced by real life. From the inspiration to write a redeemed marriage, to the characters and their life with three young boys, and specific scenes and conversations. In fact, that has been one of the most common themes of readers reviews. Readers said the story and characters in The One Who Promised Forever felt incredibly realistic, and while the story wasn’t light and fluffy, it left them with a feeling of hope and a satisfying happy ending!
Do you enjoy reading romance between characters who are already married? Which ones do you recommend?