Long and Short Reviews welcomes back Rebecca Rogers Maher, who visited with us back in May when Snowbound with a Stranger, the second book in her Recovery Trilogy from Carina Press, was released. Today she's with us to talk about Fault Lines, the third and final installment of the trilogy.
Fault Lines is a realistic and quite painful story about a woman recovering from childhood sexual abuse. Ultimately, however, it's a story of courage and personal triumph with a strong romance at the core.
Rebecca was inspired to write because of frustration. She had wanted to be a writer when she was a child, but somehow she got sidetracked.
"I think I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do it, or I didn’t feel entitled to put myself forward as a creative person. I felt a lot more comfortable doing community and service work, where I could stay behind the scenes and help other people. The problem was, I still had all this creative energy inside, and after fifteen years or so of tamping it down, I started feeling overwhelmed," she said. "I began writing again just to give myself an outlet, and then once I started I couldn’t seem to stop. It just felt…better."
She really wasn't prepared for how good it would feel, however. Before she started writing, she knew she felt kind of thwarted, but wasn't sure why.
"To paint a visual picture, I was kind of like a fire hydrant with the cap off, with all this pressure and energy gushing out. Except that I was always trying to hold a cap over that energy, to hold it in, because I felt like it would drown everyone close to me if I let it out. I didn’t realize how exhausting that was, and frankly, how sad it made me. When I started writing I was able to take the cap off for real and just let it fly, and that felt so incredibly good, like such a relief, that now I can’t stop," she told me. "I often wonder how many woman feel like this. We spend so much of our time taking care of other people and not even asking ourselves what we want and need, and we end up with a great deal of sadness and frustration. I hope all of us can find an outlet for our creative/emotional/intellectual energy, because it’s just a happier, saner way to live."
"What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?" I asked.
"This has been said before, but what matters most to me is how much I care about the characters. They don’t have to perfect or even likeable—in fact, the best characters are not—but they do have to be deeply drawn. You could have the most original plot in the world, but if I don’t care what happens to the person who’s being dragged through that plot, it’s just not worth reading. Think of Tyrion in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. I would follow that guy anywhere. I’ve followed him through thousands of pages of story so far, and I still want more. To me, good writing goes deep into the human heart. That’s just endlessly fascinating and worth reading about."
Rebecca's favorite fictional character is Jane Eyre. She's read the book once a year since she was sixteen and every time, she learns something new about Jane—about her trauma, her faith, her courage, her many faults and incredible dignity.
"She is a real and living person for me, and that is magical," she explained.
It's also one of the books that has influenced her thinking, along with Moby Dick, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, The Grapes of Wrath, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and all the work of Margaret Atwood.
"Also, strangely, a book called Collapse by Jared Diamond, about what causes civilizations to fall apart," she added. "In the romance world, I feel most inspired by Lisa Kleypas and Loretta Chase. Again, I don’t write like any of these wonderful authors, but the ideas in these books have really shaped my way of seeing the world, and that has had a big influence on the way I write."
"How do you do research for your books?" I wondered.
"It depends on how much I know about a topic and whether I can find out what I don’t know online or if I need to talk to a human being. For Snowbound with a Stranger, I could easily find what I needed to know about bears and the Adirondacks on the internet. For I’ll Become the Sea, I interviewed some wonderful people from the Maryland Parole Commission. In my latest release, Fault Lines, I interviewed a wedding planner to learn more about what that job entails. Sometimes it’s specific details that I need, but more often it’s an overall tone or feeling, and I just keep digging around until I think I’ve got a sense of it."
Rebecca tends to write short and to write about deeply emotional issues that hopefully end with healing. She keeps her writing unique by staying true to her own vice and dealing with issues that personally move or interest her. She reads a lot outside the genre she writes in—all of that, coupled with her academic background, keeps her voice different from other romance writers.
"Have you ever eaten a crayon?" I asked.
"I have never eaten a crayon, but when I was in elementary school I did hatch a plan to eat my school bus. Every day I’d take another tiny bite of rubber off the back of the seat in front of me and then calculate how long it would take to consume the entire bus that way. I figured it would take a long time. But it was a decent strategy that I still use today in many areas of my life. One bite at a time." About the Author:
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Sarah Murphy plans other people's weddings. She's gorgeous and successful, but she also carries a dark secret.
At one of her events, she meets Joe Sullivan, a sexy photographer with a difficult past of his own. When he snaps a rare unguarded photograph of her and captures the real person hiding behind the facade, she feels exposed. To restore the upper hand, she tries to do what she always does: use sex to defuse the situation.
While Joe is eager to deepen his relationship with Sarah, he's aware of her emotional shield and the way she disconnects from her body. Seeing her at her most vulnerable doesn't scare him off, but he needs to know what she's hiding.
Sarah has a tough decision to make. Does she want to go on living a lonely, emotionally frozen life? Or can she finally risk revealing the truth and move forward with Joe?