Yesterday’s gone on down the river and you can’t get it back.
– Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove
 

As a writer of fiction, I draw from my own experiences. But I also tell stories that I make up, out of my imagination. I don’t tell a story the way it happened, but the way I thought it should have. *

So “yesterday” is a good place to look for ideas, even though in life, you can’t get yesterday back.

Lots of things that happen in my novel MAKE THAT DEUX really happened (or a version of them did), but lots of other things didn’t. I did spend a year in France when I was young, and I missed my boyfriend back home. When I wrote the novel, I got to tell the ending of our story, not as it really happened, but as I wished it had.

My latest novel, UNDERWATER, isn’t based on an experience. But some of the characters’ internal conflicts are drawn from my own struggles. The water “down the river” isn’t always calm. Even if it looks okay, in my characters’ lives, there’s a lot lurking below the surface: Guilt. Lies. Jealousy. Hurt. Bitterness. Regret.

The tension builds, and as an author of suspense, I know that

worry = suspense.

As I wrote UNDERWATER, I knew that its “yesterday” had to be problematic at best. I wanted to keep you, the reader, worried about what was going to happen next.

And since by nature, I’m a worrier, I just had to let the river flow.

* to paraphrase Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: “A story was something you made up out of something that might have happened. Only you didn’t tell it like it was, you told it like you thought it should have been.”

 
 

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