The idea for Golden State came to me quite out of the blue while taking a walk with friends on New Year’s Eve 2007. It had been a year since I’d received the correct diagnosis for what had been torturing me from within for nine years. Reflecting back on a time that is happily in the review mirror, I get glimpses of why being inspired by a conversation with my friend was such a momentous occasion.
Writing—what I’d turned to seven years earlier as a means of coping with the pain—had to be abandoned because I was physically unable to sit for hours at my laptop. I’d gotten to the point that I couldn’t even do it for fifteen minutes at a time. The pain was completely overwhelming. Looking back, I can’t fathom how I managed my “real job”. But the alternative methods of treating late-stage Lyme had robbed me of my one solace. By the end of 2007, I had abandoned two novels, one at 75,000 words. To say I was hanging on by a thread would not be overstating it.
As my body struggled, my psyche gradually healed to the point that when my friend regaled me with tales of mutual acquaintances who were bravely chasing success in the real estate profession, my pent-up imagination went wild. In a matter of seconds, I saw it all unfold in my mind’s eye. Roxanne Platt is a thirty-something single mom who struggles valiantly but without grace as a cashier at bargain grocery store and has become nearly despondent from the mind-numbing tedium. She is so open to a way out that becoming a real estate agent during the collapse of the housing market doesn’t even register.
What Roxanne sees is a lifeline. She grabs it, digging in with her heels and turning a pair of deaf ears to anyone who doubts she has the right stuff.
Because I worked in the mortgage industry, I was required to have a real estate license. My profession was wedded to real estate sales, so luckily for me, I knew the ins and outs, the pluses and pitfalls of the real estate world. Where I channeled Roxanne, I have no idea. She popped into my head, fully-formed, daunting attitude securely intact. She’s my anti-heroine and I had a blast watching her in action. The fire she walks through hones her instincts and melts away the rough edges. She is at such a low point in her life, failing isn’t an option.
From this vantage point, I can see a correlation between Roxanne’s situation and what I was going through. I had no conscious appreciation of this as I wrote the book; Roxanne was escapism for me, plain and simple. It gave me hope that Lyme had not robbed me of everything. I had recovered enough to pound the keys and complete a 135K-word novel in a year’s time. I was down, but I wasn’t out…not yet.
Aside from being a saving grace, Golden State turned out to be a fun romp with a slightly garish ray of hope. The underlying message—if there is one—is that we are capable of transforming our lives, even when we’re so down we can’t see a way out.
Golden State is available for FREE downloading July 15th and 16th. Grab your ereader and indulge in a little summer escapism!
Until next time,