At this stage in my life, I don’t have the guts to write women’s fiction. And to be clear, here, I mean mainstream fiction that contains themes relating to women’s issues, but excluding romance. For me, it’s a personality thing. I like a guaranteed happy ending. Now, back when I was just getting started with writing novel-length works, I thought women’s fiction would be my niche. Hell, I studied it in college. I’m a big fan of Southern women writers. Tried to emulate a few.
But…after some flailing, I discovered I a) don’t have the voice for it, and b) I skimp on the tough parts. I don’t like making my characters suffer. I avoid drama. I don’t like drawing out tension. It makes me tense, even if it makes for good writing. End of 2011, I read Seré Prince Halverson’s The Underside of Joy and it was beautiful, but parts of it upset me so much. Couldn’t read anything else for weeks, but over a year later, I haven’t still haven’t forgotten that story.
That’s why I give props to people who write it.
Patty Yager Delagrange is a fellow Musan who writes these sometimes gut-wrenching stories stories to rave reviews.
Coincidentally, her Moon Over Alcatraz was released last January right around the same time as Underside. Good company, I think.
Here’s a bit about the story.
Following the death of their baby during a difficult birth, Brandy and Weston Chambers are grief-stricken and withdraw from each other, both seeking solace outside of their marriage; however, they vow to work through their painful disloyalty. But when the man Brandy slept with moves back to their hometown, three lives are forever changed by his return.
From Moon Over Alcatraz
Three days later we were standing at the edge of a hole in the ground at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Hayward, the silence so thick, the insides of my ears buzzed like a distant swarm of angry bees. Mr. Peralta and another gentleman stood off to the side while Weston and I held hands next to a tiny casket.
Weston had chosen a simple mahogany box with gold handles, a bouquet of white lilies graced the top of the small box. I knelt down and laid a kiss on the smooth wood then wiped off the tears that had fallen on top. Weston joined me, placing a single red rose in the middle of the lilies.
He helped me up and we stood side-by-side in silence, my guilt over her death like a stone in my empty belly. I missed everything I’d dreamed would be happening right now, yearned for all that could have been.
Weston nodded at the man standing next to Mr. Peralta and our baby was slowly lowered into the gaping maw. She reached the bottom, and a bird landed on the rich brown dirt piled next to the grave. It pecked around, chirping a little song then flew off – as if saying goodbye. My heart squeezed inside my chest.
I picked up a small handful of soft dirt. “Goodbye, Christine,” I whispered, throwing it on top of her casket.
Weston wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me in close to his side. Why her? Why my baby? Was this supposed to make sense? And, if so, to whom?
We drove home in silence. No words existed to express my grief.
So, where’d this story come from? Here’s the author in her own words:
This question had burned in my mind for years and I wanted to write about it. People have asked me how I can write about something that’s never happened to me. I counter with: I write fiction. All fiction writers tell a story they’ve made up in their heads. But they imbue that story with their own feelings. Which is what makes a good book. And I have a wealth of feelings that I used when I wrote Moon Over Alcatraz. I have two children. I know what it’s like to love two human beings unconditionally, with no reservations. My kids often ask me, “Do you love me, mom?” And my answer is, “Always and forever.”
About Patricia Yager Delagrange
Fascinated by brokenhearted couples and atypical families, Patricia weaves engaging tales of men and women who create cohesive families where love reigns supreme. She sprinkles her books with intriguing characters who struggle to find balance in life after tragedy. Whether an unwed teenager, desperate widow, abandoned father, or a couple who stray from their marital vows, her characters form relationships impacted by their desire to create a family.
Aside from writing, her favorite things to do include riding her Friesian horse, Maximus, dot-to-dot for adults, and watching Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington movies. She spends a majority of her days writing while her two very large Chocolate Labs lounge on the couch cuddled next to her and her MacBook.