On Looking Back, Pt. II

Last week, I looked back at a favorite childhood staple, Winnie the Pooh, and how the lessons that book series teach can help guide us forward as we face… whatever it is we’re facing after last week’s inauguration of a new president.

Today, I’d like to talk about what started this whole thread of thought, about how the idea of ‘looking back’ is a steady theme in Beneath the Stars. What struck me first was that in each of my novels, at least one of my protagonists had to look bac  so he could make forward progression. Evan, in Chef’s Table, was specifically told by his loving sous to, “Go home. Find yourself again.” He took her advice, cooked in the kitchen where he had learned to love food and its creation. When he returned to New York, he was ready to take on his life and career with a renewed sense of purpose.

In Black Dust, Toby carried around the weight of a tragedy fifteen years’ past. It burdened him, slowed him down and kept him from realizing the creative life he so desperately wanted. But a courageous plea to revisit the site where the tragedy had occurred freed his mind and heart to unleash the music that had been trapped under the weight of the accident in his young life.

“What do you remember?” Toby’s eyes were huge and his breath came in quick puffs, as if a deep inhalation might stab him with the pain of that day all over again.
Emmett desperately wanted to tell him to let it go, to scream, cry, throw something, hit him, anything, but the fact that they were here talking—it was the first time they had spoken of those frightful moments in any detail—was an amazing feat of its own.

In Beneath the Stars, Eddie is left with a son, Adrian, to raise alone. He’s overwhelmed, under-prepared and often feels like he’s failing Adrian and Adrian’s mother. But it’s when he focuses on Maggie’s wisdom, on her quiet strength and her undying love for their son, he’s able to garner the strength (Oh god, his last name is Garner… I’m a comedienne) to handle whatever is in front of him.

Adrian lay prone on his bed. His cries had dwindled to soft sobs and his raised rump, covered in Spongebob Squarepants briefs, shook with every whimper. Eddie bit back the urge to shush him, to tell him not to cry. Maggie had been clear: Shushing children when they were sad and angry implied that their feelings weren’t okay.
He knelt by Adrian’s bed and rubbed his back. “Daddy’s here.”

And our second hero, Sid Marneaux has lived on a forward trajectory since he graduated from high school. He left his Pennsylvania home for school in Chicago where he learned tools of the fashion trade and began his business while making ends meet tailoring suits for rich men in the city. He loved his family back home, visited often enough, but his life, his home became Chicago. Until his sister calls and needs him to come home and help care for their ailing father. He tries straddling current and past, traveling home as he can to help out.

He falls in love in Pennsylvania, but the pull of his business, of his passions in Chicago continue to tug. It’s not until he stops, looks back, and takes in the wisdom he learned as a child that he can handle the tug and pull and find the happiness she had always dreamt for him.

Our past can inform our future, whether it’s an idyllic scene of home and happiness or a tragedy that changed our entire outlook on life. And sometimes, the answers to our past are “in the stars,” where we’ve relinquished those we’ve loved and where they continue to illuminate our way.

Beneath the Stars, releases on Feb. 16, 2017, and is available for pre-order. Enter now to win a free e-book bundle and a $25 gift certificate to my publisher, Interlude Press.

You can win a free print copy by entering the giveaway at goodreads.

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