When I first saw this tweet, I laughed until I realized that I was being dragged by Twitter’s #WritingCommunity. As you can imagine, thousands of writers liked and retweeted this image, making us all a band of scarred adults just trying to keep our collective shit together. Sure, I’ve had therapy and journaled my feelings, but there’s nothing quite satisfying like giving all my baggage over to another person and seeing how they sort it out.
I’m not ashamed to say that I do that with my own writing. I won’t bore you with the details of my childhood, but I can tell you that I’ve held onto some baggage. I slung it over my shoulder and carry it around everywhere I go: my job, dinner parties, even late-night grocery runs. When I sat down to pen The Write Escape, I reached into the bag and lightened the load. I gave my anxiety to my heroine, Antonia Harper, a woman who got fired and canceled her wedding in 24 hours. I stuck her in an impossible situation that many of us, namely me, would buckle under. For my hero, (couldn’t leave him out), I gave him the gift of daddy-issues. There are things I wish I could have told my own parents, but never had the chance. Dr. Aiden Brynes spoke on my behalf.
Past trauma wasn’t the only thing I had in my repetoire! I actually started The Write Escape during one of the most hectic fall-semesters of my life. I taught three different classes that required three different syllabus preps. Something about the mix of stress and early-30’s malaise, made me take a chance. In the center of a shit-storm, I decided to write a book. My best friend, Sandy, and I made a pact to work our boring jobs, but give ourselves this one gift. We met up once a week to discuss our progress, do writing-sprints, and talk about what troubled us. In a way, that was our therapy. I have no doubt that we gave our characters challenges that we didn’t feel up to tackling in our real lives. Sandy’s characters had violent magical battles and my characters cried about foreign washing machines. There were probably metaphors in there.
That doesn’t mean that The Write Escape is a stone-cold bummer. This is still a romance with an Irish vacation setting, so there’s still humor, sexiness, and a satisfying HEA. But I also gave readers a touch of realism that made me breathe a little easier. Figuring out how Antonia and Aiden deal with the pressures I saddled them with, helped me realize that I’m not incapable of doing the same in real-life. They made mistakes and wrong turns that allowed me to say in my best psychologist’s voice: “Don’t be so hard on yourself, kiddo.” In turn, I don’t have to be so hard on myself.
While many authors are playing god to a make-believe world, we’re also trying to understand our own motivations. We ask ourselves questions like “should I have said that?” or “would things be different if I had done this?” Passing the buck to our characters isn’t necessarily us trying to avoid trauma. We’re just using a safe space to sort out the puzzle that is the human experience. We’re pulling up a seat, right next to our readers, and learning something about ourselves.
Literary editor Antonia Harper had it all—the career, the man, the future. That was then. Now Antonia is jobless, alone and at a crossroads. What better time to travel the world? A solo honeymoon on the Emerald Isle will be like hitting the reset button. No distractions, no drama.
Add some luck o’ the Irish
Aiden Byrnes may be a literature professor, but words fail him when he meets the woman staying in the cottage next door. Tully Cross is meant to be a sleepy little village, and he’s meant to be on a working holiday—not a vacation, and most definitely not with his beautiful neighbor.
And you get some mighty good craic
They say laughter is the best medicine—and as it turns out, superhot sex isn’t so bad either. Antonia and Aiden’s spark quickly grows into what could be something special, if they’re willing to take the leap. Ending up an ocean apart is unthinkable, and when real life comes calling, there’s no ignoring that leap anymore…
Charish Reid is a fan of sexy books and disaster films. When she’s not grading papers or prepping lessons for college freshmen, she enjoys writing romances that celebrate quirky black women who deserve HEAs. Charish currently lives in Sweden, with her husband, avoiding most forms of exercise.