In JUST BREATHE, Sarah Moon has an alter-ego of sorts in her comic strip heroine, who goes through many of the same trials and tribulations. There’s a little bit of me in Sarah, even though she’s younger, thinner and more naive than I am. That’s the fantasy element coming into play. I live deeply inside the characters as I create them, and that’s how the stories resonate with me and, I hope, with the reader. My characters’ lives are entirely different from my own. For example, I never went through artificial insemination and I’ve never been pregnant with twins, yet the emotions Sarah experiences feel very authentic to me.
Faced with the task of starting over in life (with twins on the way!), Sarah displays great resiliency and depth of character. But she’s also flawed and confused at times as she faces a complex, larger-than-life situation, yet she ultimately finds the inner resources she needs to grow into her new life. I was inspired by women I know and admire—my friends, family members and readers.
Sarah and Will Bonner have a history together. She was an outsider in high school and Will was the star jock – so, years later, how do they make the perfect couple?
That’s pretty much the entire romantic arc of the story, isn’t it? Both characters are in the process of growing and changing, and one of the most dramatic developments in the story is their transformation from two youngsters who were very self-centered and different to a couple whose bond is forged by selflessness and love.
A betrayal leads Sarah back home to California, where she reconnects with old friends and her own past. Her hometown was the right place for Sarah to find herself. Glenmuir, in the wilds of the northern California coast, is the place where Sarah’s character was formed, yet she left with a lot of unfinished business still open. Her journey of the heart leads her back to deal with old issues she never faced. The setting in this story is a crucible for this character. It’s also a stunningly beautiful locale, where metaphors for growth and renewal abound.
Will has a complex relationship with his young daughter. Aurora, his stepdaughter, was the key who unlocked Will’s best self when he first rescued her from a fire as a tiny girl, and the bond that formed that day linked him to her forever. That moment really set him on the path to figuring out who he is. He wants to be a good dad (stepdad) yet as she enters adolescence, he starts feeling in over his head. That’s where the realism comes from. Most dads find preadolescent girls completely confusing, yet they can’t walk away.
Readers often ask how I went from being a math teacher to romance author. Actually, the leap was in the opposite direction. At the age of three, I declared myself a writer and rarely deviated from that path. I became a math teacher because I needed a job, and because I have a passion for teaching, but I never stopped telling stories or dreaming of a writing career. When I was in college, I was given a battery of tests and assessments to find out what careers would suit me. My top three were writer, teacher, and speech pathologist. So far, I’ve pursued two out of three. Readers can find more information at on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/susanwiggs
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