First, I want to thank Red Room for the support. I don't know if you totally realize how much you've done for me-- for my ego and for my book. I can never thank you enough.
I'd had the idea for Serendipity in my head for about four years before I actually wrote it. Sometimes I think you have to wait until you're ready to write something -- and for a while I didn't want to tackle the whole mother/daughter thing. The show business elements of the book were always the easy part for me. No matter how old I get, I'll always be stage-struck, I think. I've done a few musicals and I know the kind of dedication and discipline that are required to carry a show like that on your back each night. As I was writing those sections I thought to myself that not everyone who does live theater lives the way Lu does -- with every moment of her day planned to keep her in shape for the moment when she steps out on that stage. I know there are actors who manage to go out partying and still show up the next night and knock the performance out of the park. Well, they do it for a while, anyway. But I don't know how anyone does it. And frankly, I don't understand it, so there's no way I could write it. So Lu is really a kind of a boring lady when she's working. I hoped that would be interesting to people.
Her attitude toward motherhood was at the core of the reason why I wanted to write the book. I wanted to write a mother who knows her work is her first love, and that she's not up for the daily responsibilities of nurturing and raising a child. But she's not a bad person. So her only recourse is to be as honest as she can about who she is, and what she can and cannot do. The theme of work vs. personal life has always been fascinating to me. I'm not sure what the balancing act is, and if anyone actually manages to pull it off. I know I have friends who tell me they've never felt that dilemma and I have other friends who say it's a constant struggle. I'm not sure how I feel about Lu's solution to the problem. I rewrote the scenes between her and Rose many times because I wanted to get the tone just right. At the end of the day what I was left with was, I like Lu as a person but I'm glad she was not my own mother. By the way, I'm always happy when I feel ambivalent about a character-- as I do about Lu.
I'm not as fond of Rose, but I have to say I admire her. Even with the little hypocrisy that is revealed, to me she is a rarity -- someone who truly walks the walk. And I don't believe it's all penance -- I think Rose really loves the service she gives. Of course in her own way, she's every bit as dedicated and single minded as her own mother -- that's in her DNA -- but her way of dealing with motherhood is to include her child in her life, just as she felt her mother excluded her. I hope the fact that Carrie got some mixed messages out of this, suggests that being a mom is a very hard thing to do well. Because kids don't come with manuals. But on the other hand, humans are enormously resilient. So it was important to me that with all the mistakes Rose made, Carrie understood the love that was underneath. I hope I pulled that off. And I hope the conflicts ring true to readers. In the end that's what really matters. I can sit here and try to explain what I wanted to do for the next ten years -- well, not really, I have another book to write -- but what really counts is -- does my story ring true to people who pick up the book and read it.