I was delighted to discover that fellow Long Islander and author Marci Brockmann devoted her most recent “Book Talk Sunday” show to my novel, The Second First Time. (See video below.) As part of her review, Ms. Brockmann surmised that Sage and Jonathan’s story mirrored my own love story with my husband, Craig.
So now it can be told: Yes. And no.
“Paralleled” might be a better word choice than “mirrored,” for one thing. And there were definitely… er, similarities.
Imagination picked up from there.
I was, indeed, heartbroken at the time. I also had been contracted to write Pasta Wars (late 2014-early 2015). One of my story goals was to cheer myself up. Yet in the middle of writing it, I came across the New York Times article and intimacy questionnaire Ms. Brockmann mentioned, and inspiration struck: I decided to give Craig’s and my failed romance a different outcome. If I couldn’t have a second chance in real life, then I’d give it one on the page.
Thus, The Do-Over was conceived.
In fact, the idea was so powerful that I put down Pasta Wars smack in the middle of a fast approaching deadline and wrote approximately 35,000 words of The Do-Over in two weeks
And then something else happened.
Just a few weeks after those 35,000 words, Craig and I got back in touch, cleaned the slate, and re-established our friendship. Two months later he flew to New York; we spent the week together, and by the end we knew we’d be spending much more than that.
And yes, we did the questionnaire, but we were already in love by then.
That same year, I was contracted to write The Do-Over as part of a two-book deal with my then-publisher, Lake Union. By then those 35,000 words had morphed somewhat and the story had lost a little of its original spark. Having gotten my own real life do-over (and waaaaaay different from what I’d envisioned in the fictionalized version), I had lost the emotional intent and thread, and thus Sage’s intention and obstacles became muddied as well.
With the assistance of Tiffany Yates Martin, the fab developmental editor who had worked with me on Adulation, She Has Your Eyes, and Love, Wylie, we found the thread, and Sage and Jon embarked on their road trip.
One more change was made: The Do-Over became The Second First Time.
In its delivery, The Second First Time was something quite different from its conception. And in a way, that disappointed me. But shortly after its publication, when I read it to Craig (something we like to do with our books, and with each other), I found myself proud of it, with deep affection.
A review from a reader named Joe Miller particularly touched me:
“A compelling treatise, tenderly and engagingly written with life-changing realities. Had this book been available during my 52 years as a military chaplain and pastor, I would have bought multiple copies to have on hand as required reading with follow-on discussion for individuals and couples who came to my office for guidance in relationships and personal growth. I look forward to reading more of Elisa Lorello’s books!”
Likewise, I truly appreciated Ms. Brockmann’s video review because she received what I strive to achieve in every novel I write:
Moreover, she connected to her love story as a result of reading Sage’s and Jon’s. That, too, was confirmation that I achieved what I especially strive for when I craft those characters and dialogue and scenes:
What’s really important and special and profound is ultimately not what the book means to me, but what it means to you.
Because once I’m finished writing it, once it’s been edited and proofread and designed and produced and published, it’s no longer mine.
And thus, your connection, your experience, and your interpretation surpass mine. As it should. Because you carry its light, and share it, and sustain it.
When Duran Duran wrote and recorded “Ordinary World,” it was just a song. When they released it into the world, it became more than a song. For me, it became a lighthouse. For others, a lifeline. For others still, an embrace.
Its whole became far greater than the sum of all of us.
Books have this same magical power of transformation. But the magic can only happen when you wield the wand in the act of reading them.
You are the magician. You are the magic.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.