Thanks so much for having me, Babette.
I looked at aging differently before I did it. I saw 40 as life being half over, 50 as decrepit, 60 as time to sit on the couch and watch TV. I didn’t look much past that at all because, I mean, really, what could life possibly have to offer anyone over 60?
Oh, good grief.
I will admit there are things about being young that are irreplaceable: smooth skin, joints and muscles that don’t hurt, forgiving gastro-intestinal systems, and being able to get up after crawling around on the floor with little kids to name a few. Truly, I liked being young, loved my job, loved raising kids.
But (thank you, S. E. Hinton) that was then. This is now.
The Girls of Tonsil Lake, available now on Kindle only from The Wild Rose Press, is the story of four friends in the year they turn 51. Although I’ve been loving and writing romance for—oh, a long time—and still do love and write it, I’ve never had so much fun in my writing life as I did getting to know The Girls. And I didn’t get to know them until I should have been well into decrepitude (see first paragraph).
Aging, I’ve learned, is an adventure. You can eat dessert first. If you’re tired of cold winters, you can go where it’s warm. You learn about priorities and that those priorities can change every single day. On the TV series The West Wing, President Jed Bartlett used to say, “What’s next?” You never know what’s around the next corner, and you don’t have to wait to find out.
I’m packing now. We’re on the road as you read this, going to spend Indiana’s cold months in Florida and looking to find new adventures where they happen. I have a book to finish and another one to revise. I’ve aged, and life is good.
My sister-in-law and I are talking about zip-lining—I’ll send pictures!
What about you? Is there an age or time you would go back to?
THE GIRLS OF TONSIL LAKE
Blurb: Four women whose differences only deepen the friendship forged in a needy childhood…
They were four little girls living in ramshackle trailers beside a lake in rural Indiana. They shared everything from dreams to measles to boyfriends to more dreams. As they grew up, everything in their lives changed–except their friendship. Through weddings and divorces, births and deaths, one terrible secret has kept them close despite all the anger, betrayal, and pain.
Now, forty years later, facing illness, divorce, career challenges, and even addiction, the women come together once again for a bittersweet month on an island in Maine. Staring down their fifties, they must consider the choices life is offering them now and face the pain of what happened long ago.
Secrets are revealed and truths uncovered, but will their time together cement their lifelong friendship–or drive them apart forever?
Sarah leaned forward in her chair. “I don’t hate you,” she said. “You drive me crazy, but I don’t hate you. Did you hate your mother?”
“Yes,” I said instantly, thinking of the woman who had sat in that filthy trailer for years on end, hearing voices and seeing shapes and screaming out in the night.
“Only when you were young, when you just knew she wasn’t like other mothers. Not when you found out she was paranoid-schizophrenic and couldn’t help it.” Sarah smiled, but there was an unkind edge to the expression. “Then she just drove you crazy.”
“Is that how I lost your brother, by driving him crazy? Is that what pushes you away from me?”
She hesitated, and she wasn’t looking at me anymore. I followed the line of her vision and saw that it rested on a picture on an end table. It had been taken the day she graduated from high school. Phil and I had reluctantly posed with Sarah and Tom standing between us. We were all smiling dutifully for David’s camera.
“It should have been that way,” said Sarah.
I looked from the picture back to her, seeing the sheen of tears in her dark eyes. “What way?” I asked, although I knew.
“We were a family, but you tore that apart without ever looking back. It’s always all about you, and you never gave a damn what the divorce did to Tommy or me, or even Daddy. At least you never appeared to, and that’s more than a kid can understand.” Sarah gave a self-deprecating little shrug. “I guess I still don’t understand.”
“Don’t you know why we got divorced?”
She shrugged again. “Because of your job, because your needs always came before everyone else’s.”
“Is that what your father told you?”
“Not in so many words. That’s what I observed on my own.”
“Do you remember Ben and Kate Rivers?”
She rolled her eyes. “The infamous picture of you and Jean on the front page of the paper. Of course, I remember. Jean’s kids and Tom and I were popular for a whole week because of it. Kate and Ben bring their dogs to our clinic now. They still have Dalmatians.”
“Do you remember your dad’s reaction?”
“You fought about it,” she said, “but you guys fought a lot, so it was no big deal, was it?”
“Sarah, think about it. Why would we have fought about something like that? Jean and I did the right thing, didn’t we?”
“Well, sure, but—”
A knock at the door interrupted her, and she got up to walk across the room, looking back over her shoulder at me with a puzzled expression. The watch on my wrist, a gift from my company as part of a bonus one year, said it was five minutes past midnight. In my lap, Elmer rose to a sitting position and eyed me expectantly. I stroked his head.
Later on, I would play this scene over and over in my head, till I felt like screaming. Maybe if the plane from Maine had been late into Indianapolis instead of early. If I’d stayed away from Sarah’s and minded my own business the way she preferred. If I hadn’t been there, young Jake Logan might have come earlier and no one would have said what he came to say. There was nothing in it that could have warned me, nothing I could have changed, but I still felt responsible.
I heard him murmur, “Hi, hon,” as he stepped inside, pulling Sarah into the curve of his arm.
He was in his state police uniform, which only added to the movie star looks he’d inherited from his father. I could see his side and part of his back, and I noticed he’d just gotten a haircut; his tanned skin was lighter at his hairline.
“Mother’s here, Lo,” said Sarah.
I wondered why she called him that.
He turned toward me then, and my greeting was halted in the middle by the stricken expression he wore. I said, “No.”
But he told us anyway.
The Girls of Tonsil Lake is available in Kindle and Print on Amazon.com
The Girls of Tonsil Lake is Liz’s eighth book, and it is no less thrilling than the first one was. Retired from the post office, she spends non-writing time sewing, quilting, and doing whatever else she wants to. She and Duane live in the old farmhouse in Indiana they moved to in 1977. They’ve talked about moving, but really…36 years’ worth of stuff? It’s not happening!
She’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org or please come and see her at: