Have I got a treat for you all today! Author Rebecca Rogers Maher joins me today to share the inside scoop about her newest release, Fault Lines. The third and final installment in Mrs. Maher’s Recovery Trilogy, Fault Lines officially hit the shelves on September 24! I’m SUPER EXCITED to be a part of this virtual tour for the release of Fault Lines, by Rebecca Rogers Maher. Rebecca and I went to school together, and it is VERY exciting for me to see her living her dream of becoming a published author. (Yay!)
As a gift to you, LitConnect is offering one lucky reader the opportunity to win a *FREE* copy of Fault lines. Hang in there until the end and be sure to register for your chance to win!
Now, Welcome, Rebecca!
Thank you so much for having me here today, Susan. I love your blog and really admire and appreciate you, so it’s an honor.
One of the reasons I find your works of contemporary romance refreshing is because of the emphasis on exploring the nuances of adult characters. (Thank you!) Can you share a few thoughts on why this approach makes sense for you as an author?
You know, I think people are complicated. We contain all sorts of contradictions and warring impulses, and when a woman falls in love, all of her complications come to the surface. I like a realistic heroine who behaves like a real woman would, who is surrounded by detailed and recognizable supporting characters. It gives the story more depth and higher stakes and makes it more compelling.
Your debut series focuses on the theme of recovery. What prompted you to write the Recovery Trilogy and what impact do you hope it has on the Contemporary Romance audience?
I wanted to write about women who were blocked in some way, who were emotionally shut down. I think this is a problem a lot of us face and sometimes don’t even realize it. We’re disconnected from our own lives. There are actually a lot of literary fiction books about this, but literary fiction conventions require an often-frustrating degree of restraint, so you end up with a book about disconnection that feels really disconnected. The characters can’t feel anything and neither can we as the readers.
The great thing about romance is that it’s permissible to go big with the emotion. So you can let a character—and by extension, the reader—dive into the deep end and experience the tumult. And since romance novels have happy endings, you can let your characters actually learn to swim. They can reach a genuine recovery from disconnection. I wanted to write stories like this because I have seen so many women do this successfully in real life. Women who have reclaimed their lives and fought for their own happiness. With the Recovery Trilogy, I wanted to explore that process and look at what it might take for a woman to heal from trauma – what kind of support she might need, what love and intimacy might feel like, what sex would be like for her – all that good stuff.
As far as impact, I think the Recovery Trilogy pushes the envelope on what contemporary romance can be. My heroines are real women with real problems. Their relationships with the heroes take place in the context of lives that include family, friends, work and complicated personal histories. And the reason I do that is because that’s reality.
My husband made a great point this morning. He said some traditional romance heroines are like the lion tamer. They have no identity of their own. They’re completely defined by the lion and by their job in relation to the lion. I don’t write heroines like that, or stories where the heroine is defined by the hero. My typical heroine defines herself, and the hero is part of her story but not all of it. She has a relationship with her family, her friends, her work and herself. Which is how it really is in real life. That’s what I’m interested in portraying: how women navigate love and intimacy in the context of a full, rich life.
One great thing about the romance genre is that it’s always changing and growing, so I see the Recovery Trilogy as part of this healthy evolution. I think the genre is big enough to include realistic novels that tell the heroine’s full story and not just her story in relation to the man in her life.
I admire your willingness to explore difficult subject matters. In Fault Lines, the reader is given a glimpse into the life of a survivor of childhood sexual trauma. What I found most compelling about Sarah’s character is the realism of her experience and after-effects: the developed coping mechanisms, altered family dynamics, the learned ability to “shut down,” the strategic ways in which the psycho-emotional effects manifest in Sarah’s life, etc. How did you go about researching for Sarah’s character?
Thank you! I have my own sexual abuse history, and I have known many men and women who are sexual abuse survivors. I’ve done a lot of talking, listening and reading about this subject, and Fault Lines was the culmination of all that thinking and reflection. There are so many stories out there that depict sexual abuse survivors as broken or as outsiders. I wanted to write a story about a normal, successful woman who has this history, because that is a lot closer to reality. If one in six women experiences sexual assault in her lifetime – and those are just the reported cases – then the fact is that this is happening all around us, to women like us and to women we know. I wanted to write about what sexual trauma actually looks and feels like, and what it might take to recover a sense of safety and trust in the wake of it.
Considering the emotionally torrents of the plot, how do you find ways, as an author, to pull back from the characters so as not to become overwhelmed in the writing process?
Honestly, I don’t pull back. I just let myself feel it. Even now, I can’t read a single passage of Fault Lines without crying. Writing this book really broke my heart, but it was important for me to let that happen and to feel my way through it. I turned to my husband and friends for support, and hugged my children a lot, and went for long walks or runs, and listened to good music, and just tried to be really loving toward myself so that I could feel strong enough to do it. Because I wanted this book to exist, to give comfort and hope to women who have been hurt and who are working their way towards recovery. That was worth doing, to me.
I find it interesting that Sarah is a wedding planner. Admittedly, I know very few survivors of childhood sexual trauma. Those I know chose a career in social work or law to advocate and protect children from the same abuses they endured. How did you decide on a career as a wedding planner for Sarah?
First, I want to say that you probably know a significant number of survivors of sexual trauma, and you just don’t know it. Going back to the one-in-six statistic, which again is probably a result of severe under-reporting, chances are that all of us know sexual abuse survivors. And they do all different kinds of work. I wanted to make the point that anyone can be a sexual abuse survivor, including people who are very put-together and successful.
I also wanted Sarah to be a wedding planner because her coping skills involved learning to be hyper-efficient and controlled. These are necessary skills for event planning. Also, weddings give Sarah proximity to a joy and intimacy that she won’t let herself experience, so it’s a way of trying to meet that need without really meeting it. Which is the same approach she takes to sex, in a way – to have a lot of it all around her but to not let herself feel it.
Each of the heroines in the Recovery Series demonstrates great courage in the process of living through the healing process. They stumble. They experience setbacks. But they continue to move forward. To confront. To become vulnerable. What inspires you most about their journey?
What inspires me is their desire to live. They know, on some level, that they deserve more. Something in them is not giving up and not accepting the idea of a numb, half-lived life. They fight! They’re emotionally brave. They show up for each other. And in return, they get deep relationships, intense sex lives and strong, loving friendships. That’s how it should be.
Your writing style is such that all plotlines are not tied up neatly with fancy-happy-velvety bows by the conclusion of the story. (Which I also find refreshing. So, kudos and thank you.) You provide just enough background so the reader feels a sense of empathy and understanding, but leave many unresolved questions dangling out there. Why tease the reader this way?
I see it as taking turns. I say my piece, and then you as the reader say yours. After you’re done reading, you think about what happened and you ask yourself questions about it, and talk about it with your friends, and come to your own conclusions. I don’t really see the point in writing a novel that’s a lecture, where I tell you what to think and how to interpret everything. That’s boring to me. I’d rather start a conversation and keep that conversation going.
Just a short time ago you wrote an informative article entitled, “What To Say If Your Best Friend Tells You She Was Raped.” What advice would you offer to those with a loved-one who opens up about childhood sexual trauma? How can we help, love, and support them?
Thank you for asking this question. Some of my favorite scenes to write in Fault Lines were the ones in which Joe and Jane show their support for Sarah. They get so angry on her behalf! Their compassion really helps her heal, because it shows her how much she matters, that it wasn’t her fault and that she didn’t deserve it. The xoJane article you mentioned sort of lays out a how-to for supporting survivors, but I think the most important thing to do when a friend is going through a hard time is to just show up for it emotionally. Be there. Make eye contact, pay attention, and grieve with her. That kind of love can make all the difference for someone. For those playing a primary support role, I recommend reading Allies in Healing by Laura Davis or looking into the services provided by organizations like RAINN.
Do you have any projects currently in the works? What can we expect next?
I’m writing a story about a woman with serious anxiety who goes to live in a house on Cape Cod and then finds she can’t leave it. Not even to go out to the grocery store. Unfortunately the house needs renovation, so she has to deal with the carpenter who comes to fix it up. He’s an angry, brooding, gorgeous mess, and as you might predict, one thing leads to another. And then a Really Big Thing happens. So far, it’s really fantastic and full of angst and action. Can’t wait to share it!
Rebecca, it has been a pleasure to host you today. I wish you continued success as an author.
Thank you again so much for inviting me here, Susan! It’s been wonderful talking with you, as always. Xoxo!
About the Book
Sarah Murphy plans other people’s weddings. She’s gorgeous and successful, but she also carries a dark secret.
At one of her events, she meets Joe Sullivan, a sexy photographer with a difficult past of his own. When he snaps a rare unguarded photograph of her and captures the real person hiding behind the facade, she feels exposed. To restore the upper hand, she tries to do what she always does: use sex to defuse the situation.
While Joe is eager to deepen his relationship with Sarah, he’s aware of her emotional shield and the way she disconnects from her body. Seeing her at her most vulnerable doesn’t scare him off, but he needs to know what she’s hiding.
Sarah has a tough decision to make. Does she want to go on living a lonely, emotionally frozen life? Or can she finally risk revealing the truth and move forward with Joe?
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series & #: Recovery Trilogy #3
Can be read as a stand alone? Yes
Tone: Emotional, gripping
Heat Level: Hot, realistic
Tags/elements: recovery, friendship
Publisher: Carina Press
Publishing Date: September 24, 2012
Word Count: 40,000 words
Format: pdf or epub
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am the author of the Recovery Trilogy—I’ll Become the Sea, Snowbound with a Stranger and Fault Lines. I’m a Vassar graduate, a former community organizer and Brooklyn public school teacher, and a mother to two insanely sweet boys.
I write contemporary romance novels with heroines like women I know — women I grew up with, women I pass on the street — strong women who make mistakes but learn from them. I believe these women deserve happy endings too, as well as lots of hot sex with genuinely kind men. I live in Brooklyn, New York with my hot, kind husband and our children.
FAULT LINES Giveaway Details:
One randomly drawn commenter from each tour stop will win one digital copy of FAULT LINES.
To enter the giveaway, simply reply to this post with a question or comment for Rebecca Rogers Maher!
- Contest is open the duration of the Fault Lines tour (9/17/12-9/28/12)
- Contest is open internationally.
- Contest is open the duration of the tour. (Ends 9/28)
- Winner(s) will be randomly selected and notified via email.