I first sat down to write The September Sisters in the fall of 2003. I had another novel that I’d written first, that I’d recently abandoned after a lot of agents told me it was well-written but unsellable. At first, I thought about giving up on writing all together – I couldn’t imagine that I would ever have time to write another novel much less find an agent much less sell a book. But then, I got laid off from my teaching job, just before the semester began due to budget cutbacks, and the only job I could get was teaching one class at a community college two mornings a week – a total of three hours a week out of the house! Suddenly, I had the time to write, and I also felt like I had to do something productive until I found another job.
Before I started writing, though, I thought about what I could do to make this novel attempt more “sellable.” I decided I would write something in the first person and include a mystery in the story. But I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to write about yet. Then I saw a show about missing children – it seemed there were a lot of missing children cases in the news right around that time, and on the show I noticed that a lot of the missing children had siblings. What happened to those siblings after their brother or sister disappeared, I wondered, as I watched? And the first seed for the book was planted.
At around the same time, I had also, fairly recently started to become close to my own younger sister. When we were kids we hated each other – we used to fight all the time! Our grandmother always used to tell us when we grew up, we would love having a sister, but we never believed we would. Until it actually happened – once we got into our twenties, we actually became friends!
But I still had vivid memories of our childhood fights, which always seemed worse in the summer without school, and in the pool. And then it occurred to me to think about what it might have been like if after one of those fights in the pool, after we told each other that we hated each other, if something terrible happened, if one of us had disappeared.
And thus, The September Sisters was born, a little bit of bad (or maybe in hindsight, good) luck, a little bit of trying to figure out what could make my writing more sellable, a little bit of TV, and a little bit of childhood memories.
Thanks so much, Lauren, for inviting me to be a part of Inspired Fridays!
You're welcome, Jillian!!
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