Which of us is perfect? Who among us has never put a foot wrong? The mistakes people make (that almost sounds like a book title) in the past come back to haunt them way, way down the line. Sometimes the know it’ll happen, that there will be a price to pay. Sometimes the past comes rearing up from the darkness just when we least expect it.
As in life, so it so often is in fiction. The classic, of course, is Mr Rochester and the wife in the attic. But you don’t have to look far for a hasty relationship (ended or begun), for a get-rich-quick scheme which seems like a good idea at the time, for that one misjudgement that was meant to put everything right and which instead turned toxic. Maybe it happens in one generation; or maybe the slow poison seeps out further down the line.
I never deliberately set out to write books with that sort of theme and yet, when I look back at all the books I’ve written, be they published, unpublished or unpublishable, the majority of them carry that theme running through them. In Looking For Charlotte Flora’s past decision to give her children all the material comforts they could want at the expense of time leads to her losing them in the present. In No Time Like Now both Tim and Megan made a catastrophic decision years before the book that comes between them as the key driver of the plot. In A Portrait of my Love it isn’t the protagonist, Skye, who makes the wrong decision but her spoiled best friend.
Leona’s mistake, and that made by her mother a generation before, feed the plot in Going Back, the next book i the series (due out in May) and the third, which is definitely a work in progress, hinges on a mistake made in a moment, also years before.
Because I write romance you can reasonably expect that the mistakes made will be redeemed to some extent, or at least reach some kind of resolution. That’s the beauty of fiction, of course. If only real life were so simple…