Interview with the Author
What inspired you to write this book?
The idea for The Charm Necklace came in the form of a question: What would I do if I lost the person I want to spend the rest of my life with? How would I react? How could I possibly move on?
I wanted to see if it was possible to move on from a devastating loss like that and who could make it happen.
I loved the characters and chemistry of Mia and Bryan in the Fast and the Furious movies so much that Jordana Brewster and Paul Walker (RIP) became the representation of the physicality of my characters in the book. I also loved, loved, loved Logan from Gilmore Girls so much that I not only named a character after him, but a lot of what you see in the character on the show is incorporated in my characters of Michael and Logan.
What challenges did you encounter while writing your novel?
I started writing it my senior year of high school, took a four year hiatus for college, and then came back to it and had to completely rework it. That was tough.
Also, because it wasn’t something I had experienced directly, just something I was speculating about, I did a lot of research to do my best to honor what other women have actually gone through.
How many revisions did the book go through?
Two or three major overhauls and so many different changes I wouldn’t be able to count. At the very least 4 or 5.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
The biggest help was reading On Grief and Grieving by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler. I also read a few other books about people’s personal experiences of losing their significant other and how they learned to cope with that. I did spend some time online in forums where widows and widowers talked about different things like how long until they got rid of their clothes or how long they kept their wedding rings on for. I also studied Psychology in college, so while I’m no psychoanalyst, I do have a pretty good understanding of human behavior. My saving grace here is that every single person has a different answer. There’s no wrong answer.
What do you wish for readers to take away from the story?
At the end of the day, I want them to walk away with a sense of hope amidst chaos and devastation. Also, with the sense of it being okay, even crucial, that in whatever circumstances you are in, you have to let yourself feel what you are feeling before you can fully heal from it and understand it.
What made you decide to set the story in Michigan?
It’s where I grew up. And after leaving for a while and then coming back, I’ve learned that we Michiganders and the state we live in have a lot of character. I want most of my books to be set in Michigan.
What made you want to tackle the idea of death?
It is something that has always intrigued me, but not in a frightening way. I just could never comprehend how someone was here, living and breathing one second, and then gone the next. So I wanted to see if I could understand it a little better, and I’m still not sure that I do. Maybe just more accepting of it like Skylar is at the end.
Why was Madison such an important part of the story?
I think that little kids, like animals, have a way of just breaking through all your walls and bullshit. They’ll call you out in a second but love you unconditionally through everything. So I knew that while Jorge (Skylar’s Dad), Sophie, Samara, and Logan were all going to be important people who helped Skylar heal – it was really always Madison who kick started it.
Why is Logan so understanding of Skylar?
Well because Logan has some of his own issues. From the outsider looking in, you’d think that he’s incredibly handsome, cool, intelligent, and a great father. But from his perspective, he feels like a disappointment because (like the rest of us) where he is at is so far away from where he thought he’d be by now. He also shares the connection of loss with Skylar: of a parent and of Michael. So he truly understands her and has no agenda. He’s not invested in making her into someone she’s not. He accepts her as is and she does the same for him.
Come to think of it, why was everyone so understanding of Skylar – her dad, Sophie, Sue, and Rob?
The story, at its core, is about Skylar and her learning to move on and find hope again even though she just wants to stay in bed all day and give up. So I didn’t see her needing to overcome any huge conflict with Michael’s family – even though there are some moments where there interests clash. Skylar is just so destroyed by Michael’s death that everyone else kind of had to put their own shit away to help her back up.
Why texting and driving?
It’s a topic I feel very strongly about. And I remember, vividly, an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition where a family had lost their teenage daughter – who was a cheerleader and a good student, daughter, sister, friend – because she was texting and driving. The point that drew this home for me was that there was no other car involved, the weather conditions weren’t bad. She was just on a two-lane country road and she lost control of the car. So it really can happen to anyone.
I know that I have been in situations where I was texting and driving and looked up at that last second and was able to avoid an accident. You only need to experience that gut-wrenching fear once to never do it again.
I’ve also been in cars where people have been texting and driving, and it is obvious that they can’t do both at the same time. I’ve feared for my life! And you know, it’s just not worth it – because if I die because someone is texting and driving, I’m going to be pissed and haunt their asses for the rest of their life. Put your phone down.
That scene when Skylar confronts Tony. What the hell was that all about?
At first, I just had her going over there and basically yelling at him. A lot of their original conversation is still in the scene. But one night, I was thinking, “If someone killed my husband with their car, and then I saw that car, I would lose my shit. I would literally take a bat to that thing.” So she did.
I think that the physical release of that anger is important for her to express. I also think that moment needed to happen between Tony and Skylar. They needed to meet each other on their respective levels. And when Tony reaches out to her and tells her to drop the crowbar so she doesn’t get into even more trouble with the police, she starts to see that maybe he is a person after all. He does have a point of view on the situation. He’s not evil incarnate like she thought.
Do you plan to write a sequel?
Not for these specific characters. However, I don’t think I’m done with Tony’s story. I think he still has a lot to say.
What will happen with Tony?
You’ll just have to wait and see. Keep your eyes open for some new stuff 😉