What Inspired Me to Write My Book
by Julia Tagliere
Readers often ask fiction writers, “How much of your book is real, based upon people you really know or things that really happened to you?” I’ve had many readers of Widow Woman ask me those questions already, and I always give the same answer: my book was inspired by some real people and some real events, but it is entirely a work of fiction.
“Inspired by” is a tricky term. In my case, that expression takes me back to my childhood, a time when my newly-single mother was faced with the prospect of raising four children. Fortunately for her, and for us kids, she had a vibrant, strong, amazing group of women friends to support her. Whenever I think about that time in my life, I always think of fun, laughter, and above all, a sense of warm, familial kinship. But, as all kids do, I grew up. I went to college, moved away, and started my own life. I lost contact with those women, though I never lost those memories.
I learned after my mother’s death that two of those women, even as far back as those sunny days of my childhood, were lesbians—in fact, a number of her friends were. The knowledge took me by surprise; it had never occurred to me, ever, to think of them in such a light. I wondered what their children, all grown up now, too, thought when they learned about their moms. When did they find out? Had they always known? Were they shocked? Were they confused?
Did it even matter?
Those questions swirled around in my mind, mingling with my grief over my mother’s passing. In the months that followed, another question began tickling away at my writer’s mind—what if?
What if a young woman found out after her mother’s death that her mother had been a lesbian and had never told her? How would that feel? Would it change how she felt about her mother, about herself, about relationships, about love? The more I thought about those questions, the more I wanted to explore the answers to them.
The last few years have seen a terrific explosion in our culture’s comfort level with talking about gay and lesbian relationships. When I was growing up, people like Rock Hudson were still going to terrific lengths to hide their sexual orientation; I’m of a generation that remembers the seismic cultural shock for mainstream America when Ellen DeGeneres came out. We are more open as a society today than we ever have been before, but there are still so many people out there who react with fear and ignorance, as my main character initially does. I wanted to explore why those reactions still happen, the roots for them. I wanted to make people think about what is at the heart of all relationships—gay or straight. It’s love, pure and simple.
That’s what inspired me to write my book.
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Genre – Women’s Fiction
Rating – PG13