Behind The Story: BREATHE
Last Updated: June 3, 2015
I am often inspired by
the world around me. An overheard conversation. A couple
walking by my house on a stormy afternoon. Or something
I see on television or while dining out. The smallest
detail can have me asking all sorts of questions in my
mind, and before long I have the basis for a new set of
characters and a journey that I must follow them on.
Several years ago there was a tragic car accident not too far from where I live. A young woman was killed in the crash, as well as her unborn child. Her young son and husband who were also in the car were both injured but survived. It was such a sad story, and my heart broke for this family that was left in pieces. Sometime later I was working in my living room when I looked up at the TV and saw footage on the local news of the man who had accidentally caused the crash. He was in the courtroom for his hearing and was apologizing to the woman’s family. I only caught a bit of what he was saying, but the look of misery and despair on his face was so genuine and heartbreaking and was something I’ll never forget. He was going to have to live with that guilt and despair for the rest of his life.
Naturally I felt horrible for the family that had lost so much, but I also couldn’t get the other man out of my mind. Would he ever be happy again? Ever smile? Laugh? Love? Ever be able to forgive himself?
Then sometime later, I was at a party where a discussion was taking place about the accident. Everyone in the room was a stranger to the woman who’d died and the man who’d caused the crash, but two of the people I was with had such horrible things to say about the man, talking about him as if they knew what he was like, how he always drove, that he didn’t care about what he’d done. I was in complete shock at their vehemence toward someone they didn’t know. They had no idea what he felt, what kind of anguish he was going through. I couldn’t get their comments out of my mind.
Tragedy can define a single moment and change a life--can change a person forever. But maybe it doesn’t have to mean the end of happiness and joy--the end of really living.
Not long after that night, I had several pages of notes about Lincoln McCaw and Jacob Miller from Breathe.
I wanted to create two characters who were decent, caring guys stuck in an impossible situation. I wanted them to learn to accept that forgiveness and love were powerful forces and could make a difference in their lives. I wanted them to learn to love again.
The more I wrote about Jay and Lincoln, the more I had to follow them to their happy ending.
Ethan Day also interviewed me about the book including questions about Jay's bisexuality, the moment in my own life that led me to the story, and more. Originally posted on April 25, 2012.
I was excited to see the first one on the ebook cover. I had shared it with the cover artist, Valerie Tibbs, as my inspiration for Jay.
While writing Breathe, I never did find a good image of how I pictured Lincoln. The cover artist for the first edition of the ebook came very, very close. This is definitely Lincoln's posture, expression, and demeanor.
A few tidbits about the writing of BREATHE
The first title (and what I called the book for a long time) was The Whiskey Sipper.
The fictional small town of Edgefield is loosely based on two towns I've lived in during my life.
I smashed a small toy car to test out what it would look like when someone sent that "gift" with a threat to Lincoln. As you can see in the pic, I even "tested" writing the word murderer on the side. For some reason my sweetie found that equal parts hilarious and creepy.
Several items and people in the book came to have great symbolic meaning for me. The stuffed animal Mr. Wuzzie represented Katie, the kitty that Jessica saved symbolized Jay, and the old whiskey-sipping man in the bar was a stand-in for what Lincoln's future could've become if he hadn't met Jay.
When I was writing the book, people kept telling me it wasn't romance material, which only made me want to write it all the more because by then I'd totally fallen for Jay and Linc. I couldn't imagine not helping them find their way to being together.
I got the idea for the book from an accident that happened in my local community and my reaction to seeing the broken man who had caused it.
Character Note Cards
Found these in my office several years after I finished writing the book. They're the original character note cards. I had forgotten all about them. Most of the characters from the story were in the stack, even Duke, Lincoln’s old dog.
Read more about Breathe