Ann Bauer is the author of the novels A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards and The Forever Marriage.
From her Q & A with writer Caroline Leavitt:
What I loved so much about The Forever Marriage is the character of Carmen. At first, I didn’t know how I felt about her because she was so prickly, so relieved about her husband’s death. But then, as she begins to look at their shared pasts, and her own choices in life, she begins to transform and take new responsibility for what her marriage was like. And as she transforms, so does they way she sees their shared past. And I fell in love with her. Was it difficult writing the earlier Carmen when she wasn’t so instantly sympathetic? What were the challenges for you?--Marshal Zeringue
I started this book in 2007 because I had a very close friend who was facing Carmen’s dilemma: She had a husband she never really loved who’d been slowly dying of cancer for 9 years. The truth is, I was struggling with my friend’s situation. I was watching this woman I adored become frustrated and bitter because her husband just kept hanging on. It was so uncomfortable. I sympathized with her but I was also really horrified that a marriage could turn so empty. That a man could die with his wife at his side, rooting for him to go.
So I already loved Carmen despite all her sharp edges. The biggest hurdle for me was the actual death of the husband so I started there. I think I was faking myself out, trying to get through the worst of it and imagine what had not yet happened (my friend’s husband would actually live for another three years). I needed to get through that scene in order to work through the rest of the story. But it means that readers meet Carmen when she’s behaving pretty unforgivably, when she’s the least likable. Then my job, as the writer, was to make people see who Carmen really is and come to understand her and fall in love with her over the course of the book.
Without giving away too much, I think my biggest challenge was her husband, Jobe. He’s based in part on my own very sweet husband—this quiet, brilliant mathematician. So I kept wanting to make him perfect but, of course, he couldn’t be. No interesting character is... It was really deep into the writing of this novel that I finally “found” Jobe’s weaknesses and flaws and...[read on]