Ideas come to me in all different ways: it can be while I’m brushing my teeth, running, or right before I fall asleep at night. Usually there is no rhyme or reason for the idea, but the idea for The Ten Year Reunion was much more logical. It was inspired by attending my own ten year college reunion.
My college roommate and I flew back to New Hampshire for our weekend adventure. We stayed on campus in one of the dorms we actually lived in our sophomore year. During the weekend festivities we met up with friends we were still in touch with, those we hadn’t seen since graduation, and made new connections. We made sure to visit all our favorite places to eat on campus and in town because there is no visit back to campus without going for Kimball’s ice cream! That first night we sat in the dorm common area with new and old friends–laughing, drinking, sharing stories, catching up with people we went to school with, and even burning popcorn (which almost set the fire alarm off). What I remembered the most was the feeling of being back on campus. Even though it had been ten years, I suddenly felt like I was twenty-years old again. All my adult responsibilities seemed to fade away and for those three days it was like we were all transported back in time.
When we got back from New Hampshire I wrote down some ideas and didn’t think much about it until I was talking with a friend who had just gone to her own college reunion. During our discussion it was amazing how similar our experiences had been as we talked about the weekends. From that conversation I tucked away some more ideas and again, put them aside. It was several months later, when on a whim I read a story about a couple that dated in high school and was separated by various life events, only to be reunited by fate thirty years later. It made me think about second chances and the lost time that couple must have experienced. From there I melded the idea of a couple that was separated by time within the setting of a college campus and their college reunion.
I was actually hesitant to write this story because even though it was fictional, it somehow felt so personal. Maybe it’s the feeling that you get when certain characters have lived in your subconscious for so long that they start to feel real. Regardless, I wasn’t actually able to sit down and write anything until I was on a trans-continental flight from North Carolina to California. It’s amazing how much work can be accomplished when you can’t be distracted by the internet, phone, or Netflix. I didn’t have a solid outline, but I knew I wanted to accomplish two things with this story. The first was to explore the idea of second chances in friendships and love. The second was to explore loss. I know that I have explored loss in previous stories, but this was from a different perspective. Without giving too much of the story away, it was more than just physically losing someone, but it was also dealing with first loss. A loss that overwhelms, suffocates, and leaves a deep mark on the souls of those affected.
I wanted my main character to be smart and confident in most aspects of her life, but falter in others. She needed friends who were vastly different and would bring out things in her that she didn’t know about herself–in the end she would create a new family in ways she didn’t know was possible.
These are the thing I knew about The Ten Year Reunion when I sat down and starting writing it on that five hour flight. This story is different than my other novels: Safe & Sound, On the Edge and Big City Dreams. I would like to think it is a little more emotional: serious with moments of laughter and great insight. This is a story that I believed had an important message to tell, but I wasn’t sure how it would all come together, even at the end. The characters aren’t perfect, and the story they have to tell is far from perfect–but there is an underlying bond of friendship, love, and understanding that shines through the imperfections.