Where I write isn’t a physical place–or it’s lots of places, my couch, my desk, sometimes my bed–but an emotional one. Specifically, I write where you find precisely the wrong person at precisely the wrong moment. I write characters who are stumbling through change, who desperately need something, anything, to go right. I’m not interested in well-adjusted people who have their lives together and meet the nice, with-it people and have perfect weddings right out of Modern Brides. Where I write, it’s messy, contingent, and negotiated.
In Special Interests, my contemporary romance that released last month, both Millie and Parker are facing the reality that their lives haven’t worked out how they thought they would. When she moved to Washington, DC, right after college, Millie wanted to revive organized labor. When that didn’t happen, she accepted a small role and tried to blend in. But even that goal, that little, unsatisfying goal, didn’t come true when a quick trip to a convenience store turned into a hostage situation and a very public profile.
Parker achieved his goals–at least on paper. He’s a senior aide to a prominent senator; he’s a big shot and dealmaker. But what he didn’t expect was how unsatisfying success might be. He never suspected that getting everything he wanted could feel so empty.
When Millie and Parker meet, they’re both having a bit of an existential crisis. And while it’s clear to us that they’re perfect together, it takes them a while to figure it out. It takes them a while to negotiate not just a budget deal but a future together.
The book isn’t autobiographical, but Millie and Parker’s emotions feel true to my experience of my late twenties and early thirties, of the emotional adjustments you make as you realize that no, you’ll never be an astronaut, but that’s okay because you’ve found another, better dream. But knowing that one dream didn’t come true means you kick the tires of the new one hard, fighting against it until it fits perfectly.
And that’s the place I write from and about.
Emma Barry is a novelist and full-time mama and graduate student. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves hugs from her toddler twins, her husband’s cooking, her cat’s whiskers, and Earl Grey tea. You can reach her on Twitter: @AuthorEmmaBarry or on the web at EmmaBarry.com.