Finding Inspiration in Struggle by Rebecca Rogers Maher

Before I became a writer, I was a teacher. As a teacher, I probably should have adored the straight-A, well-behaved, athletic students, but you know what? I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for them, and gave them what they needed academically and socially, but really, my heart was with the struggling kids.

Rebecca Rogers Maher Author PhotoThe struggling kids were the ones whose grades were in the tank. They solved their problems with fistfights and jokes. They were twelve years old and couldn’t read, or didn’t have any friends, or had no support at home. You would think that kids in this position would give up, but time and again, I saw them fight like hell to thrive. Often, their attempts to un-sink the ship were ridiculously ineffectual or self-sabotaging, but at least they were trying.

They were the ones I gave my phone number to. They were the ones I tutored over the summer. They were the ones I thought about all day and night, until I figured out how to help them.

I related to these kids. They showed on the outside what I always felt on the inside, as I hid behind my good grades and perfect behavior.

They were fighters. They weren’t perfect, cookie-cutter, cotton-candy people. Their problems were real and serious, and they were searching for solutions to those problems – searching for happiness and safety and success.

Those kids inspired me.

Hurricane Lily 600 wide 300dpiOne reason I’m drawn to the romance genre is that in our books, struggling people are allowed to have happy endings. Non-romance readers often judge this as unrealistic, but let me tell you, happy endings do happen. I saw it all the time as a teacher. After years of searching, a student would find the key that unlocked the door and suddenly, he could read. She could express herself through writing. He could explain how he was feeling and get help.

I see it all the time in my personal life, because naturally I’m drawn to struggling people there, too – people who, like me, are a little messed-up in the head, who’ve had some obstacles to overcome. In real life, addicts do go to meetings and get sober. Trauma survivors seek help and recover. Broken-hearted people find love.

These are the stories I like to tell in my novels. Stories of struggle and recovery. They inspire me because they light the way for all of us who struggle. We can be hurt and we can get better. We can be angry and wrong-headed and then we can learn to see clearly. We can be imperfect and still deserve love.

My latest book, Hurricane Lily, is about two flawed people who start out hating each other but soon realize they share a common struggle. In fact, let’s face it, they’re kind of both jerks. But I’ve always been attracted to people like that. I find them funny and interesting, and when they do figure out their problems and find a way to solve them – that inspires me.

Lily Sawyer flees her controlling, wealthy family in New York City for a solitary existence on Cape Cod. Three months later, a mounting anxiety binds her to the house she can no longer leave.

With hurricane season approaching, Lily hires Cliff Buckley—an angry carpenter with an immediate disgust for his elitist employer—to storm-proof her house.

Cliff soon discovers they have more in common than he thinks, as well as a raging spark between them could either destroy—or save—everything they care about. The question is, can either of them survive Hurricane Lily?

Do you find yourself drawn to struggling people or characters? What makes them compelling to you?

Rebecca is giving away a digital copy of Hurricane Lily. Enter below her bio.

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About the Author

Rebecca Rogers Maher writes contemporary romance novels about real women. She’s a Vassar graduate, a former community organizer and Brooklyn public school teacher, and a mother to two insanely sweet boys. Rebecca likes bold stories with strong, flawed heroines. She believes messed-up ladies deserve happy endings too, as well as lots of hot sex with genuinely kind men. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her hot, kind husband and their children.

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Finding Inspiration in Struggle by Rebecca Rogers Maher — 16 Comments

  1. Loved your post, Rebecca. I’m really drawn to damaged characters who are struggling to find their happy ever after. My main characters are often dealing with dark pasts and painful secrets. And I love reading about–or watching–this type of character.

    I enjoyed your book, Fault Lines, because of its broken characters and their struggles with very real, very painful issues. So I look forward to reading Hurricane Lily.

    • Thank you, Reese! I think what works about characters with dark pasts and painful secrets is that most of us have these, really. It’s moving to see this in fiction, and to see how the characters climb their way out and get better. Thank you for your kind thoughts about my books! Can’t wait to read Making the First Move.

    • Samantha, I remember once telling a student who kept getting picked last in gym, “Don’t worry. You might be a nerd now. But someday you will own these people!” Ha ha. For me, the more realistic a character is, the more likely I am to suspend my disbelief and sink into the story — even if “realistic” means “jerk,” and even if the jerk is the heroine. Those stories are just more interesting in my opinion. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Rebecca, I completely agree. I find the most interesting people to read about are those who are flawed in some way, because we all are, and we can more closely identify with characters who are also imperfect. They’re also a lot more interesting than perfect people :-)

    • Kate, that is so true. I also appreciate people and characters who wear their flaws externally. Women in particular are so pressured to swallow everything and maintain an appearance of perfection and benevolence on the outside. That is so destructive to our hearts and minds, and it’s a largely silent, invisible destruction. What I hope to explore in my books is the idea that it’s okay to let these flaws show — that they do make us more interesting and that we can and should be accepted and loved, imperfect as we are. Thanks for coming by to share your thoughts!

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