The Tentative Knock
My contemporary debut novel is told from the point of view Jessie Romano Oakley, a fifty-something Gen-X beachcomber, who, having survived teenage motherhood, raising four kids, and the death of ’90s grunge , faces her biggest challenge yet: sudden widowhood and the etiquette of new romance.
“I wanted to tell a story of love that is messy, how we can aspire to a conventional life and try to do things in order, but ultimately, even as distinguished grown-ups, we have to make the best out of unexpected chaos.”Through Jessie’s eyes, we explore the story of loving again – the questions raised when two friends move on together, how grown children react to their parents moving forward, how soon is too soon, whether there is such a thing as too soon, what grief looks like, and what it really means to fall in love with a friend. Jessie’s story was inspired by a few real-life widows around me, who moved on at various post-loss intervals – and were a variety of ages themselves – but all faced the same kind of reactions when they remarried. And as a wife of a 13-years-older husband, their journeys made me think about what my own might look like someday, if somehow my Rod and I don’t pass away together, in our 9th and 10th decades, holding hands in our beach chairs. I graduated high school in 1995. We saw the rise and fall of Kurt Cobain and drowned our sorrows with Purple Passion while listening to Tori Amos and that song called “Creep.” Honestly, when you listen to grunge lyrics as a parent of teens, it gives you a whole different perspective. We were – and are – an angsty, overthinking generation. This shows in Jessie’s constant second-guessing of her choices and checking-in of others’ feelings. Meanwhile, as Generation-X settles in to early midlife, I thought it would be fun to explore how different that second (third?) act looks from those of our Baby Boomer parents. >My first experience with senior citizenship was with my grandparents, staunchly in the World War II generation. Unlike them, we won’t be retiring at age 62, and the world is opened wide to us with the internet. How does this change growing older? And really, how fun is is to explore what people who know all the words to Jagged Little Pill will be like as senior-ish citizens?! I have always believed that no one is meant to be alone (unless, of course, that is what they want, but I kind of refuse to accept anyone really does). The way Jessie aspires to be independent, loyal, and a follower of her own heart is a story that is so fun and meaningful to write, and I hope readers will experience those same feelings.