“Write what you know,” says the old adage. Well, I’m not an expert on very many things, so I can’t stick to this rule. That’s where research comes in. One thing I do know about from my own life is kids. I have three of them, all girls. I suppose it’s no coincidence that many of my novels feature little girls of various ages, when I’m surrounded by them in real life.
Raising kids is much harder than I imagined (would any of us take it on if we knew how exhausting it would be?). Sometimes I have to take a step back to appreciate how privileged I am to be their mom. There’s nothing like hearing someone tell me they love me “more than the whole universe,” or just watching them blossom as individuals while they discover the world around them.
Then there are the amusing little gems they come up with: one of my twins, at age four, told me quite earnestly that “Grown-ups can’t eat or they’ll grow bigger and bigger into a dragon and break the house.” The other twin tried a strawberry smoothie for the first time, grinned at the taste, and told me, “It’s making my heart go big.” I love those moments.
When I wrote my first romance, Divided Hearts, my oldest daughter was a toddler, and I used her as the model for baby Hannah in the story. For Kiss the Bridesmaid a few years later, I borrowed heavily from my twins for the character of four-year-old Lily. In a few years, maybe I won’t remember just what it’s like having little girls around. I’m looking forward to having more time for writing when they are older and more self-sufficient, but I have a feeling I’ll miss those bursts of unrestrained affection and joy that tend to get reined in as we age.
My oldest daughter is now ten. She’s still a little girl, but gradually moving toward becoming a teen (and already working on the attitude). She still likes it when I read books to her, but no longer wants tucking in at night and hardly ever runs to me for spontaneous hugs (I have to chase her down for a cuddle). She challenges me with more sophisticated questions and observations. I just hope I’m up to guiding her through the upcoming stage in life when so many girls suffer a plummet in self-esteem. All I can tell her is that I’ve been there and came out the other side.
The sweet romance I’m working on now features a single mom with an eleven-year-old daughter. Here I go again.
Susan R. Hughes writes contemporary and historical novels set mainly in Canada. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and three children. Visit her website at susanrhughes.weebly.com.
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