- Turquoise Morning Press
- Release Date
- June 2011
Tracy Sullivan seems to have it all, a handsome, devoted husband, three beautiful children, a steady career, and the perfect suburban home; but she isn't happy.
The petty resentments that have built over fifteen years of marriage surface when Tracy tells her husband, Sean, that she is no longer interested in sex, and their marriage threatens to implode.
For the sake of their children, Tracy and Sean agree to lead separate lives under the same roof. With the help of a healthy dose of adult-rated fiction and some gentle prodding from a good friend, Tracy begins to rediscover who she is, what she wants, and the reasons she fell for Sean once upon a time.
After two years of soul-searching, Tracy is finally ready to embrace her happily ever after having learned that while happiness may be fleeting, contentment can last a lifetime.
BOOK INTERVIEW on September 2011
Interview by Laura
Margaret, congratulations on your new release!
Thank you so much for having me here. I really appreciate the opportunity!
Q: We're so glad you can make it, because we'd love to talk about this unique concept. A series that look at After Happily Ever! What inspired this particular series of books?
After Happily Ever is a new line created by Turquoise Morning Press to feature stories that take place after a couple rides off into the sunset. In other words, they are not your typical romance novels. I was very excited that CONTENTMENT was chosen to be the debut title for the AHE line because I believe there are still love stories to be told after we say ‘I do'.
Q: That's so true! In CONTENTMENT, Tracy Sullivan has it all—devoted husband, beautiful children, a career and a home. Yet, she's unhappy. Why? Do tell us more about her that we may sympathize with her situation.
I think many women (and men) reach a point when they have to decide whether to embrace their life as it is or try to shake it up. Tracy is at that point. A lot of women struggle with the same issues she wrestles in the book. Her life hasn't gone the way she planned. Her children are school-aged, and don't demand as much of her attention as they did when they were young. She has been treading water in her career. The heady rush of love has long since worn off, lust has been left in the dust, and she finds herself at odds with her marriage.
The way she sees it, her husband Sean is living the life he always wanted, but her hopes and dreams are the ones that have been sacrificed at the altar of home and family, time and time again. Tracy's issues with her marriage are not a reaction to one cataclysmic event but the gradual build-up of resentments.
CONTENTMENT is the story of a breakdown of a marriage, but more than that, it tells a tale of resilience. Throughout her life, Tracy has assessed and adjusted her own needs and ambitions. This is the story of a woman who is approaching forty and just learning to make proactive choices.
Q: What kind of person is Tracy before her dissatisfaction with her life?
When Tracy meets Sean, she's very young and optimistic, and extremely driven. She was only twenty-two, but she had goals, a plan for achieving those goals, and the energy to chase her dreams. Remember those days?
Q: Sure do! What about our hero? Sean gets the two thumbs up from me for standing by Tracy while she figured out what she wants. Do tell us more about him. What kind of person is he?
Ah, Sean. Our Sean is every woman's dream husband. On paper.
He is gorgeous, talented, and funny. A devoted family man, he is determined to be the polar opposite of his own absentee father. It's this determination that almost derails his marriage. Sean is the king of tunnel vision. He knows exactly what he wants and he'll do whatever it takes to make it happen.
He does come across as the more sympathetic character – at least at first. I think when one looks back at the evolution of their marriage and what brought them to Tracy's breaking point, his selfishness becomes a little more apparent. Does this make him a bad guy? Definitely not. I think most women would love to be married to a guy like Sean. Or they think they would. Living with him day in and day out for seventeen years might be a different story. You'd have to ask Tracy.
Q: I definitely will! As we can see in your book, sometimes love isn't exactly the problem. Despite their problems, what makes Tracy and Sean perfect for each other?
I think Tracy and Sean share an elemental understanding of each other that makes the foundation of their marriage strong enough to withstand the earthquake of dissatisfaction that rocks them. As we see in the early part of their relationship, they support one another's ambitions, they encourage each other to aim higher, and they believe in each other wholeheartedly. That also gets lost in the shuffle of family life. I think a big part of Tracy and Sean's growth is re-learning to be strong individually in order to be solid in their marriage.
Q: What is your favorite scene? Why?
There's a part near the end when Tracy talks about her perceptions of her own mother and the fear that fueled her youthful ambitions that always makes my heart ache for her. There is one quote in particular that speaks to her overwhelming feeling of futility.
"Nothing I do lasts, Sean. The papers I spend hours collecting get filed away, and eventually they'll be shredded or burned. The laundry stays clean for about forty-eight hours, and then the socks are right piled up in the basket. I run and run, like I'm on one of those damn hamster wheels, but nothing is ever accomplished. I've got nothing to show for it. Tomorrow I'll run the same carpool run I do every morning, I'll shuffle the right papers into the right files, and then I'll be inching my way along the pick-up lane again."
The stark honesty of her confessions and Sean's stunned reaction to her revelations always get to me because it's indicative of how seldom married couples actually speak their hearts.
Q: Was it difficult to write Tracy's character, to convey the dissatisfaction she was feeling yet still make her sympathetic? Why or why not?
Is it difficult to make a character who attempts to blow up a perfectly good marriage likeable? Yes. But in too many ways, Tracy was way too easy to write.
I think people struggle with the marital ennui that stems from the issues threatening Tracy and Sean's marriage. Some people can weather it; others can't. Tracy just happened to be the one who let us see it – warts and all.
That doesn't mean that I loved everything she did and agreed with everything she said. Even though I understood exactly what she was thinking and feeling, I still wanted to shake her until she snapped out of it. That's okay, though. I also wanted to slap Sean and tell him to wake up, so it came out fairly even. I think Sean comes off a little better than Tracy, but that's what makes this story different. Most stories only have one villain, but every marriage has two.
Q: What is the message you hope to impart in CONTENTMENT?
The theme most readers relate to is the difference between happiness and contentment. As Tracy discovers, happiness can be fleeting but contentment can last a lifetime. A person must choose to be happy before they can find contentment in the direction their life has taken. It's not necessarily the pursuit of our plans, hopes, and dreams that matters. It's how we move forward when those plans, hopes, and dreams fall through the cracks that makes us successful.
Q: What a powerful message! What's up for you in the coming months?
So much happening! I have another short story that was chosen to be a part of the Turquoise Morning Press MEN IN UNIFORM anthology expected for Veteran's Day release. It's a sweet romance set in the WWII era.
My first release from The Wild Rose Press, SPRING CHICKENS, is currently in the editorial process. It's another sweet romance in which a wealthy suburban divorcee from Chicago grabs a second chance at love with a handsome widowed farmer from Arkansas.
I'm also working on two more novels for Turquoise Morning Press. COMMITMENT will feature Sean's handsome hunk of a brother, Tom Sullivan. Both COMMITMENT and INAMORATA, the sequel to my first novel, Paramour, are expected in 2012.
Thank you again for your time and thanks for reading!
Thank you, Margaret. We love having you here, and learning more about CONTENTMENT and the characters that make your boo!
Bio: A graduate of Illinois State University, Margaret Ethridge migrated to Chicago where she attempted to make a living as a professional spinster. She met a Southern man with a sexy drawl and big chocolate brown eyes, and her career plan went down the tubes. Now, Margaret lives in Arkansas with that sweet-talking Southern gentleman, their two children, three spoiled dogs, ten hungry goldfish, and one impertinent house rabbit.
Short Story Anthologies
The Feeling is Pari-Mutuel & other short singles
Margaret Ethridge is giving away 2 digital copies of CONTENTMENT!
Simply write a comment or ask a question in the comment box below to be entered into the giveaway!
Contest ends September 30.
Winners will be announced in October.