When I was younger, I thought love was one big scam. As much as I liked reading about people falling in love, I thought love was just a mind game and, as much as I wanted someone to fall in love with me or vice versa, I was also wary of it. Maybe it was because I was a little scared of how crazy some people became when they said they were in love. All those emotional highs and lows, the earth-scorching devastation when love ended or was snatched away.
That part of it…that scared me.
And, since I was watching my parents’ marriage crumble (even though they kept up the facade of being happy when friends and family were around), I started to believe that love was bullshit, nothing I really wanted.
Then I met the One
I was twenty-three, he’d just turned twenty-four. Everything between us was intense. Then he had to go back to Sweden. While he was doing research for his PhD, he was at CERN in Switzerland, looking for signs of the Higgs boson. He went hiking in the Alps and found edelweiss. He pressed it in a letter he sent, along with lots of Swiss chocolate bars. He didn’t know then how much I loved The Sound of Music…or that he reminded me of a young Christopher Plummer. He also didn’t know what edelweiss signified (devotion). But he thought it was beautiful and he wanted to share it with me.
And he’s still the One.
I write a lot about people searching for their One. People often ask me which of the love stories I’ve written is my favorite. My answer is never the same. It depends on my mood or what’s going on in my life at the time.
It started with an overheard conversation…
The love story I always end up coming back to is that of Laney and Mads. The idea for their story came to me while I was in Copenhagen one summer. I was sitting in the inner courtyard of the Hotel Kong Arthur when a couple sitting near me were talking about their own relationship. They were in a complicated relationship – she was involved with someone else; he was single and just wanted to be with her. They were speaking a mix of Swedish, Danish and English.
Add to this that some friends were telling me about their adventures (and misadventures) in trying to conceive. Some seemed to get pregnant at the drop of a hat; others were struggling and trying everything from accupuncture to IVF to considering using surrogates or sperm donors.
Around the same time, my One and I had given up on trying to conceive. We’d been through miscarriages and didn’t want to go through it again. But I was interested in writing about a woman who was willing to do whatever it took to have a baby…even if her partner wasn’t really as invested in it as she was.
First came Laney…
That’s how Laney came into being. From the very beginning, I pictured Kerry Washington as Laney. Before she played ‘Olivia Pope’ in the mega- series Scandal, she was captivating as ‘Kay Amin’ in The Last King of Scotland and ‘Fatima Goodrich’ in She Hate Me. Whenever I happened upion her in a series or movie, she always stood out and her ability to convey both vulnerability and über-confidence while also holding back a little of herself felt like Laney in a nutshell.
And then along came Mads
Everyone who’s ever read the Maybe… series has their preferences of who should be Mads. For me, it was always Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Even before I’d seen him in Game of Thrones – back when he played ‘Martin’ in the original version of Nightwatch and ‘John Amsterdam’ in the short-lived series New Amsterdam – I’d already started thinking he would make a great character in something I wrote.
When we least expect it
Like so many love stories I’ve read or been told, Laney and Mads meet when neither is looking for love. And where do they meet? At a mingle in Copenhagen hosted by the alternative sperm bank that Laney’s thinking about using to get pregnant. Her partner, Niklas, already has two teenaged kids with his ex-wife; he’s also had a vasectomy that he’s not interested in reversing. Niklas thinks Laney should be happy with the life they have. But she wants more.
Then she meets Mads. And everything changes.
It’s like that with love. No two love stories are the same. Sometimes people get hurt along the way. There’s an old saying that all’s fair in love and war. I’m not sure if I agree with it but I do think that you can’t ignore love when it’s in front of you. And that’s…perhaps… how it was for Laney and Mads. They both felt lost. And somehow, in this topsy-turvy world we live in, they found each other.
I wouldn’t call Laney and Mads’s love story a romance.
It’s a love story and it’s complicated.