It’s finally here! Maybe Baby is live for Kindle. I’d originally planned to wait until April, but I started to get impatient to share it with all of you. So now it’s here–Nook, Kobo, iPad, iPhone and paperback versions coming soon.
Imagine finding out you could never have a baby with the man you love…
Expat American Laney Halliwell finds out the hard way when Niklas tells her he had a vasectomy before they met and isn’t interested in reversing it. Why should he? They’ve got his kids from his first marriage and an enviable life in Stockholm.
What if you fell in love in the most unexpected way…?
But Laney wants more. So when a friend suggests she look into an alternative sperm bank in Copenhagen to find a potential father for her baby, things don’t go exactly as planned. Especially when Laney meets Mads and finds herself falling in love.
Our final character interview is with Niklas, the Swedish man Laney has lived with for the last five years. Niklas isn’t so keen on being interviewed, so let’s see what he’s willing to share with us. We’re sitting in his living room. He preferred not to sit in a public place and discuss his private life.
Me: So Niklas, let’s cut to the chase, was Laney right when she suspected you were involved with your ex-wife again?
Niklas: That’s a rather personal question, isn’t it?
Me: Of course it is, but these interviews are so people can get to know you. And soon people will see more of your private life in the novel.
Niklas: Fine, fine. Yes, I was…and still am…involved with Karolina, my ex. And before you paint me as some cold-hearted bastard, you have to understand that sometimes it felt like Karro and I were still bonded in a way that never quite manifested itself with Laney and me.
Me: How long have you been involved with her?
Niklas: It’s been a while. Laney probably thinks it’s been going on for years, but I can assure her—and you—it’s only been of a sexual nature for a little over a year.
Me: How did it start? And why did you stay with Laney if you wanted someone else?
Niklas: How does anything start, really? By chance. Always by chance. These things are never as calculated as people assume. Karro and I will always be bonded in some way— we have two children together, we were married for close to twelve years. That our marriage ended was something that always struck me as unexpected.
Me: Why is that?
Niklas: Well, you can’t possibly love as intensely as we did, as we still do, without making the assumption it will last until the end of days. That was what I’d assumed would be the case for Karro and myself. Neither of us was mentally prepared for how parenthood would affect us. How the arrival of children changes the dynamic of a relationship. In hindsight, I understand we were in flux, floundering as we tried to be the couple we were pre-children without adjusting to how one remains in love post-children. And for Karro the children came first, she loves them fiercely. And before you say anything, I am well aware that Laney doesn’t agree with this. But I think she’s looking at it from a very American perspective. Swedish parents want their children to have their own lives, to make their own decisions. And as Karro and I are both therapists, we understand the importance of giving children physical and emotional space.
Me: You still haven’t answered my question though. When did it start?
Niklas: Oh for the love of God, we were both drunk. We’d had too much to drink at a dinner party. Laney left early, I suppose she was bored. I know my nephew was hitting on her and she felt uncomfortable, so I told her to go home or go meet her cousin, Eddy. Karro and I had too many glasses of wine. I’m not going to recount every detail. Suffice to say, we ended up in bed together. And things kept bringing us back together.
Niklas: Well, it was obvious Laney was dissatisfied. Before we went to New York, we were barely speaking. She didn’t tell you that, did she?
Me: No, she didn’t. So why weren’t you speaking?
Niklas: She was getting restless. And Siri was driving her mad. I I supposed I should have intervened but I assumed she’d be able to speak to Siri without it turning into a childish argument. In hindsight, I see that I should have taken Laney’s side. In the end, she was right—my daughter was out of control. But I was distracted… well, I should have supported her. Perhaps we wouldn’t have ended up as we did.
Me: How long did you know about Mads and Laney?
Niklas: I read the text messages he sent her when she first came back from Copenhagen. I thought he was someone she worked with. I thought she was having a harmless flirtation. But then I didn’t think about it for a while. Yes, she was distant, sometimes she was a bit secretive, but this was typical Laney. She ran hot and cold. Even when we first met, I had a hard time reading her. The moment I thought I’d figured her out, she’d do something that threw me for a loop.
Me: But were you certain…?
Niklas: I pieced it together. When I met him, I saw how he looked at her. I saw how she was looking at him. And I knew. But I told myself it was nothing. It was a crush. I didn’t think it would become more than that.
Me: Why did you wait so long to tell Laney about your vasectomy?
Niklas: I thought she knew. I was certain I’d told her.
Me: You never discussed it in the five years you were together?
Niklas: It simply never came up as a topic of conversation between us. I was certain she didn’t want children. She never seemed interested in them.
Me: But if you hadn’t had a vasectomy, would you have started a family with Laney?
Niklas: I honestly don’t know. Sometimes I think yes. Other times…no.
Me: Did you love Laney?
Niklas: I did. I still do. I don’t think she believes me. But I loved her, in my own way. And I know it’s not enough for her.
You met Laney. Now it’s time to meet Mads, the Dane who turned her life upside down. Imagine Laney and I are sitting in a pub not far from where he lives in the Nørrebro district in Copenhagen. It’s another cold day and he’s bundled up in fisherman’s sweater with what looks a thermal shirt underneath, a thick scarf, a pair of faded jeans and Blundstone boots. He doesn’t seem at all nervous. He’s more relaxed as he leans forward, waiting for the questions to commence…
Me: How exactly did you break your nose?
Mads: (laughs) Everyone is a little obsessed with that. Yeah…I got punched in the face. Repeatedly. By a skinhead. I was defending a Somalian girl called Leylo who was in my class. And yeah, I had a crush on her. I saw them bothering her and no one else would help her, so I stepped in. And those jerks punched me. She hit them with her backpack but there were too many of them. And I ended up with a broken nose and a black eye. But she did end up being my girlfriend for a couple of months. So I guess it was worth it.
Me: So Laney isn’t the first black woman you’ve dated?
Mads: No, but I was only sixteen, and she wasn’t really allowed to hang out with me. We mostly talked on the phone. Hung out at school since her parents didn’t really approve me. I don’t think that really counts. Neither of us really knew what we were doing. Right after I moved back to Copenhagen, I met Nina, an Afro-Cuban dancer friend of Trine’s. It was never anything serious—I wanted it to be, but she hated living in Denmark and moved to Brazil, so that ended things.
Me: Were you really single when you first met Laney?
Mads: Yeah, actually I was. I wasn’t seeing anyone, wasn’t in any relationship. I guess I felt like I couldn’t do it…not while I was donating. It felt…weird.
Me: You’ve been a sperm donor for over a year. Did you know what you were getting into when you first decided to do it?
Mads: No…definitely not. Ida told me about, sold me on the idea. She said it would help me financially, and it did. I never saw sperm donation as something I wanted to do forever. I just wanted enough money to pay for my workspace, and help my grandmother out. Ida never told me about how weird it would be. She never said I’d have women who’d look me up online and then call me after they’d met me at a mingle.
Me: And yet you met Laney at a mingle.
Mads: (smiling) It’s ironic, isn’t it? I spent so much time trying to be aloof when it came to the women I met at those parties. I mean, I was there working. I had to get them interested in the clinic and in…me—but only as a means to an end. I didn’t want them interested in me as a possible partner. That was never how it worked. And then I met Laney. I know a lot of people get put off by how it happened. But they have to understand how unhappy she was, how unhappy I was until I met her. And how being together made us both feel complete.
Me: But you knew she was living with Niklas and you still pursued her.
Mads: You know when you meet someone and it’s like you just lose sense of what’s right or what’s wrong? All you know is you want to be with them? It’s hard to explain, but I felt this…clarity. I understood that she and I were cut from the same cloth. And we were supposed to be together. Then I saw her with Niklas, and I saw how she was with him. He didn’t love her. Not really. As soon as I met him and ask him a lot of questions about them and how they met…he was so…cocky. It was just wrong. They were wrong together.
Me: And you couldn’t have waited for her to leave him?
Mads: I probably should have waited, but…I love her. I don’t regret how we met or how we got together.
Me: Long before you met Laney, you lived in Stockholm and you were married, but it didn’t last. What happened?
Mads: I met Karin—she’s my ex-wife—when we were both art students at Konstfack. We were just kids. I think I was twenty, maybe twenty-one when we met and I was looking for someone to hold onto. I think Laney and I—we’ve both lost parents, we’ve both been abandoned by our surviving parents—so we look for these people who make us feel safe. And I thought I would feel it with Karen but it never really happened. We had no business getting married, but we never really thought it through. I asked her one night when we’d had a fight. I just wanted the fight to end and I was afraid I was going to lose her so I just blurted it out. And she said yes…but the whole time leading up to the wedding, it just felt like we were both too afraid to admit it was a mistake. We stayed together for a couple of years…we just drifted, sometimes it felt like we weren’t even a couple. And then my grandfather died and my grandmother was ill. I didn’t want to stay in Stockholm, I wanted to be there to help my grandmother, so I asked Karen if she’d move to Copenhagen. And she said no.
Me: Do you think you’ll ever get married again?
Mads: I hope so. I feel like it’s in the cards. She just has to say yes.
As we creep closer and closer to Maybe Baby’s release, I thought it would be fun to share with you the character interviews I made while I was writing the novel. First one up: Laney. Imagine Laney and I are sitting in a wine bar somewhere in Copenhagen. It’s a frosty day and she’s in her favourite olive green cashmere sweater, skinny jeans and boots. Her hair is pulled into a messy bun. She looks stylish but casual. And though she seems relaxed, she’s fidgeting. I’m guessing she’s a bit nervous about opening up…
Me: This relationship with Mads–is it the first time you’ve cheated?
Laney: (nodding) I always said I would never be one of those people who cheats. If I was attracted to someone else, I’d wait or ignore my interest. I thought if I ignored it long enough my interest in the other person would disappear, and it usually did. But when I met Mads I couldn’t ignore how I felt. He…it sounds like a cliché but he made me feel like I’d come home. I didn’t have that with Niklas. I don’t think I ever did.
Me: You never talk about your parents. Sometimes you mention how bad their marriage was, but you haven’t even told Mads much about your life in the US. Did you ever tell Niklas about your life in the States?
Laney: In the beginning I did. I thought I could tell him everything and that it would just be between us. And then I found out he was discussing our relationship with his ex-wife. I couldn’t believe it. All that time I was telling him my deepest secrets and he was talking about with Karolina.
Me: How did you find out?
Laney: We were at a dinner party and Karolina started talking about how our parents and their bad decisions haunt us. And then she asked me if I felt the same. Then she started giving everyone who was there–people I barely knew–my whole story. I was mortified. But I knew I couldn’t react. If I did, she would see that as proof I wasn’t good enough for Niklas. I bottled it up inside me. I think I went out on the balcony and chain-smoked. When Niklas came out to join me, I held him off by smoking more. He hated it when I smoked. I don’t think he thought he’d done anything wrong. When I confronted him later, he said he told her everything. It had always been that way.
Me: Why did you say you’re not the girl men fall in love with?
Laney: I’m not. Or I wasn’t in the past. I’ve never been enough for the men I’ve dated. Mads is the first person who made me feel like I was the only person who could fulfill him. Even Niklas still needed his ex-wife.
Me: But what makes you feel that way?
Laney: If you’d grown up with my dad and being told all the time you weren’t good enough or that you weren’t worthy of his love and affection because you weren’t pretty enough or smart enough…I was never enough.
Me: What are you most afraid of?
Laney: Being alone. I have to keep reminding myself that not everyone leaves. I think every argument means a break-up is imminent. I don’t really know how to deal with them, arguments I mean. I try to talk through them–explain my feelings and all that, but I can’t always put words to how I feel. And then I get agitated. And I say hurtful things or I just walk out. Sometimes I almost bait the other person to say something awful just so I can feel justified in walking away. I have to stop myself. It’s hard. I hate that I do this. But I know I do it because it what’s I learned from watching my parents’ relationship fall apart. And then I think about how my dad just walked away from my mom and never went back. He started a new family, didn’t care one bit about us. Even when my mom got sick, he didn’t call or ask me how she was doing or how I was doing. I called him once to tell him she was back in the hospital and he said it was my problem so I needed to deal with it. So when my mom died, I didn’t have anyone. She didn’t have any relatives. My dad’s family kind of abandoned me. The only one’s who stayed in touch were Eddy’s mom and grandmother. Her grandmother and my grandmother were sisters. Eddy’s mom and grandmom took me back to New York with them. I lived with them until I started college. I love them. They’re my only family. But they’re not…my family.
Me: Is that why you got a bit obsessed with having a baby?
Laney: I wasn’t obsessed. I just felt like it was time. I thought I wanted a family with Niklas. He’s not perfect, but he…he could give me and the baby security. He loves his kids–even with how screwed up they can be, he loves them unconditionally. And I wanted to have a baby with him that would have that kind of love. Because I never had it, not really.
Me: Is that what you think you can get with Mads?
Laney: (nods) It’s different with Mads. He’s more relaxed. He takes things as they come. He doesn’t plan for a lifetime. He’s the opposite of Niklas. If you tell Mads something, he’ll never share it with anyone else. When he says he loves you, you feel it so deeply. I feel it so deeply. And I know if we have a child together, she’ll feel it too. She’ll never have to doubt that she is loved. She’ll know it all the time.
Thanks so much to everyone who participated in last’s week’s cover survey. The majority of you (52%) preferred Cover 1. A little over thirty percent preferred Cover 2 and the rest didn’t like either cover and wanted another hottie. I think I will go in the direction of Cover 1 but look for another image. 🙂
Now, my Facebook author page hit the 900 fan mark last night and to celebrate it I posted a teaser from Maybe Baby. I decided to share the teaser here as well! Hope you like it! 🙂
I’ll keep you posted on the actual release date for Maybe Baby. I initially planned a February release but it might take another month or two, depending on how busy things get at the office.
While I’ve been working on Maybe Baby, I’ve also been working on three novellas (though one may turn into a full-fledged novel) in the Maybe Baby “universe”. One of the novellas revolves around Mads, the Danish sperm donor, who turns Laney’s head. Think of it as a prequel: the story takes place just before Mads meets Laney and he’s dealing with some personal issues that have left him wondering what is the meaning of it all.
The novellas will be ebook-only releases. I haven’t decided yet if they’ll be Kindle exclusive. I’m leaning towards making them available for all ereaders, even though my Nook sales are miniscule. Anyway, what I wonder now is which cover do you prefer for the Mads story? These are the first two mock-ups. I’ll probably have a few more by Sunday.
For the last year, I’ve been hard at work at finishing Maybe Baby, which I’ve blathered on about on Facebook and on Kim Talks Books. Maybe Baby was my NaNoWriMo 2012 novel, and it was so much fun to write, even if it deals with infidelity, a subject that is not everyone’s cup of tea.
To keep me motivated while I was writing, I made an inspiration board on Pinterest and then I used Picmonkey to make a collage. I had these open as I was writing so I could stay focused. Those of you who’ve been following Maybe Baby‘s progress know that I envisioned Kerry Washington as Laney and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Mads. I initially had another Danish actor (Rudi Køhnke) in mind when I was creating Mads, but I realised very quickly that he didn’t really work for me. That’s when I thought about Coster-Waldau, and realized he was more appealing as the sexy furniture maker who steals Laney’s heart.
I knew I wanted to write a novel that was set outside the US. Since I live in Sweden, I figured I may as well write what I know in terms of setting. I ended up deciding to set the novel in both Stockholm and Copenhagen, to give a sense of how Laney’s life changes once she meets Mads.
Anyway, once I realised I’d revised as much as I could on my own, I began looking for help and it came in the form of Black Firefly. Jade and the team at Black Firefly helped me with beta reading, editing and proofreading. Then Arijana from Cover It Designs helped me with an amazing cover design that I love. So now Jade is formatting, while I work on an idea for another book.
My tentative plan now is to release Maybe Baby in late January-early February. I know that there will be people who will not approve of the storyline or will think Laney is a difficult character, but I love her just the same.
Before I forget, I want to thank the Black Firefly team and Arijana for all their help. You are all amazing and have been such a great support in this process. I also want to thank Sussi Lindebjerg Malek for her help with the Danish words and phrases. You are an angel, Sussi! And I would also like to thank my writing buddy, Kim Kane for listening to so many “what if” scenarios and character sketches, and letting me read aloud the naughty bits so I could make sure they sounded okay. 🙂 And of course I must thank my Matera Brainstormers who have been so encouraging and enthusiastic about Maybe Baby from the very beginning.
Before I sign off, I thought I’d share the cover with you… Hope you like it! let me know what you think. 🙂
In a few weeks, I’ll set up a Goodreads page for Maybe Baby. I’ll keep you posted on the exact publication date. In the meantime, I’ll continue plotting my next novel set in Hunters Grove, the fictional town in Vermont that is the setting for Snowbound. It’s another romantic tale, though the couple in focus won’t be Mia and Jake. This time, it will be Asha and Nick. And the story will start somewhere around Halloween and end on New Year’s Eve. So, yes, another holiday story. 🙂
That’s it for today! Tomorrow is another day at work and then the office Christmas party.
A few months ago, I began toying with the idea of having a site that was devoted solely to my writing rather than having a book review blog that sometimes gets hijacked by talking all my babbling about my writing.
From now on, if you want to find out what I’m reading, go here. If you want to find out what I’m writing, if I’m in Matera at a writer’s retreat or fiction festival, or when the next book is coming out, then this is the place to be.
So what’s going on now? Today I received a nice 5-star review for Snowbound. You can read it here.
This site is still very much a work-in-progress. I will be updating it with links to all of my books very soon. There will also be a page where you can read any short fiction I’m working on, etc.
Hope you enjoy swinging by here and checking out what I’m up to. And thanks so much for your support!