June 2021 Featured Article
“Why is there an old man on the cover of your next romance, Melissa?”
My short answer is, “Because I want to.” The long answer is more complicated then some may think.
Nathaniel Thaddeus McReynolds, but if you have read the other books I have written for the Independence Islands Collection, you know him as Thaddeus or Thad. He is the islands’ version of Oscar the Grouch. He was only meant to be a tiny character but, as I wrote the first book, that a story for him began to develop. His scraggly beard and hair kept coming to mind, so I asked him, in my mind of course, why he was such a grump. The story that unfolded was on of heart break, betrayal, separation, and a tragic historical event.
Now, as a little disclaimer, I am going to do my best not to give any spoilers about the book, “Seasoned Grace”. I hate when a book is told to me before I can read it. That being said, there is part of his story that I think needs to be shared in more detail so that when you do read it, you have a better understanding.
Thaddeus was once a New York broker. He had everything—money, cars, the penthouse, a beautiful wife who was part of a well known family in New York society. But most importantly, he had a cute as a button daughter named Raylin (yup, she is in the book). She was a glimmer of hope in his life and he wanted nothing more than for her to be proud of him.
One September morning changed everything for his family and after some serious trauma, he found himself unable to be the father Raylin needed. So, he makes his way back to his childhood home of the Independence Islands without informing anyone in New York where he is. Now, some will read this and think “How could anyone do such a thing?” but let me ask this, “Do any of us really know what we would do in these situations?”
This man suffers with debilitating PTSD that keeps him living on the edges of society and these remote islands are perfect. Crowds mean more opportunities for bad things to happen and if he doesn’t let anyone into his life or if he is surly with them, he won’t have to worry about something happening to them.
So many things can trigger someone’s PTSD and the sufferer may go weeks without knowing there is a problem. One day, they seem fine as they live their normal life and then one little snap and everything changes. These moments can then lead to irrational behavior or making poor choices, like heading out to fish in a row boat before a hurricane hits (Hey, it’s fiction. Anything is possible, right?).
This is also one of many reasons why I enjoy reading and writing fiction. It allows one to explore the complexities of humanity without leaving their homes. You can learn about life with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, life with an over barring mother, or even what it is like to buried under concrete rubble. What ever it is, fiction give you a place to safely learn something you did know before.
One thing to keep in mind when you are reading along in any of my Independence Islands books and Thaddeus comes along and his attitudes make you shake your head—even Oscar the Grouch had a soft spot that made him melt and want to be a better muppet, just a little bit.