Book Covers

I found this TED talk both entertaining and enlightening. I chose the picture on the cover of Overlook because I felt it was evocative of the setting (a lakeside community) while hinting that everything was not well in the scene. It hints that there is more under the placid lake surface than meets the eye.

When you look a book’s cover, what are you looking for? What draws you in? The picture or drawing? The title?

1985

Music is evocative. There are certain songs that take me back to a particular moment every time I hear them. For instance, Marc Anthony’s I Need To Know transports me back to a Bruegger’s Bagels with my then three year old daughter dancing around the shop and singing at the top of her lungs. Songs can also evoke a person. I always think of my father when I hear The Godfather Theme and my husband when I hear anything by The The.

In Overlook, the character of Seth uses ringtones to distinguish between the women in his life. The songs he chose signify how he feels about each of them. Journey’s Open Arms plays when his wife calls because he does love Kitty in his own sad, twisted way. His mistress, on the other hand, has Bowling for Soup’s 1985 as her ringtone.  She is a woman clawing at the remains of her youth with the tips of her fake nails. Seth doesn’t care for her at all. She’s a convenient joke of a woman.

Do you use special ringtones for different people? Are there songs that remind you of a specific person or moment?

Lessons Learned From Writing A Book About A Terrible Marriage

I have known my husband for almost thirty years. A lot has happened in that time. We’ve moved five times, had two daughters, changed jobs about a dozen times, opened and closed a small business, and weathered cancer treatments. It wasn’t until I sat down to write Overlook, in which we witness a marriage in crisis, that I thought about what makes a marriage successful. Writing about Kitty and Seth Haskell’s dysfunctional marriage shed light on what was and was not working in my own marriage.

Here are a few of the lessons I’ve gleaned from the last two years of writing Overlook:

  • My husband is a pretty great guy. Writing about Seth Haskell’s jerky behavior made me appreciate what a decent individual my darling husband is.
  • Communication is key. Kitty and Seth don’t talk to each other about the important things in their marriage. If Kitty had an honest conversation with her husband about their intimate relationship, years of pain and dissatisfaction could have been avoided. When they finally have that conversation, too much damage had been done. My husband is not “a talker.” He avoids difficult conversations whenever possible. Writing about Kitty and Seth has encouraged me to corner him and tackle those tricky conversations.
  • A gilded caged is still a cage. Kitty has all the accoutrements of a perfect life, yet she is trapped. Her life is not her own. She is controlled by her husband, and to a certain extent, her mother. Writing Overlook reminded me that if you want to live authentically, you have to live your life on your own terms. No one else should be able to tell you how to live. My husband has toyed with the idea of leaving our secure suburban life behind and going on some big adventure after our girls are on their own. I think I should encourage him to pursue that dream.
  • Nothing is perfect.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. You live with someone long enough, you will find them annoying. Get over it. My husband has this annoying habit of leaving his belt everywhere – on the back of chairs, on the stairs, in the middle of the floor. It annoys me (especially since I slipped on one of his belts in 1992 and fell down a flight of stairs) but it is not the end of the world. He also gets coffee grounds all over the kitchen counter every single morning. It bugs me. On the other hand, my seeming inability to put my shoes away annoys him to no end.
  • Compromise requires two people. If one spouse is constantly giving in to the other, that’s not compromise. It’s submission. Kitty told herself that she and Seth compromised on the tricky parts of their marriage. Not true. He what ever he wanted and she also did whatever he wanted. Two people who share a life need to compromise.
  • A mother will risk everything for her children. I don’t want to give away the ending of Overlook but suffice to say, Kitty does have a breaking point.

Lying Is A Cooperative Act

Pamela Meyer makes many fabulous points in this TED Talk. I want to focus on just one – Lying is a cooperative act.

Over my last two posts, I’ve discussed how to tell if a spouse is cheating. Today I’d like to talk about how infidelity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. A liar lies to someone who either believes the lie or doesn’t.  In Overlook, Kitty Haskell chooses to ignore her husband’s infidelity. She saw the signs, but it was inconvenient to acknowledge them. It didn’t serve her purposes to be the wronged wife. She liked her life as a loving wife and mother. She would have gone on ignoring her husband’s behavior – until she couldn’t anymore.

Subtle Signs Your Spouse Is Cheating

Yesterday we discussed the obvious signs that a spouse is cheating. A person has to actively choose to ignore those signs, for whatever reason. Sometimes though, a spouse can be more subtle in their cheating. In Overlook, Kitty missed all these clues that her husband was cheating on her.

Less Obvious Signs That Your Spouse Is Cheating

  1. They shower you with gifts. Guilt motivates people to give lavish gifts. What does that diamond bracelet really mean?
  2. No one talks to you at his company Christmas party. If his or her coworkers avoid you, they know about the affair and don’t know what to say to you. If they won’t make eye contact at all, the other woman or man is probably in the room.
  3. They seem bored with their life – their job, the kids, things they used to find interesting.
  4. They start seeking out danger or thrills.
  5. They get a new cellphone that you do not have the password for.
  6. They change the passwords on their computer.
  7. Your sex life changes – more activity, less activity, different activity.
  8. They become a clam or a Chatty Cathy – Your spouse talks in three words sentences or they start asking you a million questions, only about you.
  9. Every other word out of their mouth is a criticism. If your previously pleasant spouse starts criticizing your appearance, your ability to do your work, or personality, question why. Are they making you out to be less-than-acceptable to assuage their guilt?
  10. They seem uninterested in family traditions and get togethers.

Sources:

How to Spot Signs of Infidelity
Warning Signs of Cheating Spouses
Nip Infidelity in the Bud

Signs That Your Spouse Is Cheating

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy claims that 15% of wives and 25% of husbands cheat. Other studies report much higher percentages. The surveys also show that people usually know that their spouse is cheating, although they may choose to ignore it. When I was doing research for Overlook, I ran across some classic signs of infidelity. You’d have to work hard to ignore these.

The Classics:

  1. Your spouse suddenly looks fabulous. Has your hubby bought some new shirts and sent the old ratty ones with the missing buttons to Good Will? Has your wife started coloring her hair? Have they join a gym? It’s not for your benefit.
  2. Your spouse has new underwear that you didn’t buy for them. Have the plain white boxers been replaced by slim fitting silky togs? Those sexy new underthings aren’t for your benefit.
  3. There are strange charges on the your credit card.
  4. Their clothes smell like someone else’s perfume or cologne. You’d have to work hard to ignore this clue.
  5. They are often working late. Unless their job has changed, question new overtime or late meetings.
  6. You used to be the-other-woman. What makes you think he/she would change?
  7. You have an STD when you have not strayed.

Sources:

How to Spot Signs of Infidelity
Warning Signs of Cheating Spouses
Nip Infidelity in the Bud