Erin Reilly wants to live life on her own terms far away from her psychotic ex-husband, Daniel. However, when she moves half-way across the country, pulls her life together, and falls in love with corporate lawyer Colin Marshall, Daniel follows her. Erin wants the American dream. Colin wants to give it to her. But can they escape the nightmare that threatens their very lives?
Author Marlie Bridges is a long-time friend and I’m exceptionally pleased to be able to introduce Rural Mom readers to this talented, enchanting voice in modern romance.
RURAL MOM (RM): “You Belong To Me” addresses issues pertinent to so many women – uncertainty, insecurity, empowerment – and certainly tests the boundaries of love. What compelled you to write Erin’s story?
MARLIE BRIDGES: Since this was my first book, written over a long period of time with other stories started in between, these were the first characters that really jumped into my head and said, “Tell my story.”
And then they evolved. Erin, the main character, is a woman who wants to be strong and in charge of her own life. But she’s vulnerable, as we all can be sometimes. I wanted to show that we can take control of our own lives, and still be part of the male/female yin and yang relationship.
RM: I know readers of “You Belong to Me” will be surprised by the plot twists and drawn-in by some of the poignant, touching scenes. Were there moments that surprised you while you were crafting the novel?
BRIDGES: What surprised me the most is how much I value the family and domestic arts as part of a story. I wanted to put in even more, but the story was long enough as it was.
Erin, the main character, has many of my own characteristics in that way. She loves to make a home welcoming, she cooks, she likes to decorate and do crafts. In the book, I was able to weave in a scene about her love of quilting, how she had learned it from her grandmother, and how important it was to her. And although I have a business and I write, I am ever the domestic goddess. My neighbors actually nicknamed me “Martha” after you-know-who because of my gardening.
Secondly, I learned that I could write a scene that actually made me cry. Several times in the book I had to stop writing and get tissue. I was so involved with these characters that I sometimes ached for them. In talking with other authors, I realized I am not alone, and that these characters become a part of our lives for a time. They seem real while we are writing the story.
RM: Readers may not know this, but we’re going to spill a fun fact: you are based near New York City, but the story takes place in another major metro area. Tell us, how did you select the location and was it more difficult to write about a different city?
BRIDGES: So, here it is, my secret confession…I have only been to Chicago (the setting for the book) twice. Once on business and once on a family trip. But there is something about that city that intrigued me. It isn’t New York, but it still has a great cosmopolitan feel. It has fabulous history, interesting places to go, and the art scene is exciting and well-established.
I did most of my research on the internet, and some by buying or borrowing books about Chicago. I studied maps and Google street view to find the kind of shopping and gallery area where I place Erin’s gallery. I even looked at the more expensive neighborhoods to find a location (and a picture of a house) for Colin’s home.
RM: Now that “You Belong To Me” is quickly becoming a beloved book by fans, what can we expect next from Marlie Bridges?
BRIDGES: I have two projects I’m working on – because I need to go back and forth to get fresh ideas. The first project is the story of Elizabeth, Colin’s sister in “You Belong To Me.” She’s an interesting and quirky character and she challenges me to tell her story in a way that stays true to who she is.
The second project I’m working on is a novella that will introduce a lakeside town in the Adirondacks where I have 3 books planned. It is a series that will tell the stories of some of the people in town – romances, of course!
RM: If you could leave the readers of Rural Mom with one thought about life, love, or anything in-between, what would you say?
BRIDGES: Women rock!
We can be both strong and vulnerable, independent and part of a loving relationship, moms and confidants, we can run a business and run a sewing machine. Maybe not all at once, but over our lifetimes, we can do anything we really want to do.
Marlie Bridges welcomes interaction with and feedback from readers… and she’s very interested in what you would like to read next.
Visit Marlie’s website http://marliebridges.com, and connect via Facebook: http://facebook.com/MarlieBridgesAuthor, Twitter: @marliebridges or her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Marlie-Bridges/e/B009SM6U4G