Molly D. Campbell: What If?
Every novel has a premise. They start with just a whim or an idea in the author’s head. What if this happened?
My novel Keep the Ends Loose started this way. I was in my car, listening to a podcast about life-altering events. Each story started with something somebody did that turned their world upside down. One decision. One thought. One move.
As I drove along, I wondered how somebody’s decision to change one little thing might affect the rest of their life. What would happen to a family if one member decided to do something, not even realizing the ramifications? I thought about the advice that many give to folks tempted to have affairs: don’t think you can get away with this. People will get hurt.
But what if something like that happened and nobody got hurt? What about that? I pictured the “average American family,” with a happy, suburban life, 2.5 children, all the trappings. What would happen if one tiny loose end got tied up? What would the implications be for everybody?
It couldn’t just be an affair. Too typical. I had read at least a hundred novels about disastrous affairs. No. It had to be something like an affair, but not. Some tiny, dumb decision that a person made that at the moment didn’t seem all that terrible. But the fallout from that one day, that one act, haunted the person so much that she had to tie up the loose end that plagued her.
Keep the Ends Loose is the result. One family. One act. And one teenager who is left to sort out the chaos in her family. One funny, wry, and way-too-mature for her age fifteen-year-old, Mandy Heath, and her equally quirky sidekick, Barley Crowder.
The result was a fun, crazy story that starts in a small town in Ohio, takes us to Michigan and back, into the emergency room and beyond, all in one eventful and crazy summer. I loved writing it.
Molly D. Campbell is the author of two novels, Keep the Ends Loose and Crossing the Street, both published by The Story Plant.