Linda Holmes on Novel ‘Flying Solo’ + Writing Love Stories

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When you’ve spent nearly all of your adult life single, typically the very last thing you need to do is learn yet one more ebook with a conventional blissful ending—or write one, for that matter. However that doesn’t imply it will probably’t nonetheless be a romance novel.

Linda Holmes’ endearing new book Flying Solo, to be printed June 14, upends many standard beliefs about relationships. Laurie Sassalyn simply known as off her wedding ceremony and is about to show 40 when her nice aunt Dot dies, so she jumps on a aircraft again dwelling to coastal Maine to scrub out Dot’s property. Whereas there, Laurie discovers a mysterious picket duck decoy and—decided to honor the lifetime of a beloved, adventurous girl who by no means married and didn’t have any kids—embarks on a vigorous quest to determine its origins.

Alongside the way in which, Laurie reconnects with previous mates, together with her highschool boyfriend. And she or he begins to return to phrases with what happiness may appear like for her as somebody who doesn’t need to share a mattress or a closet or most likely even a home with one other individual. The novel is a refreshing—and validating—reminder that there’s no such factor as a one-size-fits-all relationship, and that wanting a life full of love doesn’t imply needing to fulfill different folks’s expectations for what that appears like.

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Holmes, an NPR correspondent who hosts the podcast Pop Tradition Blissful Hour, broke out as an writer along with her 2019 debut novel, Evvie Drake Begins Over, a couple of lately widowed girl who falls for knowledgeable baseball participant who’s scuffling with the yips. The novel, set in the identical Maine city as Flying Solo, was a New York Instances bestseller and Learn With Jenna ebook membership choice.

Holmes spoke to TIME about writing the ebook she’d prefer to learn, the distinctive pressures that accompany a second novel, and the way she obtained thinking about duck decoys.

The protagonist in Flying Solo, Laurie, isn’t certain she needs to share her area or ever get married. Why was she an vital character so that you can develop?

As an individual who has been principally single as an grownup, I actually felt like—particularly after I obtained to be in my late 30s—if I met a extremely superior individual proper now, I don’t know if I’d really need to dwell with them. As a result of I used to be very connected to how I lived. I’d assume to myself, I ponder if it’s lifelike to have dedication and assist and love, and but preserve a special place. There are fashions for that—queer folks are usually just a little extra accustomed to completely different relationships since you don’t develop up with that one enforced mannequin the way in which that some straight folks do.

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The problem for Laurie is that she got here from a really conventional household that labored the way in which most romance books would lead you to consider is the blissful ending. However on the similar time, she additionally knew girls who lived alone and maintained this sense of independence. She’s making an attempt to determine what sort of life she needs.

Laurie additionally has an attention-grabbing relationship along with her hometown: she’s keen on it, however she has no need to maneuver again.

It’s completely different from what you usually see in a hometown story—a part of the arc will likely be that you simply’re following a lady who’s determining that she doesn’t need what she thought she wished. Like, I went off and made this life for myself, however actually what I would like is to return to my hometown and dwell with my previous boyfriend. That’s a quite common trope, and I wished to have the ability to acknowledge you could love and embrace your previous, the group the place you grew up, and the individuals who cherished you if you have been younger, and nonetheless say, However I additionally love the life that I made for myself.

You briefly point out within the ebook that Laurie is a dimension 18, but it surely’s not a plot level. That feels intentional. Was it?

One of many issues that folks observed about my first ebook was I’m probably not large on bodily description of characters, and a part of the reason being that I prefer to consider the individual may look plenty of other ways. The individual may have quite a lot of completely different our bodies and quite a lot of completely different hair. It simply by no means felt vital to me.

So this can be a little bit extra bodily description of Laurie. I don’t actually have a selected motive, besides that I’m at all times making an attempt to write down the ebook that I haven’t learn. And I wished to acknowledge some locations through which it affected her life, but it surely’s not a giant story level. It’s not one thing she dwells on.

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The picket duck within the ebook is so enjoyable. Have you ever at all times been thinking about decoys?

Through the pandemic, I used to be watching quite a lot of Antiques Roadshow, and I obtained within the thought of beloved objects, and objects with nice tales. I began to throw round this concept of a particular object that’s left behind and found, after which any individual making an attempt to research the historical past of it. And I even have a pal who’s an antiques man and goes to flea markets and is aware of so much about collectibles. I described what sort of object I used to be on the lookout for to him, and I mentioned, “I don’t need jewellery, I don’t need artwork. I would like an actual purposeful factor that will even be lovely, and never one thing folks have learn 400 books about.” And he mentioned duck decoys.

Flying Solo relies in a coastal Maine city. Is {that a} particular space for you?

My household vacationed proper within the a part of Maine the place the ebook is ready within the summers after I was most likely about 10 to 14. After which after I was an grownup, and my sister had little children, my complete prolonged household went up there once more for a pair summers and stayed in the identical cabin we had rented after I was a child. We have been in a position to rediscover it—and that was 20 years in the past, however that was the go to the place I assumed, Hey, I’d love to write down one thing set right here sometime.

Your first ebook, the romance novel Evvie Drake Begins Over, was a summer time sensation when it was printed in 2019. Did that create further stress as you labored on the brand new novel?

Second books have a status for being actually laborious, and I believe that’s as a result of they are actually laborious. Once I was writing the primary ebook, there have been no stakes—I didn’t have any motive to assume I used to be essentially even going to complete it, not to mention publish it. It was a really sluggish, laid again, ‘simply see what occurs’ form of expertise.

The second ebook was completely completely different. There’s part of you that thinks the primary ebook did nicely, so I don’t need the second ebook to not do nicely. Even in determining what the second ebook could be, you undergo just a little little bit of, Do I would like it to be much like the primary ebook, as a result of I’ve had success doing that? Do I would like it to be completely different, as a result of I don’t need to pigeonhole myself? That was undoubtedly a tough factor.

Is it unusual to be a pop-culture critic placing your self on the market for criticism? How does the expertise of writing fiction differ out of your journalism?

Fiction may be very private. So in some methods, I really feel I do have extra private funding in a ebook than I do in anyone piece of criticism. However you understand, it’s the identical thought, which is it’s important to study what you may from no matter suggestions you get with out internalizing it an excessive amount of. Since you additionally nonetheless need to be doing what you assume is correct.

This interview has been condensed and edited for readability.

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