Skip to content

Story Behind a Story

I don’t think I ever actually told the story of how Songs for Libby came about. And seeing as how we’re coming up on the second anniversary of its release (the 15th), I figured I’d share.

If you haven’t read it yet, you should certainly do that before you read this, because—spoilers.

So, here you go:

I was watching Forever My Girl. The famous singer abandons the girl at the alter and after eight years of living the crazy celebrity life, he goes back to his hometown and has to deal with the consequences.

I’ll be honest, there were some plot holes in that movie that I could fit my whole arm through, but it sparked an idea. You see, when famous singer goes off to be famous, he doesn’t have any true friends in his corner. Whether that’s his choice or not isn’t the point. The point is that I thought, “What if someone had stuck around?”

What if?

And so I started writing a story where, no matter how much of a jerk famous guy was, the friend stuck around.

But you know what I discovered? That’s not healthy. I was writing their story, diving into Libby’s pain, and I realized that I was making her tear herself apart for him. And just to be very clear—tearing yourself apart for someone is not romantic. So I changed course. I had to make her strong enough that she would choose herself over him, otherwise they would have no chance at a real, reciprocal relationship. So she makes the hard choice and leaves him to take responsibility for his own choices. But that abandonment was tempered. I still wanted to explore the idea of what would happen if he had someone in his corner. So she didn’t leave him entirely alone. She asked someone else to be there, giving her the piece of mind that he would be taken care of while she took care of herself.

But there’s a second half to this book’s conception. Part two of this book has its own story.

There was a woman years ago who was telling me the story of her life. The relationship between her and one of her family members was extremely difficult, and for a long time she held a tremendous amount of resentment toward him for the way she’d been treated during her childhood. But after a difficult divorce, he came to help take care of her and her kids.

And she treated him like crap. She was an adult and she could stand up for herself, and though she needed the help, she wasn’t about to let him off the hook for everything he’d put her through. I still remember how she described it. She said, “I treated him like trash, and he just let me.” He didn’t object or retaliate and try to excuse himself. He just took it, because he felt like he deserved it. And that was the thing that ended up healing their relationship.

That story stuck with me, and it wasn’t until Libby that I found a way to incorporate it into one of my stories.

As for the song lyrics. I’m actually quite proud of that literary device. I didn’t want to do dual POV. This was Libby’s story and I needed her to own it and be the one that told it. But having those tiny glimpses into what Sean saw and felt was so fun to orchestrate.

So, there you have it. That’s the story of the sparks that lit the fire that made me burn down Libby’s life before building it back up again.

Published inSongs for LibbyWriting Process

One Comment

  1. Karen Karen

    It’s been a while since I read the book so it was fun to read how you came up with the ideas. It all turned out to be a great book!

Leave a Reply