Title: THE LIFE OF YOUR MAKING
Genre: Adult Literary Fiction
Word Count: 75,000 words
Rena likes to keep things polite, and so refuses to tell her daughters, Gwen and Merrick, that they’re the product of a one-night stand. Delilah, on the other hand, treats her son, Harris, with the same flippant regard she gives everyone else, but hides from him her lifetime of extramarital affairs. When Gwen and Harris meet and get married, they carry these collective damages—and dysfunctional coping mechanisms—into their life together and on into the lives of their own daughters, Jade and Ingrid. But when the family’s seemingly placid existence shatters, each member is forced to begin grappling with the secrets and silences they were never taught how to confront.
These are the characters of my literary novel-in-stories, The Life of Your Making (75,000 words), which follows this family for three generations and seventy years. Each chapter, narrated by a different family member, can act as a stand-alone story, but when taken as a whole, the stories and lives flow into and overlap with one another. In this way, the tales get told from all angles, putting forth the idea that fault is not always easy to establish. The varying points of view also allow the book to delve into how much a person’s blood determines who she becomes, how even the smallest choices of one generation can alter the lives of those that follow—whether anyone can truly create a life of his making.
I have a BA in English and Art History, magna cum laude, from Boston University and an MFA in Writing from Pacific University, where I spent a year as an Associate Fiction Editor for the literary journal, Silk Road. Currently, I work as a freelance writer, editor, and book reviewer. In May 2009, my short story, “The Better Man,” received an honorable mention in Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers. My short story, “Like That,” which was taken from this novel-in-stories, was published in Folio Two of Present Tense Writers’ Journal in January 2012.
You moved. Not far, but fast, and distance was distance. You graduated high school, bought an old Mitsubishi, and taped your UCLA admissions letter to the dash—no tackier than glass fruit on a bookshelf, but still, your mother shook her head. As you packed up the car with two suitcases and a purse, she stood never less than three feet away, arms folded, carrying on and on about reason. It wasn’t the opinions that surprised you, but the fact that she expressed them. She, who had mastered the art of silent arguments, and who hadn’t a single objection, at least none she made out loud, to your sister’s leaving last year. But of course, you knew why that was: your sister had been chasing a dream, and you were just running away.
You shoved in the last bag and slammed down the trunk. “Just because you didn’t like L.A. doesn’t mean I won’t,” you said. “And you lived there twenty years ago, Mom. It could be different now.”
"Different ain't got nothing to do with it," she said, and you winced at the accent that still trailed her from Georgia. You walked to the driver's side door, pulled it open.
She followed you. "That town's poison, Gwendolyn, and the worst kind of all. Kind that's enticing at first, goes down smooth as caramel." And here, she stepped closer, spun you towards her, gripped your shoulders. "You'll never see it coming."