• Melissa Westemeier

a few words about Maw

It's strange to share a bed with someone while they read the book I wrote. I can't focus on my own book because my gaze keeps moving over to see what page he's on and I wonder what he's thinking. Does he like it? Is it good? Look at his face--is he smiling? Frowning with concentration? Confused?

Last night I heard him chuckle a few times and that was satisfying.

Later he told me his favorite part so far was when Maw practiced his dance moves in the bathroom. "I could just picture it--it was so funny."

Maw.

Reader, he almost didn't make it into the book. A year and a half ago when I was working on an early draft, I thought I had enough to focus on. This trilogy presented plenty of loose ends to tie up, a lot to nail down, the last thing my book needed was another plot line. If anything, my book needed to be streamlined. There are new families to introduce and mix into Bassville, Mona's got to find her place and her person, there's the fuss with the river rules ... But the book wouldn't come together. Something was missing. The humor kept falling flat and my story felt incomplete.

One of my writing partners helpfully pointed out that Maw was missing.

"Well, how can I possibly include him? His story's done--there's nothing left for him to do. I can't get him in the story!" I looked at the sheaf of papers on the table in front of me and shook my head with frustration.

"The other books toggled between Maw's story and Mona's." She lifted one shoulder and gave me a small smile. "You see."

I saw.

I thought.

I thought some more.

What would Maw do? How could he fit into the story? Obviously including him fixed the humor issues, added the missing voice in the book, but where would he fit in? I probed daily at this massive wall of writer's block and then, randomly, I ran across a reference to the Chicago Bears and their Super Bowl Shuffle.



I looked up the date--was the reference point appropriate for my time period? (Side note: my Google Search History could win top prize for random searches.) The Bears released the song in December 1985, so yes, it would fit the timeline. And just like that my ideas clicked into place and I realized exactly what Maw needed to do--and it worked perfectly alongside of everything else I'd already built into the book .I returned to the first chapter and began finding where I would insert Maw's story, Maw's voice, the goofy, zany, crazy and marvelous humor Maw Cooper brings to Bassville. Like I told D last night while we were discussing him, He's got a huge heart and get carried away so easily. He's such a blast to write, hands-down one of my favorite characters.

I'm so glad Maw's story continued.


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