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Why you must read Adrianne Noel’s The Year After

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After her overbearing mother’s sudden death, young English professor Maddie finds her world turned upside down when she leaves New York City for her family’s home in the Colorado mountains. She plans to stay only a few weeks, but, then again, she never expects to find her father posting his profile on singles websites or her sister planning a wedding worthy of a bridal magazine.

When a childhood friend shows up to her boozy thirtieth birthday party and looks at her in a way he never did in high school, Maddie jumps at the chance for a love of her own. But when her new boyfriend turns into a rogue worthy of a Victorian novel, Maddie finds consolation in her friendship with the maverick sculptor Jackson. She determines not to fall for him, even though her eccentric aunts remind her that she’s the only one not getting married.

As Maddie adopts the unlikely role of maid-of-honor to both her sister and soon-to-be stepmother, she discovers that she still lives under her mother’s shadow. Only by confronting the past and her mother’s memory can she embrace love and the family she’s always wanted.

Nice setup. This is obviously a romance novel, right?
The book is a family drama with a good dose of romance, although it also contains some elements of chick-lit (i.e. the single girl in search for both love and career success). I love romance, but I find that my plots don’t quite fit into the formula of the genre.

Does that mean it appeals to a different demographic?
It will appeal to any woman who has a difficult mother, a dysfunctional family, experienced a painful loss, has fallen for the wrong guy, or who has had to choose between family and professional life. It also offers a quirky look at a grown woman’s conflicted feelings of relief and grief in the loss of a parent, her discovery of love in unexpected places, and her surprise in watching a surviving parent date again.

If you like Barbara O’Neal (How to Bake a Perfect Life), Kristin Hannah (Firefly Lane), or Karen White (Sea Change), you’ll love my book. If we are talking movies, the story is a cross between Catch and Release (Jennifer Garner as the Colorado girl-next-door) and The Family Stone (a quirky family dealing with a mother’s illness and death).

Tell us about the emotional journey Maddie goes on in this novel.
Madeline (Maddie) struggles with shock and jealousy as she watches her father and sister plan their own weddings. At the same time, she must come to terms with memories of her mother’s psychotic, soul-destroying behavior. In the end, she must choose between her career and the possibility of spending her life with the man she loves.

The novel is loosely based on my own experience of losing my mother to cancer. I wanted to capture the feeling of loss that coincides with the humor of a dysfunctional family trying to get on its feet again. It started out as a memoir, but I found myself adding fictional scenes—and my writing group discovered that they enjoyed reading the fictional parts better than the biographical ones. I ended up throwing out most of the biographical elements and fictionalizing the story.

So is there much of you left in the Maddie we meet on the pages?
Maddie is a lot like myself in that she is bookish and tends to over-think her choices and relationships. But over the course of the novel, she really pushes herself outside of her comfort zone. She takes more risks than I probably would; sometimes these are to her detriment, and sometimes they open up whole new possibilities.

Did you get your happily ever after? What is your life like now?
I live in beautiful Colorado with my husband, daughter, and several spoiled cats. I have worked in online education since 2001, and I currently teach English literature and composition full-time for an online university.

Have you written any other books?
The Year After is my first novel. I am currently working on the second and writing as fast as a can…

How much can you tell us about it?
My next novel is about two women of different centuries, linked by a mysterious piano, who defy the expectations of their families and communities to pursue a passion for music. The setting of the novel alternates between South Dakota and Bergen, Norway, as it captures the experience of Norwegian immigrants to the Dakota Territory and their descendants.

We should wrap up this interview so you can get on with it.
Do you have a website?
www.adriannenoel.com.

Social media?
I am on Facebook.

How easily do new storylines come to you? If we give you four random words – Man, Woman, Mexico, Future – can you give us a brief storyline?
I’m thinking of a post-apocalyptic romance. The United States is now a nuclear wasteland. One woman escapes from the lawless band of survivors who have made it to Mexico. Will she embrace love in the arms of the rancher who finds her wandering in the parched landscape? Or will she end up a captive of the political operatives who know her secrets?

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