I can tell you that I wrote the entire story in a few months while recovering from retina surgery. I wrote every day for 12 hours. I didn’t sleep. I had so much on my mind and I was scared that I would not see out of my left eye. Writing was my therapy during my recovery.
I definitely remember the day that the characters told me where to do. I could see them interacting in my mind. I could hear them telling me the dialogue. I was a joyous moment. I am told by other writers about this same experience. I was so grateful to have it. The story flowed easily from there. The story stopped being about me but about them.
I did not plan to write about myself. Writing was also therapy for me during an emotional time after losing my father, as an only child, this was a significant loss. At 35, I was career driven like Nicole and I was commitment-phobic about marriage.
The hardest part about writing my novel was reliving my father’s death (it is obvious he will die at the beginning of the story so I am not giving anything away). My father had died only months before I began writing my novel. Loosely based on my life, Nicole Benson moves to a small town inPennsylvania to be near her father in nearby Buffalo. Dying of cancer, she sees this as a way of making amends for her workaholic existence in New York where she lived for 15 years building a career and completing her doctorate at NYU.
As I wrote, I shifted from thinking about Nicole’s character to Tom. What hardship he felt in losing a child and how this impacted his marriage to Rose. They had been so happy as a couple but as a psychologist, I have counseled couples who have lost a child. It is one of the hardest things to overcome.
I did not have an outline or any sense of the ending when I began the novel. I just wrote. The more I wrote, the story focused on Tom and Nicole’s relationship.
Interestingly, I wrote the entire novel without ever visiting the Kinzua Bridge. I often characterize The Eighth Wonder as a modern Bridges of Madison County, except with more depth to the characters.
Why I make that comparison is when I searched the Internet looking for a place where Tom and Nicole could meet I found The Kinzua Bridge, once dubbed The Eighth Wonder of the World as the longest and tallest railroad bridge when it was built in 1882. All at once, the entire story came to me. I saw the title, the way the couple could engage the bridge, the cabin where they would later meet. It was rather sweet reading about the history of the bridge, and it almost becomes a third character as the backdrop of the story.
Overall, the writing process was great. Since I was eight I wanted to be a writer. The greatest feeling in the world was when the ideas flowed and I just wrote my heart out. Those cherished moments when I could see the story unfolding and I almost couldn’t type fast enough to catch up with my thoughts. I had no outline or plan when I started The Eighth Wonder. It was exciting to see what was going to come next.