My Connection with The Eighth Wonder

As a psychologist, I have counseled men and women struggling with extramarital attractions and understand the emotional conflicts those endure who deeply value fidelity but still feel the pull of falling in love with another, even when one party or the other appears to be happily married. These experiences led me to write my first novel, The Eighth Wonder.

The writing of the book took place while I was recovering from retina detachment surgery. I was housebound for 4 to 5 months. During this time, I was able to use my computer in large print.  Like my main character, Nicole Benson, I had always wanted to write a novel. I finally had the time to do it. It started out semi-autobiographical about my own move to Bradford after getting my Ph.D., but then turned into a love story about two people struggling with grief and loss. While writing the novel, as mentioned, I was housebound. I needed a place for the characters to meet. I was not familiar with the region. I looked up landmarks – and that is when I discovered The Kinzua Bridge. I had not heard of it nor had I seen it before (or during) writing the novel. The title for the book came to me in a flash that day I wrote the entire story of the bridge and its description based upon web sites I found on it. The first place that I went to after being released from medical rest was to see the bridge in person.

The novel begins as on how I first moved to Bradford to be near my father who lived in Buffalo, New York, and he was dying from pancreatic cancer. Nicole’s personality and being a career-driven woman who does not have children is generally my story.

Like The Bridges of Madison County, the “bones” of a story portray the complexities of falling in love when one has been married for a long-period of time. It isn’t always easy to stay married and difficult choices must often be made to keep a marriage together. Sometimes, it means even leaving someone that you love in order to keep a family together. The novel also questions the role of commitment-phobic women who fear abandonment, a trend seen more visibly in women today. Like women portrayed in the Sex in the City series, how do they resolve their feelings of wanting to settle down and be taken care of by a man, yet place a protective emotional wall to keep men at a distance.

Instead of an Iowa farm wife (as in BRIDGES), this is a story about a strong, self-reliant woman. Instead of a rambling photographer, we meet Tom Ryan, a very stable and settled community-minded Bradford native who manages a large nursing home and is very content with his life.

While there may be some parallels to Bridges of Madison County, The Eighth Wonder takes on a fresh perspective. Tom discovers in his heart that he is in love with Nicole and the consequences of those feelings in relation to Rose. Nicole’s realization that she is in love with Tom is just as dramatic, due to her fears of abandonment and intimacy, plus, he is married. What is she doing? She can’t possibly be in love with someone who is not hers to have. They take on their own unique journey.

I enjoyed writing The Eighth Wonder. As my first novel, it is so amazing to have people tell me that they could not put the book down. Not just friends either, but strangers who have written to me after reading the novel. They told me how moved they were by the story. I am so touched to have written such a story. I cried writing it. I still tear up re-reading it.

I hope you enjoy reading The Eighth Wonder as I did writing it!  

Kimberly Young