Do you believe in love at first sight? I do, because it happened to me. Some time ago.
It was my twenty-fifth birthday and I was at church and I hadn’t had anything to eat. Someone sat down alongside of me. The church was absolutely still because the minister was saying a prayer and, of course, my stomach started to growl. That was when the person next to me asked if he could take me to lunch after church. I looked into his eyes, and there you go. We’ve been married for 37 years. (We had better luck than Romeo and Juliet, pictured above.)
In my new mystery novel, Maggie Dove and the Lost Brides, two of my characters fall in love just like that, though I didn’t intend at all for that to happen. Originally I just thought they would meet and talk. The young woman is Maggie Dove’s niece. She’s from Indiana, a Latin scholar, recently jilted. Vulnerable. He’s a young man from Maggie’s small town. The Eeyore of the community. (When you live in a small town, for better or worse, you get a reputation and it’s hard to shake that.) He’s also suspected of being a murderer.
The scene was coming along fine, but it felt a little flat. I wanted to do something that would unsettle everybody and I thought: What if they fell in love? Just like that. Based on my own experience, I knew it was possible. Would it work? I think so. (I hope so.) It gave the whole novel, and me, a jolt. Love it when that happens.
Susan Breen is the author of the Maggie Dove mystery series. Her stories have been published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. She teaches novel-writing at Gotham Writers and is on the staff of the New York Pitch Conference. www.susanjbreen.com