LET'S WELCOME ELENA AITKEN AUTHOR OF: WHEN WE WERE US
Rad-Reader: Where did the idea for this book come from?
Elena: This entire series was conceived as a whole. Four friends…four-second chances of some kind. I tried to imagine my own groups of friends and the struggles we’ve gone through. I pulled a little bit of those experiences and the idea evolved from there.
Rad-Reader: What made you want to tell this story?
Elena: Marriage is hard and in a long-term relationship, couples face all kinds of incredible challenges. I really wanted to tell a love story where the couple falls in love with each other again.
Rad-Reader: Can you give us some backstory on Christy and Mark that the blurb/synopsis doesn’t tell us?
Elena: They were high school sweethearts who did everything ‘right’. They went to school and built up careers and stability before trying to start a family. They both grew up in the same town they were now living in and Christy’s dream was always to raise a family in Timber Creek as well. Their relationship was one built on love and friendship. When we meet them, they’ve already gone through a number of failed fertility treatments and they’ve both withdrawn from each other throughout the process in order to handle the disappointments and individual feelings of failure. They both blame themselves for their inability to conceive, and their marriage has been shaken.
Rad-Reader: Why did they wait so long to start a family?
Elena: Although there is never a ‘right’ time to have a child, it was important to them to have stability before starting a family. A house, a strong career, etc. When they started trying, it took years before seeking professional help and then years more of treatments. So, when we meet them in the book, they’ve already been trying for some time.
Rad-Reader: Why the pressure to be a birth child?
Elena: It had always been her dream. And Christy was not yet ready to give up on that particular dream at the start of the book.
Rad-Reader: Knowing he felt a disconnect with his wife already, Mark chose to enter the one race that he knew for a fact Christy hated because it took him away from home a lot. Why? Putting more distance and strain between them.
Elena: Mark wasn’t thinking about his wife at that point. Neither of them was thinking of each other at the beginning of the story, not in the way they should have. There was such a disconnect between them and they were both hurting individually and seeking something to make them feel better. For Mark, the race was something he could control. Something he could focus on that he knew he’d be able to achieve.
Rad-Reader: I don’t understand why Mark is so shocked when Christy asked him to leave their home? He thwarted her romantic attempt due to his guilt and he is doing training for a run she hates that he is never home to support her now that she needs him most, REALLY? What kind of doctor is he again? Captain Obvious.
Elena: Despite their problems, Mark never thought it would come to a separation. Mark was hurting, just as Christy was, but despite that hurt, he never stopped loving her. They handled their pain in different ways and like many people, Mark took for granted that they’d be okay as a couple, despite their hard times.
Rad-Reader: Does Jamie want her or just for the band? What’s their age difference?
Elena: When they first meet, Jamie is attracted to her, but soon after realizes she is married. By that time, their relationship has developed into one with music at the center and a deep friendship forms. They are both in their early thirties.
Rad-Reader: Tells you how much Mark sees their friends if he hasn’t heard she’s singing. So, how can he see his wife and meet her needs at least she tried to meet their needs?
Elena: To be fair to Mark, he has been holding down a medical practice and he has been focused on his personal issues. Most of their friends didn’t know about the singing either, until after the first performance.
Rad-Reader: He never talked it over with Christy that he wanted to do the Polar Run. He knew she hated it. So, why the attitude about her keeping it from him about the singing? She wanted something for herself. She really didn’t want her friends to know either but Ben…Oh that Ben ;)
Elena: Mark and Christy have been a team for most of their lives and finding out about her singing which had always been a passion and once had been a dream, through a third party was a blow to Mark as well as a wake-up call about how far the two of them had drifted apart. Mark was more hurt than angry. But had trouble conveying that to her.
Christy was unsure about sharing the secret with her friends because she was nervous and self-conscious and wanted one thing just for her. Again, something she could control when there was so much in her life she had no control over.
Rad-Reader: Christy told him she didn’t want to be apart and wanted to talk about it and he said No! Yet, he is still mad at her for not telling him about her singing? When before he left so early in the a.m. to run and came so late back from working all day and then his late-night runs? When was she supposed to have his heart to heart? Since lunch, she couldn’t catch him either.
Elena: I think in a marriage, there is always time to have the important discussions if both partners are fully invested. At this point in Christy and Mark’s marriage, they were both hurting and feeling disconnected and therefore not at all on the same page or able or willing (subconsciously) to find the time they needed. When Mark heard about her singing he was deeply hurt and perhaps for the first time realizing how disconnected they really were. He needed some time to process his feelings.
Rad-Reader: He neglected her needs when the first treatment failed when she needed him. Why is he so upset when she has learned from him to do things alone?
Elena: I think to be fair to both of them, Mark didn’t necessarily neglect her needs. In fact, he did the best he could with the information he had. Christy buried a lot of her feelings about what she was going through and didn’t open up to him the way she probably should have. There were a lot of assumptions and miscommunications between both of them.
Rad-Reader: What is going to become of the band if she and Mark get back together?
Elena: In the third book, When We Began, you’ll hear more about this. All I will say is…when something is important to one partner in a marriage, it should have a place of importance for the other partner, too. ;)
Rad-Reader: What happened in Alicia’s past that Mark saw that bit of something pass by in the shadows? Why could he see that in her but not in Christy? HMM! (I know I'm being a stir stick. Mark got me riled up.)
Elena: We will see more of Alicia. Possibly in a book all for her. ;) But Mark really isn’t clueless. He’s actually quite a loving and compassionate man and he did recognize things weren’t ‘quite right’ with Christy. But just didn’t deal with it the way he should have.
Rad-Reader: Writing music became an outlet for Christy. How do you think that changes the course of her emotions? Toward Mark, her thoughts on being a mother, and her life?
Elena: Writing is a powerful outlet and for Christy it really allows her to finally let her feelings out so she can process them and deal with them in a healthy way. When she is able to write things out, it helps her realize her ‘problems’ aren’t so big that she can’t handle them.
Rad-Reader: Why was Eric coming back home to die? When he had made a home someplace else for sixteen years? Was it for him or Drew?
Elena: He wanted to be around his family more for Drew and his son, Austin so they would have the support they needed when he was gone.
Rad-Reader: Did Eric ever know how Ben felt about Drew and why he wasn't talking to him?
Elena: I don’t want to give too much away here. We learn a lot more about this in Drew’s book When We Fell. It will be coming out winter 2019.
Rad-Reader: Where does Drew go from here?
Elena: All I will say is Drew has a lot ahead of her. ;)
Rad-Reader: Better yet, has Drew known how Ben has felt all these years? Because I noticed that the characters all say their straight talkers yet they tend to hold back and just think I'll ask later and never do.
Elena: The people of Timber Creek definitely all have a lot going on. Just like anyone.. sometimes they are clueless and sometimes they drop the ball on communication.
Rad-Reader: Ben stood guard over Drew at the memorial for Eric. Did she even notice that he was hovering? Did anyone else?
Elena: She was only focused on her son and her grief. Others likely noticed.
Rad-Reader: When will we hear what Eric left in the videos and letters for everyone?
Elena: We’ll hear a lot more in When We Fell, Drew’s story.
Rad-Reader: What is going on with Amber she has been acting weird and now is all of a sudden moving in with Drew?
Elena: All will be revealed for Amber in When We Began, which will be released early October 2018.
Rad-Reader: If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play…
Christy: Alexandra Breckenridge
Mark: Arnie Hammer
Aaron: Liam Hemsworth
Alicia: Doutzen Kroes
Eric: Reeve Carney
Drew: Mila Kunis
Ben: Theo James
Becky: Joey King
Jamie: Sebastian Stan
Amber: Bridget Regan
Evan: Henry Cavill
Cam: Zoe Kazan
Elena: I’m so terrible at this. I don’t ever give much thought to this and I’m terrible with celebrity names. But I’ll give it a shot.
Christy: Candace Cameron
Mark: Justin Barha
Aaron: Ryan Reynolds
Alicia: Gwyneth Paltrow
Eric: Jake Gylenhaal
Drew: I completely agree with your choice. Mila Kunis
Ben: Chris Pratt
Becky: Kristen Bell
Jamie: Jared Leto (Without long hair)
Amber: Necar Zadegan
Evan: Liam Hemsworth
Cam: Reese Witherspoon
Rad-Reader: What song or songs best describes your couple or book as a whole?
“Expectations – Magic!”
IVF puts so much pressure on a couple that without meaning to expectations are put on one another. That if there is no baby we let ourselves place blame not meaning too mostly on ourselves and yes on the ones we love the most our partner.
“I’ll Be Waiting – Adele”
After the third try left them both drained and miles apart as a couple. Christy needed time to find herself again and asked for it. Christy did something to make herself happy and fulfilled the way it does for Mark being in a marathon. Yet, she just wasn’t ready to share it with him. He leaves her out in the cold, this is what she might be thinking in this song.
“Love Someone – Lukas Graham”
Mark loves Christy so much. As much as he did in the eighth grade. So, when Christy said she needed him to leave for a bit so she could find herself to figure out who she was now that she wasn’t going to be a mother. He needed to figure out how to fix what was broken, he knew some responsibility for her loneliness, abandonment, and feelings of not feeling secure in his love for her was on him. His love had nothing to do with her being a mother.
“Burnin’ Bed – David Nail”
Passion had never been an issue with Christy and Mark until the IVF. Since then the spark had been out of the house for far too long. But not their love. He so ached for his wife yet he could not be made at her keeping a secret.
“Leave Right Now – Thomas Rhett”
When he finally listens to a new running partner and went to hear his wife in Crescent City, fourteen hours away, it was so worth it. He saw her in a whole new light. A beautiful, sexy, passion-filled singer and now a songwriter. He always knew it but she did this on her own without him. That scared him she didn’t need him but he needed and God he wanted her.
Elena: WOW! These songs are great. I’m super impressed. I think the overall song that would embody this book and what Mark and Christy went through is…
"You are the Reason - Calum Scott Ft. Leona Lewis"
Rad-Reader: What are the three things you can’t leave home without?
Elena: Sadly...I can’t leave home without my phone, water (I’m ALWAYS thirsty) and a notebook.
Rad-Reader: Where did you like to go on vacation when you were a kid?
Elena: I was really lucky to have a cabin in the mountains when I was a kid where we spent summers. It’s the same place I escape to now with my own kids!
Rad-Reader: What is your favorite genre to read?
Elena: I read a lot of romance. And I’m really into domestic suspense right now. And I always have a self-improvement book on the go.
Rad-Reader: Did you know when you were writing the first book in this series that it would be a series for you?
Elena: For sure! I developed these books as a series. I really wanted to write a series about best friends because I have some amazing life long friends in my own life.
Rad-Reader: How long did it take you to write this book?
Elena: I write quite quickly so I think this first draft took me about 6-8 weeks.
Rad-Reader: What is your next project and when is it coming out?
Elena: The third in the series, When We Began is next and it will be out beginning of October. There’s no hard and fast date yet.
Rad-Reader: Where can our readers buy your books? Links
Elena: You can buy my books on your favorite e-retailer.
Rad-Reader: Where can our readers find you on the Web? Links
I have to say I really enjoyed your book in fact, I liked your first book so well that when I read the excerpt for the next book which was about Christy and Mark. I chose to buy it since I had missed it on NetGalley. The excerpt hooked me and I wasn't disappointed. I know I ragged on poor Mark but it was to easy to take pot shots at him because he was a doctor on top of everything else.
I know it's not easy on either side of the fence especially after living through an event such as this. I was blessed 21 years in we finally were blessed with a birth child after raising three adoptive children. The feelings for those children as you raise them are no different. Let me tell you. The love, the hurt, and the fear. But the joys those are what you hold on too.
Thanks for answering all my fangirl questions! I really ask them as I am reading and I am jotting them down during every story I am reading. No Lie! You are a trooper because some writers don't. Some writers get offended that I challenge their characters. It's not that, I have a passion for what they're writing about and I really want to know. So thanks.
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