The story behind the story…
Read to the end for an exclusive first look at Finding Forever!
Flashback with me to around 2000-2001. I was living in Jacksonville, Florida. Dan was still in the US Navy and stationed onboard the USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier. He was deployed for most of the three years he was on the ship, leaving me alone with two kids, two dogs and a full-time job I did from home.
Good times, those years were… So good I don’t remember a lot of it. It’s all a blur of trying to get through each day without losing track of a dog or a kid or getting fired from my job. I was one of the first people I knew to work remotely for a company in another state. There were a lot of adjustments to be made and deadlines to be met and kids to feed and bathe and play with and… Well, you get the picture. My most (in)famous story from those days was the time I hired a babysitter to watch the kids and told them I was leaving, only to walk around the back of the house to crawl into the office window to work without them knowing I was in the house. Desperate times required desperate measures. I was damned happy—and lucky—to have that job for 16 fantastic years, working with and for great people who I truly loved. But working from home with young children, crazy dogs and a deployed husband wasn’t something I’d want to do again any time soon
During that chaotic time in my life, Jack Harrington came to live with me. Thankfully, he didn’t need to be fed or bathed (not that I would’ve minded—LOL). But he took up residence in my mind as a real person with a story to tell. Way back when I went to college for journalism, my parents put up with people telling them they were “crazy” to support me wanting to be a “writer” because “no one makes any money writing.” They were incredibly supportive of me pursuing the one thing I was fairly good at, or so my teachers told me. At first, the doubters were right. I made $198 a week after taxes at my first job out of college as a newspaper reporter. My rent at that time was $250, which was a lot when you only made $198 a week. I waitressed on the weekends to supplement my income. I always said I hoped to write a book someday, and no one wanted to see that happen more than my parents did. It was during the aforementioned chaotic time that my dad famously said, “What’re you doing from three to six am? Can’t you write then?” Hahaha. He was funny. My parents never gave up encouraging this dream of mine, which was so far out of sight during those years as to be laughable.
But Jack… He stuck around, demanding I write his book, which I did in fits and starts for YEARS. I have handwritten notebook pages from those first early tries that are just so bad I laugh every time I look at them. I kept coming back to that story about the architect whose wife suffers devastating injuries in a mysterious accident that leaves him the single father to three teenage daughters as well as the co-owner of a thriving architectural practice. The entire Treading Water series unfolds around a single event that reverberates for years through multiple families and changes numerous lives forever.
When my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003, I got serious about writing Jack’s story, and I’m glad she got to see an early version of the first four chapters before she died in August of 2004. My very first book, Treading Water, was written and rewritten and messed with a million times before I finally published it and two sequels, Marking Time and Starting Over, at the end of 2011, more than six years after I’d completed the first draft of Treading Water. In one of the truly great surprises of my career, readers immediately began asking for more of a story that began in Marking Time, which led to Coming Home at the end of 2012. At the time, I thought, wow, I’m finally done with this story that started my writing journey more than ten years earlier at that point. But oh no, my readers again told me otherwise. For SEVEN YEARS you’ve been asking me to write one more book in that series, featuring Jack’s third daughter, Maggie. Some days I would get four messages asking about Maggie’s book before I had my first sip of coffee. (I call that job security.)
Finally, after all these years of living with these characters, I finished Maggie’s book last Friday—Finding Forever, the fifth and FINAL book in the series that started everything for me twenty years ago. Last week, I wrote scenes from Jack Harrington’s point of view, and what an exciting full-circle moment that was! I know him as well as I know myself. He took up residence all those years ago, and he’s stuck around to keep an eye on what we built together. Jack has taken me on a magic-carpet ride I never could’ve anticipated back when I was crawling in the window to work a day job I thought I’d need to keep until my son graduated from college (next year!). If you’ve ever wondered what the HTJB, Inc. company name on all my books stands for it is: House That Jack Built. He and I… we did it together.
This backstory is why I’m sooooo excited about Finding Forever. In all the years I spent answering questions about this book, my reply was always the same: As soon as I have a story for Maggie, I promise you I’ll write it. And then about a year ago, I had the story, and the writing of it reminded me an awful lot of the elated feeling I had when I finally wrote Treading Water after years of thinking about Jack’s story. If you haven’t read this series yet, I hope you’ll check it out before the April 14 release of Maggie’s long-awaited book. I’ve written “bigger” series that’ve gotten way more attention than Treading Water ever will, but there’ll never be another series like this one for me, the one that started it all.
Preorder Finding Forever and Read the JUST RELEASED first look at Chapter 1 at https://marieforce.com/findingforever
Read the Treading Water Series at https://marieforce.com/treadingwaterseries/
Read more about the House That Jack Built here: https://marieforce.com/house/
Thanks for asking me to write Maggie’s story. Writing it took me back to the joy I felt while writing Treading Water. The thrill of finishing Maggie’s book last Friday was every bit as exciting fifteen years after writing The End for the first time. I think those of you who’ve been yearning for this book will be happy with Finding Forever. I know I am.