When I set out to write IT COMES IN WAVES, I knew one of the novel’s pivotal relationships was going to be that of forty-two year-old, single mother Claire, and her teenage daughter, Lizzie, who is struggling to assert her independence.
Before I began the novel’s first draft, I worried I wouldn’t be able to relate to Claire’s challenges. Don’t get me wrong: I’m the mother of two daughters—but my daughters are young; young enough that they—and for this I thank my stars DAILY—still want me to, on occasion, hold their hands, sing them to sleep and maybe even, for a few precious minutes, be their whole world.
Now I know one day they will want their own space. There will be no hand-holding, no lullaby-singing, no tolerance of mom’s Mom-ness on any level—but that day is far, far away.
After all, I was a wildly independent kid who grew up to be a wildly independent adult. My leash was long—okay, in truth, there was no leash. There was no fence, no curfews, no limits. At seventeen, I backpacked through Greece and Italy with my best friend for six weeks. After college, I moved to LA, not knowing a soul, and asked a bus driver to drop me off in Venice Beach because I liked the way it felt. If my mother struggled to come to terms with my fierce independence, she cloaked it well. So how could I relate to a mother who saw the early sparks of independence in her daughter and felt such panic she could barely breathe—or let her daughter breathe, for that matter? Surely I couldn’t understand that mother?
Then I started writing Claire.
And suddenly, I could.
Because as mothers, no matter how we tell ourselves we will let go when we must, the instinct to hold on is strong—quite possibly even stronger than our childrens’ desire to pull free.
In my novel, Claire comes out on the other side, a better mother, a better person.
When the day comes for my daughters to show that same desire for personal freedom, that vital craving for independence, I can only hope I will have learned from Claire’s challenge—and emerge as well on the other side.
For competitive surfer Claire “Pepper” Patton, the waves of South Carolina’s Folly Beach once held the promise of a loving future and a bright career—until her fiance, Foster, broke the news that he and Claire’s best friend, Jill, were in love.
Eighteen years later, now forty-two and a single parent to a rebellious teenage daughter, Claire has put miles between that betrayal and that coast. But when ESPN invites her back to Folly Beach for a documentary on women in surfing, Claire decides it might be the chance she needs to regain control of her life and reacquaint herself with the unsinkable young woman she once was.
But not everything in Folly Beach is as Claire remembers it, most especially her ex-best friend, Jill, who is now widowed and raising her and Foster’s teenage son. An unexpected reunion with Claire will uncover a guilt that Jill has worked hard to bury—and bring to the surface years of unspoken blame.
When Claire crosses paths with a sexy pro-surfer who is as determined to get Claire back on a board as he is to get her in his bed, a chance for healing might not be far behind—or is it too late for two estranged friends to find forgiveness in the place that was once their coastal paradise, where life was spent barefoot and love was as dizzying as the perfect wave…
Erika Marks is a native New Englander who now lives and writes in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their two little mermaids who will one day in the far, far future, forbid her from referring to them as such.
Question for you: what was your relationship with your mother like during your teen years? Good? Bad? Ugly? Or somewhere in between?