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Emilie Richards | Where Everybody Knows Your Name


Look back on your life for a moment, okay? Just close your eyes and remember the people who were most influential in helping you become the person you are. Your parents, who may or may not have been role models you could follow. That special third grade teacher who realized you needed a little extra help learning to spell. The librarian who led you to novels you still remember with a catch in your throat.

And the friends.

With sixty-something books to my credit, one day I realized that I'd never really written about friendship. Sure, there were lots of friendships in my novels. That person a main character tells her life story to. That person who insists a main character get his act together. The walk-ons who serve a limited purpose before they stroll into the sunset. Lots of friends, but never a novel about friendship.

Enter the women of Happiness Key, a shabby beachfront community on Florida's Gulf Coast who don't know they need friends, don't recognize each other's potential, and are reluctant to spend more than a moment in each other's presence. Ah, a writer's dream scenario.

Happiness Key, the resulting novel, explored the ways women come together, sometimes against their wills, and form lifetime bonds. My mission was accomplished. By the story's end, the women of Happiness Key had found their own keys to happiness and each other.

Then my publisher asked for a sequel. Hmm. . . I knew immediately I had to avoid the soap opera solution. You know the one I mean? Solve a problem, give the viewer a sense of happily ever after, then destroy it. Had I chosen this, I would have thrown a cog into the wheel of the friendships I'd worked so hard to develop. I didn't want to, just didn't. I'd struggled, they'd struggled. Tracy, Wanda, Janya and Alice deserved that particular happily ever after.

But there were loose ends. When you have four main characters (a blog all to itself) wrapping up each facet of their lives is impossible. Novels end. We can't follow characters to the grave, nor do we want to. We solve the big stuff and leave the little stuff to our readers' healthy imaginations.

This time, though, the loose ends intrigued me, as well. Did Janya and Rishi's arranged marriage strengthen and turn into a love match? Did Marsh and Tracy overcome all their vast differences and end up as a couple? Did Alice and granddaughter Olivia recover from the traumas they'd undergone? Was Wanda going to serve fried oysters for the rest of her days? Then there were characters looming in the background, characters who had only been mentioned but figured prominently. Didn't they need a few moments on stage, as well?

Call me a wuss, but I believe in friendship. So do the women of Happiness Key. Fortunate Harbor is the result. What happens when good friends are confronted by a new addition to their number, a woman with secrets? How far can friendship stretch? Fortunate Harbor is about so many things, but none more than friendship and its boundaries. I hope you have friends like these women, and that both Happiness Key and Fortunate Harbor remind you how lucky you are. I've enjoyed them so much, I'm now working on the third and final installment. Stay tuned for Sunset Bridge, coming next summer, and enjoy.




21 comments posted.

Re: Emilie Richards | Where Everybody Knows Your Name

I don't recall ever reading a novel that dealt with friendship. Most such books are sort of advice type books or poetry. But I find an idea like yours intriguing. Friends are such an important part of life. Just think how terrible life would be without friends.
(Gladys Paradowski 1:05am July 15, 2010)

Too funny . . . I've been asked to guest blog here in a couple days, and I wanted to check and see what other writers were blogging about. Who do I see first but you, Emilie! And a post about friendship. A perfect morning pick-me-up.
(Casey Daniels 9:37am July 15, 2010)

these books sound great. Put them on my list for my next order. thank you
(Barbara Studer 10:45am July 15, 2010)

Hi Emilie, I love the idea of a "girlfriend" book. It is so important to have a strong friendship to help one through the tough times. Your books sounds great.
(Robin McKay 11:40am July 15, 2010)

It sounds like you like to write about life I know that my girlfriends are close and help one another through all kinds of things and love like sisters. Your book sounds great
(Vickie Hightower 11:58am July 15, 2010)

Ms. Emilie -- I have read all of your books, and especially loved the last two. Your characters, especially Wanda, were so vivid I feel like I should send them Christmas cards. You are so very gifted and have given me hours of pleasure. Loved Tracy's slide from the "penthouse to the outhouse" -- laughed so much, but then there were some "tissue moments" also.

Just keep up the good work and please let us know who is going to move into that vacant apartment!
(Betty Cox 12:01pm July 15, 2010)

I picked up "Happiness Key" last week or so (thank you for that lovely coupon, by the way!), but haven't had a chance to read it yet. I plan on getting "Fortunate Harbor" soon. I hadn't known about the fried oysters, though. That just might be a deal-breaker!! Just kidding, I just can't stand oysters, and me half-Mississippi Gulf Coast!

I've read a couple of your previous books (in the quilting series), and they have kept me coming back to your work. Your feel for the difficulties between generations is phenomenal!!


(Lynn Rettig 12:11pm July 15, 2010)

I have different likes and dislikes. In my various 'lives' I have friends. But, I have found that friends from my work life and friends from my exercise live may not fit well together. It is similar to your question about adding a new member to the mix. In fact, I was just thinking that it was like our family holidays used to be. Because of divorces in the in-law crew we ended up having three of every holiday!
(Karin Tillotson 12:31pm July 15, 2010)

Friends are important. We don't
realize just how much until we loose
them or are too far away to be with
them much. When you live in a place
where you are considered an outsider
and excluded, the friendships, even
casual ones, you once took for
granted take on a very different
import. Treasure your friends,
hopefully you'll never know how much
you will miss them.
(Patricia Barraclough 12:32pm July 15, 2010)

Friendships have a way of growing up with you and also you grow out of a few. When you start one, you never know which way it will evolve. I know that people who have known me in various decades of my life only know what I've revealed at the time, the rest is heresay.
(Alyson Widen 1:59pm July 15, 2010)

What wonderful comments. For those of you who have read and enjoyed? Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and kind words. I have loved writing my "girlfriend beach books" and hate to loose them with this last and final one. Sunset Bridge, the conclusion, comes out next summer.
(Emilie Richards 2:24pm July 15, 2010)

Loose them? (As in let them go?) Or lose them? You decide. :)
(Emilie Richards 2:25pm July 15, 2010)

Lately I've discovered more than ever how important friendships are. I'll certainly be looking for both of these books.
(Sigrun Schulz 6:38pm July 15, 2010)

This seems like a 'gentle' read. Deliciously so.
(Mary Preston 6:57pm July 15, 2010)

I have friends from different times in my life and different places. They don't mix well. I love my friends!
(Brenda Rupp 11:20pm July 15, 2010)

These books sound great and different from the norm. Friends are like family sometimes hard to live with or be around but always in our hearts.
(Darci Paice 2:03am July 16, 2010)

Usually they become series which I adore.

Sherryl Woods, Robyn Carr and Debbie Macomber write some very good ones.
(Pat Lieberman 7:30am July 16, 2010)

Half my comments got cut - So in answer to your question - my parents.

I have read several books abound friends and I do love them. Woods, Carr and Macomber write some very good ones.
(Pat Lieberman 7:31am July 16, 2010)

I would love to win these books; they look great. I too love to read books about friends. So nice to see the cameraderie.
(Helen Livermore 6:11pm July 16, 2010)

I always gravitate towards the books about friendship. They tend to make you look at your own life at times -- at least they do for me. I still have friends from grade school whom I cherish dearly!! I'm very anxious to read your book and look into my heart once again.
(Peggy Roberson 9:20pm July 17, 2010)

Friends are very important. You
can often discuss things with
them that you would never, ever
talk about with your family.
(Lisa Richards 10:18pm July 20, 2010)

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