Maggie Ambrose is a fifty-six-year-old career politician who plans to run for president. To kick off her presidential bid and introduce herself to the masses, she’s writing a revealing memoir. Her publisher insists she divulge more than her political pedigree to gain the nation’s attention, but Maggie’s not eager to confess the details of her challenging childhood, complex familial relationships, or her failed first marriage. Will the nation embrace a female lesbian candidate after she opens the door to a painful past?Undertow by Jazzy Mitchell
I want to talk about loss—the loss of a friendship, the loss of a job, the loss of a way of life. I am a creature of habit. I become upset when the unexpected happens. It can be as little as running out of cereal. I must scrabble to find something else to eat or make an unplanned trip to the grocery store. In the grand scheme of things, it seems like a small bump in the road—a small hiccup in the day. However, it throws off the day, starts it with an unexpected event, and I must alter my anticipated schedule to accommodate it.
Losing a friendship is much harder to accept. In my latest novel, Undertow, Maggie loses her best friends when her first marriage blows up. It’s not that they side with him so much as they want to keep the connections with his powerful family. Maggie feels betrayed, and it takes her a long time to understand she married Timmy for similar reasons. After all, his father was a senior partner at the law firm where she worked. She could argue how she was swept up with the feeling of belonging to a warm, welcoming family. She could argue how she earned her place at the law firm through hard work and dedication. She could argue how she didn’t realize her main motivations for marrying Timmy was to solidify her feelings of belonging and self-worth and importance. She didn’t realize she was using Timmy to gain the family she always wanted until long after the dust settled and the divorce finalized.
Once the marriage broke down, Maggie reverted to relying on her relationships with her friends, relationships which changed during her marriage. She was looking for the old, reliable connections she knew, and it was a shock to find they no longer existed. With her divorce she lost her friends, her job, and her way of life. It took time for her to clean up the mess she made. Longer to understand what happened. Yet, she created new friendships. Found a new job. Walked a different road to create a new life. She became a little wiser, a little more thoughtful, and more willing to accept her own role in using people to get what she wanted.
I wrote most of Undertow during the pandemic. I had written a mere twenty thousand words during the previous five months, but I wrote sixty-thousand words in three weeks. It didn’t happen right away. During March and April, I felt immobilized. I fretted about everything and everyone. I sat in my home, worried about my inability to see my friends and my reduced work hours and the drastic changes in my family life. I became much more familiar with online chat programs. I hid upstairs when my two pre-teens became too loud. Sometimes I hid upstairs even when they were behaving. I reached out to family members across the country and kept track of their health. Kept track of my health. Kept track of the friends who died and families who were struggling and the bills rolling in. I wondered and admired and cursed the writers releasing new books while I stared at my manuscript, only a quarter complete.
Until one day, I took stock of my life. I looked at what I have. I looked at my healthy children, including the third one who lives with three roommates one town over and continues to go to work each day. I looked at how we’re continuing to meet our financial obligations and our deadlines and our professional goals. I looked at where I grew up and how I survived, and I compared my childhood to my life today. And I realized I have nothing to complain about. Yes, many changes have occurred. Yes, they were unexpected. Yes, they caused bumps in my life’s road. Yet, like Maggie, I have found ways to rebuild, to reassess, and to move on. I hope you’re finding your way, too.
And find Jazzy at her Website
On Twitter: @jazzymitchell5
And her Publisher’s Page