Meet Ellyn Bache
Author of Riggs Park, a Harlequin® Next™ Book
By Arthur Cooper
How did you become a writer?
I never planned it this way-in college I majored in English, thinking I'd become a teacher. But then I married Terry Bache, and before long we had four kids. So I became a stay-at-home mom, which was fine, but I needed an adult life as well, and writing fit the bill.
I started as a freelance newspaper journalist, and I also began writing short stories. After six years of rejections, one story was accepted by McCall's.
You've written stories, articles, a musical comedy, a children's picture book, a young adult novel-tell us about some of them.
Well, when I was a journalist I wanted to see if I could also write short-stories. It took a while, but I found that I could-in 1992 my short story collection The Value of Kindness won the Willa Cather Fiction Prize. With my late husband, Terry, I wrote Takedown, a teen novel, about a high school wrestler with epilepsy. I could never have done that without Terry-he had been a college wrestler and was a longtime coach.
When my youngest son began school I wrote my first novel, Safe Passage. It's about a large family, with seven sons, awaiting news of a son missing in Beirut after the airport was bombed. The mother is the main character in the novel. Safe Passage was sold to Hollywood and became a film. I think the reason it ended up on the big screen is that the producer, screenwriter and agent all worried about being "fulfilled" good moms.
Many authors aren't happy with the way their books are turned into films. Did you also feel that way?
Well, a film can never be exactly what the author imagined, because a story told on the screen is very different from a novel. But I liked the movie-and for an unknown writer to have her novel turned into a major motion picture is pretty special. We had a fund raiser premiere at my neighborhood theater. It was a big success, and I felt like Cinderella at the ball!
Is your NEXT book the first novel you've written for Harlequin?
Yes, my agent convinced me to write for Harlequin's new line NEXT. I had never written a romance, but he explained that these books aren't necessarily romances, they're women's fiction.
I enjoy writing fiction for women, and I enjoy writing about women and men who are no longer young. Older women generally lead rich, vibrant lives, and the richness continues as you get older. We experience all kinds of interesting and complex relationships, both with women and men.
NEXT is publishing your novel Riggs Park. What is the story about?
The two main characters, Marilyn and Barbara, are 58 years old when the book starts. They're lifelong friends, having known each other since they were four years old, when their families moved into the Riggs Park neighborhood. Though they've both moved away, they keep in touch.
In the first chapter Marilyn calls Barbara to tell her that her breast cancer has returned, and asks her to come to Washington to see her. Barbara has her own problems, including a difficult relationship with Jon, the man she is living with, but she agrees to visit. As the book proceeds the women uncover secrets from their younger years. They try to find out what happened to another friend Penny, a troubled child who grew into a troubled young woman, and who Marilyn now believes might have had a baby.
Riggs Park is a book about friendship, especially women's friendships, and it examines how far you have to go to be a good friend. Although the characters are middle-aged, the book appeals to younger readers as well; my daughter, who's in her thirties, loved it. There's romance in it, too, though it's not primarily a romance. It's about relationships.