Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jenny Gardiner - Sleeping With Ward Cleaver

Greetings from the magical realm of American Title. Jenny Gardiner, winner of American Title III is our guest blogger. I am so proud she is with us today. Without her generous guidance, I fear we Title Magicians would have spun our wheels, before understanding what it took to gather in those all-important votes. More importantly, Jenny helped us to understand the real opportunities available to us in the publishing world because we were finalists.
Jenny's warm charm, her deep insights and her kitchen-knife sharp wit nearly jump out of the pages of her novel, Sleeping With Ward Cleaver. Enjoy this modern day feast of relationship wisdom, where love wins.
Thank you, Jenny, for being our guest blogger.

I am thoroughly convinced that modern love remains the same, no matter how old or how new it is. In his song of that name, David Bowie warns, "don't believe in modern love." If you ask me, I think you have to believe in it--it's been around so very long, how could it be wrong?
Lately I've borne witness to modern love of the teenaged variety. Now, I've been parenting teens for several years, and rarely do I truly get a glimpse into their cloistered world; my kids usually make certain that I'm excluded from that elite club. However not long ago, we hosted French foreign exchanges students, and because of the many events slated at which host families are requested to be in attendance, I was the beneficiary of a thoroughly modern education in modern love, international style.
A group of bleary-eyed teens from a small town in France arrived at our high school parking lot, full of trepidation, not quite sure if they would be stuck with lame hosts (and hosts worried they'd be stuck with lame guests!), and probably wondering what their American counterparts would be like. In a few short days we watched with amusement the transformation from apprehension to near aggression--that is, when it comes to pursuit of that elusive concept, modern love.
It was interesting to observe these teens' progression from virtual strangers with very little evidently in common, to friends, in a matter of a few short hours to, well, what definitely appears to be more than just friends...
Mid-way into their visit, we attended yet another gathering for the group, this one to watch France take on England in the rugby world cup. While rugby was the excuse for the gathering, there were far more than scrums on the minds of these kids, who--a mere hour into the party--were found flirting with one another, some making out in the barn out back, others sitting in the laps of their American counterparts, many swapping spit and a few mad gropes wherever they could.
It was downright refreshing (well, until we noticed one of our kids was involved)! But seriously, what it did do was bring back that feeling of what it's like to fall in love again--with someone you hardly know, but you know it feels right, and you're willing to sort of put it out there for all to see because the passion takes over the logic, and even if under normal circumstances you wouldn't be caught dead with your parents seeing you in a clinch with a kid you barely know and with whom you can hardly communicate (at least verbally!), well, under the circumstances, it just happens.
Ahhh...if only we could bottle that raw, fervent emotion and uncork it when we need it most, imagine how much better off we'd all be! Especially because eventually that powerful passion fades. After all, such intensity is hard to sustain, so how could it not?
This was a theme I wanted to explore when I wrote Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. After that ardent passion fades and mundane reality takes over, after the happily-ever-after: then what? You fall in love, get married, and expect things to be perfect. But then you start to take each other for granted and life takes over and kids come along and life is more about survival and trying to keep your head above water than worrying about stoking the fires of passion that once overrode everything else. I've seen enough marriages not be able to forge past those hard times (my own parents included), so I loved the idea of creating a couple who are at the point of deciding whether their marriage is salvageable, and if so, how in the world are they going to fix it? It's something I think a lot of people experience in their own lives and I figured they could relate to. Maybe it's my attempt to create a happily ever after, re-dux: to give readers a chance to feel what it might be like to fall in love all over again, this time with the same person.
It broke my heart to bid farewell to a lovely group of French teens, many of whom fell crazy in love for kids who live an ocean away--not exactly a recipe for sustaining a viable relationship. But at least they have had the great fortune to experience that forcefield that everyone eventually comes to recognize as love. And whether it's modern or not, fact is, it's as old as the hills, and most of us would give anything to experience that feeling again and again.

American Title III winner, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, (Dorchester/Feb. 2008)
www.jennygardiner.net & www.thedebutanteball.com


jenny gardiner said...

Savanna--you're too sweet! Thanks for the lovely words and thanks, all of you, for inviting me on here! I'm so proud of how you all have come together so well--it's great that you're sharing a blog together--I am a firm believer that there's strength in numbers in this business--it really helps everyone to suffer the slings and arrows, you know?

Evonne Wareham said...

Loved your post - I often have discussions with friends about whether characters from books and plays will still be together in five years time - or even one year!The idea of exploring that in Ward is a terrific one, as well as being funny.
Thanks too for all the help and inspiration you've give us as American Titlers IV.

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Jenny, thanks for giving me a giggle along with the serious words. Young love can sometimes come and go so fast it leaves you wondering if it really was love.

I read somewhere the 'passionate' phase of a relationship only lasts about 18 months. Then a couple reach make or break time when they have to transit on to the less exciting enduring phase.

Gosh, we humans are complex creatures!

Thanks for your sage advice and great post.

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Thanks for sharing with us, Jenny! I can't wait to read your book as I love the premise. I think it is easy to fall in love it's keeping that love alive that's tricky. :)

Savanna Kougar said...

Jenny, your blog really took me back to those teenage years of having those crushes that seemed to stab through your heart and soul. I often remember the innocence of young love when I see the young couples embraced, attached at the hip by their feelings for each other.It's fascinating to compare those feelings with how I've come to experience love and passion as I've grown older. It's a profound process. Yep, we are complex creatures.

jenny gardiner said...

hi guys ! sorry so long to get back to you but have been out all day catching up on groceries, volunteering at school, etc. thanks for your lovely comments and for having me here!

Lexie O'Neill said...

Thanks for blogging with us! I can't wait to read your book! I sometimes can't believe I've been married for 21 years, God, how old does that make me? Don't say it...
Thanks again!

Trish Milburn said...

Jenny, so sorry I'm a day late. I'm up to my eyeballs.

This was such an interesting post, especially since I write YA too. I can just imagine that heartache when the kids had to leave the person they'd fallen for.

Mel Hiers said...

Checking in late too, but I wanted to say thanks for the fab post and congrats on the book release. I can't wait for the Amazon box to come! :-)