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Escape From All The Other Things

Leslie A. Rasmussen
Leslie A. Rasmussen Author Interview

After Happily Ever After follows a woman who struggles to find a new purpose after her daughter goes to college and she meets a handsome stranger that forces her to make hard choices. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

As my children got older and more independent, my friends and I had some in depth conversations about the next chapter of our lives. We had so much in common that I thought a story like ours would be relatable to so many other women going through the same types of issues. Many of the women I knew had either given up their careers that they loved, to stay home with their kids, or they were in a career that they didn’t enjoy, and wanted to try something else in the middle of their lives. Some of these women who were looking for more “excitement” even decided that walking away from their marriages would provide that. I wasn’t one that wanted to leave my marriage, but I definitely wanted to figure out what the next chapter would be, as my children went off to college, and for me, that was to become a published author.

Maggie is an interesting and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Maggie is a compilation of so many women that I have come to know and love. She’s someone who feels like she lost her identity and her voice at the beginning of the book. Before she had her daughter, she identified herself as an editor in the publishing world, and she thrived there. She doesn’t regret giving up her job to stay home, but she knew who she was back then. Maggie has insecurities and anxiety about getting older and not knowing where she fits in anymore. I think her feelings and how she reacts to being overwhelmed are common in many people who may or may not want to admit their vulnerabilities. I enjoyed writing Maggie’s thoughts and showing her to be a flawed, but realistic human being who sometimes makes bad decisions when she’s feeling vulnerable. She doesn’t mean to cause more trouble in her life, but she wants to escape from all the other things that are happening and denies how she is now contributing to her problems.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The themes of family, love, the empty nest, marriage, and aging were important to me. I also felt it was important to write about how families change over time. Even great marriages can still have ups and downs, and most people will find themselves unsure of whether to stay or go at times. In a marriage, you need to figure out who you are as a couple as your children grow up and become independent, or you lose your relationship. We also need to learn how to see our “kids” as adults and treat them that way. As we age, our parents age and that takes a toll on everyone, and it’s not easy to come to terms with the idea of someday losing our parents. Maggie is part of the sandwich generation, where she still has a daughter to raise, yet her father is having medical issues that she wants to deny because he’s been so important to her in her life. I love all these realistic themes and even though some can bring sadness, my background in writing television sitcoms always makes me want to write about them with humor, so the heart-breaking moments aren’t as tough.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m close to finishing my second book, and again it’s a story with humor and heart-breaking moments. It’s about two women in their thirties, from very different backgrounds who meet in a support group when they experience a similar tragedy. It’s their stories both together and apart as they choose different ways to deal with the tragedy and find support in each other. They create a tight bond as friends and find out that they have far more in common than they ever could’ve expected.

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Maggie Dolin is forty-five and isn’t dealing with getting older very well. Seventeen years ago, she gave up her job in publishing to raise her daughter, Gia—but now her only child is about to leave for college, and Maggie isn’t sure what her new purpose will be. She’s been the caretaker and nurturer for so long that she can’t even remember the last time someone took care of her. She wishes Jim, her husband of nineteen years, would take that role on—but he’s been distracted and disconnected, and she’s convinced he’s hiding something from her. Her self-involved, judgmental mother and resentful brother, meanwhile, are certainly no help, and her father—the only person in her life who’s always been there for her and asked nothing in return—is dealing with increasingly serious health issues, leaving Maggie without her rock.

As all these stressors pile on, a chance meeting with a younger man causes Maggie to act in a way that is completely out of character for her. As she gets deeper in, she’s forced to make some big decisions about what she wants and deserves—decisions that could change her life forever.

After Happily Ever After deals with love, marriage, family, the empty nest, aging parents and what happens when they all come crashing down at the same time.

After Happily Ever After

After Happily Ever After: A Novel by [Leslie A. Rasmussen]

Maggie was unhappy. There was simply no way around it. Her husband was distant and uninterested, her father was in an assisted living facility, her mother was as unsupportive as ever, and the daughter that she had given up her career for couldn’t wait to move away for college. It all left Maggie wondering where her place in the world was, as she tried to deal with the looming inevitably of change that waited on the horizon. It took a chance encounter that she would never have expected to ignite the chain reaction that brought everything crashing down in a way that helped her to finally begin putting together the pieces.

In After Happily Ever After, the first book from Leslie Rasmussen, we meet Maggie as she’s in the midst of a full blown mid-life crisis. Having been a stay at home mom for nearly 20 years, being faced with an empty nest is just one of the many things life has decided to throw at her suddenly. Marital problems, the inevitable loss of her father, other family drama, frustrations and uncertainty about re-entering the workforce, and unexpected attention from a handsome stranger- Maggie wonders daily if she can withstand the pressure. Over the course of the book, Rasmussen writes a story that is without frills and presents every day just as it happens, which is precisely its biggest strength. Maggie is most women at some point in their lives, in at least one aspect of her struggles. That very relatability makes her easy to sympathize with and become invested in. Her husband, Jim, and daughter, Gia, are never fleshed out enough as characters to create more than a surface impression, but that just stands to further illustrate the point that this book is about Maggie.

In that vein, this book explores the idea of identity. While it’s easy to read it as a simple story of a woman dealing with the stress of life, the first crisis Maggie encounters, and the one that continues as an undercurrent throughout, is the question of who she is once her primary role is no longer a mom. What does that make her, where does that leave her? As most people are defined by their roles inside and outside the home, Maggie faces the fact that with Gia gone, she fills a purpose in neither. The lack of availability from those she should be able to seek for support only snowballs everything into a larger problem.

I found myself completely invested in Maggie’s future and unable to put the book down. After Happily Ever After is an emotionally resonant story following a compelling character through a crisis that is relatable, grounded and engaging. This is definitely a book I would highly recommend!

Pages: 272 | ASIN: B08DK22T13

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