Gables of Legacy, Volume III: The Silver Linings
Featured song: “When We Dance” by Sting
This song was released years after I wrote “First Love and Forever” but it fit the situation so perfectly with Michael and Emily that I fell in love with the song. In this book, when Michael knows he doesn’t have much time left in this world, I had him dance with Emily to this song. I know I seriously cried when I wrote that scene. Okay, on to the story . . .
In some ways, this was one of the hardest books I’ve ever written. As I’ve mentioned previously, the idea for this series came to me more as one big story, and I knew early on there was going to be a death in the family, but it was still difficult to write about.
Michael Hamilton is a deeply beloved character, as those of you who have read his story from the beginning will attest to. Having him die of cancer was an emotional roller coaster for me. As always, I write from inspiration and I feel like I’m writing a book the way I’m SUPPOSED to write it, not the way I WANT to write it. I know that many readers were upset by this event, but I can assure you that no one cried over it more than I did. I went through a grieving process through the course of this story that I’ve experienced rarely in my stories. And the effect it had on my readers was a compliment to me. (Even though some of them were really mad and I actually got some hate mail.) Michael obviously felt real, or there would be no grief. Of course, his family members left behind were the ones that we could relate to. I felt like it was an important learning experience, for me as a writer, and for my readers. If we can learn something about the grieving process—and making peace with it—through the experience of fictional characters, then we might be better prepared to handle it when it happens in real life. If we haven’t lost someone close to us, we inevitably will. It’s just the nature of life.
This book is dedicated to Conrad and Diane. These are dear people in my ward. Conrad died of cancer and Diane was left at an age and in a situation very much like Emily. Diane is someone I look up to and admire, and her courage and faith inspired me, even though the common threads didn’t really strike me until I was well into writing the book. She shared some of her feelings and experiences with me, and she taught me much about the ministering of angels that went into this book, and the next one. Their youngest son was actually serving a mission when the cancer was diagnosed. It was very difficult for the family and for all who love them. But they are a great example of pressing forward that I wanted to capture in fiction. Diane later served a mission and is doing well.
The really great thing that counteracts the impact of Michael’s death is knowing that you can go back and read the previous books over and over, and he will live forever.