Claire Jordan has spent her life playing hide and seek from her past. A father who vanished without a word. A sexual assault. A lost love. An unplanned pregnancy. Through decades of work in international relief, she seeks not only to escape that past, but also to balance her karmic scale. However, when her lifelong best friend, Libby is diagnosed with cancer, Claire flies home to Nevada for the first time in years to discover Libby’s life entangled in the very ties Claire has so scrupulously avoided. When letters unexpectedly appear, revealing deeply held secrets, they shake Claire’s notion of identity. Libby too will confront expectations that have held her back. Both must learn if it’s ever too late to change the course of their lives.
The story was inspired by an event in the life of my own lifelong best friend—the poignant reconnection with her now-adult daughter. So I knew the ending before I knew the beginning. My challenge was to write toward that ending. The process of growing that one tiny seed into a full-length novel only took twelve years, beginning in 2008 and continuing through countless revisions and rewrites. My patient, kind, and honest critique partners stuck with me throughout.
I believe the story will appeal to book clubs. My own group met for an outdoor, socially-distanced gathering last summer in a member’s backyard. And another friend’s club invited me to their meeting on Zoom. I would love an invitation to other clubs and have posted discussion questions on my blog at https://LorieSchaefer.com.Visitors there will also find a few Field Trips to locations mentioned in the book, both in Northern Nevada and Southern California.
While I consider Us, Now and Then to be Women’s Fiction, I’ve been surprised by the number of male readers who have related to it as well. Several have even kindly posted reviews like this one: “This fast-paced journey through the strengths and frailties of human relationships is a must read.” Perhaps the theme of achieving something new late in life has broader appeal than I thought. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Not only do my main characters face profound challenges in their fifties, but I published this book at the age of seventy and during a pandemic.
I was born and raised in Orange County, California, however, my husband and I have called Northern Nevada home since 1977. While raising our two daughters, I taught elementary school and became a Teacher Consultant for the Northern Nevada Writing Project. I also contributed left-leaning columns to Carson City’s newspaper, the Nevada Appeal for fifteen years. I hope my love of this unique place is clear and that readers will come away with some appreciation for the culture, landscape, and people of Northern Nevada.
In November, I began work on a sequel that happens in 2020 when Claire and Libby are seventy. Readers will discover what happens when happily-ever-afters collide with the pandemic. Will they—can they—keep learning, growing, and saying yes to life? I just hope I can finish it in less than twelve years.
Readers can find paperbacks and reviews of Us, Now and Then at Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084HQJSM4. Kindle and Barnes and Noble have e-Books.