I have often been asked how I got the idea for Degrees of Love and why I would write a novel that deals with infidelity. Answering the first question is easy. There was a period in my life when I was traveling three to five days per week for work. During a period of particularly grueling back-to-back travel, the idea for the story came to me while I watched women jetting through LAX. There was one especially well-dressed women who caught my attention, and I wondered what her story was. That night I had dinner by herself in a Marriott hotel lounge and spent most of the time observing the other business travelers. When I left the lounge, I went to my room and sketched out a scene between a man and a women having a business dinner.
I then began to ask myself, “what if” questions. What if they have been stood up by their client? What if they are single? What if only one of them is single? On and on it went until I came up with a scenario that had the most potential for conflict. That conflict lead me down a number of paths and got me thinking about marriage, love, and why marriages fail. I think one of the hardest times for couples is when they have young children, which can quite frequently coincide with when careers are taking off. All of a sudden there is little to no time for being a couple and the marriage becomes vulnerable.
Going along this path, I kept asking what if? What if there is an affair? What if the love is real? I kept asking the question and exploring possibilities until the stakes became very high for all involved. I tried not to judge, but to see where the story could go and what twists and turns were possible. Each decision by Susan, the protagonist of Degrees, led to a new set of possibilities. Before I knew it, the story was in front of me and I realized there was a plethora of social and moral questions to explore.
As a writer, I think it’s very important to ask “what if” and not to decide what a character absolutely would or would not do. As Susan states, “… I really don’t know what I’m capable of until I’m in the situation.” It’s that unpredictability that keeps a story exciting.