I met Author Carrie Aarons at a book signing and was completely enchanted. She is beautiful, charming and so incredibly kind. Flash forward to a few weeks ago when this book cover hits my screen featuring a handsome, burly man… and the tag line: I would have sacrificed for her until the end of time. I had to read this book and devoured it in an evening!
Down We’ll Come, Baby, is a steamy, yet complex story about a married couple falling apart. What I loved was the change in the standard romantic formula. The heroine is flawed and the hero will stop at nothing to get his wife back. I had the opportunity to pick Author Carrie Aaron’s brain on everything from marriage to infertility and the good (and bad!) choices we make.
HERE IS THIS MONTH’S SPOTLIGHT…
Jeannine Colette: Theo and Imogen are on the brink of divorce. How does a couple with such fire burn out to where they are on the first page of the story?
CARRIE AARONS: I don’t necessarily think the fire has burnt out, I think the flames have grown so high that they’ve swallowed them whole. The problem with Theo and Imogen was never how much they love each other, which is rarely the problem in divorce. At least not in my opinion, but what do I know, I’ve never been through it so correct me if I’m wrong. Divorce, to me, comes about because of all of the outside factors working against your love. Money, children or lack thereof, family members, unhappiness of both parties in their careers, or on a deeper level, unhappiness within themselves as people. So these two are in as bad a place as they are on page one because love just isn’t enough. And I think that all married people would agree. I love my husband from this life to the next, but some days, sadly, that just isn’t enough. When the bills need to be paid, or when we were trying to get pregnant, or whatever it is … those outside forces can push a couple to the brink of collapse. It’s the fight, the mutual want to give it your all even through the worst, that is the secret of successful marriages.
JC: Theo is the most magnanimous hero I have ever read. It is so refreshing to see a man who TRULY loves his wife. Where did the inspiration for Theo come from?
CA: Is it corny to say my husband? Okay, okay, I won’t be that cliché LOL. But really, Theo is the idea that when a man who is truly good and truly loves us comes along, all of the games and nonsense that we thought was paired with romance just kind of falls away. I remember when I met my husband, it was so refreshing to meet a man who told me how he felt about me and went out of his way to make me feel special. That’s how it should always be when someone meets the person they’re meant to spend their life with. And to me, that’s how a man who is really serious about a woman should act. Theo is the epitome of what a good husband should be; someone who is loyal to a fault, will attend parties with people he hates just to escort you, knows your favorite midnight snack, will go to the ends of the earth to make you comfortable, and who loves you even when you’re being a pain in the ass.
JC: This romance has a Westside Story feel to it. A Romeo and Juliet-like quality. How do you feel Theo and Imogen’s upbringings drive their decisions in the story?
CA: I love those comparisons! I’d agree, they’re definitely star-crossed. You have Theo, who is the quintessential blue collar kid, grew up with little to nothing and worked construction. Was perfectly happy in that life until he met the woman he loved, and tried to be the perfect example of what he thought she wanted. And then there is Imogen, the heiress to one of the world’s richest families. She has always followed her family’s rules, and even though she doesn’t mean to because she was raised this way, looks at the world in a very black and white way.
These two are defined by their upbringings. Theo is very mild-mannered, and not concerned with appearing a certain way. He simply wants to live a happy life, with the woman he loves, out of the spotlight. I think sometimes, this tends to have him backing off really standing up to Imogen, or telling her she’s wrong. He was brought up on Nantucket as a worker, and made to feel lower than the country’s elite who reside there. Sometimes, he doesn’t use his voice and instead allows Imogen and the Weston’s to make decisions for him.
Imogen is her upbringing. In a lot of ways, she’s still the little girl who was told to wear a dress, sit up straight, and smile pretty whether she was in public or private. She’s never known anything different, and is very conflicted when things in her life begin to go sideways because that sort of thing has always been swept under the WASP rug. So even though she feels like she wants to talk about her feelings, she doesn’t act on it. This is the crux of her issues, because she’s been conditioned for so many years and has to break out of that mold.
JC: Imogen’s issues are very real. Did you draw from any of your own life experiences when creating her character?
CA: GOD, YES. So, I feel like I write very complicated female characters … because I am a very complicated female. She is very polarizing, a lot of readers really dislike her. I understand she isn’t easy, and a lot of her choices seem terrible, but I think that we as women have so many layers, not all of them loveable. I have gone through a transformation since I met my husband … kind of like Imogen did. As we grew more connected, I started to pinpoint things in my life, things that I did and things I allowed to be done to me, that were just wrong. I had to answer to myself for those things, and really self-evaluate, really work on myself. And so I think Imogen is a part of me, the part that is truly loved by a worthy man for the first time and begins to see the world differently.
Also, I’d like to challenge those who dislike Imogen to flip it around and view her as if she was a hero acting that way. A hero who stood by his terrible family? Some might call him loyal. A hero who sacrificed his feelings to let the woman he loved be free? Some might call that admirable, or say that he was looking out for her before himself. I’m not passing any judgement on anyone, but I think sometimes we give heroes a bigger pass than we do heroines.
JC: The setting of the story is stunning. How does the backdrops of Chatham and Nantucket play characters in and of themselves?
CA: Thank you! I’m so happy to hear that, because I was really trying to do the beauty of that area justice when writing the book. I knew from the moment I thought up this story that I wanted it to be set there. I’ve been trying to work Cape Cod into the setting of a book for a while, but it needed to be right. And then having Imogen come from the WASPiest of New England blood just clicked and there it was.
If you’ve never been to the Cape Cod/Nantucket area, I really encourage you to go. There is so much character there, and it’s really interesting because while these are all beach towns, it really is a New England vibe. So it’s not like going to the Outer Banks or the Jersey shore (sorry, I’m East Coast/Jersey ‘til I die!), it’s not boardwalks and sandy shoes … it’s a little more upscale or crisp or … I’m not explaining this right but I hope you understand what I mean. The shiplap houses, the rows of boutique shops, the real lack of big box stores or fast food places … it’s so charming. It really does lend itself to being its own character.
JC: Where do most of your ideas come from? How did this unconventional love story come to be?
CA: A lot of my stories come from personal experiences, or those of friends, that I then spin into a book. I’ll pinpoint one event in our lives, or a topic, and just grow branches off of that. The book I wrote before Down We’ll Come, Baby was set in college, and was a sequel to a high school book. And I loved those stories, but I knew I wanted to explore what comes after the happily ever after. I think so often in the romance genre, we focus on the falling in love, that what happens after is overlooked.
A couple of things started the concrete idea for this book. First, the setting. I’ve known for a while that I wanted to set a book in Cape Cod; it’s a special place for me, it’s where my brother got married, and my husband and I had a wonderful trip to Nantucket the summer we got engaged. I’m also obsessed with the Kennedy family, who have a compound in Hyannis, so I thought it would be interesting to play with the dynamic of a heroine who comes from stupid money. Like stupid, fifteen sets of China in your cabinet, money.
I also knew I wanted to explore the idea of infertility, because it is so prominent today, and has been a struggle for more than a couple of my friends. And so I looked at their experiences, but also took some emotions from my experience. When my daughter was born, she was in the NICU, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my life. Now, my husband was an absolute hero the entire time, he carried us on his back. But I can see how something so traumatic could absolutely dissolve the bond between a couple. So Down We’ll Come, Baby explores how a marriage can be pushed to the brink, but how love can ultimately sew it back together.
JC: You write many romantic genres. How do you decide what trope is next?
CARRIE AARONS: I feel like this gets me into trouble sometimes! I know that I started in sports, and that my young adult stuff has gotten some great feedback, but I have SO many ideas that I don’t just stick to one subgenre. Honestly, while I’m writing a work in progress, I try as best as I can to shut out any other stories that come knocking on my brain. And only after I write THE END, do I sit down and go “okay, what is next?” And the idea that is on my mind the most, the one that I just can’t let go of, that’s the one I go with. It might not be the most popular trope, or the subgenre I’m known for, but I know I wouldn’t be true to myself if I phoned it in on a story I wasn’t extremely passionate about.
JC: I love seeing your posts of your beautiful daughter! How has your writing career changed since becoming a mother?
CA: Thank you! She is so adorable, but a handful! Gosh, my writing career, and my entire outlook on life, have changed so much since becoming a mom. I guess the biggest change has been becoming a full-time writer. Right after my daughter’s first birthday, I was at a crossroads where being a parent, working part-time, writing and just all of the other things that come with being a woman and wife … it all got to be too much. Something had to give, and I had been struggling with the fear of pulling the safety net to become an author as my twenty-four seven career. But then I decided that the best example I could set for her would be to follow my dreams and go after what I really want, and so I did.
On a more personal growth level, Motherhood has really brought out this more understanding side of me … which I think translates into my novels. I feel more connected to the motives my characters have, and how different people deal with what life throws at them.
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