Marilyn’s writing debut
Having never been in a relationship herself, the obvious question was how Marilyn Steede was able to write a romance novel.
She started working on When Your Body Gets Weak in 1998, and published it in July.
“The love story comes from nothing in my life,” the 70-year-old said. “I have never had a romantic relationship like that. I have never been married. I just never met anyone when I was younger.
“If I was to sum it up, I would say I think the storyline is my wishes and my dreams; things I wish had happened to me.”
When Your Body Gets Weak follows the relationship between aerobics instructor Imani Mason and electrician Sonjae Braddock, who is 15 years her junior.
The villain of the piece is his stepfather, who wants Imani for himself.
“The older woman is trying to make sure the relationship doesn’t happen but they keep ending up getting entangled in activities they do,” Ms Steede said. “Feelings are growing but they keep staving them off.”
With more than 800 pages, the book isn’t a quick read.
Publishers Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Agency suggested she release it in two parts.
Ms Steede refused, believing that people would never get around to buying the second book. “I don’t know how sales will go,” she said, “but I have no regrets.”
A friend carelessly told her she’d never get the book published when she started writing 21 years ago.
As a result, she put it aside for two years but then picked up her pen again; the urge to write was too strong.
“I had no focus,” said Ms Steede, who is well known for her annual 24-hour fundraising walks. “I just started writing. Then, I got a focus. I said, ‘Oh, I should make this a love story’.”
Ironically, she’s more into mystery than romance.
“I don’t like the way most romance novels are so predictable,” she said. “I think I made mine unpredictable.”
She feels gratified by the feedback she’s had on Amazon from readers saying they could never tell what was going to happen next.
She particularly welcomed the praise from her sister.
“One day, I unexpectedly visited Cynthia at work and she was reading the manuscript, to my delight,” she said. “I recognised the binder before she could conceal it. She told me that she loved the manuscript and found that the end of every chapter left her eager to find out what would happen next. Her eyes and facial expression portrayed those words of enjoyment.”
Although there are some similarities between the author and the character Imani, both were aerobic instructors, both helped whip football teams into shape and both served in the army, the romance is all of her imagination.
While she’s been on dates here and there, she has never had a real relationship.
According to Ms Steede, not having a partner encouraged her independence.
“It took me a long time to realise that if you wait until someone buys you a ticket, you are going to miss things,” she said. “I went to my first movie by myself, and then I went to dinner by myself.
“Once I started going by myself, it became old hat.”
It’s how she ended up making dinner at the Waterlot Inn an annual birthday treat.
“I don’t go there any other time of the year because I want to keep the restaurant special,” said Ms Steede, who favours lobster and shrimp when dining out. “I find that if I do go out to dinner with a guy, I never get a meal that I really want, because I am considerate of their pocketbook.”
She was working as a temp when the first copy of When Your Body Gets Weak arrived unexpectedly from her publishers.
“When someone said there was a UPS package for me, I was like, ‘Who knows me here?’ When I realised what it was the tears just started to come.
“Then, I started shaking. The whole day I was just smiling. I kept looking at it.”
She is already writing another book — a work of non-fiction.
“It is about a well known international controversy,” she said. “When I am writing about it, my adrenalin is powering me. I am also writing about my 14 years in the Bermuda Regiment.”
• Marilyn Steede will sign copies of When Your Body Gets Weak at the Bermuda National Library tomorrow from 6pm to 7.30pm. A book discussion will take place at the library on November 21 from 6pm to 8pm. To buy copies: amazon.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
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