Sit Down Saturday: A Behind the Scenes Peek at A MATCH MADE PERFECT by Anna J Stewart

Hi everyone! I'm back...for a limited engagement, LOL.  These are definitely trying and stressful times and I've never been so grateful for the gift of escapism books bring me. And hopefully you. Although if you're like me, concentration is definitely difficult to come by. Even though it's been a few weeks since my mother and I went into self-imposed isolation (she's elderly with underlying health issues and...well, I'm on the cusp of a big birthday which means I'm more at risk now, too!  Woohoo! Not.).

This month marks the release of the 8th book in my Heartwarming Butterfly Harbor series. A MATCH MADE PERFECT is part parent trap, part reunion, part...well, it's got a lot of parts to it. I absolutely love the chance to come back to the same town and see who pops up during my visits. This time around the Cocoon Club plays a pretty big part. Those naughty senior citizens definitely know their own minds and have their own thoughts about things, but at least this time around they aren't knocking firefighters off ladders (sorry, Roman!) or calling out an SOS from the grocery store.

Along with Sebastian Evans and Brooke Ardell (my hero and heroine), this book is also told from the point of view of their fifteen year old daughter, Mandy. Mandy's been here and there for the series, but this time she actually gets a voice.

Mandy was inspired by a number of young women I'm honored to know. Some are family (my two now grown nieces along with two cousins) and two are the daughters of one of my writing BFFs (shout out to Cari Lynn Webb). In the time of over-hyped social media and our nauseating attention to negativity and cynicism, young women like these give me a tremendous amount of hope. Maybe too much? When I first started writing this book, I had a few author friends (parents) tell me Mandy was far from realistic (did I mention I don't have kids?); that I owed it to the story to make sure Mandy reflected real life.

Well, for once, I did not take their advice. Mainly because for me, Mandy being the way she is was my real life. I was what I call an "uneventful" teenager. Maybe it was the time (1980's), maybe it was because I always had my nose stuck in a book, but I was, for the most part, drama free. I think the worst thing I ever did was throw a fit over not being allowed to go to a Wham! concert (yeah, that still stings by the way). Also, Mandy is the way I want teenagers to be, the way I know some of them are (they just don't always get credit or attention for it). Living in a society that seems to reward bad and obnoxious behavior, I wanted to have a kid who isn't looking for anything more than an adventure of a life. And that's Mandy.

In another departure, this book features a potentially unsympathetic heroine. This post, actually, was inspired by one of my usual readers, who reviews every book I write (yay! Thank you!), but she hesitated to post her review of this book because she couldn't get beyond the fact that Brooke, fifteen year ago, walked away from Sebastian and a then-infant Mandy. First of all, I assured her I understood and that she should never feel guilty about posting a review. No reader is ever going to love everything we write (but we can dream!).  But here's my secret.

You know what? I had trouble moving beyond Brooke's past as well, but the more I explored her character and the story itself, I was reminded of the countless romances where it's been the father who has walked away (for whatever reasons) and came back. Is it more understandable and acceptable for a man to do this? I found that the potential reactions to a woman doing this was fascinating. Also, I wanted to challenge myself and see where the story took me.

Brooke is a polarizing character to be sure. Probably the most divisive one I've written yet. She's on a journey of discovery, not only of who she really is but what she truly wants in life. And whether she's going to step out of her comfort zone and grab it. (spoiler alert: she is--and she does). That Sebastian can forgive her, to me, shows the true depth of his love for her; a love he's never lost despite trying to forget her. Forgiveness is a difficult thing to manage. And some can't. That's all right. We have to do what we have to do.

My job as the author, beyond listening to the ever persistent Mandy, was to find a way for these two people to reach a point of understanding the others' feelings--and being able to move beyond a past that, no matter how insurmountable it may seem.

No one in this life is perfect. We all screw up and we all have regrets and wish we'd made different choices, especially from when we were younger. Nothing, absolutely nothing will change the past. That's just the way things are. Writing romance, writing the genre of hope, it's my job to embrace the power of forgiveness and acceptance (something that if you know me, isn't a visible character trait). I hope you'll find Brooke and Sebastian's journey back to one another as satisfying and rewarding as I did.

Spoiler alert: Mandy gets an awesome birthday present at the end.  :)

Stay safe, everyone. Stay healthy. Stay positive. Stay HOME. Eat a cookie.
And wash your hands.

Much love,
Anna J


  1. Anna, I was an uneventful teenager as well. Maybe that's why writing interesting characters is so interesting. I like living vicariously through them. Congrats on book #8. I'm really looking forward to reading it!

  2. I love reading about kids and teens and in my limited way writing about them, too. As a child of the '60s and having activist parents--which is one of their lasting gifts--my teenage life was fairly eventful, but there's wasn't to rebel about in the family. That phase came a little later! Sounds like a wonderful story. Congratulations!

  3. I'm looking forward to this story. Redemption and forgiveness are favorite themes of mine. And my daughter was fairly drama-free as a teen, so no matter what others tell you, they do exist.

  4. I love that you have the voice of a 15 year old girl in your new release, Anna. The most drama in our home with two teenaged girls came from fights over borrowed clothes. I also admire the risk you took creating an imperfect heroine with a troublesome past. Reconciliation and redemption are universal themes that enrich literature. Congratulations and can hardly wait to see how you put it all together!


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