The Long Ride Home by Tawni Waters
Release date: September 5, 2017
After the loss of her mother, Harley can barely handle her grief. And she can’t shake the guilt that it was her fault. No matter how she tries to dull the pain, the memories of all she lost keep surfacing. Her only distraction is Dean, her best friend (with benefits), but even their relationship has become an emotional minefield since the night they spent together on the beach…
Harley’s one true escape? The open road. So she sets out on a cross-country trip to scatter her mother’s ashes. This is her chance to finally make peace with her mom’s death, and with Dean by her side, it may be just what they need to get over the awkwardness between them.
Except Harley has a secret, one that has the potential to change her life—and Dean’s—forever. And no matter the distance they travel, there’s no avoiding the truth.
Tawni Waters is a writer, actor, and college teacher. Her first novel, Beauty of the Broken, was released by Simon Pulse in fall 2014. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Find her at tawniwaters.com.
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Tawni was kind enough to share her inspiration for The Long Ride Home...
I started writing this novel when I was teaching a summer creative writing workshop at Lehigh. I’d just won the ILA for my first novel, Beauty of the Broken, so I felt very pressured to produce something “good.” I gave writing something proverbially “good” three tries. I sent my agent three chapters of three different novels, and he turned them all down. I realized that what was missing from my work was a sense of a joy, so I went to the bar on my day off, drank a few glasses of wine, and gave myself permission to write whatever I wanted, even if it was categorically bad.
As I was scribbling on napkins, the song “Unknown Legend” by Neil Young came on. It starts, “Out along the desert highway, she rides her Harley Davidson, her long blond hair flying in the
air she breathes.” Instantly, a character based on that lyrical image started speaking to me. She said, “If you picture me as a rugged girl on a Harley, you might be right.” I wrote the words down. Within an hour, I had the first chapter of the book. I sent it to my agent, and he said, “THIS IS IT! YOU ARE A GENIUS! WRITE THIS NOVEL!” So I did.
Lyrics often inspire my writing. I love music. My editor at Sourcebooks had to go through and remove about 20 lyrical quotes from this manuscript, because it’s difficult and expensive to acquire rights to use lyrics in a written work. But man, did I want to give homage to the music that was inspiring me. I’m a groupie at heart. I followed a rock band around the country for 20 years, so the experience of road tripping is very familiar to me. I hope the book has an inherent music to it, even if the lyrics got nixed
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