We are so excited to host Richie Frieman! We have asked him what inspires him to write and most importantly what inspired him to write Where The Heart Left Off.
As an author, I’m often asked, “What inspires you to write?” When I’m asked this, I always respond, “It just comes to me.” Now, I know that sounds a little vague but really, it’s the truth. When I wrote my first children’s picture book, Terple - The Sky Is Just The Start it came to me in pieces; a line here, an image there, a rhyme here, and so forth. When I wrote the sequel,Terple - Always Dream Bigger four years later, the process was the same; little pieces of ideas that came to me like a puzzle in a box with no direction, only up to my imagination to formulate. I wish I had a better answer – I do. However, this is my process.
I explain it as if I’m a passenger in the car versus the driver. The driver keeps their eyes forward, only focusing on what’s ahead. Yet the passenger gets to roam and see things from every angle. When you can view your writing like that, more things will “come to you” because you’re willing to look for them. The best example of my philosophy on writing is the real life idea behind my novel, Where The Heart Left Off. About five years ago, I was having dinner at my in-law’s house, when my wife’s grandfather (Howard) told me how he was picked up a the grocery store earlier that day, by a woman he dated over 65 years ago. That’s right, my 84-year-old grandfather was hit on by an old flame. Now, I understand that love comes in every form and at all ages but I found this to be rather entertaining. For starters, Howard - who I’ve known for 20 years - was not the kind of guy that goes “looking for ladies” while food shopping… or any other time for that matter. As well, he already had a girlfriend, thus making him less likely to pursue a relationship.
Still, I was shocked that this happened. The woman asked him questions like, “How’s your health?”… “Do you like to go out to restaurants?”… “Do you drive at night?” all of which he did. But Howard never took her number. When he told me this I casually looked deeper for answers. I asked how they met, and how long they dated. What the time was like when he was 17 from clothing, to movies, to music, even to what Baltimore (where he lived and the book takes place) was like. The more he told me, the more my imagination wondered. However, the underlining issue that really stuck out to me was time. More than 65 years when by since Howard and this woman even saw one another, let alone interacted. And in a world where we can find every single person we ever knew on social media, what would it be like to never even have seen someone you dated more than 65 years ago? I mean, that’s got to be a bit of a shock, right? As well, even though Howard and her were not serious, what if they really were? What if their relationship was more intense? Then, it hit me… there is a story here.
Once again, it just came to me.
Granted my story is fiction – with the characters all being original but “loosely” based on real people – but the event that happened to Howard in the grocery store is real. And from there,Where the Heart Left Off was born. I went home that night and started writing. It didn’t happen over night, rather it took years, and many, many more pieces of inspiration to come.
About the author: St. Martin's Press calls Richie Frieman "A modern day Renaissance man" – an apt description for one of the most diverse and unusual careers in a young man of 36, including a former pro wrestler (as in the kind who jumps off the top rope), children's book author, inventor, clothing designer and world renowned manners and etiquette columnist.
He’s the author of five books, including Where The Heart Left Off, "REPLY ALL... And Other Ways To Tank Your Career" (St. Martin's Press) which is an Amazon.com #1 BEST SELLER in three different categories; Business Etiquette as #1 (which is its main market), Business Lifestyle as #1 and Self-Help & Psychology Humor as #1 (even surpassing Diary of A Wimpy Kid and The Last Lecture), and the award winning children’s picture book series, “Terple”.
Widely considered a "Modern Day Renaissance Man", Richie Frieman is an award winning, bestselling author and illustrator. Where the Heart Left Off is his fifth published book, and his first romance novel. Frieman is known around the world for his inspirational children's series, Terple, and his manners/etiquette column and podcast, Modern Manners Guy, for Macmillan Publishing's Quick & Dirty Tips. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with his beautiful wife and their two amazing kids. For his extended bio, click here.
As teenagers, Albert Abraham and Ella Perlman spent countless nights cuddled under the stars in the Maryland countryside, planning their future.
But on the day Albert asked Ella’s father for her hand in marriage, Albert vanished from her life without a word. Sixty years later, they meet by chance in a grocery store, and Ella is determined not to let Albert leave her sight again.
Knowing Ella will ask why he left, Albert is unwilling to rekindle their relationship…
Meanwhile, Albert’s grandson Geoffrey forms a bond with Ella’s granddaughter Madilyn, and the two conspire to reunite their elders. At eighty-two, however, Albert is reluctant to dig up intense memories.
Worse yet, telling Ella the truth could destroy her, leaving her with even more questions than before.
I wish I could cradle you in my arms every morning, and live in that moment forever.
Albert had written those words in a letter to Ella a week before. But in just a few days everything had changed and all he had were memories to comfort him.
He struggled to climb off his motorcycle, clutching his side as pain lanced through him. He lowered his body in the shade of an old oak tree, alongside the perimeter of Ella’s parents’ property. The tree was secluded enough that no one could see them while they made love in the fields during hot summer evenings, but close enough they could still hear her parents yell for her to come in for dinner. They’d kissed for the first time beneath that tree and carved their initials into the trunk. He ran his hands through the soft, tall grass. This was their secret meeting place, and she’d sneak outside to find Albert waiting for her once her parents had gone to sleep.
He leaned against the trunk of the tree, every breath a chore as he gingerly held his hand over his broken ribs. Despite the excruciating pain, he still managed a faint smile while gazing at her house thinking about their first time together.
He would never see her again, or make love to her again, or sit under that tree again. He focused on Ella’s bedroom window. He thought about her, now fast asleep, never knowing their dreams would be forgotten by sunrise. Soon, Albert would be far away. Everything he promised her, everything they wished for together, was over.
He reached into his jacket, wincing in pain, and took out the letter he’d written to Ella earlier that day. Blood from his side had soaked through the bandages and his shirt and seeped onto the corner of the paper.
The letter was a confession, but he knew it would never be enough. His one swollen eye made it difficult to read, and his hand, the fingers bruised and damaged, ached from what had happened earlier that day.
The beating. The warning. He wasn’t sure what was worse—the ache from his broken bones, or the throbbing of his shattered heart. His hand trembled and the paper shook. He owed it to her, an explanation—the truth.
He read it to himself for what seemed like the hundredth time, and once again wept uncontrollably on the paper. He balled it in his fists in frustration and rocked back and forth in the grass, focusing on an ant that scurried up the leg of his pants. The insect blurred in and out of his vision as he squeezed his eyes shut, his badly bruised shoulders rising and falling with every wracking sob. The pain of weeping made him grit his teeth in agony, clutching his broken body.
He couldn’t understand why this happened. And nothing hurt more than knowing he was seen as an animal—a piece of trash meant to be thrown away.
Everything he and Ella had known for the past two years dissolved like the paper in his hands. Albert couldn’t look at her house anymore. He unfolded the letter and tried to read it again, but could only make it through the first two lines.
Maybe they were right. And maybe it would be better if I left.
Before getting back on his motorcycle he picked a yellow tulip and breathed in the delicate scent. Tulips were her favorite, and the soft yellow petals reminded him of the dress she’d worn on their first date. He took one last look at the house and slipped the flower and letter into his jacket pocket.
In a few hours he would be cruising along the Delaware coast, rethinking his future. The only medicine was time, but Albert knew Ella would remain in his heart for the rest of his life. That was something time could never take away.