While we started writing The Art of Three in the summer of 2015, some of the most significant emotional and structural work we did on the story happened in January 2016 when I was in Vienna for my day job. These trips are always strange — to say I speak even limited German is a significant stretch, I spend a tremendous amount of time alone, and my interactions with others often come through a lens of cultural curiosity about my Jewishness which can be overwhelming — and for that strangeness often lead to a lot of productivity. Erin takes the day shift, I take the night shift, and we can be working on a manuscript nearly 24-hours a day.
So I’m in Vienna, six hours ahead of home. It’s the middle of the night, and I’m sat in my office because it has internet. Every email, because of the dark and the quiet and the not quite supposed to be there, feels like it comes in secret. I should be asleep, my correspondents should be at work, everything is clandestine. Because of some narrative point or other in the book, I’m been talking about my ex (sorry, dude, we’re cool, but, like, those years happened) and about how he’s proof that Lizzie and Darcy probably had a miserable marriage.
And because I am a witch, and Erin is a witch, and my ex is also a witch, Erin emails me and says, my husband and I are going to start trying for a baby in September.
Painfully private, I know what it has taken for her to tell me this. She has told no one else. I know only because I need to. After all, we run a business together and create worlds. I feel cold. Vienna, in January, is very cold.
The announcement is hardly a surprise. I’ve known she’s wanted children since I met her, and she’s been clumsily hinting around at this for months. Children have come up repeatedly in recent books (and are key to both The Art of Three and A Queen from the North, readers who wish to know that). I am, at the time, 43-years-old and have none myself. The medicalization and constraints of female life are complicated for me. Because of my age or my queerness, there is no whatever happens, happens in my life; there is only intent. But mine is murky, burdened by notions of property, competition, and the narrow forms of victory afforded to women.
So I’m scared. I’ve often been the girl who gets left behind while people tell me I’m brave for living my life in arguably less typical ways. Erin swears there will be no giving up writing or soft cheese (if you’ve heard pregnancy advice in America vs Europe you understand), and it’s all going to be just fine. Because it turns out she’s scared too. So many people treat pregnancy as this event where you lose your name… along with everything else.
That night we wrote the scene that I think is at the heart of The Art of Three (for those who have advance copies or come back to this post later — it’s the scene where Nerea explains her family history) and realized one of the core themes of the book: You can change your life without blowing up everything you already have.
Now, over a year later, I’m 44, Erin’s pregnant, the book’s two weeks away, and we’ve realized one of the other themes of the book: No one gets left behind.
Not older women. Not pregnant women. Not disabled women.
Not queer people. Not people caught between two cultures. Not people who had their family histories stolen by historical horror.
Not 24-year-olds who have no idea how to adult. Not parents. Not kids. Not people without kids, and certainly not the damn dog with a ridiculous name.
No one gets left behind.
Erin and I write a lot of angsty books. A lot of the time we don’t even realize they’re angsty because our metrics are a bit off (be warned, we are working on a spy series and it is deliciously badwrong).
But this book is the flip side of all that. This book is the book where everybody wins. Everybody lives. Everyone gets a happily ever after. Because everyone in this book looks at the limitations and definitions the world wants to assign them, acknowledges them, and says No.
Which is what we’ve been doing probably always, but definitely since that January.
We cried through writing so much of this book — because of what we each have and what we each don’t, and because of what it means to be women and what it means to grow older — and we hope this story makes you so happy that you do too.
The Art of Three is available in ebook from these retailers (paperback coming soon):
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