When my agent sent me an email, letting me know that Tule was interested in publishing my manuscript of what was to become STRIKING GOLD, I was eating lunch. That’s about all I remember of that day. It just goes to show that you can be minding your own business, doing nothing more than one more mundane task in your day, and then your life suddenly changes and heads in the most unexpected of all places.
This particular theme, of life surprising you and taking you on a detour, is something I’ve always enjoyed writing about. This is never more true than in my debut romance, STRIKING GOLD. In it, Mia, a former overachiever, most-likely-to-succeed student, has always had a steady plan, knowing exactly where she wanted to go in life to achieve what she sees as success. This makes it more devastating for her, when life hits a bump and she finds herself back in her hometown, trying to find a temp job that’s far removed from what she ever imagined herself doing. The feeling of shame and embarrassment is magnified when she runs into the guy she used to tutor in school and realizes that, while he was a person who clearly struggled in his education, he’s now doing better than her. Their situation has flipped.
Mia’s journey in the book changes her perspective on not only what success looks like but also learning that “going backwards” doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. The best thing to happen to her is reconnecting with Ross, who is a man stuck on his own “failures” from the past. Together they discover the ebb and flow of success and failure, happiness and despair. These are the things that make life interesting and it’s better to be shared by someone you trust, someone who can share both the good things and the hard. This is more valuable than gold.
When I was drafting this story, I had a very strong sense of Mia from the start. Much of our personal background, and tough life lessons, are ones that are very familiar to me. As a biracial Latina, I too have felt that awkwardness of standing between groups, not really belonging completely. This awkwardness is especially true when you’re an overachiever, people-pleaser, a person who wants to be all things for everyone and hates disappointing anyone. We’re more willing to sacrifice self-identity in order to make those around us happier.
The hardest lesson of all to learn is that no matter what choice we end up making, there’s always going to be someone who’s disappointed in us. Unfortunately, in trying to do our best to avoid conflicts, because it seems easier, we can end up becoming stuck and unhappy. While it’s easy to say, “who cares what anyone else thinks?”, personal growth really happens when you switch your thinking to “What can I do to make sure I’m not disappointed? What’s going to make me happy?” Because if someone is always going to be disappointed no matter what, it’s better if that one person isn’t you.
Mia making that choice, deciding to choose what her life looks like and who she wants to be as a person, was a very rewarding journey to write, one that brought a lot of tears. Instead of standing awkwardly between worlds, not quite knowing where she fits in, she makes her own world, one she could be proud of and find love.
About the author.
Janine Amesta is a California girl who now lives in the high desert of Oregon with her husband and their cat, Hitchcock. She studied screenwriting in college, but her moody thrillers always had way too much flirty banter. She’s a master at jigsaw puzzles, skilled at embroidery, and critiques bad movies on Twitter.