Cara Sue Achterberg: The Truth Behind the Fiction

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In just a few days, Girls’ Weekend will be released! I’m excited, nervous, and more than anything – stunned. It feels maybe a little bit surreal. When I first wrote it, it was my own private fantasy and not something I thought I’d ever be publishing.

I wrote the first draft of Girls Weekend when I was in the throes of heavy-duty motherhood. I was busy raising a 2-year-old, a preschooler, and an elementary aged kiddo.

When, my husband’s work situation changed, we were forced to leave a home we loved. The new area felt foreign to me and I struggled to find friends.

Because we’d moved suddenly and hadn’t been able to find a suitable home, the house we were living in was under constant construction as we renovated it ourselves to meet our needs.

Money was tight and I became an awkward Mary Kay consultant to try to help pay the bills. Suffice it to say – I was underwater and I truly wanted to run away. So I did. Every afternoon during naptime.

I’ve been asked several times now if I am one of the women in Girls’ Weekend. I’m not one of them – I’m all of them. I didn’t realize this until recently when I was editing the final draft. Each of the women faced down one of my biggest fears as a mom.

Meg tackled the biggie – losing a child.

Even the idea of it takes my breath away and can reduce me to tears. I’m a world-class worrier and watching my now teenage children get their drivers’ licenses has raised the bar even higher. My own mother lost a child, my brother, when he was almost a year old and I’ve often marveled at the strength she must possess to have survived.

Writing Meg allowed me to safely face down that nightmare.

Charlotte is my wild side. She is the woman who always wonders – did I pick the right man? She follows through on the crazy fantasy that every woman thinks about at some point in a long marriage. What if I had an affair? What would that be like?

Writing Charlotte (who had plenty of scenes that were too R-rated to make the book) allowed me to dabble on the dark side of marriage.

It was probably hardest to write Dani. Many of us question, midway through life, if we followed our dreams. And if we didn’t, is it too late to set off after them?

Writing this novel set me off after my own dreams. So much has happened since I first began this story. It’s evolved and so have I.

Writing Girls Weekend taught me many lessons.

The first of which is that writing a novel is really fun. It makes my heart happy.

It taught me that I have something to say.

It confirmed for me that good friends are critical for survival.

It gave me a whole new appreciation for my own husband.

But mostly it taught me that imagination can be healing. It can take you to new places – not just in the world, but in your own heart.

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On May 3, 2016

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