Macy Armstrong Allen, the heroine of Erin Celello's new mainstream novel, Miracle Beach, has a lot on her plate. She has just lost her husband and discovered that he was hiding several secrets. Today debut author Erin Celello gives us an insider's look at her heroine and the troubles ahead.
Imagine what you might do, and how you might feel, if the one person who had the answers you craved was dead. That’s the situation that Macy, the heroine of my debut novel, Miracle Beach, finds herself in after her husband Nash dies in a sudden accident and she discovers things about Nash in death that he kept from her in life. It’s a complicated position to find oneself in, and the questions raised would be plenty to challenge a person. But Macy’s difficulties don’t end there. She also has a mother-in-law who blames her for Nash’s death, and a father-in-law who is trying to live vicariously through her to get to know his son.
That’s a lot to grapple with.
I’m continually surprised at the various reactions I’ve received with regards to Macy. Some people have called her “hard” and others have just flat-out disliked her. But I don’t see Macy this way at all. In fact, I’ve never seen her this way. She might be stoic, or have a tough exterior, or she might not deal with things the way some of us might like to see her deal with them, but the thing is, we’re seeing Macy at the absolute lowest point in her life. And if we can appreciate that fact about her, we’re then able to revel in and enjoy more fully the redemption she ultimately finds at the book’s conclusion.
Miracle Beach is essentially an aftermath story, exploring the different ways in which individuals deal with grief and how one survives an event like losing a spouse or child. That sort of loss is a big, hard thing that often brings real-life people right to their knees. To do Macy – and Jack and Magda’s – situation justice, I felt as though I needed to paint a rich, vivid portrait of all they were going through, and all they were struggling with, both separately and together. Their process is not pretty or comfortable at times, but it’s true.
The other thing is, I truly like Macy. She’s spunky, yet reserved. Vulnerable, yet she has a quiet strength about her. She’s a kind and loving caretaker of her horses and a very accomplished equestrienne, yet she’s wholly unsure of her fitness as a mother. In short, she’s as complex as any woman is. Because what woman hasn’t endeavored to enter a committed relationship while also fearing a loss of identity or self at the very same time? What mother hasn’t looked down at her child with such a fierce love that surprises even her while simultaneously wondering when she’ll get ten straight minutes of alone time next, or ever again? Which one of us hasn’t put on a brave face to the rest of the world about our bodies, saying outwardly that this is the shape we were given and by God, that’s just going to have to be okay, while beating ourselves up silently for missing another gym session or giving in to the call of that cupcake?
We women are a study in contrasts, but we hide it well – from our neighbors, coworkers, friends, family. The difference with Macy is that she allows us a glimpse behind the curtain we so rarely even allow ourselves.
Macy tries to do the right thing, even in the face of some pretty challenging circumstances. Sometimes, she succeeds. Other times, the demands and expectations placed on her by others, in addition to the loss she’s already shouldering, is too much for her to deal with and she reacts in ways that surprise us. But she’s always unflinchingly honest, and she always keeps moving forward, until, in the end, she finds both solace and peace – and, I believe, happiness. In that way, she is much like me – much like any other woman I know – and I hope that readers of Miracle Beach will see Macy as I do: three-dimensional, multi-faceted, and oh-so real.
- Erin Celello
Want to learn more about Macy? You can pick up your own copy of Miracle Beach in stores now!