The Inspiration behind 'Riley' by Paul Martin Midden

I have always been fascinated by how relationships work. As a therapist for many years, I listened to many people talk about how their partners failed them, how they failed their partners, or how the threat of losing a partner was accompanied by terror and if he or she did, in fact, leave, by stark loneliness. 

Can’t live with them; can’t live without them. It was this conundrum that found expression in Riley, my most recent book. 

Relationships often call for decisions, and often those decisions, especially for young people, entail saying good-bye to someone who was once close. The story starts with such a farewell, and the writer who initiates it pens a novel filled with characters in a similar state. It had been a desire of mine ever since I read Herzog by Saul Bellow, whose eponymous character wrote lengthy letters to politicians throughout the novel, to do this novel-within-a-novel thing. It was fun to write, despite the various complications that arose in the lives of all the characters, ‘real’ and ‘fictional’.

Of course, the story has echoes of my own life, as one of the formative experiences of my own young adulthood was leaving a marriage and forging a new life. It was a challenging, difficult, emotional, but refreshingly liberating and ultimately rewarding. I have never regretted it.

Now, as I look back to those events, which happened decades ago, I appreciate the process even more. Liberation is a wonderful thing but is no guarantee of happiness. That requires continuing choices, a certain openness to new experience, and a commitment to be totally responsible for the lives we lead.

In this book, unexpected things happen, as is often the case in situations where risks are taken. Riley aims to chart both the inside (psychological) part of the equation and the outside (behavioral) part. We all live our lives with that inside/outside thing going on, and detailing it in the lives of my characters was a pleasure. Even when bad things happen. After all, liberation does not mean safety. It entails risk, and risk by its nature is uncertain. 

Genre:   Contemporary adult fiction

Author: Paul Martin Midden
Publisher: Wittmann Blair Publishing

About the Book:

Riley, a young writer, finally divorces her husband and begins a novel about a fictional couple in conflict. Supported by her best friend, Jennifer, she begins her life of freedom. In a complicated turn of events, she meets and beds Edward, a shy young man who falls for her instantly. She does not want to continue the relationship, however, and her refusal lays the groundwork for a series of dangerous events. Her conflicts and those of her characters play out in this psychologically intriguing story.

About the Author:

Paul Martin Midden is the author of five previous novels, each of which explores different writing styles. He practiced clinical psychology for over thirty years. Paul’s interests include historic restoration, travel, fitness, and wine tasting. He and his wife Patricia renovated an 1895 Romanesque home in 1995 and continue to enjoy urban living.