Sometimes I feel out of place as I listen to my author friends discuss their literary inspirations. Actually, it’s not just that I feel out of place. Sometimes I feel full-on illiterate. I feel like I should shout, “I read books, too! Really!” I do have a lifelong love of reading, but I haven’t read nearly as many books as most of my author friends, it seems. So, when they talk about their upcoming novel, and they share about how it was inspired by and is an homage to the great Pulitzer Prize-winning Hubert Hingledaffer, obviously, I just nod my head as if I totally understand what they’re talking about.
(Full disclosure: I made up Hubert Hingledaffer, but the scenario remains the same.)
My first Christian romantic comedy novel, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, was dedicated to the Lord, without whom I never would have written that book. When it came time to dedicate Wooing Cadie McCaffrey, I wasn’t sure what to do. I mean, I could dedicate every book to Jesus (and I have dedicated every book to Jesus, really), because He undoubtedly deserves all the glory. No question. But I also really wanted to acknowledge one of my greatest literary influences.
So who would that be? Certainly not Hubert Hingledaffer. Also not Hemingway or Hugo or Alcott or Salinger, or any of the other authors who have seemingly impacted my well-read friends. (To further drive home this point, I will confess that just now I had to Google “Who wrote Catcher in the Rye?” so I could reference Salinger. His name had completely slipped my mind!) Well, I write romantic comedy. And this romantic comedy, in particular, is an homage to romantic comedies. And without a doubt, I have only one true romantic comedy literary inspiration.
Wooing Cadie McCaffrey was inspired by and is an homage to the great Academy Award-nominated Nora Ephron.
Whether or not you know Nora Ephron’s name, you know her writing. She gave us that unbelievably romantic declaration of love from Harry Burns to his best friend Sally Albright, that included the epic line, “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
Because of Nora Ephron, we simultaneously mourned and fell in love with Sam Baldwin—known only to listeners as “Sleepless in Seattle”—as he spoke on the radio to Dr. Marsha Fieldstone about his late wife, and how certain he was he would never love again. “I’m gonna get out of bed every morning—breathe in and out all day long. Then after a while, I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out.”
And Nora Ephron gave us the emails between “Shopgirl” and “NY152” that included, “I hear nothing. Not even a sound on the streets of New York, just the beat of my own heart. I have mail. From you.”
Each of those lines made me feel something so deeply, and not just because they are beautifully written lines. (And they are beautifully written lines!) I felt so much because Nora Ephron used the entire story—every single line and look and song in the background—to prime the pump of emotions. She got me ready for those lines. She made me care so much about each character, and she got me convinced that the story could only end one way, or I would riot. And yet I never saw the perfection of the ending coming.
So, with all due respect, you can keep your Hubert Hingledaffers. Wooing Cadie McCaffrey is dedicated with the following words, because when I grow up, I want to be Nora Ephron:
Dedicated to the memory of Nora Ephron,
Who taught me that you always need someone to kiss on New Year’s,
That daisies are indeed the friendliest flower,
And that sometime people don’t just want to be in love.
They want to be in love in a movie.