Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Temptations, Gladys Knight — they were the sounds of Motown, the sounds of my childhood spent in the cradle of the iconic music, right across the river from Detroit, Michigan.
Every third or fourth song pouring from my little transistor radio was a Motown song. It made me want to dance. It made me want to sing. It made me forget about pretty much everything I wanted to forget about. It told the world that I was there, right smack in the middle of the map featured on the famous record label. It was home. My home.
The Big 3 was home too. As in Ford, Chrysler, General Motors. The legendary muscle cars were assembled mere miles from where I lived. In my memory, I can still see (and smell) the belching smoke stacks along the Detroit River, in a time of industrial might.
After 11 novels, it was time to fully set a novel in my home area of Windsor, Ontario, where muscle cars and Motown Music were the signposts, the landmarks, of my geography. And of my childhood. I could identify every American made car of that era. And I knew every song like the back of my hand.
I pay tribute to those indelible memories in my newest novel, I’m Gonna Make You Love Me. The music along with a convertible red Mustang make up the backdrop to the story and are almost like characters themselves.
Claire Melbourne is a newspaper editor, resigned to being alone. She’s hard-nosed, maybe a little too hard sometimes. Then there’s Ellie Kirkland, a millennial who can’t seem to figure out what to do with her life, especially once she’s fired by Claire. The two women have little in common, with more barriers between them than you could possibly write a song about. Ah, but you can write a book about it!
In a nutshell, the two don’t care for one another. Ellie’s afraid of Claire, and Claire, well, Claire has little respect for the young woman who’s a lousy reporter and has taken too many detours in the map of her life.
But looks can be deceiving. Claire’s carrying around a lot of guilt from her childhood. And she’s tired of being the heavy all the time. She even discovers she (sort of) likes dogs. And while she mostly hates Motown music, she does drive a really cool 1965 Ford Mustang convertible.
Ellie isn’t getting any respect from her overbearing, overachieving tough-love mothers. She needs a shot of confidence. And a gentle kick at times. She loves dogs, LOVES Motown music. So when the woman who fires her almost hits her dog while driving the antique Mustang, it’s not exactly love at first sight. But it does set the two women on a course of self-discovery, and of discovering that each is not who she seems.
Buckle up, dear readers, and let me take you on a ride in that Mustang, with Motown music blaring from the speakers, while these two women who seemingly have nothing in common, fall in love.