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‘Have you ever looked back and wondered… “What if”‘? by Ali Harris
2014/06/04  |  By:   |  Features  |  

Have you ever looked back on the big crossroads moments in your life and wondered ‘What if… ?’ What if you’d taken that other job, moved to a different city, dated that other guy. Would an alternative life path have lead to a happier ending? Do you think the choices we make drastically change the course of our lives, or are our destinies mapped out for us? Is it all WRITTEN IN THE STARS?

These were the questions I asked myself when I started planning my third novel. We first meet Bea Bishop on her wedding day as she’s preparing to walk down the aisle. She has spent the past eight years of her life paralysed by guilt and indecision, believing that if she makes the wrong choice again it will send her life spiralling in the wrong direction. So, she’s simply stopped making them. Instead she’s just been drifting, allowing her gun-slinger of a decision-maker boyfriend, Adam, and her equally sure-of-herself best friend Milly, to give her a piggy-back down their life paths instead. But now, on the biggest day of her life, she has reached a crossroads and she’s beginning to wonder ‘What if?’ What if she had made her own decisions? What if she’d been brave and just believed in herself? What if she’d done things differently?

Bea pushes these worries to the back of her mind and begins to walk down the aisle towards Adam but as she does, she suddenly trips, falls and is knocked unconscious.  In a flash her world splits and two separate lives begin to play out. Yes and no.

Past and future

I do and I don’t.

But will these two lives lead towards completely opposing futures? Or will the choice, chance and the stars align and boomerang both versions of Bea back to the same place . . .?

Personally, I have always been a big believer in fate. In lieu of a religion (I am a lapsed Catholic. A very lapsed Catholic!) the idea that everything happens for a reason, and that we are not always in control of our destiny has often brought me comfort and certainty at otherwise confusing times in my life. It has also stopped me from looking back on my life and thinking ‘What if?’, like Bea Bishop does in this book. As many of you will know from reading my first two novels, I am an incurable romantic. As such, I have always believed that if I hadn’t met my husband when I did, we would have met at a different moment. Our paths would have crossed at another time because we were meant to be . . .

This belief also worked during all the years I was rejected by publishers. It wasn’t the right time, I told myself. I wasn’t on the wrong path . . . it was just the wrong moment.

That isn’t to say I use my belief in fate as an excuse to just sit back and wait for things happen. We have to use our instincts and insight too, but I think ultimately the end is pre-determined and what is meant to be will always find a way.

Funnily enough, the first thing I knew about this book was how it was going to end. The beginning came next and for a while, everything in the middle was a bit . . . foggy. I stopped and started, wrote 50,000 words and threw them away. I didn’t believe in my decisions and I became so afraid of making the wrong choices in this story of infinite possibilities that I had lost every instinct I had. I had become Bea!

At this point, crying, confused and having lost all of my confidence, I realised I was at a crossroads. I could either give up and just accept I couldn’t do it – write it off – quite literally, or, I could start again. Find a new, slightly different path and aim not just for the stars, but that happy ending I knew was already there. So that’s what I did.

Written in the Stars is the result and I am so proud of it (not least because it didn’t beat me!) but also because it has reminded me of what we can do and how happy we can be, if we just believe in ourselves.

Ali x

How many of you believe our fate is Written in the Stars? Vote ‘I believe!’ #inthestars 

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