Laney Secord is an attractive, 32-year-old single mother suffering from the recent loss of her husband. She blames herself for his death, and has been in a state of emotional paralysis ever since. One day, she meets Christopher, a striking 16-year-old boy in the prime of adolescence. He avidly pursues her, yet she knows the attraction she feels for him is wrong. He’s just a teenager after all – what could they have in common?
Laney tries to push him away, becoming more paranoid, feeling that everyone in tiny Plainview, Colorado is watching her, mocking her. She begins a relationship with the boy’s father, Bill, who is more age-appropriate. But he isn't quite the right match.
The week-long romantic triangle that develops culminates on Sunday, Mother’s Day, changing their lives in ways that none of them could have imagined.
In this beautifully written and compelling novel, author Fenton Grace explores the consequences of flawed choices, the nature of betrayal and forgiveness, and the boundaries of sexual attraction.
1. First of all, why such a subject? Is this type(s) of relationship still taboo?
When I wrote the first draft, I didn’t explicitly set out to explore the relationship between a thirtysomething woman and a teenager. The story evolved over time. As I delved into Laney and Christopher’s relationship, it felt like fertile, rich material to explore.
Given some readers’ reactions to the novel, this kind of relationship is quite taboo. Some have been disgusted. I think some women in particular can’t bring themselves to pick up a book with this theme. I think many of them are perhaps unwilling to explore those feelings within themselves, so the main theme of Monday, Sunday makes them uncomfortable. I think it takes a strong woman, one who knows who she is and what she wants, that isn’t afraid to delve into this plot. It’s fiction, after all. I didn’t expect that a reader would want to live vicariously Laney’s experiences with Christopher and Bill. I thought they would identify with Laney but feel distance from her at times because of her predicament and the actions she takes in confronting them.
2. Without spoiling the readers’ pleasure to discover for themselves, can you tell us something about the title?
I always planned on calling the novel Monday, Sunday because it is ultimately the journey of a woman over six days’ time, and on the seventh day – well, I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say that Laney could definitely use a rest at that point. I liked the juxtaposition of the two days, as we normally think of “Sunday, Monday” in that order, rather than the reverse. The title suggests to the reader that there will be a challenge to the status quo, and that the natural order of things will be tested. I also liked that the story ends on Sunday, in the early hours of Mother’s Day. This is a story about a mother, after all, one who is ordinary in many ways but who has a significant amount of emotional turmoil in her life. The upheaval that takes place over the course of the week is a testament to Laney’s fortitude and resolve.
3. What kind of research did you do for Monday, Sunday?
I think like many of us, I had heard many news accounts of women who were caught in an affair with teens and pre-teens. The Mary Kay Letourneau drama is one of the most notorious, as her victim was twelve years old at the time and she was impregnated by the child and also imprisoned. In Monday, Sunday the boy, Christopher, is not a child. He is sixteen, going on twenty-one in some respects, trying to be older than he really is, as teen boys often do. I was also familiar with several other cases of women, particularly teachers, who had inappropriate relationships with their students. I wasn’t interested in replicating or writing about any of these instances. What I did find, though, was a commonality in terms of how the women viewed the relationships. They also seemed to be at a similar level of emotional growth, a level of self-involvement perhaps, of selfishness and vanity, also of innocence, and of course, denial. “How could I be doing anything wrong? You don’t understand,” many of them seemed to be saying. Laney doesn’t have this same view on her attraction to Chris. As a matter of fact, she’s perplexed and though not repulsed physically, psychologically she is in great anguish. She has more self-reflection than the usual kind of woman who is in this situation.
4. One reviewer said that she had a problem with the “politically incorrect comments” met in your story, even if they were necessary. How far the “political correctness” should or shouldn’t go in art? Or better, how does this “behavior” influence the stories?
I think there’s no room for political correctness in art. Art should be true, and an accurate reflection or portrayal of an artist’s or character’s thoughts and feelings. Some people are monsters, and if it’s important to know that a character has these negative qualities, they should be depicted in an accurate way. “Go Set a Watchman” is making waves today because of the racist attitudes of Atticus Finch. Should we really be surprised? People evolve over time, and it shouldn’t shock us that someone who becomes an ardent defender of civil rights was once a racist. The same could hold true of someone who is a staunch supporter of women’s rights. Perhaps the character badly mistreated women in his life over and again – then he realizes the errors of his ways, and voila, he’s now an advocate for equal rights for women. The same could be said of someone who starts as incredibly homophobic. In his growth, he becomes a passionate supporter of LGBT equality.
The important thing to realize is that viewpoints of a character do not necessarily reflect the author’s own views. Personally, I was appalled at the racist attitude of Laney’s best friend Erin when I read them. But they are who she is. We’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t realize that there are thousands of people in our country who hold beliefs that are much further “incorrect” than Erin’s.
5. After such a story, what will be the subject of your next story?
I’m often asked what I’m writing and the question always makes me uncomfortable. I’m very superstitious about not talking about works in progress. I don’t feel they should be spoken about until they are finished. Of course, they can and should be discussed among fellow workshop writers or a critique group. I find that talking about the work before it’s done actually serves as a detriment to the writer. The impetus in writing the work becomes diminished. If you tell the story to others, the passion is going to dissipate and you won’t spend the time actually writing it because you’ve found you’ve already told it. I’ve seen this happen with beginning writers quite a bit. They want to talk and talk about the story, but they don’t do the important part: putting words on the page.
Fenton Grace was born and raised in New England. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in French. She enjoys playing piano, tennis, and keeping in shape with Pilates. She’s worked in the entertainment industry at several television and movie studios in a variety of business services roles. Happily married for 17 years, she is the proud mother of two kids and currently lives in beautiful Southern California. Monday, Sunday is her first novel.