04 May 2017

My Husband, the Writer

 Family Fortnight +  Leading up to the International Day of Families on the 15th of May, we bring you the sixth in a series about mystery writers’ take on families. Settle back and enjoy!
by Robyn Thornton
In honor of the fast-approaching International Family Day, I asked my wife, Robyn, to write something up for this week's blog entry. This is what she came up with. Thanks, Honey! One thing, though: see below–all the way at the bottom of this page–for pictures from our ACTUAL honeymoon, lest you think the ONLY honeymoon my wife got was getting to tag along while I pressed the flesh at B'con!
— Brian
On our first date, Brian brought me a signed copy of his Lincoln biography.  I thought it was one of the coolest gifts I had ever received.  We discovered that we had a lot of other common interests, but our love of all things related to books and the creation of them was certainly one of the first threads in our shared tapestry.  I soon learned how much dedication and headspace was needed to weave together those stories as I spent many weekends both in awe of Brian’s discipline and wrestling with my jealousy over the amount of time that he needed to focus.  It was difficult for me to understand in the beginning of our relationship, but his determination to persevere in chasing his passion for writing was inspiring.

When we knew that our relationship was getting more serious, his writing took a back seat to making sure I felt I was a priority.

For my birthday that year, Brian took me on a trip to Oregon.  As I slept in the hotel, Brian stayed up all night to finish a book deadline. He wanted to make sure I got a good night’s sleep, so he had set up his laptop on the sink in the bathroom.  I remember waking up several times in the night to see the light streaming from under the door.  His kindness and compassionate spirit were more reasons why I was falling in love with him.

So, when Brian and I got married, I thought I knew what to expect.

I was so wrong.

Brian worked hard to finish a book to take me on a mini-honeymoon to San Francisco (We took the
My husband, flashing his "convention smile."
real one in the UK the following Summer).  Bouchercon was in that city the week after we tied the knot, so our trip served a double purpose: both as a mini-honeymoon and for Brian to attend panels and to network.  It was there that I learned that it’s not just about what you write, but how you market. And then there’s the networking: one of the most important tools in a writer’s toolkit.  I’ll admit that the shop talk at the time was not as captivating as I now find it and we had to learn how to balance our leisure time with business objectives.   But I found myself wanting more of his time and it proved to be harder on both of us.

It was one of the first lessons we had to learn as a newlywed couple.  We planned a big wedding, got married, and bought a house, all in the same nine month period.

Brian continued to juggle his book projects with us moving in and getting settled.  I recall one Sunday night in particular that makes us laugh now.  I was assembling a couple of kitchen stools while Brian was frantically reviewing final edits (the “galleys” as he called them) on a book whose deadline was 9 AM the next morning.

I had asked him to take a break and tighten one bolt and when he refused, I said in frustration, “Fine, why don’t you just work on your stupid book!”

Boy, do I regret that now.

What I also now realize more than ever, is that it’s not easy.

It’s not easy juggling two full-time careers, a young son with boundless energy, taking care of the day-to-day responsibilities and finding time and headspace to write every day.  Brian’s been able to do this.  And he’s now inspired me to start writing too.

And I now understand the sacrifices that he made and what it takes to commit and stay on track.  I get how satisfying it is to be able to devise plots and character arcs and stories that just need to be told. And as you continue to work and rework and distill and then rework again, the elation of knowing that someday, there’ll be readers to enjoy and discover what you’ve created.  And there’s nothing like seeing Brian’s face after he’s completed his word count for the day and the joy that this accomplishment gives him.

For that, it makes it all worth it and I wouldn’t trade one moment.

(And now, UK honeymoon pics!)


  1. Robyn, can we get a sample of your DNA? I'm not saying we want to close you, but…

  2. It's interesting to see the writing life from the spouse's perspective. Good for the writer to know what you guys have to deal with ;) .

  3. Lovely- and you got to see Stonehenge too!

  4. Robyn,

    Writers don't do it alone. Without support from family, friends and maybe even pets, the writing never gets done. You're one in a zillion.

    For all of us, thank you for giving Brian what he needs. (And cool pix, too)

  5. Nicely stated Robyn! And I'm so relieved to hear that the trials and tribulations did not rise to the level of a motive for murder. Come to think of it, I haven't seen Brian in a while.

  6. Robyn, well written.

    Kiti and I still remember the San Francisco Bouchercon, the cab ride and having supper with you guys at the Italian restaurant. See you again one of these days.

  7. Great post! I'm really enjoying this Family Fortnight series!

  8. Welcome to SleuthSayers, Robyn, and thank you for a delightful post. I especially enjoyed the image of Brian typing in the bathroom, balancing his laptop on the sink, so that you could get some rest. Luckily, my husband can sleep through anything, including bright lights, so we can keep my desk in our bedroom--I'd get too lonely if I had to go to another room for late-night writing sessions. Writers' spouses have to be some of the most understanding, tolerant people on the planet. We probably don't thank you often enough, but we're grateful every day.

  9. Robyn, thank you for an interesting post & good luck with your own writing. You're doing great so far.

  10. Pat Marinelli04 May, 2017 15:24

    Great post, Robyn. I am enjoying these family posts.

    You brought back a memory of me with my AlphaSmart in the motel bathroom writing an idea that popped into my head while on vacation. Hubby is a very light sleeper. LOL

  11. Very nice, Robyn!
    I am having a t-shirt made for my husband: "Long-suffering spouse of Author"
    I think you deserve one too.

  12. Great photos! Great story! God bless you, Robyn!

  13. Thanks Robyn! Nicely stated. Brian inspires me with his dedication and daily word count (I'm kicking myself right now for being lax on that). I so enjoyed our mini-honeymoon in S.F. - thanks for the memories! :)


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