It’s hard to believe it’s been over a decade since my trip to Spain. I was living in New York City, my first novel had just been published, and a friend from Seattle decided to celebrate her thirtieth birthday in Barcelona. I was thrilled to be invited. At the time, my novel, She’ll Take It, had been optioned by Paramount Pictures for a possible television series. The week I was in Spain, they were pitching it to Showtime. I remember sitting at an outdoor café in La Rambla, surrounded by street performers, tango music, and friends. I had a fat glass of red wine, and tapas on the way. The city was electric. My future was uncertain, but full of possibilities.
Ten girls went on that trip, but only nine came back. Just kidding. We all made it out alive. But I was a little beaten up. I can’t even remember how many of us shared a flat in La Rambla, I want to say there were at least eight girls. And most of the time, I felt like the odd girl out. My birthday-girl friend kind of turned into a mean girl. I hadn’t met her other friends, and one in particular had a personality that I simply clashed with. She was very loud, (very American?) and seemed to not only realize that she made me uncomfortable, but capitalized on it, wanting to force me into admitting that she was making me uncomfortable. Things just got worse when my birthday-girl friend said: “I knew you and Christine would either love each other or hate each other. You’re so much alike.” (Names have been changed). I was truly horrified. To this day I know I was nothing like Christine. At yet another gathering, my friend was going around the table and saying why she picked all of us to join her on this birthday celebration. When she got to me she said: “I picked Mary because she’s a loudmouth.” Again, I was horrified. And completely perplexed. I’m not a loudmouth. On yet another occasion, I was having a good time, getting tipsy, and talking with the owner of a café, who loved being surrounded by young, American women. I was trying out my Spanish with him, and he was encouraging it. Christine suddenly called me out—“Quit trying to speak Spanish when you don’t really know it.” Again, in front of everyone. I can have a quick temper, but I was too flabbergasted to even respond. The world of women I was with was suddenly as foreign to me as the country, and here I was a grown woman, dealing with not just one, but two “mean girls”. WTF?
Our vacationing styles differed greatly. It was difficult to get out of the house with eight women trying to get ready. And when we did finally get out, the birthday-girl wanted a picture every single second. And I mean, every single second we had to stop and pose for a picture. It’s a delicate balance, because who doesn’t want beautiful pictures of Spain, but I felt as if I never got to just be and enjoy that trip due to the abundance of pictures. I knew that I had to write about Spain, and complex female relationships one day, and in MEET ME IN BARCELONA I’ve done just that. I didn’t write about me, or the birthday girl, or “Christine”. Instead I created Grace and Carrie Ann. Foster sisters. One vulnerable, the other mercurial and manipulative. They share secrets. Too many. Too deep. And when Carrie Ann disappears along with Grace’s boyfriend, Jake, Grace can’t help but think Carrie Ann is up to her old tricks. I had a love/hate experience in Barcelona, just like Grace has a love/hate relationship with Carrie Ann. In the end, I think both Grace and I come out of it with a deeper understanding of ourselves. And, no, She’ll Take It, did not get picked up by Showtime—but I haven’t given up. Maybe MEET ME IN BARCELONA will one day hit the big screen. If not, for better or worse, I’ll always have Barcelona.
Mary Carter is a freelance writer and novelist. Meet Me in Barcelona is her eighth novel. Her other works include: Three Months in Florence, The Things I Do For You, The Pub Across the Pond, My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside Blues, She’ll Take It, and Accidentally Engaged. In addition to her novels she has written six novellas: Return to Hampton Beach in the anthology, Summer Days, A Southern Christmas in the upcoming 2014 anthology Our First Christmas, A Kiss Before Midnight in the anthology, You’re Still the One, A Very Maui Christmas in the New York Times best selling anthology Holiday Magic, and The Honeymoon House in the New York Times best selling anthology Almost Home. Mary currently lives in Chicago, IL with a demanding labradoodle. She wishes she could thank her gorgeous husband, but she doesn’t have one. In addition to writing she leads writing workshops.
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