To be directed to Chapters 1 & 2 of Ex-Ray, please click on the image above.
How Ex-Ray was Born
Before Until Ray, the last book I wrote was in 2012. The following year, my father was hospitalized for several months. Before that, I'd lost a 9-5 job that I'd worked for eleven years and enjoyed, a long-standing book deal with Penguin/NAL, and a top literary agent. But when I lost my father, I really didn't think I'd ever write again. I wasn't motivated to open my mind to characters and allow them to live there for months or even years. My focus had shifted to avenging my father's death that was a direct result of medical malpractice.
For therapeutic reasons, I decided to write a novel based on the experience we had with the hospital and doctors who were charged with my father's care. But I was too close to the subject matter, still in mourning, and outraged. It was also painful to write about.
When I made the decision not to write a book based on my father, my forthcoming novel, Ex-Ray was born.
I was sitting on the edge of my bed, looking through my father's medical records, and I came across one of his many X-rays. For some reason, my eyes kept gravitating back to the word X-ray. Then, a light bulb went off, and I thought, that would be an exciting title. Instead of spelling it X-ray, I'll spell it Ex-Ray and tell a story about a woman's ex-husband. And an idea for my forthcoming novel slowly started to develop.
A significant weight was lifted off of me. I'd been saying to myself that my father wanted me to write his story, but I realized at that moment that he actually just wanted me to keep writing. But I only had a vague idea of what the story was about. All I had was a title and the main character's first name. I certainly didn't think it would become my first trilogy.
That was in 2015, and the book marinated in my mind for another year. Until I heard about something that happened to a man, and it intrigued me. I started asking a series of what-if questions, and one day I sat down and started typing and didn't want to stop. I realized then that I don't want to stop writing, because it fills me up.
I don't remember how any of the other characters, including Sarita, were born. Ray came to me first. Because of that, I understand him even when I don't like him.
Ex-Ray is the most organic novel I have ever written. When I say these characters came to life and told their own story, that's precisely what I mean. The only maneuvering I did was with moving chapters and scenes from one book in the trilogy to another. Of course, I worked with editors and even a beta reader, but in the end, the characters told their own story, and I didn't try to fight with them. Well, maybe a few times, but they won.
I want to share their story with readers, and I'm hopeful that those of you who love to read will enjoy what I've written. My goal was to write a story that was realistic, unique, raw, and honest.
Is it a feel-good story? Hmm. I'm not sure. I do believe that it's a story that will make you feel a range of emotions, and I'll have to wait to hear from readers as to what their feelings were.
I'd like to quote a portion of a recent review for Until Ray that was posted on Barnes and Noble.com because it's a pretty accurate description of the entire trilogy.
"Dark, intense and edgy, UNTIL RAY by Cheryl Robinson is a tale of the downward spiral of more than two people, more than their dysfunctional relationships and almost seems to tell the tale of the implosion of a city in crisis. No matter how pretty the backdrop, how impressive the venues named should seem, this is a dark tale of failure, incredible betrayal, emotional weakness and the pain of a loss of innocence. The real world isn’t always pretty, but only by living in it, can we find ourselves. So far, Sarita and Ray are their own worst enemies." To read the full review, please click HERE.
Ex-Ray Book Question
So, let's get started. Hopefully, you're here because you've read the first two chapters of Ex-Ray, and perhaps you've also read Until Ray, the first book of the trilogy, and you're ready to discuss it.
When Ex-Ray opens, it's Ray and Sarita Saint's first anniversary, and Sarita is parked in front of Miss King's house. She's nervous about walking up to Miss King's door, not only because it's early in the morning on a Saturday, but also because she doesn't know her mother-in-law. To Sarita, Miss King is a woman who came with several warnings from Ray. She is someone who isn't going to be in their lives. So Sarita is afraid to get out of her car and walk to the side door. Does she really fear Miss King or the truth? How can someone as smart as Sarita be so naive? Is her love truly that blind?
In Chapter Two, readers are introduced to Ray Saint twenty-seven years later. He's in a sports bar with a friend, and they're mainly discussing his friend's marriage, but Ray's mind is on Sarita and the mistakes he made in the past. Mistakes that are too old to correct, or so he thinks.
After reading the first two chapters, please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
What would be your best advice to Sarita and Ray?