Tory and Me and the Spirit of True Love, by Margaret Bechard

Tory and Me and the Spirit of True Love

Emily’s cousin Tory says it’s going to be a summer of romance. Emily will get the attention of that cute Michael Atkeson, and they will learn the story of the mysterious Aunt Louisa, who stopped talking to the family years before her death. When Emily hears a hint that Aunt Louisa fell in love with the wrong man, Tory embarks on a quest for romantic secrets.


“Funny, honest and thoughtful” —The Horn Book

“As comfortable for readers as a big Sunday dinner” —Publishers Weekly

  • Publishers Weekly, “Pick of the Lists,” Fall, 1992.
  • Finalist, Oregon Book Awards, 1993.

Author’s Notes

When I finally finished a draft of this story that I was ready to show to the world, I sent it off to my editor. And she wrote back and said, “I like this, but … (There was always a “but.”) … I don’t think there’s quite enough here. I think this needs a subplot.”

When you have finished a story, when you feel you have told that story as completely as possible, when you think you have thought of everything those characters can possibly do … well, I will just say that it is hard to figure out how to fit a whole new subplot into that story. It’s hard to figure out what that subplot could even be about.

So first I had to think of something else these characters could want, to fuel a subplot. Then I had to think about what they could do to try to achieve this new goal. Then I had to figure out how to insert that, seamlessly and logically, into the existing action of the larger plot, without somehow derailing that plot.

It was not pretty. It was not fun.

Now I think about possible subplots with my very first ideas for a story. And I include subplots in everything I write … novels, grocery lists, Christmas cards. I am all about subplots.

I remember hearing Sid Fleischmann say that every story needs at least two ideas. Because one idea is like a match. A match is only good if there is something to strike it against, something to cause that chemical reaction that causes the match to burst into flame. So every story needs at least two ideas, two ideas the writer can strike against each other, to light the story into life.

Novels are big, long, complicated stories. And they need lots of fuel—lots of ideas—to keep themselves going. When I start writing a novel, I want to have lots and lots of ideas to toss into the mix. I will not use all of those ideas. Part of my process will be figuring out which ideas this story really needs. But I want a lot to choose from at the beginning, to keep me warm and glowing through that long process.