Author E.H. Nolan was nice enough to come by today to answer a few questions and give us a peek at Like a Closed Fist. This book is getting some great reviews – people seem to love the drama and angst and growth and messiness of love.
*What do you like best about writing romances?
I like being able to fix what isn’t perfect in real life. I don’t mean a happy ending, but the little intricacies inbetween, like a declaration of love, or saying just the right line to make someone forgive you. In real life, sometimes there’s an interruption, or too much pressure or too little time, and you can’t always say what you wanted to say. I like to write out a perfect scene where everyone gets to say what they wanted to say. Most of the time I end up cutting the perfection out the scene to make it more realistic; I add the interruption and the pressure. But it’s still fun.
*What is your favorite romantic story (movie/book, fact/fiction, whatever you love most)?
Obviously The Great Gatsby is an incredibly romantic tale, but it reaches far beyond relationship love. The romance of the era and yearning for the past are even more powerful than the boy-girl drama. I cry every year watching It’s a Wonderful Life, when Mary says, “This is what I wished for,” on their wedding night, so I’d have to say that’s one of my favorite love stories. I love happy endings, even though I write sad endings almost exclusively.
*If you could be any romantic character, who would it be and why?
Peggy from The Best Years of Our Lives. She’s strong and capable, and has found adulthood through WW2. She falls in love with the married friend of her father’s, a fighter pilot with PTSD. I really like that Peggy hasn’t become impervious to emotion, even though she’s been forced to be tough. She’s got the perfect blend of being able to take care of Fred and needing him to take care of her. Plus, Fred’s a total hunk!
*Which of your characters/books was the most fun to write?
Hands down, Like a Closed Fist was the most fun to write. My other two books were heavy dramas, and I was always killing characters off! At least, in Fist, no one dies. There were difficult and sad parts to write, but mostly it was extremely fun. Phoebe is a love, and I really enjoyed getting into her head, and her many men were pretty cute too!
*If you weren’t a writer and could be anything you want, what would it be?
I’ve always wanted to be an English teacher, because I’d love to spend my days and years talking about The Great Gatsby and Ragtime, just like it was when I was in high school. My junior year English teacher had an incredible impact on me, and in fact, I took her last name as my pen name. If it wasn’t for Ms. Nolan, I never would have written any of my musicals, or probably my books either (since I started my first musical before my first novel).
by E.H. Nolan
It was harmless enough: her best friend’s wedding. But for California girl Phoebe, forty-eight hours in North Carolina changed her life.
As Phoebe keeps up long-distance romances with the two very different men who captured her heart—gloomy hotel concierge Mason and carefree groomsman Frankie—she also juggles her growing attraction to her dad’s married friend. Throw in two old flames from her past and a hunky masseur and you’ve got a most complicated love hexagon!
Thrilled by her unexpected adventures, Phoebe jumps from one love affair to the next, desperate to preempt disappointment and pain. But an unplanned pregnancy and the abandonment of the man she learned to love forces her to face the tragedies of her new adult world in this cautionary tale about love, sex, grief, and growing up.
Buy it on Amazon
Find it on Goodreads
My dad wasn’t too pleased that all I seemed to do with my free time was daydream about Mitch. At least he hadn’t gone so far as to forbid me from attending the baseball games. There wasn’t really any need, in his mind, to separate us. I was just a little girl with a crush, and Mitch was devoted to his family.
One of my dad’s friends, Tad, was recently divorced and had started to notice me. I always sat in the front row, and I made sure I looked incredible when I knew I’d be seeing Mitch, so I wasn’t really surprised when Tad started hitting on me.
Tad wasn’t bad looking; he had all his hair and nice teeth, but I wouldn’t have strayed from Mitch for all the teeth in the world. None of the other Pasadena Parrots could hold a candle to their coach, either. None of them had perfectly tanned skin, hair peppered with just enough salt to look distinguished, fun-loving brown eyes, and a grin that said, “I just saw you naked.” Randy had a shaved “Mr. Clean” head and an impossibly thick Sam Elliot mustache, and more often than not he was seen chewing on a toothpick. Leo had strawberry blond hair that was unfortunately styled in a perpetually bad haircut, and his thin-framed glasses were almost always smudged. Joe had insufferably bushy eyebrows, and Brick had a beer belly and gray hair with highlights of white.
I humored Tad for the most part, since it was just a little harmless flirting. Evidently, Mitch was not amused. He saw Tad fold me into a giant bear hug before the game started, and his eyes tightened.
“Getting a little cozy with Tad?” he asked, his voice strained.
“Everyone loves me; you know this,” I shrugged, as though the constant male attention was exhausting. “Tad said the guys were thinking of making me the team’s unofficial mascot. Cute, isn’t it?”
“I don’t like seeing his hands all over you,” Mitch said, ignoring my attempt to distract him.
“His hands aren’t all over me,” I insisted. “And even if they were, I don’t know why you’re getting so jealous. It’s not like you’re my boyfriend.”
I was caught off-guard, and probably gaped a second longer than I should have. “I don’t know, Mitch. You’ve never told me what this is. All you ever do is kiss me then say something like, ‘oh shit,’ and leave. I’m tired of that, by the way. You’re not the only one in this situation, you know? You’re not the only person who’s confused—”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I am the only one who’s married. I’m the only one who’s doing something really shitty to a woman I’ve been married to for twenty years. And I’m the one going home to my wife after kissing you, screwing her and thinking of you. I have no idea what your situation is, but mine just might be a little more complicated.”
“You’re right, you’re right; I’m sorry.” I placed my hands on his chest, grateful for our privacy in the dugout. “I put too much emphasis on the word ‘boyfriend’. I’m sorry.”
Mitch took a small step towards me—there wasn’t that much space between us to begin with—and kissed me. “I’m crazy about you,” he said. “Sometimes I have to remind myself you’re just a kid. There’s no way you’re taking this as seriously as I am.”
“I’m not a kid.” I tugged at his bottom lip with my teeth and deepened the kiss. He broke away from me, a little rigid.
“Sex doesn’t make you a grown-up. I’m not sure you know that.” Mitch sounded very much like a coach, and I tried to suppress my smile as I reminded him we weren’t having sex. “I know,” he said, breathing deeply. “And we’re not going to until you grow up a little bit. And,” he continued, raising his eyebrows like he was putting me on restriction, “I’m not gonna be the guy you sow your wild oats with. Being with me can have a hell of a lot of consequences, and if you’re just looking at this as a little fun, then—”
I shook my head forcefully. “I want to be with you. I can’t even imagine wanting to be with anyone else.”
As soon as he heard Henry’s voice, Mitch leapt away from me like the bad side of a magnet. He rounded the corner and addressed Henry’s problem, then came back to me as soon as he could.
“Gotta go,” he said hurriedly, kissing my cheek.
Half a whimper escaped my lips, and Mitch grabbed my waist a little tighter. He whispered in my ear, telling me what my noise made him think about. I struggled to keep my balance; the vibrations of his voice felt like an earthquake—a really sexy earthquake that turned my hormones upside down.
The Parrots won their game, so everyone was in a good mood and looking forward to going out afterwards. Mitch and I walked together to the parking lot. Mrs. Mitch hadn’t been in the stadium that day, but neither of us mentioned her absence. Mitch looked over our shoulders and straightened his posture. I heard footsteps and male laughter approaching, so I plastered a smile on my face.
My dad clapped a hand on Mitch’s back. “Coming out with us tonight?” he asked.
“No,” Mitch said quickly.
“Yes, he wants to so badly, but he just can’t.” I corrected. It sounded so much nicer when I said it.
“Oh yes, of course.” Mitch caught on quickly. “Did I say that all wrong?”
I returned his smile. “Yes.”
“Bruce, I’d love to go out with everyone tonight, but I just can’t. I’ve got a big day tomorrow, with Little League practice and a bunch of angry parents to deal with.”
“Little League?” I asked.
“I coach the kids, but sometimes another coach has to step in for the games when they conflict with the Parrots. Usually I’m able to make all the practices, though. Anyway, there’s this one parent, he was really mad at me. He totally yelled at me last week, called me up after practice to keep yelling at me. It really shook me up.” Mitch looked down. “I have thin skin about those things.” My heart melted.
“So what you’re saying is you’ll really need a drink tomorrow night,” my dad joked.
“I’ll buy you a gin and tonic,” I offered.
“You know me!” Mitch beamed.
“How do you two know each other?” Tad asked, the green-eyed monster clearly visible on his shoulder.
“We go way back,” Mitch grinned at me, obviously titillated that we shared a secret.
Mitch and I were parted by the other men, conversation carrying him further and further away from me. I didn’t know when I’d see him again; the next game was in two weeks, and I’d be missing it because of Annie’s wedding. Now we were forced apart for who knew how long, and without so much as a goodbye or a wave.
“Phoebe!” Mitch called, just as I was about to open the car door.
I turned around, more dramatic than I had intended. Mitch jogged over to our car and wrapped me up in a hug. “Hey, girl. You didn’t think I’d let you leave without saying goodbye, did you?”
I laughed into his shoulder, because that was exactly what I’d thought. “I don’t know when I’ll see you,” I said. “I guess next month?”
“Next month?” Mitch faltered for only a moment after I told him about Annie’s wedding, then said, “We’ll just have to get together outside of game day. Get drinks before you go or something.”
“Really?” I whispered.
“Sure. You’re my girl, aren’t you?”
I nodded and he smiled, pulling me in for one last hug. “See ya, Bruce,” he called loudly to the other side of the car. He jogged a few steps away, then turned back around to look at me again. “God, you look great!” he grinned before continuing his journey to his car.
I snapped myself back to reality long enough to sit in the passenger seat and close the door after me. Once again, that stunned look appeared on my dad’s face.
“I know,” I sighed.
“This is getting inappropriate,” poor Bruce said. “He shouldn’t be noticing the way you look. And he’s complimenting you . . . in ways I wouldn’t expect.” My dad frowned, fiddling with the keys in his hand. “I’ve really been looking for it, but I’ve never seen him act this way with anyone else. I was hoping I could tell you this is just how he is, but he’s never like this.”
“He loves me,” I sighed. When my dad offered silence to my suggestion, I spoke again. “Did you know he coached Little League?”
“Isn’t that sweet? He cares about children.”
“Of course he does. He has two of them.”
Nolan graduated magna cum laude from Chapman University, earning a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Film Studies.
Heavily involved in the arts, Nolan is an award-winning actress and an accomplished composer and playwright. She has written three musicals, music, lyrics, and libretto.
Nolan loves to read and participates in a family-run book club, finding inspiration from both classic literature and modern masterpieces.