The Break-up Make-Over, by Natalie Anderson

by Natalie Anderson, author of To Love, Honor and Disobey (Harlequin Presents Extra, August 2010)

Ever had your heart broken? Ever been dumped by a boyfriend? What did you do? Did you hide out for a few days and eat your favourite comfort food, watch weepy movies and talk lots to your sympathetic girlfriends? What did you do then? Did you dry you eyes, stand up tall and think, “Huh, he wants to break up with me? Fine. I’ll show him!”

So many women I know (myself included) have come out of a relationship determined to make a fresh start. They’ve lost five pounds, bought a new wardrobe (or at least one lovely new outfit), and cut/colour/changed their hair. It’s like this ‘reclamation of self’ or something. A kind of, ‘I’m more than fine without you thanks, I’m better and more beautiful and more confident’ mantra.

Sure, it may start out as bravado – a ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ band-aid. But there’s nothing wrong with a bit of pampering when your heart is feeling tender.

I do love a heroine with a bit of ‘gumption’ – someone who’s taken the knocks but who isn’t going to lie in a heap in the corner and cry – not for the rest of her story! Nope, she’s going to pick herself up and box on better and braver than before. And that may well include a little bit of beautification and maybe something even a little more radical. Maybe it’ll be the incentive to take life on and cross something off her ‘bucket’ list.

My heroine Ana in To Love, Honor & Disobey has taken a couple of hefty knocks because she fell very hard for the ultimate playboy, Sebastian. As gorgeous and irresistible as he is, he’s only ever about fun. So when their fling ends, Ana sheds more than a few tears and then knows she has to do something drastic to pull herself out of the funk. While she doesn’t go for the haircut, she does do a little personal redecoration and then takes off on a solo adventure – to Africa – to prove to herself that she’s strong and capable and totally over Sebastian.

Hmmm, two out of three isn’t bad, right?

Because Sebastian then turns up in the most unexpected of places and she is so not over him.

When writing her story, I had a lot of fun revisiting the trip I took through South East Africa. I joined a truck tour, as Ana does, but still, being a young woman back then, boarding a plane to Kenya alone was a big deal for me. And I must also confess, I booked my one way ticket to London on the back of a bad break-up. At the time it was the most empowering feeling!

So have you ever done the post-break-up radical change? Did you switch jobs/countries/hair style?

I have just been for the cut & colour routine – not because of any heartache thankfully – but because it is the annual conference this weekend! It feels like forever that I’ve been playing Cinderella – reading all about the RNA conference in the UK, The RWA in Orlando, USA and then the Australian RWA conference in Coogee last week-end… but now it is finally New Zealand’s turn. I’m very excited and am totally fan-girling it up because I’m so looking forward to meeting superstar Presents writer Jane Porter who is a guest speaker this year. New Zealand’s fabulous Presents trinity – Daphne Clair, Robyn Donald and Susan Napier – should be there too. I promise to take photos 🙂

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Comments ( 12 )
  1. Nicola Marsh
    August 20, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Have a ball at the conference, Nat!

    I’ve been a Cinderella for all of them this year, living vicariously through everyone so looking forward to hearing your tales from RWNZ.

    As for post break ups, yep, after a biggie once I lost 7 kg, took off for London and Europe and almost chucked in my job because I wanted to stay longer.

    I didn’t & came home but I always wonder what would’ve happened if I’d been brave enough to do it…I adored London!!!

  2. Natalie Anderson
    August 21, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Hi Nicola! Oh I am having a ball (hey, isn’t the Oz conference in Melbourne next year – you’ll be there then, right?!). Christopher Vogler and Stephanie Laurens are amazing and I got to meet the fabulous Jane Porter and chatter ’til some dreadful hour of the morning with her… very cool.

    And wow, loving your post break-up renewal story – nothing like a super trip away to clear the head… and yes, those ‘what if’s in real life can be tantalising… that’s the fun thing about being a writer, you can put all the possibilities into the books 🙂

  3. Kimberly Lang
    August 21, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Um, I never reinvented myself… I was too busy plotting revenge, er, getting even. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say it’s not wise to break my heart.

    I fight back, and while I may be little, I’m mean. And devious. And creative.

  4. Soraya
    August 22, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Can’t say I’ve ever reinvented myself personally, but I do love reading about women who do pick themselves up and determine to be even stronger and more confident than before, and find love again. Even if they don’t want to admit they’re ready for love straight away!

    Loved this book by the way 🙂

  5. Maisey Yates
    August 22, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Kim, why am I not surprised by this at all?

    Natalie, I had a reinvention in highschool, but I can happily say it had nothing to do with a boy. I lost fifty pounds though, and I’m happy for that to this day!

  6. Natalie Anderson
    August 22, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Oh Kimberly – i LOVE it – you have me soooooo intrigued… what DID you do????

  7. Natalie Anderson
    August 22, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Hi Soraya – glad you liked it 🙂
    Yeah, it’s nice to see a heroine pull it together I think – or at least try to – courage is such and appealing characteristic I think…

  8. Natalie Anderson
    August 22, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    WTG Maisey – wow! That’s so cool – good for you 🙂

  9. Joanne Dannon
    August 23, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I’ve never re-invented myself….which I had thought of doing that 😉

    BTW – I loooooved your book “To love, honour and disobey” 😀

    PS – the conference sounds fab-u-lous! Glad you had a ball!

  10. Heidi Rice
    August 24, 2010 at 9:03 am

    I reinvented myself when I was about 15, because that’s when I discovered boys… Before then I’d been a complete tomboy (even playing football in the boys playground), but then I got a major crush on this guy who I thought looked like Warren Beatty (when he was young that is). My sister who was always a girly-girl took me shopping, did my hair and I went to my first proper party, shocked the pants off all my former footie mates and yes reader, I snogged Warren!

    Then he broke my heart telling me he already had a girlfriend (yeah, I know, bit late for that, pal). So I sort of did the reinvention thing in reverse. Does it still count?

  11. Natalie Anderson
    August 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Joanne – its never too late for a re-invention! Funny though – I know so many girls who have – not a radical thing – but maybe a new haircut or something (new haircut is definitely the most popular thing round here)… maybe its a Kiwi thing?

    So glad you enjoyed Ana & Seb 🙂

    And yes, the conference was AWESOME! You guys should all come to the NZ one sometime!

  12. Natalie Anderson
    August 25, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Oh Heidi – what a schmuck he was for snogging you while having the girlfriend!
    I think reinvention in reverse totally counts – nothing like going back to being yourself!!!!