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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Romance's Dark Side

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Aaron Hendrick
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Lindsay MacMillan
Author Lindsay MacMillan

How many of us go to our jobs and wish we could quit and chase a dream instead? Lindsay MacMillan had great success in her career at Goldman Sachs. By the age of 28, she had a six-figure salary as a vice-president, with a bright future in the finance industry. But the Mattawan native dreamed about another career: becoming a writer. Spending early mornings working on her novel, the contemporary romance The Heart of the Deal (Alcove Press, 2022), MacMillan decided to quit her job after landing a book deal. She now earns a dollar-per-book, and she couldn’t be happier.

A conversation with Lindsay MacMillan

The Heart of the Deal is the story of Rae, a woman in her mid-20s, who is enjoying a successful career on Wall Street but is less than satisfied with her love life. With a detailed plan to meet a man, get married, and begin a family by the time she turns 30, Rae becomes involved with Dustin through an online dating service. He seems to be “The One.” But it isn’t long before she learns that he suffers from severe depression. Dating a partner with mental illness can become, as MacMillan says, “contagious.” Rae begins to exhibit signs of battered woman syndrome, absorbing emotional and psychological abuse from her lover.

McMillan-Cover.jpg
Alcove Press
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Lindsay MacMillan
Cover of "The Heart of the Deal"

“Rae is a woman figuring out life and love,” MacMillan says. “And then there’s this added element of supporting a partner through mental illness and depression. The love story in store for her might not be that happy-go-lucky, formulaic one from the movies. She and her best friend Ellen support each other as they learn all of these lessons.”

MacMillan says writing the book was a way of exploring the possibilities for her own life as well as Rae’s. Both eventually leave their jobs on Wall Street to pursue writing.

“As I was writing the book, my character Rae overtook me in age,” she says. “It spans her 25 to 30 years, and I’m currently 28. I quit my corporate job several months ago, basically writing this story about a woman who is essentially stepping off the conventional track and carving her own path in her relationships and her career. She goes in a more creative direction for her career, so I’ve kind of written through that and gone through a lot of her psychological contemplations, though she’s a different character than myself and my motives. But there were certainly parallels there and it sounds like a crazy writer thing to say, but I certainly got some courage and motivation from having experienced Rae going on that journey.”

MacMillan’s second novel, also a contemporary romance, is coming out in June 2023. She currently lives in Mattawan, Michigan, and is writing full-time.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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