And Now There’s Zelda by Carolyn Clarke | Magazine | General Fiction | Interviews | Women’s Fiction
And Now There's Zelda

By Carolyn Clarke

Author Carolyn Clarke on how it’s never too late to start a second, or even third act.

Life’s a journey marked by transitions, and for women in their 40s, 50s and even 60s, the idea of embarking on a ‘second act’ holds significant meaning. This pivotal stage offers an opportunity for reinvention, self-discovery, and the pursuit of long-held dreams. As societal norms evolve and perceptions of aging shift, women are rewriting the narrative of midlife, embracing new beginnings with resilience and determination.

Take Allie, for example, the main character in And Then There’s Margaret (2022) and the soon-to-be-released And Now There’s Zelda (May 9, 2024). She transitioned from being a bored and frustrated kindergarten teacher to a successful owner of a home staging business. Her journey reflects the transformative power of embracing change.

In her mid-40s, Allie’s life took a significant turn. The passing of her beloved father-in-law, George, her children growing older, and her teaching career leaving her uninspired all contributed to a sense of restlessness. Despite the challenges, these transitions presented an opportunity for her to paint the next chapter of her life, embracing change as a catalyst for growth and transformation.

For many women, the second or third act offers a chance to rediscover and reignite passions that may have been sidelined by family or work responsibilities. Whether it’s pursuing a creative endeavor, starting a business, or embarking on a new career path, this stage of life encourages us to reclaim ownership of our dreams and aspirations. The pursuit of passion becomes a source of vitality and purpose, breathing new life into each day.

Since reaching fifty, I’ve noticed a huge shift in my outlook on life. With the passage of time comes a wealth of experiences and insights that have shaped my perspective. I’ve become more patient and discerning, making decisions with a clarity that I certainly didn’t have when I was younger. This newfound wisdom served as a guiding light, illuminating the path forward. Long story short, I transitioned from a career as an urban planner to an ESL teacher and materials writer (now coordinator – my day-time job) and presently to my third act of writing fiction, which I love!

My own self-awareness has deepened my understanding of both myself and others. Armed with a greater sense of compassion and empathy, I approach my interactions with a heightened sensitivity. As a writer, this depth of understanding has enriched my storytelling, allowing me to create characters that resonate with readers on a deeper level that feels relatable and compelling.

To be honest, it wasn’t easy for me to muster up the courage to start this third act, and I believe it’s a challenge many others face. Society often associates aging with decline, yet women in their 50s are challenging these stereotypes and breaking barriers. With a wealth of experience, wisdom, and resilience accumulated over decades, women are rewriting the script on what it means to age gracefully and purposefully. So, yay for us!

While the second or third act offers boundless opportunities for growth and exploration, it’s not without other challenges. Women may struggle with feelings of uncertainty, fear of failure, or societal expectations. Balancing personal aspirations with family obligations (and aging parents) and financial considerations can also present hurdles along the way. Yet, it’s through navigating these challenges that women cultivate strength, resilience, and a deeper understanding of their own capabilities.

Based on experience, it’s important to build strong support networks to navigate the challenges of the second or third act. Whether it’s through friendships, mentorship, or community groups, women find solace and strength in connecting with others who share their journey. These networks serve as pillars of support, offering encouragement, guidance, and a sense of camaraderie amidst life’s messy twists and turns.

Remember, if you are about to embark or are already on your second or third act, it’s important to celebrate milestones and achievements. Each step forward, no matter how small, represents a triumph of courage, resilience, and determination.

Do you have a second or third act in mind? I’d love to hear about it!

(c) Carolyn Clarke

About And Now There’s Zelda by Carolyn Clarke:

Dealing with a controlling, manipulative, and self-absorbed mother-in-law can be a challenge. But when your child brings home a fiancé who’s completely unworthy, and the shoe is suddenly on the other foot, do you take the high road, or get down and dirty?

It’s been five years since Allison Montgomery’s beloved father-in-law, George, passed away and her cantankerous mother-in-law, Margaret, moved in. After nearly killing each other during their initial adjustment period, Allie and Margaret have finally buried the hatchet and have even launched a thriving home staging business together.

Today, Allie is enjoying life. That is until her twenty-two-year-old son, Cameron, unexpectedly brings home Zelda, his new fiancé. The problem is, no one has ever met or even heard of her. And when Zelda’s first impression raises more than a few red flags, Allie finds herself in unfamiliar territory.

Facing the prospect of becoming a mother-in-law far sooner than expected, and to someone unworthy of her darling baby boy, Allie’s protective instinct kicks in. And who better to turn to for guidance and support than Margaret, her former nemesis and master of the mothers-in-law’s dark arts.

Allie and Margaret launch Project Zelda, an intervention of sorts designed to show Cameron who Zelda really is and to prevent him from making a catastrophic mistake. However, with Zelda’s ingratiating behavior, Margaret’s occasional disappearances, and Allie’s doubts about turning into her own mother-in-law, will Allie find a way to reconcile her protective instincts or will history repeat itself?

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Carolyn Clarke is the founder and curator of HenLit Central, a blog focused on ‘life and lit’ for women over 40. And Now There’s Zelda is her second book after her multi-award winning and bestselling book, And Then There’s Margaret (women’s fiction – comedy drama). She has been an ESL teacher for over sixteen years and has co-authored several articles and resources with Cambridge University Press, MacMillan Education and her award-winning blog ESL Made Easy. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her partner, Tony, her two daughters and a bulldog, Sophie.

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