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The Roseman Covered Bridge in Winterset, Iowa is prominently featured in the novel The Bridges of Madison County, as well as its film adaptation. 

When we engross ourselves in a great book, we don’t tend to give much thought to the long process that goes into creating and putting it all together. The time and effort of these creations seems to escape us as readers. Authors work tirelessly on their books, only to have us readers devour their words quicker than they wrote them.

Thinking back to all the reading I’ve done throughout my life, it has never occurred to me all the long hours they must have spent sitting in front of a screen and how they might have typed for hours at a time, eventually extending into months of hard work.

Like I said, I’ve never given much thought to the entire process an author goes through when it comes to creating their piece, but that all changed when I had the opportunity to speak with Ben Stellino, author of “This Thing Between Us.”

Stellino took the time to walk me through how her book finally came to be, after so many years of wrestling with the swarming thoughts of her inspiration that was the 1992 phenomenon “The Bridges of Madison County” by Robert James Waller. “The Bridges of Madison County” is a story that revolves around Robert Kincaid, who comes across a farm wife by the name of Francesca Johnson while her family is away. Their love story lasts a total of four days and after that they never see each other again.

Although Waller’s book received its fair share of backlash due to the affair between the characters Kincaid and Johnson, Stellino defends it. “It does not matter whether you’re married or not married, you can’t turn away from your mirror,” she said. 

She is a strong believer that love is not something you can easily turn away from, especially if that person happens to be your soul mate.

When Stellino first read “The Bridges of Madison County” in 1994 she was awestruck by how much of a connection she had with the story, for she herself was experiencing a heartbreak at the time of reading it. To her, it was the perfect mirror that reflected her emotions. She felt as if the book really cemented what she was feeling at that point in time.

Before she sat down and decided to finally start her piece which became “This Thing Between Us,” she knew before she started anything she first needed to heal her broken heart from a lost love. It wasn’t until she recovered from her heartbreak that she found out how to be objective and move forward.

In addition, even though Stellino had always seen herself publishing her work one day, it wasn’t until July 2017 that she decided to begin putting it all together. 

As she sat in the waiting room of a medical office writing down all her goals in a journal, she decided that in October she would go to Madison County and begin what she refers to as her passion project. Coincidentally, she spent exactly four days in Madison County, the same amount of time Kincaid and Johnson spent together.

In “This Thing Between Us,” Stellino takes her own personal stories, along with her inspiration from “The Bridges of Madison County,” turning her work into a poetic masterpiece.

 

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