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  • Writer's pictureS. Jennifer Paulson

Boomerang is a dark thriller novel. Just like life can be.

Updated: Mar 15

I had a moment the other night.

Boomerang, my dark domestic thriller novel, has received positive ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) feedback so far. But as the publication date creeps closer, I started fretting about the novel's sometimes-heavy content.

crow, full moon, creepy, darkness, scary
Is "Boomerang" too dark of a novel?

"Is it too dark?" I asked my husband as we settled into bed for our nightly Netflix fix. "Should I just kill it?"

I knew the answer before he even responded.


(After watching the first five minutes of Max's "True Detective," I saw it wasn't. Unfortunately, there are a lot of dark stories out there in this big, beautiful world of ours.)

And I want to be authentic.

As I've read and reread Boomerang, I am pleased with my narrative. But it's taken me down a path of paranoia. Yes, the story is anchored around some of our recent societal movements and issues. It's a fictional tale of a heartbroken young widow looking to pick up the pieces of her shattered life after her husband is tragically killed. She thinks it's the worst that can happen to her. But she has no clue her grief is about to exponentially deepen when she stumbles upon a shocking confession from her late spouse and sets her on a self-destructive path to unveil the truth.

The story is pretty intense. And while I can't personally speak to some of the issues that anchor the book's premise, there's one I can.

Alcohol abuse.

When I began writing Boomerang, I was a drinker. A heavy one. For several years, I drank to numb my own demons and unhappiness. And since I was working full time and could only write on my off hours, that left little time for writing. Because at that point, Happy Hour was my priority when I was off the clock. Especially on the weekends.

wine, wine glass, drinking, alcohol, wiener wineglass, dachshund wine glass, wiener
I used to think alcohol was the solution for my problems. (And I also thought this glass was an appropriate gift for my Chiweenie-loving sister.)

You'd think slicing my chin and eyebrow open in a drunken haze one Saturday night fifteen years ago (which required a visit to the ER and a plastic surgeon to stitch me up) would stimulate some common sense. Nope. Neither did the pancreatitis that landed me in the hospital overnight several years ago. I just took a five-day break from drinking, then resumed (hoping the anti-alcohol supplements I began taking would "protect" my organs from further damage).

I looked like hell. And felt like it, too. Men I dated told me I drank too much. (And I told them where they could go). It wasn't until my kids asked me more like begged me to stop drinking that I finally hit it.

My rock bottom.

One that could have been much, much worse.

I'm grateful I finally got some sense knocked into me to make a change. And I'm proud to say I have been alcohol-free since April 26, 2020. I shudder to think what my life would be like now, had I continued to drink. And wonder if I'd still be alive.

Why am I even going here? Well, there's alcohol abuse in this novel. And at first, my content editor questioned some of it. "So much vomiting!...More vomiting!" were among the content edit notes I recall. So, I trimmed it back.

sheep, middle aged woman
I've been alcohol-free since April 2020. I thought I'd share with you and these sheep. PHOTO BY TIM SHORTT

But I also left some in. Because I know this kind of behavior to be true.

After all, I lived like that for a couple of decades.

I know what excessive drinking looks and feels like. That was my reality for so long, it was my normal. I thought nothing of weekend hangovers and getting sick on a semi-regular basis. To me, it made sense in the novel. With 10 percent of Americans afflicted with alcohol use disorder (AUD), it wasn't too far-fetched that my story's troubled characters turned to booze to quiet the noise in their brains.

I'm not trying to insinuate that all people with any kind of problems or trauma turn into problem drinkers. But some do. I certainly did.

Boomerang is one of those stories.

Yeah, I'm a bit nervous sharing this extremely personal and vulnerable info. But if me baring my soul here inspires even one person to make a change in their life, it's worth it.

Just know this: If you're still breathing, it's not too late to make that change. And put your life on a completely different path.

I did. And so can you.


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Hi, readers! I’m S. Jennifer Paulson, a former journalist who has been pecking away at my debut novel for years. You know, in between work, helping my husband with his business, grad school and being a wife and mom. So, I’ll be sharing about the writing journey, as well as musings on everyday life — and the things going on around us — from the world of books to beyond. So grab a cup of coffee and join me on my journey to publishing my first book. It’s gonna be an interesting ride.

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