ARIZONA DAILY STAR
February 8, 2007
By Linda Schambach
TUCSON, AZ—Can a man and a woman remain friends after each marries someone else? Foothills resident Michele VanOrt Cozzens’ new novel, A Line Between Friends, explores that question.
The novel won the 2006 fiction contest of the California-based McKenna Publishing Group, which published the book. More than 100 authors submitted their manuscripts for the contest.
Eric Bollinger, president and publisher of McKenna Publishing, chose the winner from among three finalists. “The book has extraordinary writing, and I fell in love with it immediately,” he said. “Nearly everyone I know has a relationship like this.”
A Line Between Friends is Cozzens’ first novel and third book. It’s the story of two Midwesterners, Joel Rolland and Noelle Moncada, who meet in high school in 1977. Because of their attraction to each other, they date in high school, break up and begin a 20-year platonic relationship.
The story begins in the present day and the two are married, but not to each other. They live thousands of miles apart and keep in touch through notes and occasional phone calls. However, Joel’s wife objects to her husband remaining close to a woman with whom he’d been intimate.
Noelle receives a letter from Joel stating that their friendship must end and they can no longer correspond with each other.
Michele VanOrt Cozzens, 46, felt compelled to write this story because of a situation in her own life. “I had this story inside of me because this happened to me,” Cozzens said. “I had a friend I went to college with. We both married other people, yet enjoyed 16 years of keeping in touch with each other. My friend ended our correspondence abruptly.”
Cozzens said she doesn’t know her friend’s side of the story. Writing the novel gave her an opportunity to find closure.
“In the book, both Noelle and then Joel, in alternating chapters, replay the events between them leading to Joel’s decision to end the relationship,” Cozzens said.
Cozzens explained that because this is such a hot topic, it creates a lively dialogue between men and women.
“The way I have written the book, it allows the reader to decide if a man and woman can remain friends after each marries someone else. It is a good read for both sexes,” she said.
Cozzens and her husband of 17 years, Mike Cozzens, 46, have two daughters, 9 and 11. The couple divides their time between Tucson and northern Wisconsin, where they own a resort and spend most of their summers. Cozzens, a former editor and newspaper columnist, has enjoyed writing for as long as she can remember.
“I love to write. I have been writing since the third grade.” she said.
A Line Between Friends is her first novel. Her first published book, I’m Living Your Dream Life: The Story of a Northwoods Resort Owner, is a memoir based on her and her husband’s life experience.
“We were two yuppies living in San Francisco who decided to live our dream of becoming resort owners,” Cozzens said. “In 1993, we bought an existing resort along with 45 acres in Wisconsin.”
After five years of living in the Snow Belt, they decided to move to Tucson and run the business together from afar.
Cozzens is currently working on a novel about the lives of a group of ladies who meet once a month and play Bunco, a simple dice game.