Despite professional success, the 1990’s was a difficult decade for Terry McMillan. Her mother, Madeline Tillman, died in September of 1993, and the following September her best friend, Doris Jean Austin, died. Emotionally drained, McMillan traveled to Jamaica in June, 1995, with Deborah Schindler, the producer of the film version of McMillan’s novel Waiting to Exhale (1992). In Jamaica, McMillan had met Jonathan Plummer, a twenty-four-year-old resort employee. Though McMillan had been concerned with the difference in their ages—she was nineteen years older than Plummer—the couple still fell in love.
Inspired by her experience in Jamaica with Plummer, McMillan returned home and spent the first three weeks of September writing the first draft of How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Her editor, Carole DeSanti, said that McMillan had written about her experience in Jamaica in several genres (that is, as a poem, a short story, and a novella) before the work evolved into a novel. McMillan’s ability to work had been surprising because prior to her vacation, she had been suffering writer’s block, unable to complete the manuscript for the novel A Day Late and a Dollar Short, which was published in 2001. Before December, 1993, McMillan had invited her muse—Plummer—to join her in California. Known for creating works thinly veiled as fiction, McMillan admits the novel comes close to mirroring her experiences.
(The entire section is 504 words.)