Monday, January 14, 2013

On Tour and Voices plus a Giveaway: The Darling Girls by Emma Burstall

Three women in love with the same man meet for the first time at his funeral. Can they separate the truth from the lies – and learn to trust again?

When world famous music conductor Leo Bruck dies suddenly, he leaves behind three grieving women and a mass of unanswered questions.

Did the man who juggled these simultaneous relationships while thrilling audiences around the globe, direct The Darling Girls like an orchestra?

Victoria, his partner of twenty years and mother of two of his children, regards herself as his rightful widow and keeper of his legacy. However, a series of shocking discoveries – revolving around Leo’s boyhood flight on the Kindertransport from Nazi-occupied Austria - forces her to re-examine the man she thought she knew and query the very foundation of their relationship.

Maddy, mother of Leo’s daughter Phoebe, has a high-powered job and seems independent and sorted. But events take a sinister turn when Maddy becomes involved with Victoria’s troubled teenage son, and her safe world starts to go awry.

Finally there’s Cat who, at just 24, is Leo’s youngest lover. Coping with a sick mother and battling demons from her childhood, she is finding it increasingly hard to hold it together. Will grief, anger and bitterness blind her to the possibility of ever finding happiness, career fulfilment - and even, perhaps, new love?

The Darling Girls is a moving story of love, loss, and the prevailing power of female friendship. Can these three very different women, whose lives become inextricably bound, break free from the masterful control Leo exerts - even from the grave - once and for all? ~~ synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts about The Darling Girls ~~

Okay, I have to say this and then I can move on ~ this cover is amazing and is what first caught my attention. There is just so much on that cover that I needed to know about. And then secondly, it is about 3 women and how they figure it all out, whatever 'it' is. I love that kind of story-line.

Victoria, Maddy and Cat all come together at Leo's funeral. They each think they are the love of his life - his 'darling girl'. As the story progresses, we come to learn Leo's true story and about his past. Things are not good; he was not a good person. The women each have to figure out how to carry on with their lives, knowing what they now know. And if it's possible to find happiness again.

I love stories about groups of women, friends or foe, who for whatever reason are thrown together and either learn to lean on each other or learn how to move on without that friendship. Emma does an excellent job of developing her characters to make the reader feel like we really know each of these women and have a stake in the outcome of their decisions and their lives.

I truly loved being in this story with Victoria, Maddy and Cat, going through the ups and downs with them. Just when you think another bad thing cannot happen, guess what! How will they ever get through it all? This book is very well written and easy to just get absorbed into. I didn't want to stop reading and being a part of their lives.

Great job, Emma! I want to read more of your work.

And now, Emma, I want to say how happy I am that you are here at The Book Bag today ~

I have heard other authors say that they 'hear voices in their head' and that is how they write their books: the characters are telling their stories. Not being a writer myself, that concept has always intrigued me.

When some people hear voices, we get them medical attention, others end up becoming writers. Does this happen to you? How do you come up with your stories?

The Voices In My Head

Do you hear voices in your head? I do. I haven’t gone mad, at least I don’t think so…

The fact is, when I’m immersed in writing my characters ‘talk’ to me. I can hear how they speak, their accent and tone, the way they laugh, whether they curse and swear or pronounce their words very properly. I've heard other writers say the same thing so I know I’m not alone.

My eldest child’s an actress and I've come to the conclusion that novel writing and acting are not so dissimilar. Just as actors throw themselves into a role and become that person for the duration of the performance, so novelists become their characters while they’re working.

It’s a weird job and no wonder my family never knows quite what mood I’m going to be in when I finish writing! If something bad’s been happening to a character, it can take me a little while to get out of the negative zone and be me again. Whereas if my character’s happy, I’ll finish work for the day in buoyant mood.

My first three novels focus on the lives of different groups of women who interact at various points. When I’m writing a scene where they’re all together, I find myself flitting into the minds of one character after another like an invisible guest, seeing each of them in turn through different eyes. I get to know them so well I feel quite bereft at the end of the book, like saying goodbye to a dear friend.

The process of hearing and ‘becoming’ a character doesn't happen immediately however. It takes time. Usually when planning a novel I’ll start with the plot, the seed of an idea that plants itself in my mind and starts to grow. Only when I've fleshed out the plot and decided on a beginning, middle and end, will I begin the process of working out who my characters really are.

I’ll generally start with someone I vaguely know or have come across. This person will be the ‘coat hanger’, nothing more. Next I’ll begin to formulate who this person is in my book – what they look like, their hair colour, eyes, facial characteristics, whether they have straight teeth or crooked ones, their body shape, the kinds of clothes they like to wear. Their hobbies, loves and hates, their houses. Whether they’re neat and tidy or chaotic, reserved or very forthcoming. Also their background – parents, siblings, influences, schooling and so on.

By now I’ll be forming a mental image. I need to be really interested in this person. You know how in real life there are certain people you feel drawn to, and others who might be perfectly pleasant but who just don’t particularly rouse your curiosity for whatever reason? Well the same is true of characters in a book. To write about them, you need to be grabbed by them and want to understand what makes them tick.

That’s not to say that they’re all good people. Each of my main protagonists has major faults, light and shade, but the crucial fact is that I have to mind what happens to them, really to care whether they find redemption or not, because if I don’t, sure as hell my readers won’t either.

I’ll start to write with this clear idea of my protagonist in mind but the exciting bit is when he or she begins to take over. I’ll reach a scene, usually a few chapters into a book, when I've got into my stride and am starting to enjoy myself.

Then something will happen and a character will speak to me as if to say – that’s not what I’d do. Or – I just wouldn't wear that kind of outfit. At this point I might have to alter my plot or at the very least have my protagonist wear something else!

After the first draft, I’ll go back and re-read. I usually find myself adding far more depth to my characters on the first re-write because by then I know, for example, that of course someone is vegetarian (though it hadn't occurred to me before), or is embarrassed about her big boobs. Or hates the colour yellow.

I’ll continue the process in the second re-write and that’s when I’ll have reached a point where I feel I know my characters inside out.

This might sound strange but each of my characters is very dear to me. Victoria with her sweet tooth in The Darling Girls, Evie with her gap-toothed smile and Nic battling her demons in Never Close Your Eyes, Percy with her online habit and roving eye in Gym and Slimline.

Talking about them makes me want to get right back to writing my next book so I’ll go and do just that. Happy reading and writing!

About the author

Emma has written extensively for national newspapers and women’s magazines including the Guardian, Independent on Sunday, Red, Good Housekeeping, Woman & Home and Woman.

She read English at Cambridge University and began her career as a cub reporter on the Western Morning News in Plymouth, later becoming features editor of Woman and Family Circle.

She gets by in French and Spanish and works out – occasionally – at her local gym. After walking her youngest to school, you might also spot her jogging in Richmond Park with some friends. Slowly.

Emma lives in South West London with her husband, the political commentator Kevin Maguire, and their three children, aged 25, 20 and 10.

She’s currently working on her fourth novel.

Connect with Emma

Check out the other stops on the tour HERE.

**Everyone who leaves a comment on the tour page (click here) will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of The Darling Girls before January 28 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.**

Be sure to check out the sidebar for my current giveaways!


Thanks SO much for leaving me a comment! Every single one means a whole lot to me!

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