DARLING GIRL by Terry H. Watkins * Signed book & Interview



“My family is good at going away.” Darling Girl

In DARLING GIRL(GreenPlaceBooks), we meet DG at age 5 and follow her as she grows into a girl ready for college. She’s the oldest of a Catholic family that keeps adding boys. Mom suffers from severe depression and is often sent away for days, weeks, even months to rest.

“Your mama, I think she just feels too much. Feels everything too much. Something that doesn’t bother somebody else just breaks her heart, makes her too sad to go on.” Grandpa

At five DG doesn’t know why her mother leaves. She does everything possible to behave thinking her actions will keep her mama home. But as she gets older, she learns more about how mental illness isn’t her mother’s only problem, it’s her controlling father who physically abuses her and the whole family emotionally.

From the outside they are the perfect family, but the father’s job makes them move often, carrying the stigma of mental illness with them. The best description of how the family behaves is “like so many dancing bears in a traveling circus with her father as the ringmaster.” DG’s story is both personal and universal. She’s on a journey from innocence to the real world and all of the ugliness it entails.

DG’s story just ripped my heart out. It’s written in a young voice that matures and realizes the danger of the world she lives in. It’s short, under two-hundred pages, but I could have easily read another two-hundred pages of DG’c story.

Buy Darling Girl

We got the opportunity to ask Terry some questions about writing DARLING GIRL.


1. First of all, the cover. It’s stunning. Tell me how the cover came to be.
I had three covers to choose from. All created by the very talented Asha Hossein. One was too provocative for this book. I thought the second was perfect. This cover was initially my third choice. However, when I polled the women in my writing group, “Shoes” won hands down! It was the first choice for everyone whether they’d read the book or not. Since all three covers were fantastic, it was really easy to give in to the popular demand. Now I can’t imagine any other cover. It suits the book perfectly!
2. I’ve read that the chapters can stand alone as short stories or one can read DARLING GIRL as a novel. What did you write it to be and why?
It was just the way I saw the book. A child’s memory is very fragmented. That structure just seemed to fit the book. It was always intended to be a novel. I never thought of the vignettes as stand alone until several readers pointed it out to me.
3. DG: She’s quite a wise little girl-young woman. Did you have to put yourself in a different mindsets as you wrote her at the various ages?
Yes! I literally sat down at the computer and said to myself, “Today, I am nine-years-old.”
Or “…sixteen-years-old.” Or whatever age it was. Sometimes I used the playlist of songs mentioned in the book. Sometimes, just a little light self-hypnosis.
4. Why do you believe readers love stories about family?
Well, we all have one! You read about other families to find out whether yours was better or worse. I think we are all voyeurs when it comes to families whether real or imagined.
5. “My family is good at going away.” You used this sentence several times and it seemed to be much of the theme around DARLING GIRL. What are they running away from? Toward?
The father in DARLING GIRL is never satisfied with his life and always wants more. I think that desire drives his every action. The mother withdraws from the world where everything is too much for her. Her mental illness is a form of going away emotionally and not just physically. The family as a whole is prepared to pull up stakes at a moments notice.
6. Mental illness and domestic violence are running themes, yet you don’t slam the reader over the head with these heavy topics. How did you approach writing about such “emotional” subjects?
Since the book was written from a child’s perspective, I tried to approach those themes as a child would. At first you are naive; you don’t fully understand what’s going on. As you grow up in those circumstances, they become your normal. You only occasionally see other people’s intimate lives so you don’t know just how not normal yours is. Additionally, this book is set in the fifties and sixties. People were a lot more circumspect about their personal lives and topics like mental illness and domestic violence were completely off-limits. It made it easy to handle those themes obliquely rather than head-on.
7. I really enjoyed how the grandparents were so important to the story. Tell me about the advantages you had being a grandparent to write such characters.
I confess that the grandparents are all based on my own. I had some interesting role models from which to draw. Being a grand parent helped me understand that pull that your children’s children exert on you. It’s almost physical.
8. ANYTHING you’d like to add … that I didn’t address, or you feel is important for readers to know.
I am very excited to finally see DARLING GIRL out in the world. I hope that readers are able to relate to it and, perhaps, find some comfort in it.



A native of nowhere and a traveler everywhere, Ms. Watkins has been on the road since the day she was born. Although rooted in the deep South, she has visited all seven continents and particularly enjoyed being ship-wrecked in Antarctica. Having worked in banking, computers, a nonprofit educating girls about STEM opportunities, and in education teaching middle-schoolers everything from American History to Comic Books to Philosophy to Writing, she retired in 2014 and began writing shortly thereafter. When not writing or traveling, she reads and putters in the garden. A survivor of a large family, she has one stepson, two grandsons, and daughter-in-law, all of whom she adores. She shares a home with her husband —Mr. Wonderful – three cats, and a great deal of clutter.


Thanks to Green Writers Press we have one copy of DARLING GIRL to giveaway. Just tell us what novel you’ve read lately about family and your thoughts. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please

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23 thoughts on “DARLING GIRL by Terry H. Watkins * Signed book & Interview

  1. I recently read The Secret To Southern Charm. It was about a mother and her three grown daughters. It made you aware of the love of your family but also it can get frustrating when you don’t always agree with the decisions your family members make.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The latest book I read about family was Husbands and Other Sharp Objects by Marilyn Simon Rothstein. It dealt with a mother separated from her husband and their three adult children.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I recently read The Party by Robyn Harding. It’s about a young girl who wants to be popular and her parents that trust her. Of course stuff happens and the story turns dark. Glad I’m not a teenager!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. last one i read was “My Ex Life”. to me it had to do with what makes a family. it showed how everyone’s family is not the same, some families are by choice and you make a family by what is important to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just recently read The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain. It’s about the sacrifices family members make for each other. This really showed just how far a mother will go for the love of her child.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am reading FAMILY TRUST but I loved THE DREAM DAUGHTER =) It is about a mother’s unconditional love and sacrifice. I enjoyed the interview and thanks for the chance!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I finished The Two Family house. About two Jewish brothers. One with all boys and the other has all girls. Their wives get pregnant at the same time and they each pray for different sex children.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I really liked “The Sound of Glass” by Karen White. It’s about of a woman’s relationship with her stepmother and stepbrother and how she learns to accept and love them after the death of her father.


  9. I recently finished The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain. A wonderful story about the depth of a mother’s love and the sacrifices she’ll make for her child.


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