“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.
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.
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?
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?
4. Why do you believe readers love stories about family?
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?
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?
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.
8. ANYTHING you’d like to add … that I didn’t address, or you feel is important for readers to know.
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