A Lover of Books

Archive for the day “April 9, 2015”

Guest Post by Virginia King

Virginia_King_Author_Portrait

The lovely Virginia King is back on my blog with a guest post.

 

Getting Inside her Head

How a Group of Real Women Became One Feisty Heroine

Reviewers are describing Selkie Moon as a character they can relate to – “charming, spirited, intelligent” as well as “enchantingly honest” with “a fine sense of humour”.  In ‘The First Lie’, Selkie’s got to dig deep to “take on the challenges that are literally haunting her steps.”  One reviewer says: “King gives the reader a perfect story on a silver platter that ties us tightly to the fate of this remarkable woman.”

As the creator of Selkie Moon, I’m delighted that readers are finding her fascinating and real.  I’d like to say she’s just like me, but for a start she’s thirty-four and I’m “somewhat older” 🙂  Here’s a glimpse into how I created her.

 

Food, Wine, Secrets

To make Selkie a multi-layered character, I needed to get into the heads of more than one modern woman.  I invited a group of thirty-something singles to have lunch with me.  I plied then with food and wine and got out my notebook!

They talked about their lives.  I got insights into different careers – from life coaching to copywriting.  They explained the challenges of short-term contracts and a freelance life.  I learnt about the meaning of ‘friends with benefits’ and the need to use your ‘gaydar’ with potential lovers.  We talked about the biological clock and their desires around career and children.

“If Selkie meets a guy she likes,” Emma told me, “she’ll definitely google him before dating him.  She doesn’t want any surprises.”

“She’ll have at least one gay friend,” Sally said. “Someone she confides in.”

 

Soul Mates Suck

“I’ve changed my profile on RSVP,” Kate shared, “to cut out the men looking for their soul mate.”  She pulled a face. “You’d be surprised how many arrange to meet you and when you walk up you can tell they’re waiting for lights to flash and an orchestra to play or they’re out of there.  I put ‘forget the fireworks and the violins’ on my profile and my responses dropped by fifty percent.”

 

Committed to Non-Commitment

As the afternoon wore on secrets were revealed.  Jules lived with a guy on and off and he was the one who wanted more.  “I was the girl who didn’t commit.  Life was frivolous and fun.  No strings.  I found out later that he married someone just like me – she even looks like me.  I’d treated his love way too casually.  I was … afraid.”

 

Not Passion, Control

Prue told us about her ex.  “I didn’t have any concept of emotional abuse until I met Ben.  I was smart, with a great job and a flat, and he was in a band, penniless and couch surfing.  I know now that he knew the only way he’d keep me was to control me.  He was ‘into me’ big time – telling me what to wear, getting insanely jealous over nothing, putting me down in a twisted way.  He systematically isolated me from my family and friends until I lost all my confidence.”  It was only when Ben went on tour with his band, that Prue suddenly saw his ‘passion’ for what it was.  “While he was around I believed it,” she said.

 

A Scream across the Table

The wine was doing the trick.  “I was so lonely one night,” Rosie said, “I actually took JJ back to my flat.”  “Oh God,” Sally screamed. “I’ve slept with him.  I didn’t want anyone to know.”  We dissolved in tears of laughter.

 

A Woman under Pressure

These real women gave me the background to make Selkie Moon a complex character.  If you read ‘The First Lie’ you’ll recognise snippets from that lunch.  It’s the qualities of her relationships that interweave to create this multi-dimensional story about a modern woman under pressure to unravel a frightening psychological mystery – to find out the truth about herself.  I’m very grateful to my lunch partners for their generosity and honesty.  Selkie is ‘real’ because of them.

 

 

About Virginia King 

Virginia King lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. She’s been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, a producer of audio-books, a writer of 50+ children’s books, a writing workshop presenter and an award-winning publisher. “The First Lie” is her debut novel for adults, the first mystery in the Selkie Moon series.

In The First Lie, Virginia combines her love of psychological mystery/thrillers with her fascination for mythology and fairy tales.  Her writing process is to work without a plot and let the book evolve and gain depth from the ideas and serendipitous happenings that turn up along the way.  She believes that if the writer is surprised by the twists and turns in the story, the reader will be too.  Book Two in the series will be published in early 2015.

‘The Good Girl’ by Fiona Neill

The Good Girl

‘The Good Girl’ is Fiona Neill’s latest novel and it is out today, published by Michael Joseph.  I was very kindly sent a proof copy to review.

The Fields decide to leave busy London behind and relocate to Norfolk.  Ailsa has managed to get herself a new job as a headmistress in the local school and Harry who is a neuroscientist has taken time off to work on his book.  Teenagers Luke, Romy and nine-year-old Ben find life a bit boring at first and nothing much changes for them until two months later when the Fairports move next door.

When Romy and Jay meet properly for the first time they find that there is an instant attraction between them.  But Jay has a dark and shameful secret, one he thinks will put Romy off.  He eventually confides in her and to his surprise she promises to do what she can for him which is when the problems really start.  In her mission to help him Romy unravels some secrets from the past to do with her parents.

‘The Good Girl’ has been narrated by Ailsa and Romy giving the reader the views of both the mother and daughter as events unfold.  I thought this was a good idea and that it worked well.

This was a good story but I found it quite hard to get into it at first.  I felt that it was dragged out in places and that though interesting and informative there were just too many references to neuroscience and the brain.

There were a variety of characters in this story but out of all of them I really liked Ben.  For a nine-year-old he was very intuitive.  No-one could pull the wool over his eyes.  I felt bad for Romy even though what she did wasn’t particularly smart.  Always a hardworking student I don’t think she ever thought about what the consequences could be.

‘The Good Girl’ really does make you think.  Fiona Neill has covered a number of topics including one which is extremely controversial and shocking.

I give this book 3 out of 5.

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