Welcome to the Rosie Loves Jack Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon on March 1st, blogs across the web are featuring original content from Mel, as well as 10 chances to win the hardcover!
A Day in the Life of Mel Darbon
by Mel Darbon
My writing day can often start in the middle of the night. I can have my best ideas then, so I have learned to keep a notepad and pen by my bed. Some ideas seem so strong you think you couldn’t possibly forget them, but experience has taught me otherwise, that brilliant ideas have often vanished completely when you wake up.
After my morning Pilates and breakfast, I always tidy up. I find it very difficult to write if I am surrounded by mess. If everything is in order, I feel free to think creatively. After that I get out of the house and go for a walk to ground myself in nature and to give me thinking time about the book I am writing at that moment. My husband thinks I’m just going for a wonderful walk, but this thinking time is very important to me and I’m amazed at how many plot issues I can sort out, or characters I can create in this time.
As I get up pretty early, I’m home and sitting at my desk by 10 a.m. ready to start writing. I have learned to be disciplined having lived with a writer father who worked from home. It’s very easy to get distracted and I have days when I will procrastinate and find any excuse not to work! This is why I have to lock myself away upstairs in my room, or I would be constantly looking in the fridge or finding lots of other jobs to do.
Once I actually start writing I soon become completely immersed in my story. The world I’m creating and my characters come alive and I lose track of time. My husband says he comes into the room sometimes to ask me something and I look at him as though he’s an alien from outer space because I’m so engrossed. That’s one of the best parts of writing, that you can lose yourself in your story, and I always hope that I will be able to transport my readers to new worlds and forget everything else that is going on around them.
Before I start a new book, I have a very definite process. For me, a story always begins with the characters. I know the beginning and end of my story, but only have a vague idea of what happens in between. Over here in the UK I’m what’s called a Pantser, and definitely not a Plotter! I start with my protagonist and do a character study from when he or she was a tiny child, building up all the events that have influenced who they have become. For example, I decided my character Rosie would be much more independent if her younger brother Ben had had a bad accident at some point. This meant Rosie would have had to make decisions for herself and do things without supervision, while he was in the hospital. This was important, as Rosie would be setting out on a long journey all by herself in my book.
A person is affected by all sorts of influences, from being the eldest child, to losing a parent young, or being bullied at school. Once I have worked this out, my characters become real and often, like my character Rosie, will take me by the hand and lead me through the story. I do this with all the characters in my book, even the ones with small parts, as it makes them feel authentic and brings the story alive.
My background in various fields definitely influences my writing. I have had many different occupations over the years—theatre designer, freelance artist, teaching assistant, and café manager, to name but a few.
Being a writer is, for me, painting pictures with words and because I do paint, I’m very aware of visualising every detail of the words on the page when I write, as if they are a picture in my mind. I feel, hear, and see visual triggers. Hopefully this translates to my reader.
My work as a theatre designer has helped improve my writing skills because any designer has to know their play inside and out, so I was immersed in a huge variety of dramas that taught me so much about dialogue and the spoken word. Drama makes meaning of our experiences and the characters live within each of us and leave their mark. I wanted this to be the same for the characters in Rosie Loves Jack. I wanted my characters to be familiar and yet also surprise my reader, so that they can make the reader look at themselves in a different light. I owe a lot to William Shakespeare, as he is a master at this.
I loved my time working with children in schools and with teenagers with a developmental disability at a sixth form college. It kept me in touch with the way children think and feel and how they talk. Every generation has its own definitions and characteristics, which is very important for a writer to know, so you don’t misrepresent them and your narrative is accessible.
Working with young people with Down syndrome taught me so much about these inspiring young people. Even though I had a lot of experience with developmental disability, spending so much quality time at the college listening to these young people, who had so much to say and so desperately wanted to be heard, helped me see the world through new eyes and gave me the foundations for Rosie Loves Jack. And I know all these experiences will help me in my future writing as well.
Blog Tour Schedule:
3/1 – BookhoundsYA
3/2 – Book Briefs
3/3 – Frantic Mommy
3/4 – Randomly Reading
3/5 – A Dream Within a Dream
3/8 – I’m All Booked Up
3/11 – Christy’s Cozy Corners
3/12 – Feed Your Fiction Addiction
“The author stays out of Rosie’s way, successfully depicting her protagonist as a person, not a puppet or a platform. The other characters populating the book are realistic, with a striking range of personality traits. The plot is so engrossing that the book is almost impossible to put down. Yes, Rosie loves Jack, and readers are going to love Rosie.” —Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
Fall in love with sixteen-year old Rosie, a girl with Down syndrome who’s fighting for little freedoms, tolerance, and love. A stunning, beautifully insightful debut YA novel from Mel Darbon.
“An enthralling story of resolve and grit… a moving and uplifting novel.” –The Guardian
“They can’t send you away. What will we do? We need us. I stop your angry, Jack. And you make me strong. You make me Rosie.”
Rosie loves Jack. Jack loves Rosie. So when they’re separated, Rosie will do anything to find the boy who makes the sun shine in her head. Even defy her parents’ orders and run away from home. Even struggle across London and travel to Brighton on her own, though the trains are cancelled and the snow is falling. Even though people might think a girl like Rosie, who has Down syndrome, could never survive on her own.
Introducing a strong and determined protagonist with Down syndrome, debut author Mel Darbon gives readers an underrepresented but much-needed point of view with a voice-driven, heartfelt story of finding your place an often big and intimidating world.
About the Author: Mel Darbon spent a large part of her childhood inventing stories to keep her autistic brother happy on car journeys. She won’t mention the time spent with him standing by level crossings waiting for the InterCity 125 to go past, as she wouldn’t want to be labelled a train spotter. Life took her in many different directions working as a theatre designer and freelance artist, as well as teaching young adults with learning disabilities and running creative workshops for teenage mums. She moved to Bath in 2014 with her husband and their dog, Alfie. Rosie Loves Jack is her debut book.
- 1 winner will receive a finished copy of Rosie Loves Jack
- Check out the other tour stops for more chances to win!
- US/Canada only
- Ends 11:59pm ET on 3/21