Book Review: One Day to Fall by Therese Beharrie

One Day to FallOne Day to Fall by Therese Beharrie

Sophia is feeling suffocated by her family who keep comparing her to her ‘perfect’ big sister. The idea of sitting in a hospital waiting room for hours is too much to bear, so she runs away.
Parker is also running away from the same hospital. In his case, it’s from his mother’s diagnosis. Sophia jumps into his taxi and despite himself he cares that she might not be safe.
Eventually, they make a pact to have this one day to run away from their problems. One day to forget it all and have fun. One day in which they fall in love.
Both Sophia and Parker start the book in terribly bad moods. They are sharp and angry and snipe at each other. As time goes on, they mellow.
This is a slow burn (despite it all happening in one day!), introspective, character driven romance. I love this kind of thing. Sophie is prickly and blunt. Parker is adorable and kind. They complement each other beautifully. It’s a minor thing, but I liked how Cape Town was so vivid that it almost became a character in the book too.

This is the first Therese Beharrie book I’ve read. I will definitely be reading more.
I got an advance copy of the book via Netgalley.

Buy link UK

Buy link US

Inheritance Books: Sonya Lalli

This week’s Inheritance Books are from Sonya Lalli, whose debut novel is out this week! Welcome to the Inheritance Books sofa Sonya. Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself. I’ll go make us some tea.

Sonya LalliI’m a 28 year-old Canadian writer, journalist and former lawyer. I’ve been writing all my life, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I decided to write a novel. I put my legal career on hold and moved to London to do a masters in creative writing, during which I wrote The Arrangement. While I’ll be moving back to Canada soon, right now I am currently writing my second novel and working as a legal journalist.

 

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

I inherited my Mom’s copies of Jean M Auel’s Earth’s Children Series when I was about 12 years old.

Chris Drumm:Flickr
Photo by Chris Drumm; Flickr

I wasn’t necessary interested in anthropology, nor did I read a lot of historical fiction or sagas – but it was love at first sight. From the moment Mom gifted me her battered copies of the series I was completely captivated by Ayla’s story – a strong woman on a journey of self-discovery in pre-historic Europe.

The first one was The Clan of the Cave Bear where we see Ayla as a young girl – and ends with The Land of Painted Caves, after Ayla is farther along on her journey (geographically and spiritually) and has a partner and daughter. That last one only came out in 2011. It had been thirty years since The Clan of the Cave Bear hit shelves, and as you can imagine Mom was anxiously awaiting the final installment in the series. For the first time, we got to wait for one of Auel’s brilliant books together!

 

Which book would you leave to future generations? Why?

I would leave future generations Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. It is hands down my favourite book, and while reading it as a young teenager, for the first time I truly connected with the main character of a novel.

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Sonya’s books are all in Canada, so this is actually my copy

Before The Namesake, I’m not sure I’d ever read or heard a story about a kid of Indian heritage growing up in North America. (I’m sure there were some before that – I hope there were – but at that point I hadn’t discovered any.) The novel tells Gogol’s story, a young boy of Bengali Hindu heritage living in Boston. As he grows up and struggles with his identity, everything about him just felt so familiar to me. The push and pull of cultures. Falling in love with someone who was raised so different than you. The way your living room – and the world beyond your front door – can both feel so foreign.

While there still aren’t nearly enough books featuring diverse lead characters, I hope there will be plenty for future generations to choose from. I’d recommend they start with The Namesake.

Readers of this blog will know that this is something I bang on about a lot. Yes, there should definitely more books featuring diverse lead characters. I can also recommend Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Interpreter of Maladies for some incredible short stories. 

Thank you for sharing your special books with us, Sonya. All the best with your own books.

TheArrangement-BPB V2.jpegSonya’s debut novel The Arrangement is available to buy now. You can find out more about Sonya on her website. You can also catch her on Twitter and Instagram (@saskinthecity)

 

Romantic Novelists Association Conference 2017 – a talk on writing about disability

Slide from @DisRomProject 'Writing Disability in Romance: Potentials and Pitfalls

A couple of weekends ago, I went to RNAConf17 in Telford. This was my 6th conference and, as always, it was fantastic. I was in a flat with the rest of the Naughty Kitchen and sat up until waaaay past my usual bed time, eating chocolate and drinking (tea in my case, because I’m sad like that) and chatting about all manner of things. My favourite moment was when a first time conference attendee suddenly said “It’s so nice to be in the company of so many women who UNDERSTAND what it’s like to have people living in your head.” Yep. We get that.

Oh, and I had a lovely fan girl moment when I ran into Sarah Morgan. I love her books. I babbled. She was very gracious and let me take a photo with her.

I attended talks on how to manipulate images, how to ‘do’ social media, the future of the industry etc. The most eye opening talk by far was by Dr Ria Cheyne who talked to us about her research project into the representation of disability in romantic fiction. Her talk about about things to be aware of when writing disabled characters in romance. This is something I’m interested in. I’ve written depressed characters before, which I’m comfortable doing because I’ve been there. I have an idea in embryo about a mobility impaired character, and, since I don’t have first hand experience of it, I know I need to do research to make her life realistic.

Anyway, here are my notes from the session. If you have time, please visit the DisRom Project and take their survey. Pass it onto friends who read romance.

Slide from @DisRomProject 'Writing Disability in Romance: Potentials and Pitfalls
Main slide

Dis Rom Project discussion with Dr Ria Cheyne 

They’ve only had 500 or so reponses to their survey so far, so not enough to draw conclusions from. But responses to the question ‘Would a disabled character on the cover or in the blurb make you LESS likely to buy the book’ were 1%! Most people said it made no difference. A few people (around 19% said ‘it depends’).
The advice for writing about disability was:
  • Do your research – look at forums, speak to people with similar conditions. Don’t assume anything. Eg. Wheelchair users aren’t ALWAYS in their wheelchairs. A person using a white cane isn’t necessarily a 100% sightless.
  • Don’t use disabled secondary characters as a way of showing how good a main character is.
  • Don’t make disabled characters mysteriously wise (make them real people).
  • Be wary of recovery narratives where the disability is suddenly cured by a bonk on the head or a new miracle treatment. 
  • Be mindful of language. Eg ‘She was a wheelchair user’ is different to ‘she was confined to a wheelchair’.
  • Remember hidden disability – not all disability is obvious or visible.
The questions at the end were also illuminating.

Covers from Scope's Romance Classics (2016)
Click on the image to go to the page on the Scope blog

We discussed why representation was important (everyone deserves a happy ending!) and talked a little bit about how people reclaim derogatory language and how someone in wheelchair calling themselves a ‘crip’ is potentially realistic and non-offensive, an able-bodied person calling them that would be offensive, just as it would be in real life. 

We also discussed how it was a good idea to have people familiar with the condition beta read the book before it goes out. This is a sort of ‘sensitivity beta read’ to check for mistakes or misconceptions rather than to check if anyone is offended by anything (people are offended by all sorts of things, you’d never write a book that doesn’t offend someone, somewhere).
It was a really interesting talk. It made me think about a lot of things.

Here’s the link to the survey again. Please do fill it in (and share). 

https://disrom.com/take-part/

The Disability and Romance Project