A few days ago, I received some of the best book post ever: my March box from My Book Moment, containing a copy of my debut novel, Darling, along with some proper me-time treats. I was thrilled to see my book in amongst that gorgeous packaging but (as I already know how my novel ends) the first-rate goodies made my heart sing every bit as much – I was among book-loving kindred spirits!
I’m Rachel Edwards and I’m the author of Darling, a story about a Black British stepmother, Darling White, and her white English stepdaughter, Lola, set in the immediate aftermath of the EU Referendum. A necessarily dark and twisty tale, Darling is not a book about politicians, but it has been called in the national press ‘the first Brexit thriller’.
The character of Darling White first came to me in March 2016. As a stepmother myself, one who had raised our twins full-time since they were five years old, I had been urged by more than one journalist friend to write a column about our apparently extraordinary black-and-white non-nuclear family, living in the wilds of Oxfordshire. But although I was happy to explore the outermost framework of our lives, I am a protective parent and very much a writer of fiction. Darling’s story had to be her own… and when we voted to leave the EU and the Far Right rejoiced across the Western world, I knew what that story had to be.
More than that, as any author who has truly been immersed in writing their book will tell you, your characters will lead you where they want to go. Darling and Lola told me, in no uncertain terms, just what their story had to be! There were times, when writing this novel, when I nearly turned away from certain courses of action, wanting to spare one character or another pain, or fear, or deception. But as my main characters lived with me for the whole time I wrote the book – loud, vibrant and often furiously hacked off with each other – they let me know what precisely they needed in order to live meaningful literary lives. In fact, either of them could walk into my Writing Room right now and I know what they would be wearing and what they would say. For all their flaws I love them both.
Wherever this country’s politics might take us in the near future, we will — I hope — always have books, and if we each sign up to My Book Moment, we can take time out to enjoy reading the best fiction while enjoying some truly delectable treats. Time spent in reading and reflection is always time well spent. As is time that is spent reminding ourselves, as often as we need to and from generation to generation, that love must always win.