Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews Emlyn!
How long have you been a writer?
I was born with a fountain pen grasped firmly in my left hand ... But seriously, I do believe writers are born into the craft - we haven't got much choice, but it's a great calling to have. I've been writing since before I could write, if you know what I mean. I've always loved inventing stories or "tall tales" as my parents call them. I wrote and illustrated children's books for my younger brothers when I was still in grade school. In fifth grade, I wrote a short MG novel. I tried writing screenplays in high school but never got very far with those. Really, I started writing seriously about two-and-a-half years ago when the local paper offered me a book review column. That gave me the courage and consistency to write novels. Torn Together is technically my first novel, although it's my third published.
Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?
I treat writing like a job, because no matter how much I love it, it's still work and it deserves to be taken seriously! I also own a book marketing business called Novel Publicity and spend a great deal of time running the business, running blog tours, and working for clients. I love both my jobs very, very much.
Please give a brief description/storyline about Torn Together.
Torn Together tells the story of Daly English, a 19-year-old aspiring painter whose life just hasn't gone the way she would like it to. Still recuperating from the early death of her father, her relationship with her mother has been broken beyond repair. An exotic stranger pushes Daly out of her comfort zone when she least expects it, and she finds herself en route to India to win his parents approval. Above all, this is a story about the hardships women face. From managing relationships to teen pregnancy to fighting against cultural expectations for gender, being a girl isn't always so easy!
What was the inspiration for this story?
It started with the idea of someone who collects something that cannot be collected. In early drafts, Daly collected emotions in her journal, and each chapter was shaped to hit really hard with one specific emotion (emptiness, infatuation, gratitude, awe, etc). The story that evolved loosely follows my own life, especially the third of it that takes place in India.
How did it feel to have your first book published?
Although I wrote Torn Together first, Farsighted was my first published novel - last October. Getting it out there to the world was, at the same time, exhilarating and utterly terrifying. Although it was hard, I had to learn to let go and allow my baby to fly. Obviously, the good times outweigh the bad, because I'm still publishing, and, yes, I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life!
Do you write books for a specific genre?
I'm all over the place. I mostly enjoy writing YA and have two soft sci-fi YA series, Farsighted and the upcoming Timewalker Chronicles. I also have a children's picture book series called the Bird Brain Books. Torn Together is a women's fiction novel. I'll probably write a pure lit fic novel one of these days as well. :)
What genres are your favorites? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?
My two great bookish loves are Young Adult and Literary fiction. My favorite book is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Nobody invents characters like ol' Irving, and this book moved me to my emotional core. Just wonderful!
Do you have a special "spot/area" where you like to do your writing?
Yes! Panera! I like to head there crazy early in the morning (like when they first open), order something yummy as well as something caffeinated, set up my work station, and stay for as long as humanly possible. Panera's so important to me, I dedicated an entire paragraph to them in the acknowledgements of my second novel, Open Heart.
How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?
First, the spark. Inspiration strikes (usually while driving, which is why I'm such an awful driver). I spend some time kneading my inspiration like a goopy ball of dough. If it holds, the next step is character development and research. I can spend months in this phase, because I believe strong characters are key to great fiction. And like any other person, it can take a while to truly get to know them. I don't keep written outlines, but I spend so much time daydreaming, that it's definitely fair to call me a plotter. I always start with the characters, though.
When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?
During the early parts of a story, I write whenever inspiration strikes. But I'm a horrible procrastinator, and, inevitably, deadlines come up quick - at that point, I adhere to a very strict schedule. Yeah, I work well under pressure. Without it, I'd never get anything done!
What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?
I love meeting my characters - from that initial "howdya do?" to delving deep into their souls and recreating them on the paper. I struggle most with plotting, because, well, sometimes my characters want to lead me on tangents, and I have to fight back. Sometimes I feel I may be disappointing them. :(
What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?
Oh, my life is painfully one-dimensional. I work with authors as part of my business. I write and market my own books. I serve as advertising coordinator for a publishing house. And sometimes I even read! I take frequent breaks from my bookish frenzy to play with my dogs and birds and to dance around the house to show tunes, though!
What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?
Trust your characters. Trust your voice. Trust your ability.
What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?
Being able to live my dream when so few have that privilege. Touching readers with my words. Learning about myself through my characters. All so very gratifying.
How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?
Oh, I'm all over the place. My number one way of staying in touch with readers and online friends are Facebook. I'm on pretty much 24/7 - it's all part of my master procrastination. :p
Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?
Torn Together is based on my love story with my ex-husband. I wrote the first draft three years ago when everything was still going great between us. I worked on the final revisions and published it during our divorce. So that was super fun. There's a little bit of me in each of my books, but for the most part, they are fictitious. I actually have a habit of building each character based on one of my own personality flaws - that way I can always relate to their humanity, no matter how much I disagree with their actions.
What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?
JK Rowling. Yeah, I'm a Potterhead. If Hermoine had Hagrid's baby, it would probably be me. :) I also draw a great deal of inspiration from the classics - particularly the Russian classics.
What is your definition of success as a writer?
Being able to write stories you're proud of and that readers enjoy. That's it! Money doesn't measure success, kids.
Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?
I am! I'm working on Pitch, the third book in the Farsighted series. It's too soon for me to share any excerpts though. My editor would kill me!
Thank you Emlyn for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews and sharing some things about yourself and your writing career with us!
About The Author
Emlyn Chand's Torn Together Virtual Book Tour Page On Reading Addiction Blog Tours
Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway
Win An eBook Copy Of Torn Together
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Publication Date: August 15, 2012
Format: Paperback - 274 pages / Kindle - 725 KB
Genre: Women's Fiction
BUY THE BOOK: Torn Together
BARNES & NOBLE
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Reading Addiction Blog Tours.
From her cheating boyfriend to her dead father and cold, judgmental mother, Daly knows she can’t trust others to be there when it counts. This cynicism begins to melt away when she meets Kashi, a light-hearted charmer from India, who decides he cares too much to let her fade into the background of her own life. After a series of false starts, their quirky romance carries them to India, where Daly must win the approval of Kashi’s family in order to seal their “forever.”
Meanwhile, Laine struggles to cope with the pain of early widowhood, fleeing into the pages of her well-worn library and emerging only to perform her duties as a social worker at the crisis pregnancy center. Although her daughter wants nothing more than to work as an artist, Laine doesn’t know how to redirect Daly to a more suitable profession without further damaging their tenuous relationship.
Can Laine look past her pain to learn from an unlikely mentor? Has Daly finally found someone whom she can trust? Will the women recognize their common bonds before the relationship is broken beyond repair?
My Book Review:
Torn Together is a poignant story about the complexities of relationships and learning to cope with loss, being able to trust, experiencing love that is lost and found, dealing with societal issues and embracing new beginnings.
For Daly and Laine English, the death of their father and husband to cancer ten years ago had a devastating effect on both of them, for each dealt with the loss in a solitary way that pushed their relationship to the limit. Daly was only twelve years old when her father passed away, he was her world, the only one who believed in her dream of becoming an artist. Now ten years later at the age of twenty-two, all that she has left is a journal of memories and the dream to attend art school. Laine struggles with her husband's death and widowhood by retreating into the world of books while pushing Daly away and focusing on her duties as a social worker / counselor at a local crisis pregnancy center. What neither had was an open and warm mother-daughter relationship that they could cling to, embrace and help them move forward.
When Daly catches Rick her boyfriend of two years cheating on her, Daly's world is turned upside down. But destiny intervenes and brings two people into Daly's life who will unexpectedly change the way Daly views her life and the world around her, and repair the torn relationship that she has with Laine. When Daly meets Akash "Kashi" Malhotra, he teaches her to open herself up and enjoy life. Their romance will take them on a journey to his homeland of India, where societal contrast of culture and traditions are tested. Laine introduces Daly to Meghann, a pregnant teenager that she counsels at the crisis center. Laine's hope is that Daly will be a positive role model for the young mother-to-be, when in fact it is Meghann that shows both Laine and Daly how to cope with adversity with strength, grace and faith. For what can be torn apart can ultimately be put back together.
Torn Together is a beautifully written story combining romance with the complexities of relationships and life experiences. Written in a thoughtful style, the author weaves an emotional tale in the third person narrative that engages the reader to follow the mother-daughter story of Daly and Laine, along with Kashi and Meghann who would help to change their lives. Author Emlyn Chand takes the readers on an emotional roller coaster ride, you can't help but feel the gamut of emotions as the story unfolds, this is a powerful story filled with hope yet has a bittersweet poignancy that will simply touch your heart and soul.
Rich in detail and vivid descriptions, the author transports the reader to the mystical country of India. With wonderful descriptions of the Indian culture and traditions, you could easily close your eyes and picture being among the people, sights and sounds of that country. The author also provides wonderful illustrations and a snippet from Daly's journal entry at the beginning of each chapter.
The author's strength lies in her ability to create a cast of characters who are realistic, easy to embrace and relate to. I loved the complexity that makes up both Daly and Laine's personalities. I was fascinated with their troubled relationship, you can't help but get caught up in their struggles and feelings, their dialogue and interactions are palpable. The addition of Meghann into their relationship was priceless. This young girl who has a soul older than her years teaches the mother and daughter how to cope with adversity and learn to trust through strength, grace and faith, in order to heal and rebuild their relationship. I would be remiss if I didn't mention my favorite character, Kashi. This thoughtful young man simply stole my heart with his positive attitude and easy going demeanor. He brings out the best in Daly, their romance was like a breath of fresh air, he teaches her to embrace the moment and believe in destiny even when a twist of fate could bring a bittersweet change to their lives.
Torn Together is so much more than a love story, it is a powerful and compelling story of relationships and life experiences that will resonate with you long after the last words have been read. Author Emlyn Chand has branched out from writing YA fiction with this wonderfully inspiring Women's Fiction, I hope that she will consider writing more novels in this genre.
RATING: 5 STARS *****