It is my pleasure to welcome Emily Madden, an author I have admired since I read her debut novel, Summers with Juliette. Now it is time to host Emily on Mrs B’s Book Reviews for a Q & A session. This follows a five star review I published of Emily’s latest novel, The Lost Pearl on the blog.
About the author…
A self-confessed romance nerd, Emily Madden covets books like some women covet shoes and handbags (although she has a decent collection of each of those too!). Her love of books started at a young age and she would often go shopping with her mum just so she could score yet another novel. Nothing has changed – she rarely leaves a bookstore without a book. While she reads anything and everything, stories that touch the heart and uplift the soul are what she loves the most.
Emily wrote her first story at eight and was horrified when she was made to read it out aloud at her school assembly. She dabbled with poetry before returning to writing novels, albeit many years later. Emily lives in Sydney with her two girls and husband. She loves coffee and is forever frequenting her local coffee haunts. She has an unnatural obsession with needing to be close to the ocean, but is terrified of deep water.
Q. Hello Emily. It is my pleasure to welcome you to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. I greatly appreciate the time you have provided to answer a few questions. To begin, The Lost Pearl, your latest novel published by Harlequin Books Australia has recently been released. Can you give us an outline of what we can expect?
A. The Lost Pearl is a dual time line set in the lead up to the Pearl Harbor attack and present day Sydney and Hawaii. In 1941 follow the story of Charlie and Catherine who are from very different worlds and because they know their love will never be accepted, they keep their relationship hidden. When the tragedy of that fateful day hits, it changes everything.
Decades later, we are transported to Sydney where after a fall, we find Catherine in hospital, her granddaughter Kit by her side where she mentions her lost pearl. After Catherine passes, Kit begins to unravel a secret that has been hidden for seventy-five years, a secret that has to power to destroy her family.
Q. Can you tell us about that fateful Hawaiian holiday that kick started The Lost Pearl?
A. I first visited Hawaii in 2002. I have to admit – I was somewhat coerced by my husband into going. I eventually relented. The thought of pool time reading (I’m pretty sure I was reading Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons at the time) was the swaying factor.
I did get my pool time, but we also spent time driving around Oahu where we discovered Kailua, a little town on the westward side of the island. It was a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. I fell in love with the peacefulness and the pristine waters of Lanikai Beach. There was almost a magic to the place, the as Kitty from The Lost Pearl put it – Shangri la.
Pearl Harbor was another part of Hawaii that surprised me. I was floored at how emotional I was after visiting the Arizona memorial, knowing that there were crew buried below – the ghosts of Pearl Harbor.
Every trip back to Hawaii (and I’ve been there many, many times!) has included Kailua and Lanikai and Pearl Harbor so it was a no brainer that when I had the seed for Charlie and Kitty’s story, that I would include two of my favourite places on the island.
Q. Did you need to undertake any research to bring The Lost Pearl to life?
A. Yes! There are so many aspects that need to be considered when researching a dual time line. Pearl Harbor and the impact of the event was one that took a lot of painstaking effort. There’s a myriad of books and resources about the attack, but when it came to day to day life in Honolulu – I hit a wall.
Luckily I came across a woman named Jean, who used to be tour guide and specialised in 1940’s Honolulu. Naturally, the best thing for me was to do a research trip to Hawaii and spend some time with Jean.
The internet is a wonderful thing, but nothing beats talking to people who have intimate knowledge about the time and place you’re trying to capture. I truly believe that had I not spent the time with Jean, the book would not have been as authentic.
Q. The Lost Pearl is a multiple time frame novel. Did you find one time frame more complex than the other to write?
A. Perhaps because of all the research involved, the historical aspect was somewhat trickier. I wanted to ensure I did the time period justice by researching all the major elements. I mentioned my time with Jean and how it helped with 1940’s Honolulu, but then as we head to Australia and we’re in 1942, I had to remember that this was a nation who had been in part of the war for three years already. Life was vastly different to pre war Honolulu. Rationing was part and parcel of every day life and Sydney had trams! I remember I spent a whole Saturday night researching the Sydney tram system in 1943 so I could accurately describe Catherine’s trip to Balmoral Beach.
Q. The Lost Pearl is a contemporary fiction and a historical based novel, but it is also a very romantic story. What compelled you to write a romance?
A. Romance is part of life. Our lives centre around relationships – with our siblings, parents, and invariably we meet those who we develop feelings for. Sometimes there are insurmountable odds – social inequality, war and sheer bad luck that prevent two people from being together. I have to confess, my original idea for The Lost Pearl was a whole lot rosier, but then I thought, where’s the fun it that? So I gave Charlie and Kitty a whole lot more heart ache than originally planned. Mean I know, but hopefully, it makes for a better read!
Q. What character did you most identify with in The Lost Pearl?
A. Oh, this is a hard one! I’m going to say Charlie. His loyalty, I like to think, comes from a part of me that’s trying to make it onto the page.
Q. What was the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing The Lost Pearl?
A. Without a doubt – there were two scenes that were hard to write. The first the Pearl Harbor attack and the other was a scene with Catherine that as a mother, I found highly distressing to write. The rewarding aspect is when people read these scenes and describe them as chillingly accurate. You know then that the challenge was worth it.
Q. Did you celebrate the official release day of The Lost Pearl in a special way?
A. Release day was the day after the annual Romance Writers of Australia Conference (that I helped organise) so I was mentally and physically drained. The night before my release I was lucky to spend the evening with all of my writing friends – Lisa Ireland, Beck Nicholas, Amanda Knight, Rachael Johns, Clare Connelly as well as Maisey Yates and Jackie Ashenden. As writers, we spend a lot of time working on our own so to have a group made up of friends from Oregon in the US, Auckland New Zealand, Perth, Adelaide and Ocean Grove in Victoria was a pretty special way to celebrate.
A. Your writing has been compared to popular Australian novelists Fiona McIntosh and Mary-Anne O’Connor. What writers have inspired you along the way to publication?
A. I love both Fiona and Mary-Anne’s work. I’m a big fan of Australian Fiction. Colleen McCullough, Ruth Park and Melina Marchetta all have written some of my all time favourite books. Looking for Alibrandi especially. My sister was studying it in year nine and I was in year twelve at the time. I swiped the book and read it in one night!
Q. How has your writing evolved since your first published novel, Summers with Juliette?
A. Summers with Juliette was the second book I’d written that was a full length novel. I think every writer hopes that every new book the write is better than the one before. With The Lost Pearl, I was less hung up on trying to stick to rules and I let the story evolve organically. In saying that, before I started writing I had a forty-page outline of the story. I needed a “roadmap” because of the dual time line. I’ve always loved the idea of how secrets from the past unfold and get revealed in the present so drawing on this – I developed an idea for a story about a family secret.
Q. How do you balance life with writing?
A. Sometimes brilliantly and other times not very well. Most of the time I’m good at setting writing goals and sticking to them, but there are times when I drop the ball and I’ll be writing into the wee hours. A group of us – Rachael Johns, Lisa Ireland, Amanda Knight and Beck Nicholas have a Facebook group called Writer’s Camp were we meet up for sprints and basically overall accountability.
Q. What is next on the horizon for Emily Madden? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
A. My next release, Heart of the Cross, is scheduled for September 2019 (I’m excited ~ Mrs B ). Like The Lost Pearl, it’s a dual time line. It’s a story of three generations of women living in Kings Cross Sydney in three different times – the 1950’s when the Cross was known as the Glittering Mile, the crime ridden 1980’s and the Cross today. It was an interesting book to write and I had a lot of fun researching the infamous Cross, including going to an interactive cabaret about Kings Cross through the decades in a bar that was once a brothel.
And at the moment I’m working on what I hope will be my 2020 release – After The Rain (working title) were I head back to World War II, this time all in Australia and centred around a girl who joins the Australian Women’s Army Service.
Q. Finally, what 2018 book releases are you most excited to read?
A. 2018 has some really great releases – earlier this year Beck Nicholas had her YA The Last Days of Us. Sally Hepworth’s The Family Next Door was brilliant and Lisa Ireland’s The Art of Friendship really struck a chord. I’ve just finished Hannah Richell’s The Peacock Summer and I can’t rave about it enough. I loved Holly Ringland’s The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart and leading up to Christmas I’m dying for the new Liane Moriarty Nine Perfect Strangers, Belinda Alexandra’s The Invitation and One Last Wish by Rachael Johns. (These are all on my list too Emily ~ Mrs B)
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews Emily and congratulations on the publication of The Lost Pearl!
Thank you so much! I loved taking part in your Q & A.
Connect with Emily here:
If this Q & A enticed you to read The Lost Pearl, here is the blurb:
Honolulu, Hawaii 1941
On the evening of her sixteenth birthday party, Catherine McGarrie wants nothing more than for the night to be over, even though the opulence of the ballroom befits the daughter of a US Navy Rear Admiral. Then she meets Charlie, a navy officer from the other side of the tracks, a man her parents would never approve of.
As rumours of war threaten their tropical paradise, Catherine and Charlie fall in love. But the bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941 changes their lives forever.
Seventy–five years later, addled by age and painkillers, Catherine tells her granddaughter Kit her story and reveals the tale of a long–lost treasure. Can Kit uncover the secret and reunite her family? Or will the truth tear them apart?
The Lost Pearl by Emily Madden was published on 20th August 2018 by Harlequin Mira. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.