With a lucrative freelance career and a loving family, Deborah Earle has a life many women would envy. But her daughter, Amanda, is heading to college soon, and Deborah worries about having an empty nest. She thinks another child might be the answer. Her husband, Richard, however, may not be willing to start over so late in life.Amanda is excited about attending NYU next year, but she meets Graham, a handsome older boy, falls hard, and considers postponing her education to stay close to him. Her mother takes an instant dislike to Graham, but Amanda refuses to let her keep them apart.
As Deborah watches her daughter rush headlong toward heartache on an all-too-familiar path, the secrets lurking in Deborah’s past continue to echo in her present. When tragedy strikes, Deborah faces a future she could never have imagined.
A mother torn between the love for her family and secrets from her past. Heart-wrenching and engrossing, a family drama you can't put down.--
A heart-wrenching domestic drama of old secrets, new love, and paper-thin trust. Told through the eyes of a mother and daughter struggling with life-defining choices in the midst of a family crisis, When Robins Appear is a story that will haunt you long after you've turned the final page.--
Full of richly drawn, compelling characters, this novel will have you hooked from the first page.--
I stayed up late, furiously turning pages. This is one book you will definitely not want to put down. It is a beautifully written, layered story that I want to talk about - need to talk about. -
Some Q & A with Densie:
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
Well, I’ve been a freelance writer/editor almost my entire working life, but my writing/editing has been focused on non-fiction, mainly health and nutrition topics. I have a PhD in nutrition/biochemistry and am a registered dietitian which has almost nothing to do with my fiction writing, except that I was used to stringing words together and used to being edited. I decided to try my hand at fiction about 7 years ago, with the encouragement of a lifelong friend, and I haven’t looked back.
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
I don’t really have any hobbies, like painting, knitting, or gardening. Reading, listening to Spotify, watching too much streaming, and thinking about writing take up all my “free time.” I literally dream stories. Of course, I never remember the specifics to write down when I wake up.
Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
While I’m still writing nutrition articles, I’m working on fewer than in the past and trying to shift my focus to writing fiction. So, I guess writing health and nutrition articles is still my day job.
Where do you get your ideas?
To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure. Everywhere, I guess, is the most honest answer. I get ideas from my past, from my kids, from lyrics of songs, from movies, from news stories. Once I get started on a story, it’s really hard for me to trace back where the original story came from. However, with When Robins Appear, I do remember where the kernel of the story originated. When my daughter was in high school, a classmate had a serious accident while skateboarding. And I thought the story would center on a skateboarding character. While skateboarders are in the story, they ended up not being the focus. The story just evolved as I was writing, which I think is true for most writers and most stories, and it ended up with a very different focus.
Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?
This may sound like I’m avoiding the question, but I think I’m influenced by everything I read. Some of the books I’ve enjoyed the most are often written in a style that I could never even try. That may be why I like them so much. I think, “Wow, I would never have even thought of writing that.” But it’s always inspiring.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (or this book?)
With When Robins Appear, I had queried agents and had submitted to a few publishers, including Red Adept Publishing, my current publisher. It had been 4 months since I had submitted to them and they were actually no longer on my radar. But, ironically, I was at a writers’ conference (Writer Unboxed Unconference) in Salem, MA, when I got “the call.” A dear friend was with me, which made it even more special. It was difficult to concentrate for the rest of the conference. The moral of the story is, it takes time, and you have to be patient. Publishing, as it’s typically depicted in movies and series, is more often than not, very misleading about the time it takes to write, to submit, and to be published. They often make it sound like it’s a matter of a few months. In reality, it’s usually more like a few years.
What are you working on now?
I’m actually working on 2 different projects. The first one is a rewrite of my first book. The rights revert back to me in January and I have big plans for that one. Can’t really go into details now, but I’m very excited about it. The other project is a new story that I love. It’s about a young Irish musician and an Austin college student and how their relationship alters their futures in bittersweet ways.
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
Definitely. It might be as simple as a bit of dialogue that I either overheard, that I said, or was said to me. Maybe places I’ve been to. There are a couple of bits that I pulled from my daughter when she was little. I believe every author pulls from real life, whether it’s a philosophy, an attitude, a voice, a relationship, or an actual event.
Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
The ending. I can’t give it away, but readers have said it was unexpected, yet “just right.” It’s emotional, but I’ve been told it hits the right notes.
Do you have a favorite character?
Deb, the mom. I injected a lot of my feelings about my daughter and our relationship into her, which made it very emotional for me to write.
What was the most unique research you had to do for a book?
I had to watch some videos of skateboarders and check out the lingo. I hung out for a while at a skate park in Santa Barbara, California. Not sure what those boys thought of my presence. And there are medical issues in the story, so I was able to get a specialist to speak with me. He didn’t know me before, so I felt really grateful that he took the time out of his busy schedule to talk with me.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Probably nothing that hasn’t been said before, but you have to have the patience of a saint, the skin of an armadillo, and the ability to curl up in a protective ball when it gets to be too much. You will face rejection and you will get discouraged. But the key is to stick with it. Getting published is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to accept that you’re in it for the long haul.
What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?
The downfalls, if you can call it that, are the time it takes to complete a book and accepting how difficult it is for your story to stand out among all the millions of books out there. The best part, for me, is the amazing community of writers and authors, who are so open and willing to share everything they know with the wider community. It’s truly a feeling of “we’re all in this together.” I’ve made some amazing friends, both online and in person.
Favorite band or music? Favorite book and/or movie?
My playlist on Spotify is titled “Hodgepodge,” so that gives you an idea of my eclectic tastes in music. But I have a real soft spot for Hozier—not a band, but a singer. If you’re not familiar with him, check him out. His voice gives me chills, especially when he sings acappella. Favorite movie? That’s like asking me for my favorite book. Can’t be done. If you were to ask which movie I’ve watched the most, my guess would be “When Harry Met Sally.”
Place you’d like to travel?
When we’re able to travel again, I’d love to go to Budapest, Ireland, Sweden. I’m dying to spend the night in the Gladstone Library in the Welch village of Hawarden (population 1,887). Not only is it a historic library, there’s a section that serves as a “residential library”—sort of a book-themed bed and breakfast. My daughter and I have talked about going.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
If you read a book and enjoy it—any book, not just my book—leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. It helps authors so, so much. It’s easy to forget. I forget sometimes myself. But reviews make an author’s world go around!
To connect with Densie: