Bloomsbury Publishers contacted me to be part of the launch and blog tour of Elizabeth Rose (E.R) Murray’s debut novel “Caramel Hearts”. Having accepted to be part of this special event, I have no regrets!!! Caramel Hearts is a beautiful and thought provoking coming of age story, one I have rated 5 stars. E.R Murray lives in Ireland where she fishes and grows her own vegies. Caramel Hearts is her first novel.
Caramel Hearts is mind blowing though I felt depressed reading this book, it was so insightful! A beautiful coming of age story however it’s realistic as it’s not just about teenage girls crushing on teenage boys or girls stressing about what to wear to their next party. This book focuses on Liv Bloom, whose life is more complex than other 14 year old girls as her father abandons the family and her mother is a recovering alcoholic, Liv’s older sister struggles to take care of her family and complete her studies. Through the madness, Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her Mum’s handwriting which Liv uses for her journey to self-discovery and reconciliation. As this book is structured around real cake recipes you find throughout the book that adds a light touch to an otherwise depressing storyline, it gave me the urge to get into my baking again. What I liked most about this book (besides the recipes) is it tells a realistic story and focuses on real socio economic issues that teens face and others forget or ignore. I recommend this to all Contemporary YA readers. Special thanks to Bloomsbury Publishers for sending me an advanced review copy in exchange for my review – also thankyou very much for introducing me to the lovely E.R Murray – although she’s oceans away, we still keep in touch by email and it has been a pleasure to read your book and get to know you!!!
Now, let’s meet the author – Elizabeth Rose (E.R) Murray…
When did you first get inspiration to write?
I always wrote as a child, mainly short stories and epic poems that would fill entire notebooks. I was very inspired by ancient myths and legends! I would also tell myself stories when I went to bed at night, revisiting them the following night to recap and continue on the adventure. These tales could last weeks, even months – so I guess it was an initial foray into creating book-length tales. I had a few things published at school, but then life got in the way; I put myself through uni, jumped onto the career ladder, and forgot all about writing until my mid/late twenties when it started calling me again.
What is the title of your debut novel and what inspired you to write this book?
Caramel Hearts is my debut young adult book, and it’s the first released in Australia, but it’s the second book I’ve had published. The first was a middle grade fantasy published in the UK and Ireland, The Book of Learning – Nine Lives Trilogy 1 (Book 2 is out in September!). The Book of Learning was inspired by my move to Ireland and a sighting of a ghost, while Caramel Hearts was driven by a desire to write something more real, looking at the effects of addiction and growing up in an underprivileged area – with real cake recipes!
Is there any particular reason you chose this genre?
I love young adult fiction, it’s so brave and honest and heartfelt. But to be honest, when I write, it’s all about the characters, and they combine to choose the genre for me. Story always comes first and the genre falls into place somewhere along the way.
Do you like to read? What’s the first book you ever read?
I adore reading – along with travel and writing, it’s my favourite thing! I don’t remember the first book I ever read; I’m one of those people that barely remember anything before the age of seven! It’s like reading was always there, an integral part of my world. But I did love pouring over the Brambly Hedge series and by the age of ten, I’d fallen in love with Charles Dickens.
Where did you grow up and where are you currently based? (Just city and country name)
I was raised in Southbank, Middlesbrough (North East of England) and I now live on the Southwest coast of Ireland, in an idyllic area called West Cork.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would you be doing?
Growing vegetables, catching fish, moving cows, hiking around the countryside, watching a band play live music; these would be typical of everyday life. But I also love travel, so you’re highly likely to find me on a train or about to board a plane.
What was the secret to getting your work done in writing this book? Did you constantly snack on chocolate or have a photo of an inspirational person on the wall of your room?
I’m extremely disciplined, so the key is just to turn up to your desk every day. But I do love to burn scented candles as I write; I have several to choose from, to suit my mood. Another big help is my dog, Franklyn, because he’s great company but also makes sure I break for walks. Changing walls really helps too; I love travelling to new places, surrounded by different languages, food, weather, and experiences – I find it energising. I hate routine – it saps my energy. I can’t bear to stay in one place for too long.
What was the last book you read? (title/genre/author/rating out of 5 stars)
I always have more than one book on the go, so I’ll give you two. First, Claire Hennessy’s Nothing Tastes As Good – and I rate it 5 out of 5. You have a snarky anorexic ghost on a reluctant mission – what’s not to love? I also read Jan Carson’s short story collection Children’s Children, also 5 out of 5. That woman can write!
If your life was turned into a movie, who would you like to play you?
I’d go for Ellen Page because when Juno came out, everyone commented on the similarities in terms of attitude, so she’s already nailed me, apparently!
As an author, what was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
I guess it’s that writer’s write – that’s the simple ingredient you need to be a writer. It can be difficult to admit you’re writing, especially at first when you have few or no accolades to your name, and it’s also difficult to see yourself as an actual writer. But the truth is, writers write – simple!
I would also add: never give up! Persevere and you have a chance of getting published, give up and you’re out of the game. I’d say 80% of the people that I met when I first started out – those that have continued writing – are now published or have an agent or book deal, or they’ve been asked to send in their full manuscript. It’s all about determination and dedication.
The Top 10: This or That
Ice cream or Ice Block? Ice cream, preferably sea salt flavour (I had to google ice block – we call it an ice lolly!)
Library or Bookstore? Both – as often as I can.
Vegemite or Peanut Butter? Both – just not together.
Chicken or Beef? Beef. And it has to be as rare as possible. Blue steak is perfection
Winter or Summer? Summer! I love wintry weather but here it gets dark around 4.30pm and stays dark until 8am. It can get depressing!
Tea or Coffee? Tea. Including herbal.
Favourite Chocolate: I don’t really like chocolate so can I swap for Turkish Delight?
Favourite Colour: Blue.
Ultimate Holiday Destination: I’ll choose two I haven’t been to yet – Japan or Canada (though you can’t beat Australia for landscapes and wildlife).
When reading, I love to eat/drink: pickled chillies.
Famous last words: Never give up!
Blog Review and Blog Interview Completed by Annie