Debut District: Author Interview with Melanie Golding of Little Darlings

DEBUT DISTRICT is a regular feature on Artsy Draft in which I post appreciation towards debut releases through author interview, book blitz, listopia, review, and other related content.

I’m really excited for today’s post because aside from more of Debut District episodes (we need to give more appreciation and support to debut authors!), it’s also going to be my very first interview! Today, I’m going to share my interview with Melanie Golding, the debut author of Little Darlings, which will be published on April 30, 2019! We talked about the making process of the book (both ups and downs!), what inspired Melanie to come up with this story and also a few fun questions about Melanie’s favorite books! 

Hi, Melanie! Thank you for doing this interview with me. It’s only a little less than two weeks to Little Darlings publication date! How do you feel about this upcoming release of Little Darlings?

Excited, but also anxious – you never really know how it’s going to be received!

From its synopsis, Little Darlings sounds dark and definitely haunting. Where do you get your ideas and inspirations to write Little Darlings?

The book is inspired by a very old, very obscure folktale called A Brewery of Eggshells. It is also inspired by my thoughts about the experience of having babies.

Ah, I’ve never heard of the folktale before but I checked it out just now and that’s one terrifying folktale! And speaking of which, how long does it take for you to write it?

I started the book in October of 2015. We sold it in November of 2017, but it was heavily edited after that before publication and in partnership with my editors.

That’s a long process! Being a writer obviously requires hard works and a lot of dedication. But, do you always want to be a writer? Do you mind to tell us about your writing journey?

I always wanted to be a writer, but for a long time, I only write short stories, poems, and songs. Novels came to me in my late twenties. I have a fair few rejected manuscripts, like all writers. You have to learn by doing.

That’s interesting! Speaking of rejected manuscripts, is there any challenges during the writing process of Little Darlings?

Many challenges! Balancing the different perspectives, grappling with timelines. Pacing, atmosphere. All challenges, but in a positive way.

I can’t imagine how you get through those obstacles to finished this book! Let’s chat about your role as a reader now. What is the first book that made you cry?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I cry easy.

Yet another book that I haven’t read but I need to ASAP! Anyway, what’s your comfort zone when it comes to genre? Is there any genre that you won’t read for a million years?

I read everything and stubbornly read to the end of everything even if I’m not enjoying it. I don’t feel I can have a proper opinion unless I’ve read the whole thing.

That’s a fair point. I’m also trying my best to explore my reading and not just focusing on one genre! Now… three all time favorite books, go!

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson.

And what’s your favorite under-appreciated book?

The Collector Collector, by Tibor Fischer. Actually, it should probably be in my all-time favorites but you only gave me three.

Terribly sorry about the limitation! 😬 But, now I’m about to ask you a far more controversial question. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes I read them all, obsessively. I mostly ignore the good ones and think about the bad ones all day. I’ve heard this kind of behavior is to do with evolution, that we have learned to focus on the negative so as to be hyper-aware of the things that might be dangerous. I’m not sure about this theory. I hope the obsessive checking wears off; it’s kind of addictive.

Lastly, who’d you recommend to read Little Darlings?

Everyone. Especially all of the men.

Thank you, Melanie, for taking your time to chat with me about your upcoming debut release, Little Darlings!

And that’s the end of my interview with Melanie! I’m really excited about this book and I’m even more hyped now that I know it’s based on such creepy folktale! I can’t wait to start reading it and if you’re looking for more details and information regarding this book, keep on reading! 

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley―to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Title: Little Darlings | Author: Melanie Golding | Publisher: Crooked Lane Books | Genre: MysteryThriller | Publication Date: April 30, 2019 | LINKS: Book Depository (Affiliate)

Are you a fan of mystery/thriller novel which inspired by a folktale? Are you looking forward to read Little Darlings?

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

Published by Berkley Books on January 22, 2019. Classified as Mystery & Thriller. Received via Edelweiss as an eARC. 



When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry. 


Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years since he left home to go traveling. This time it’s personal.


And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

[su_spoiler title=”→ Trigger Warnings!” style=”simple”]Death, violence.[/su_spoiler]

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[su_heading size=”14″ margin=”5″]REVIEW[/su_heading]

The Suspect was a steady thrilling story with a back and forth story telling and multiple POVs. This is my first time to read Fiona Barton’s work, so I’m not sure if this is her earmark, but I enjoyed it. I’ve read a few books with the similar style that turned up to be pretty bad, because it ended up to be confusing rather than interesting. But for The Suspect, I’d say that it works perfectly.

“Two teenage girl backpackers in Thailand have been reported missing by their families.”

The only problem that I have is the mysteries was unsolved way too fast and bit by bit. Not exactly my favorable way to find out who’s the bad guy is. Hence, I can also predict most of the story line since the earlier chapters and it totally lessen the mystery and thrilling essence.

She’s ruining everything. I could kill her.

But other than too fast to reveal mystery, I’m okay with the other aspects of this book. The characters was interesting enough to keep me attached to each of their own story and motive, the relationship between the protagonists and antagonists was quite dynamic and the mixing of objectivity and subjectivity was at the right balance. It’s a pretty good suspense story. However, this book doesn’t amaze me.  I’m not sure whether I’ll read other works from Barton, but I saw a few reviews saying that The Widow and The Child was better than this book, so I might pick it up later in the future.

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Image credits: Jacky ZengSérgio Alves Santos

The Liar’s Wife by Samantha Hayes

The Liar’s Wife by Samantha Hayes

Published by Bookouture on November 22, 2018. Classified as Mystery & Thriller. Received via NetGalley as an eARC.

When Ella wakes up in a hospital following a hit-and-run incident, she is scared and confused. Close to tears, her eyes fall on a get-well-soon card on the window sill and the nurse reassures her that her loving husband will be back soon… But Ella has never been married.

In fact, she has lived alone her whole adult life; working hard, rarely socialising, quietly harbouring a terrible secret from her past. Fear sweeps through Ella when she instantly recognises the man who enters the ward. He is not her husband, but she knows that she must do as he says and play the part of dutiful wife.

What choice does she have? He was there the night of the fire, he knows her secret too…

[su_spoiler title=”→ Trigger Warnings!” style=”simple”]Abduction, blood, death, rapes, violence.[/su_spoiler]

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[su_heading size=”14″ margin=”5″]REVIEW[/su_heading]

I haven’t read an utterly satisfying thriller in years (well, except And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, but she’s a legend already so you know what I meant), so I’m really glad to found this one. I’m not going to lie, my first impression when I saw the title, cover and summary is… ‘Okay. Shari Lapena’s major vibes here’. Well, guess what? It’s not Shari Lapena. It’s better. And let me explain why.

Work, home, sleep.

We started with our main character, Ella, who’s very close about her life. She doesn’t have friends in her office, even after working there for couple of years. A nice guy from the office, Liam, seems to always want to be her friend. However, even after getting approached multiple times and got ask to hangout (non-romantically), Ella still ignored him, politely of course. There are hints here and there that showed us Ella actually wants to make friends and socialize, but something always stopped her. She has a secret, a dark one, that stop her from being her old, happy self. So, Ella continued her life. Work, home, sleep. A bit of embroidery as a hobby. Her life is a repeating pattern, even her flat’s neighbor noticed her cores without needing to talk to her. Until one day, when she was on her way back from the office, she got hit by a van and woke up in a hospital… with someone from her past. And he knows her secret too.

Earlier chapters showed us a quick throwback scenes to Ella & Maggie’s life in university. Maggie is Ella’s only best friend and these throwback chapters are actually my favorites, since I got to learn a little bit more about Ella, something that I can’t do from her present self. In these throwback chapters, we also got hints about people from Ella’s past, like Zach, the guy Ella used to date, Zach’s friends, a random creep that also went to the same college, and also Harry, Ella’s twin brother. These throwback chapters was also acts as clues that guided us to Ella’s secret. It was very comforting to read these chapters since you’ll witness that Ella used to be cheerful and carefree. But it was also intense at the same time, because in these chapters, there are probably important details that will point to Ella’s secret, but you’ll never know which one it is until you got the end of the story.

She’d had enough of feeling different, of always being the girl who didn’t join in. 

I’m usually a fan of dynamic pace when it comes to mystery/thriller. Something slow and stable is usually not working for me. I either got lazy because I feel there’s nothing ever going to be happened and continued to read half-heartedly, or I carelessly decided, so early, that I don’t enjoy the book. And I know, this is a bad habit but I’m working on it. However, The Liar’s Wife was a bit stagnant in its first few chapters. And weirdly, I’m okay with it. Sure, Ella got hit by a van and someone from her past appeared out of nowhere, is far from dull. It’s exciting and intense. But other than that, we still have no idea who’s this person is or what’s his intention, up until the half of the book. And no, I’m not saying everything’s going to be reveal at this point, but I’m talking about the first actual clue that I think will be matter in this story. Can you believe that?! I read up until half of the book just to think I found the first clue! However, I enjoyed the slow and painful build up, knowing that whatever twists this book is going to have, it will be worth the wait. And it does worth the wait. 

The last thing that I want to mention is the amazingly-written characters and plot by Hayes. Every characters was described so vividly. Ella’s fear was captivating and make me wondered, what’s her secret, really?! Is it so bad that staying with Jacob, her kidnapper, is better than getting consequences for whatever it is she’s trying to keep as a secret?! And Jacob’s in control movements, how dangerous he sounds both when he’s loving and when he’s raging, was described so perfectly. One third of the book and I’m already so sick everytime Jacob said “Ella-bella”. I can practically listened his singing voice at this point. And lastly, Liam’s kindness and forbearance was hitting me right in the heart. He just wants to get to know Ella and that’s it. His presence was an actual portrayal of how the readers must be feel when reading this book and I think it’s very clever of Hayes for bringing his character to make us sink deeper into the story.

I have nothing else to say, because I’m afraid I’ll spoil the plot for others that haven’t read this book yet. But most importantly, I love the twists in this book, I love getting manipulated by suspecting a lot of people and making up theories of my own, I just love this book. 

If you’re looking forward to purchase this book (and support my blog!), you can purchase it through my affiliate links below!
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Still not sure about this book? Read what others said about it:

  • “Absolutely recommend this dark and twisted story with an ending that I definitely did not see coming.” – Berit @ Audio Killed the Bookmark
  • “The reveals are fantastic—readers will not be disappointed with this one!” – Mackenzie @ PhDiva
  • “Without doubt an excellent psychological thriller and a very satisfying read despite some difficult themes.” – Yvonne @ It’s All About Books

Image credits: Ryan Riggings & A. L..

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

I started reading this book on August 28, 2018, and you might be wondering why it took me more than two weeks to finish it. The truth is, I neglected this book several times (due to some IRL responsibilities, ugh). I read the first few pages (which is decent, but quite tense I’d say), but I didn’t feel intrigued enough to keep going. Things started to work out a bit once I passed several chapters. And I’m referring to the plot only here. Unfortunately, the characters brought a bit of confusion, as you can’t really tell at first whether they’re a protagonist or antagonist. Which, on the other side is a good thing. However, I managed to finish it yesterday and here’s my review!

You’re waiting for your beloved husband to get home from work. You’re making dinner, looking forward to hearing about his day. That’s the last thing your remember. You wake up in hospital, with no idea how you got there. They tell you that you were in an accident, you lost control of your car whilst driving in a dangerous part of town. The police suspect you were up to no good. But your husband refuses to believe it. Your best friend is not so sure. And even you don’t know what to believe…

The only thing that I liked about this book is the last plot twist, since the other ones (yep, there’s more than one plot twist) are predictable. It’s annoying because isn’t this supposed to be a mystery novel? Although, the last few pages of this book is definitely interesting and unexpected. I sensed some Gone Girl 2.0 inspo here. The other thing that I appreciated about this book is the writing style. I saw other reviewers that considered this aspect as the weakness of this book since it’s quite straightforward and it can feel like you’re reading a fan-fiction on Wattpad. However, I kinda like it because it’s a huge convenient since I’m not an English native.

Does she really not remember that night? Or is she simply not telling him?

Now, this is the exciting part. Let’s start with the plot. Oh God, I cringed so hard at the mainstream storyline. Car accident, amnesia, affair and two women fighting over a man (not even a good one!). It feels like a soap opera! Not to mention the bad writing of characters. The male lead is so in love with the female lead, and two seconds later he’s become this naive, weak, cheat-ass liar. He’s doubting his marriage right after his wife got into an accident because he feels like he doesn’t know her anymore and he scared. What a coward! The two female leads are at least, has a bit more of personality. Definitely not a great one, however, they’re interesting enough to make you think about what they’re actually up to.

Rating: ★★

[su_spoiler title=”→ Trigger Warnings!” style=”simple”]Abuse, death, fertility, violence.[/su_spoiler]

[su_heading size=”12″ margin=”10″]Title: A Stranger in the House | Author: Shari Lapena | Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books | Genre: MysterySuspenseThriller | Publication Date: July 27, 2017 | Format: Paperback | Source: Purchased | LINKS: GoodreadsBook Depository (Affiliate)[/su_heading]

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Have you read this book? If so, what do you think about it? Have you read any book written by Shari Lapena? If so, how was it compared to this book? Are you looking forward to read this book after reading my review? Let me know!