Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin, hosted by The Irish Banana Review! I’m excited to have Calla on the blog today, discussing the sisters in her debut novel! Following Calla’s post, read a little more about the book and enter to win one of three copies!
Jana: Tell us a little about the sisters and the incredible sisters dynamic in this book. Did you model them after real people? Was it difficult to give each of them unique voices?
Calla: Tell Me Something Real follows three sisters. Profane and passionate Adrienne. Shy and observant Vanessa. And devout and quirky Marie, the baby and most loved in the family.
I have two sisters, Irish triplets, only a year apart each. They are nothing like the Babcock girls in my novel, and I think my desire to make them different from my own family drove me to develop them deeply. I didn’t want them to resemble my own sisters. I do have a similar relationship with one sister, to whom I dedicated the novel, as Vanessa does with Adrienne. Two very different people in the world who have a fierce bond and truly understand each other despite being opposite in so many ways. I drew from that love as I wrote the book.
This novel began as a short story and I couldn’t stop writing about these girls. The very first draft of Tell Me Something Real was a collection of linked stories with chapters written from each character’s point of view, and it followed them into adulthood. While the novel focuses on the dramatic events of one summer, I spent so much time exploring each sister, from college majors to romantic relationships to careers. I think I brought those early drafts to the final one, and I so vividly see each girl. They are real people to me, which may sound a bit strange, but I am invested in them as characters and I wrote them with the same compassion and empathy I try to bring to the real relationships in my life.
Music helped me develop each one. Vanessa, the narrator, is a pianist, so I listened to Chopin and Beethoven and this contemporary Italian composer who is amazing, Ludovico Einaudi. Adrienne is much more into pop, so because the book is set in the seventies, she starts out idolizing Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac and moves onto Blondie. Marie, only nine years old, becomes obsessed with virgin saints, young girls who were burned at the stake for believing in something greater than themselves. I listened to choral music as I wrote those scenes. I think listening to dramatically different kinds of music helped me shift gears as I shifted my focus between the sisters.
I hope the Babcock sisters resonate with readers. They are a buffet of sorts, each a different flavor, and I hope readers connect with them and find them emotionally satisfying. I hope they are as real to you as they are to me.
Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this masterfully written debut novel.
There are three beautiful blond Babcock sisters: gorgeous and foul-mouthed Adrienne, observant and shy Vanessa, and the youngest and best-loved, Marie. Their mother is ill with leukemia and the girls spend a lot of time with her at a Mexican clinic across the border from their San Diego home so she can receive alternative treatments.
Vanessa is the middle child, a talented pianist who is trying to hold her family together despite the painful loss that they all know is inevitable. As she and her sisters navigate first loves and college dreams, they are completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home. Their world is about to shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal…
About Calla Devlin
Calla Devlin is a Pushcart nominee and winner of the Best of Blood and Thunder Award whose stories have been included in numerous literary journals and in anthologies, including Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond, for which she was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Magazine.
Tell Me Something Real is her first book.
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8/30: Such a Novel Idea – Guest Post
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