Danielle Younge-Ullman “writes her guts out” in her debut novel
Winner has been announced!
Falling Under is a fiercely intense book; it takes hold of you and demands that you keep reading. Danielle Younge-Ullman’s debut absolutely does not read as if it were a debut – Falling Under is a book that takes reading to another level. This sexually intense novel provokes thought, brings brilliant artistic visuals to the mind, and will have you ripping through the pages, fascinated all the way through to the amazing ending.
Danielle, what’s the elevator pitch you’d use to describe your book?
Falling Under is an emotional roller coaster of a book about a reclusive young artist whose past starts to catch up with her when she falls in love. It’s gritty, sexy and raw, with complicated characters and a wry sense of humor. The story touches on a number of issues – everything from the difficulty of having faith when everything and everyone you count on is falling apart to the powerful draw of inappropriate men and the use of sex to punish oneself for crimes real or imagined. My heroine, Mara Foster, is equal parts courageous and neurotic, and the book contains two interwoven stories, one in first person and the other in the rarely used second person.
What was the first moment of inspiration for you to begin writing Falling Under?
I don’t actually remember the first moment, but my first attempt at a book (the unpublished one sitting in my drawer) was a rather frothy, fun kind of book with some deeper, darker subplots. In the end, it was those subplots I found most interesting and felt were my best work, so I knew with my next book I wanted to go in a more serious direction, though I really felt it was important to keep some humor as well.
Also, I wanted to write about someone who has the fears and anxieties many of us have, but multiplied by a thousand. So as I was pondering these things, suddenly I had a vision of Mara (my protagonist), young and vibrant and talented, but stuck in her house, haunted by the past and afraid of the future. And then I thought, what happens when someone like this falls in love?
Falling Under is really sexy and sensual, but in a very intense, good way. Were those scenes very difficult to write?
I had a lot of fun writing the sex scenes, but it did take some effort to get them right. The sex in Falling Under is intrinsic to the story and to Mara’s emotional journey, but I didn’t want it to be gratuitous …It’s interesting – I find readers are coming away with the impression that there is more detail in the sex scenes in Falling Under than there actually is because of the way I use language in those scenes. I use rhythm and repetition and suggestion in a way that, I think, provokes the imagination – but after the initial set-up of a sex scene, I leave the specifics to the imagination. That is a tough balance to strike, but I enjoyed the challenge.
Mara seems like such a sad person, yet the reader roots for her and wants her to be well. Was she a difficult character to create?
Honestly, I think there’s a bit of Mara in so many of us. We live in anxious times, and so many of us, especially women, live with a ton of worry and anxiety. I am a constant worrier and someone who can easily go to the worst-case scenario in my mind, so to create Mara, I just imagined someone with the same tendency but with a much more traumatic personal history, bigger obstacles. It really wasn’t difficult to create her – she kind of just arrived.
I absolutely LOVED something about each and every male character in your book, from art instructor Caleb to sexy, curly-haired Hugo. Seriously, if I could take a piece from each of them and make me a man-sandwich … Was there one you preferred out of the bunch, and if so, why?
I have to admit I have a thing for the more complicated guys in Mara’s life – Caleb and Erik in particular. It’s not that I think either of them is the best influence in her life or should end up with her, but I just enjoy writing those characters. And Erik … well … he started out as just sexy and a bit dangerous but became so much more. He is the one I cried over as I wrote.
Any chance you’ve got a copy of Falling Under for the Betty readers?
I’d be delighted to give a signed copy to a Betty reader!
Head on over to the Betty Talk section where you can enter to win a signed copy of this incredible book. I promise you will not be able to put it down, and when you’re finished with it, you will sit there, AMAZED at the literary journey you’ve just been through! Danielle Younge-Ullman is THAT GOOD OF A WRITER!