About Melanie Golding
Melanie Golding is a recent graduate of the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, with distinction. Her short stories have been chosen to be recorded as podcasts by the Leicester-based festival Story City in 2015 and 2016, and to be performed at both the regular Stroud Short Stories event and their special ‘best of’ event at Cheltenham Literature Festival. In 2017 she won the short story prize at the Mid Somerset Festival, as well as the Evelyn Sanford trophy for highest mark in the prose class. She has taught creative writing in prisons and Young Offenders Institutions, as well as teaching music in a school for boys with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. She is now a full-time registered childminder and splits her time between that and writing. Little Darlings is her debut novel and has been optioned for screen by Free Range Films, the team behind the adaptation of My Cousin Rachel.
Your book, Little Darlings, is about a mother who is certain her twins are not her own. It’s utterly chilling. Can you tell us a bit more about the book?
The book has a contemporary setting, the action occurring in a fictionalised version of Sheffield in the UK, where I lived for several years before I had children. It has two POV’s, Lauren, the mother of the twins, who is sure they have been switched, and Jo Harper, the police detective who is the only person who believes Lauren could be anything other than deranged. It contains, and is inspired by folklore, but also by my experience of having babies in an underfunded NHS.
What inspired the idea behind this novel?
The novel began as an idea for a short re-telling of a very obscure folktale which features in the book, in which a mother believes she has to return changeling babies to the river in order to get her real children back. As I continued to write, the story got longer and longer. I realised it wasn’t a short story but in fact a novel, and that the narrative had hidden within it a metaphor for the postnatal experience, in which a mother feels increasingly isolated and ‘other’ than the person she was before the birth.
Little Darlings is an incredibly creepy psychological thriller. Were you able to mentally switch off from that at the end of your writing day?
I enjoy a dark tale, having been a big fan of James Herbert and Stephen King’s early work as a young teenager. All of my stuff was handed down from my two older brothers, which meant I often had access to books, films and TV that, in hindsight, might have been meant for older kids. I realise I haven’t answered the question: I guess I don’t know what it’s like to switch off. I’d be unhappy if the stories in my head went away. I’ve always got one foot in a fictional world (sorry family).
The manuscript was snapped up within 48 hours, and has now also been optioned for film. An incredible achievement for a debut author. What are you working on now?
My second book is another contemporary thriller inspired by a dark folktale.
What are some of your favourite book of the past year?
I’m currently reading The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr. Recently I loved The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton. Also brilliant: We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet and The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald.