Blog Tour: Book Review & Author Interview - The Many Colours of Us by Rachel Burton


What if your life was built on lies?

Julia Simmonds had never been bothered about not knowing who her father was. Having temperamental supermodel, Philadelphia Simmonds, as a mother was more than enough. Until she discovers she's the secret love-child of the late, great artist Bruce Baldwin, and her life changes forever.

Uncovering the secrets of a man she's never met, Julia discovers that Bruce had written her one letter, every year, until her eighteenth birthday, urging his daughter to learn from his mistakes.

Julia begins to dig deeper into the mysterious past of her parents, opening up a history that she'd never have imagined, but as she discovers the truth she needs to decide if she is willing to forgive and forget...




Today, I am completely thrilled to be welcoming the wonderful Rachel Burton to Got books, babe? as part of The Many Colours of Us blog tour. On my stop, I'll be sharing my book review of Rachel's heart-warming debut novel with HQ Digital UK, as well as an interview which Rachel kindly agreed to take part in, in order to give readers a little bit more of an insight into the woman behind the book. So, without further ado, I suggest you grab yourselves a nice cuppa before settling down and joining me as I welcome Rachel Burton to the blog.

Review

I'd had my eye on Burton's debut since the moment I'd become aware of it. The cover and the title worked its magic on my imagination immediately and I couldn't help but to wonder what secrets were squirreled away between the pages. The blurb intrigued me to no end. I love novels centred around families, those of which include mothers and daughters, daughters and fathers etc. Anything that opens up and studies the bonds between family members, and then goes on to experiment with those relationships by creating circumstances that will either tighten the strands between them or, in this case, create chasms and holes and push them further apart really give me food for thought and they are topics that I find endlessly fascinating. Joining Julia on this journey of self-discovery was exhilarating on a deeply emotional level, and I was just as curious as she to figure out the truth behind her past, and how she had come to be.

As this novel begins, readers are introduced to Julia Simmonds. Living in Cambridge and trying to figure out why her life doesn't seem to be heading in any particular direction, Julia's world is turned upside down when she is summoned to the lovely Edwin's lawyer offices and is told that her father, now deceased, has left to her a rather large fortune, of which she is about to inherit. But the thing is, Julia never knew who her father was. When it came to her mother, Philadelphia Simmonds, the truth was kept locked up tight and never revealed. Until now. Determined to figure out just what went on all those years before, Julia makes it her mission to get to know her father, whether he's around or not.

It seems to me that Burton knows exactly what to say at exactly the right time. The level of emotion within this story was profound and had me deep in thought repeatedly throughout. I adored how this story unravelled, and the letters to Julia written by her late father were divine, bringing tears to my eyes as I read and allowed the sadness to wash over me. It was beautiful, in a way that warmed my soul completely and had me hoping for only the best for Julia. The author's writing style is one that draws you in gently and subtly, until before you've even realised it, you're wrapped up completely in the story and unable to tear yourself away. This book is perfect for curling up with and losing oneself in. With something new to delight and excite with every new chapter, I found myself whipping through the pages, desperate to see how it would all end.

Elegantly told, and written with an immeasurable amount of heart and soul, Rachel Burton's 'The Many Colours of Us' is a warm & uplifting tale of what happens when life decides to take you on a different route to the one you had planned. It is a story of family secrets and the depths they can reach, and of picking oneself up, dusting oneself off, and figuring out what it is that makes your heart soar. Julia Simmonds' tale is an inspiring one. One which left me feeling capable of anything, and ready to take on the world. Burton writes with such capability, her style is simplistic yet effective. A fantastic debut novel, one which has me eager for the next book by this quite clearly talented author.

With thanks to the publisher for the review copy of this book.

Interview

Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? And what's your shoe size?
My name's Rachel Burton, I grew up in Cambridge and London and now live in Leeds with my boyfriend and three cats. I work as a paralegal in a large law firm in Leeds, I teach Yoga and I'm a UK size 4!

When was your most recent book published?
My debut novel, The Many Colours of Us, was published on 26th April 2017.

What is it about?
Imagine if you found out who your father was after he died? Well that's what happens to Julia Simmonds on her thirtieth birthday. The Many Colours of Us explores how this revelation about her identity affects every aspect of Julia's life; her job, her relationships, her finances and the new life she has created for herself.

How do you hope readers will feel while reading it?
I think there are bits that might make them cry, I hope there are bits that will make them laugh as well. But ultimately I want them to feel hope, that anything is possible and you never know what's around the next corner. It's for people who (like me) have never really worked out their place in the world, but have never given up hope either.

If you were to describe this book in the same way you'd describe the weather, what would you say?
Cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms, but sunshine by the late afternoon!

When did you start writing?
I wrote and illustrated my first book when I was 6 years old. It was about creatures who lived under the sea. One of the boys who sat at my table scribbled on it. If memory serves it was the one who was, until relatively recently, a relatively famous MP ;)

Do you have any goals for your writing?
I always wanted to write, it just took me a long time to work out what to write! I spent my 20s and 30s writing mostly non-fiction articles for newspapers and magazines (particularly yoga magazines), but it didn't really light me up. Ten years ago I wrote a novel about a group of friends at university. I sent it off to Jonny Geller at Curtis Brown who asked to see a full. This was back when you still sent hard copy fulls so I had to go into work at 7am to print it out! He wrote me the best rejection letter I've ever had which basically said that the story was terrible but I could write well, so keep writing. I spent the next decade writing all kinds of things but it wasn't until the idea for The Many Colours of Us popped into my head that I felt as though I had something worth sending out again.

Which authors inspire you?
Lisa Jewell, Stephen King, Charles Dickens, Louise Doughty, Julia Crouch.

Describe your writing style in three words.
I.Love.Dialogue.

What themes do you find yourself focusing on?
I usually have a "What if" moment that starts me thinking about the book. The "what if" for The Many Colours of Us was simply "what if you didn't know who your father was until a lawyer told you one day?" Ultimately though I like to explore relationships, not just romantic ones but also those between parents and children, those between friends and the idea that family is much more than just blood.

Once you've an idea firmly in place, what is the next step for you?
I start bashing out the first draft. I rarely plan more than a few chapters ahead, although I always know the ending. The Many Colours of Us has gone through three major re-drafts but the ending has always remained the same! The ending of book 2 is already written as well.

Do you have a favourite part of the writing process?
The first structural edit, that point when you realise the words you've been randomly writing down for the last two months actually mean something!

Are there any techniques/methods you use when it comes to plotting?
Ha ha ha! No. I read an interview Lee Child a while ago in which he said he starts at the beginning and lets something occur to him. And that's pretty much me too. I know that's going to send all the planners reading this bonkers, for which I am sorry.

Have you ever come face to face with writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
Not really. If I feel I can't write a particular section of the book I just write another section. Or if I can't think of anything at all, I write a different story set around the characters I'm writing about. I just try to get words on paper as frequently as possible. Mostly those words are rubbish but eventually they turn into something!

Where do you find inspiration?
At work, eavesdropping in coffee shops, from the news or current affairs. The "what if" moment for my third book came the other day while watching the news about the Brexit vote in Parliament.

What does a typical day in your life look like?
I get up around 5.45 am for yoga, shower, have breakfast and leave for work. Sometimes at lunchtime I'll write a few ideas or sections of dialogue in my notebook. When I get home from work at 6.30 my boyfriend and I make dinner and then I try to write 1000 words before bed. Working full time and writing books requires a modicum of discipline, which I'm not very good at and those 1000 words don't always get done. That said I haven't missed a deadline. Yet!

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult?
First draft for sure. I hate how rubbish it seems at times (all the time).

How do you come up with your titles?
I really don't do titles. My publishers do that!

When creating your characters, what's the first step you take?
I write biographies or CVs for them all - hair colour, eye colour, height, career history, likes and dislikes - that sort of thing. Some of it makes it into the book but all of it helps me to stay anchored with my characters.

Have you ever taken a research trip?
The area of London in which The Many Colours of Us is set is an area I knew really well in the late 80s and 90s so it was fun revisiting it last summer to make sure I'd got my geography right.

Do you ever set yourself word count goals?
I try to do 1000 a day, but I don't always stick to it.

What is your definition of success?
Getting an edit in on time!

What is your definition of happiness?
Oooh that's a hard one. I'm happier when I don't compare myself to other people, when I concentrate on my own journey. Of course, achieving that is one of the hardest things in the world!

Which do you find hardest? The beginning, middle or end?
The beginning. The end is what I always write first.

What's the best of advice you've received?
Jonny Geller telling me to keep writing.

What piece of advice would you pass on to another writer?
Keep writing, keep sending it out, never ever ever give up. I never thought this would happen to me. And yet...

Tell us an author who is on your auto-buy list.
Lisa Jewell.

If you were to write in a different genre, which would you choose and why?
Detective fiction, but it would have to be set in the past because DNA evidence makes coming up with a plot so hard!

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm writing Book 2, I'm also working on ideas for Book 3 (both still top secret) and a sequel to The Many Colours of Us.

Now for some quick-fire questions:
Coffee or tea? Coffee.
Summer or winter? Summer.
Shower or bath? Bath.
Sweet or savoury? Sweet.
Holiday in the city or the countryside? City.
Text or call? Text.
Facebook or Twitter? Twitter.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
TV or movies? TV.
Wine or beer? Wine.
Cats or dogs? Cats.
Chinese of Indian food? Indian.
Pasta or cheese? Pasta.

About the author


Rachel Burton has been making up stories since she first learned to talk, prodigiously early. In 2013 she finally started making one up that was worth writing down.

She has a BA in Classics and an MA in English and has never really known what to do when she grew up. She has worked as a waitress, a legal secretary, a yoga teacher and a paralegal. She never quite made it to law school.

She grew up in Cambridge and London but now lives in Leeds with her boyfriend and three cats. The main loves of her life are The Beatles and very tall romantic heroes.

You can find Rachel Burton on Facebook | Twitter.

You can purchase your copy of The Many Colours of Us here.

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