One of the most fun parts about this synchronized feature that Miss Print and I feature every so often on both of our blogs is getting to, not only talk about about a book we both loved, but getting to talk about and to the author of said book. In this case, author Chelsey Philpot.
Today, Chelsey is here to talk all about her debut novel, Even in Paradise.
Book Bandit (BB): A lot of Charlotte’s character is informed by the fact that she is an artist. How did you decide what kind of artist Charlotte would be? Did you always know that her artwork would play a large role in the story–particularly at the end?
Chelsey Philpot (CP): I am a total art geek. My idea of a perfect Saturday is one that begins at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and ends with a dance performance at the Institute of Contemporary Art. As of late, I’ve been particularly fascinated by found-art sculptures (the kind of works Charlotte creates). There’s just something so lovely about the idea that discarded and scarred objects can be transformed into art.
I knew one of Charlie’s works would play a role in the final chapter, because the sculpture, in a way, represents how she’s taken her memories (the good and the bad) and used them to make a beautiful life.
BB: While this story is very much focused on Charlotte’s friendship with Julia, there is also a bit of a mystery involved. As a writer, how did you go about pacing this aspect of the story and deciding what to reveal when?
CP: Oh boy, I am very much a need-to-write-multiple-drafts-before-I-get-to-where-I-need-to-be writer. Thus, my not very exciting answer is that I honed the pacing of the mystery over the course of many, many drafts.
It was really important to me that the mystery had layers, meaning that if readers figured out what happened before the end, they would keep reading to uncover why it happened.
BB: In Even in Paradise Charlotte begins to collect bottle caps with fun facts on them reminiscent of Snapple bottle cap facts. Do you have a favorite fact from a cap of your own?
CP: “Nantucket is not a part of Kentucky.” Found on a Nantucket Nectars bottle cap.
BB: Can you tell us anything about your next project?
CP: Yes! Book two is currently in my editor’s hands. I’m not ready to say too much about it other than that this is the novel I very much had to write after Even in Paradise.
BB: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?
CP: Really think about why you write. If it’s because you’ve already picked out a pen for the thousands of signings you’ll one day travel to or because you’ve finalize what stars are in the cast for the blockbuster film version of your first novel, these reasons won’t sustain you.
If you let it, writing can be a soul-crushing, heart-wrenching business. Successes are fleeting; criticisms are inevitable; and hard work is mandatory. Really, it’s the quieter joys (finding the perfect word, revisiting memories, getting a message from a fan) that make the hours of solitude and early mornings worth it.
Having a book published will not change your life—but writing, living bravely so you have experiences to write about, will.
A big THANK YOU to Chelsey Philpot for taking the time our of her schedule to answer a few questions for us! If you want to know more about Chelsey and her books, make sure to check her out online