It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything ’round these parts, but today is a great day to change that! I’d like to welcome Shari Green, author of FOLLOWING CHELSEA, to Le Blog. Shari and I have been writing friends for a good long time after meeting at the wonderful Surry International Writers Conference back in 2006. We were both complete newbies way back then, so I’m doubly thrilled to chat with Shari about her brand-new debut.
Before we get to the interview, here’s a little bit about FOLLOWING CHELSEA:
Walking in the footsteps of a dead girl isn’t easy…
After her social life flatlines, seventeen-year-old Anna Richards wants nothing more than to lie low at her new school. But it seems Anna looks an awful lot like Chelsea, the sweet and popular girl who recently died, and Anna finds herself stepping into the void created by Chelsea’s absence.
Anna is determined to make the awkward situation work in her favor, because Chelsea didn’t just leave a spot open with the in-crowd; she also left a gorgeous—and now available—boyfriend. But it turns out that following Chelsea might be a lot more complicated than Anna expected.
Now, on to the interview with Shari!
How long did it take to write FOLLOWING CHELSEA, and did you have any epiphanies about the creative process along the way?
It probably took the better part of a year to write and revise it initially, plus several more small chunks of time over the years as the story went through different incarnations. I’m not sure I want to know how many months I actually spent on it!
As for epiphanies, just this: The story gets to be what the story wants to be—meaning, if I’m struggling with a story, it quite likely could be that I’m trying to make it into something it doesn’t want to be. Listen to your story! (Is that weird? It makes sense in my head. Ha!)
You know the advice “kill your darlings”? Was this something you had to do?
Many darlings were slain in the creation of this novel! Originally, FOLLOWING CHELSEA was written with dual POV: Anna’s and Ryan’s. I hated cutting an entire point of view—I loved Ryan’s voice! But doing so definitely strengthened the story, so it was worth it.
Everyone knows that the road to publication can be long and challenging. What tools do you use to keep going when the slogging gets tough?
I whinge to my writer-friends and drink a lot. (Tea, that is—what were you thinking? Ha!) Seriously, writer-friends who understand the ups and downs of this life are crucial. They provide a shoulder to cry on or a swift kick in the pants, whichever is needed at the time. It’s also really important (for me, at least) to bear in mind why I’m writing and what I love about a particular project, to help me stay connected to the joy of it all. Joy is good.
And how about the road to publication itself? Would you mind sharing a little about your book’s journey?
It was a long and winding road from idea to publication (but that’s probably true of many stories!). I wrote FOLLOWING CHELSEA in 2008, signed with an agent and worked on revisions with her, but then ended up parting ways with the agent. I shelved the story while I wrote other things, but came back to it a couple times over the next few years. Then Evernight Teen put out a call for submissions, and FOLLOWING CHELSEA seemed like it might be a good fit. Turned out, it was! I’m thrilled it found a good home.
Many writers have “aids” to help them in the writing process, like a playlist or visuals or even just a favourite spot to write. Any chance you might share an aid or two?
Sometimes I use visuals—photos of people who represent my main characters, or (more often) evocative pictures of the setting, or pictures/objects that represent key scenes—but I didn’t with FOLLOWING CHELSEA. I definitely had a playlist, though—a fairly eclectic mix of songs chosen because they fit either mood or theme of a chapter or of the entire novel. (Sometimes I need silence, or just instrumental music, but other times it’s headphones on, volume up, write!)
And what’s next for Shari Green?
I’m working on another YA, and I have a MG verse novel that I’m kind of in love with—hoping it finds a home soon!
Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Catherine!
You’re very welcome, Shari!
If you’re interested in reading FOLLOWING CHELSEA, there’s a Goodreads giveaway running RIGHT NOW!
And should you wish to add FOLLOWING CHELSEA to your library (and I hope you do, because it’s really, really good!), it’s available for purchase at the following retailers:
The Book Manager