I'm thrilled to have double RITA Finalist Elise Chidley here today. In the writing world a RITA is like an Oscar! Elise's debut novel, Your Roots Are Showing, is nominated in the Best First Book category and the Contemporary Single Title category. I am reading it right now and love it! It's one of those books that, as an aspiring author, makes me want to throw my arms in the air and quit because I'll never be that good. :0) And on that note, please welcome today's featured author, Elise Chidley!
Tell us about your first novel, Your Roots Are Showing.
Your Roots Are Showing was inspired by a house we lived in briefly in England—the bare-bones, badly-laid-out rental house Lizzie relocates to at the start of the novel after her husband walks out on her. I remember standing in the hallway of that very house, looking up at a light bulb swinging from the ceiling, and then out of the window at the desolate front yard, and thinking it was the ideal setting for a book about a woman whose life had suddenly fallen apart. The house was like a clean slate—somewhere to reinvent yourself and start all over again.
In Roots, this is exactly what Lizzie has to do. Ironically, by zapping off an unforgivable email to her husband by mistake, she sets in motion a train of events that will force her to reevaluate herself, her choices, and the state of her married life.
What a great inspiration! I can just see the house...Have you ever sent an email to the wrong person? :0)
Yes, I often make email blunders, but nothing truly devastating has ever gone astray.
I understand you've also written short stories. Tell us more...
I wrote a collection of stories for my MFA thesis at Penn State University. One of these, The Water Diviner, was short-listed for the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award. Another, Gifts, was short-listed forThe New Writer’s annual Prose and Fiction Prize. The stories are set in South Africa, where I’m from, and are more literary in tone than Your Roots Are Showing.
What are you working on now?
I’m at the editing stage of a second book, and beginning work on a third. They’re both similar in style to Roots, and both deal with the ways children can complicate and enrich a woman’s life. (Can you tell I don’t like the term ‘mom lit’?)
Tell us three things we don't know about you:
I’m not very tall; okay, I’m ‘petite’—I like to say I’m 5’2” but I think it’s a whisker less than that.I drink an awful lot of tea, so I’m hoping to live forever. Then again, maybe it’s the wrong kind of tea…
After years of suppressing the urge, I realize that in my bones I’m an avid gardener, just like my mother.
If Elise Chidley were a fictional character in a book, what would she be like?
I’d be tall with one of those golden skins that tan easily; I’d have eagle eyes, and I would know for a fact that you can’t please all the people all the time, so I wouldn’t even try.
Is that close to the real Elise? What did you change and why?
As I’ve already confessed, the word ‘tall’ could only be applied to me by leprechauns and their ilk. I’m plagued with very fair skin that keeps me ducking around under umbrellas and shade trees outside for fear of wrinkles and skin cancer. I’ve been myopic all my life, and I’m a habitual ‘people pleaser’. I think my fictional life will be a lot easier without these all-too-real shortcomings (pun intended).
I can sympathize, I have the "people pleasing plague" as well. :0) And finally, where can we find you?
Look me up at www.elisechidley.com and www.elisechidley.wordpress.com. I’ll be speaking and signing books to promote Chicken Soup for the Soul: Power Moms (in which I have a piece) at the New Canaan Library, New Canaan, CT at 7pm on Tuesday, April 21; at the Greenwich Library, Greenwich, CT, at 6:30pm on Tuesday, April 28, and at Barnes & Noble in the Lincoln Center, New York, NY, from 1-3pm on Friday, May 8. I will also be signing books at the RWA’s “Reader’s for Life” Literacy Autographing at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington D.C. on Wednesday evening, July 15. For more about the RWA Conference, go to the RWA’s web site: http://www.rwanational.org/cs/conferences_and_events.
Wonderful, Elise! Thank you for being here.
Elise is giving away one copy of Your Roots Are Showing! All you have to do is comment - let us know what's on your mind or ask Elise a question and you're in. The winner will be announced here on Friday. So, let the fun begin!
And heeeeere's the winner of Elise's contest:
Email me your snail mail address at Tiffany@TiffanyJames.net and Elise will get Your Roots Are Showing headed your way!
Thanks again to Elise and to all of you who joined us! Be sure to join me next week when I chat with historical romance author Emily Bryan!