Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Author Feature: Elise Chidley

Current Read: Your Roots Are Showing by Elise Chidley

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 and 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:

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:

Last Nerve

Email me your snail mail address at 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!

Happy Friday!


Helen Hardt said...

Good morning Elise and Tiffany -- I loved this interview! I've had emails go astray with not great results. And though I'm tall, I have that pale skin that burns then turns white again. I did cure my myopia, though, with Lasik back in 2000 ;). Your book sounds like a wonderful read, Elise. And you're a double RITA finalist -- congratulations and best of luck!


Anonymous said...

Great interview Elise! I always enjoy reading your cheerful posts on the CLW loop. Congratulations on your success! Your book sounds great!!


Jillian Clemmons

Francesca Prescott said...

Hello Elise and Tiffany!

Tiffany, you always do such a wonderful job, this is another great interview. Elise, you always look so fresh and pretty, and you have NO wrinkles, so you must be doing something right. I'm tall (about 5'9), but I'm also very fair skinned so know exactly what you mean about yearning for that gorgeous, golden skin that just glows in summer. We'll have to put in a joint order for our next time around!

I loved "Your Roots are Showing", your writing is chatty and engaging, and I'm thrilled you're a double RITA finalist.I wish I could come to the RWA Convention with you this summer...but my little country is sooo far away!

I'm really looking forward to reading your new book :)

Lots of love,


Kimberley Troutte said...

Great interview.
this sounds like a wonderful book, Elise. Congrats on the Rita double. You rock, woman.
One of the chicks,
Kimberely Troutte

Tiffany James said...


So glad to hear you enjoyed Elise's interview! It was great fun for me too. We all have a lot in common - except for the pale skin thing...I'm usually tan all year (go ahead - hate me)! :0) Hehehe.

Have a great day!


Tiffany James said...


Thanks for joining us! I am loving Elise's book. Run out now and get it - it's great!


Tiffany James said...


Hello! Great to *see* you today.

Thank you for the kind words!

Francesca is actually the one who introduced me to "Your Roots Are Showing". I sent her a print copy of her book (Mucho Caliente! - another good one) and in exchange she sent me Elise's. A win-win, for sure!

Have a great day!


Elise Chidley said...

Hi everybody, thanks for your enthusiasm and kind words! Francesca, I'm reading Mucho Caliente whenever I have a spare moment--it's so much fun! Helen, I've been thinking about Lasik for years but my husband keeps begging me not to do it. I think he's afraid I'll be blinded and he'll end up looking after three small children...
Tiffany, thanks so much for having me over!

robynl said...

hi Elise and welcome; congrats on the double RITA nomination.

Going by your title of the book, Your Roots Are Showing, do I detect humor in this book? The book sounds like a profound read and one I shall look into. Thanks.

lastnerve said...

This looks like a really good book, congrats on the double RITA finalist! Loved the interview and can't wait to read the book

Renee Knowles said...

Hi Elise and Tiffany. I loved this interview. In my fictional life, I would have skin that tans easily too :)

Elise, your writing style and book sounds just perfect. I've added it to my TBR list. Sounds like a must buy!

Thanks for sharing with us today!


Annette Gallant said...

Great interview, Elise and Tiffany!

Your book sounds wonderful, Elise. Been meaning to pick it up since I first heard about it on the CLW loop. And congratulations again on the double Rita nod. That's awesome!

LOL I'm a 'whisker' under 5'2" myself, with pale skin that burns easily, so I can totally relate.

Tiffany James said...


Thanks for joining us today! Glad you enjoyed the Elise's interview.


Tiffany James said...


Elise's book is hilarious! It's like "Bridget Jones" meets motherhood. I laughed out loud and cried all at the same time. Definitely pick this one up. :0)

Great to *see* you here today!


Tiffany James said...

Last Nerve,

Thanks for stopping in - see my comment to Robyn above. I loved Elise's book.


Tiffany James said...

HI, Renee & Annette,

Glad you both enjoyed the interview! Thanks for joining us today.


Elise Chidley said...

Hi Tiffany, thank you so much for hosting this event--I really enjoyed hearing from everybody. And congrats to Lastnerve on winning the free copy!

Wendy said...

Well here's a small world one for you. I was just skipping around on sites and I came onto yours. And get this...I just met Elise last night at the Chicken Soup signing b/c we both have stories featured in the book. She was an absolute delight!

No need to enter me for the contest b/c I bought her book. :D

Fun to read more about her...after I just met her.

Tiffany James said...


It is a small world, isn't?! Of course, now that song is going to be stuck in my head all day... :0)

Glad you enjoyed the interview and also glad you found us here at Armchair Heroines!