Pen Friends ~ So happy to introduce you to a good friend and YA author, Chelsea Bobulski, author of The Wood and Remember Me, (out with Macmillan) who recently announced her new 4-book deal, with Wise Wolf Books!
SP: Hi Chelsea! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey!
CB: Thank you so much for having me! My journey has been ten years in the making if you can believe it (although, really, it has been the trajectory of my entire life). I’ve always loved storytelling in all of its various forms. Whether it’s a good book, TV show, movie, play, or even video game, I’ve always loved exploring human nature, both through reading and through writing, although it wasn’t until I took a class at the Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio my senior year at The Ohio State University that I ever thought I could really make a career of writing. Before that class, I’d put my favorite authors on a pedestal, thinking they must have been born published authors, because there was just no way the average person could write a 300+ page book, let alone dozens of them. But taking that class with YA author Lisa Klein opened my eyes to the fact that every author, whether on their first book or their one hundredth, starts the same way: with an idea and a blank page. To make a very long story short, I began pursuing traditional publication right after that, although it took me five books and five years to get my very first book deal, and now, in my tenth year of pursuing this career, I have two books published and countless others that may never see the light of day, some due to the fact that I wrote them early in my career when I was still learning and growing as an author, and some due to the market just not being right at the time for that type of book (although I’m hopeful that I may get the opportunity to pursue them someday).
SP: Can you tell us about your first book, THE WOOD, a contemporary fantasy featuring seventeen-year-old Winter Parish, who patrols the time portals in the magical and dangerous wood behind her house while also juggling a normal, high school life. How long did it take you to write it and how did this story come about?
CB: This story is so special to my heart, because it came about when I had given up on writing. I was four books into my journey, and closer than I’d ever gotten to seeing my dream become a reality, which meant that every “close-but-no-cigar” rejection hit harder than ever before (it did not help that, at this time, I was also struggling with negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test and really questioning whether the two dreams dearest to my heart—becoming a published author and a mommy—would ever come true. But then Winter started telling me her story, and she just wouldn’t shut up no matter how many law schools I researched trying to figure out how to get my life back on track! I free-wrote the first 50 pages of The Wood without a thought at all as to what this story would be, simply because I felt compelled to write it, even though I had no intention of it ever becoming something, but fifty pages in, I realized this was, in fact, going to be a book, and possibly my last one I would try to get published. The amazing thing is, those first fifty pages (which was basically just transcribing what Winter told me was going on in her life), other than a few new scenes added, are completely unchanged from those first, free-writing sessions to the final, published product.
My second book, Remember Me(which is about a girl who moves into a haunted seaside resort with her dad and discovers she’s connected to a murder that happened there over a hundred years ago—think the horror of The Shiningmeets the romance of Titanic), is just as special to me, as the idea for it came before I got the call that Feiwel and Friends wanted to publish The Wood, and so I was still in that space where I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to become a published author after five years of pursuing this career, and I also wasn’t sure if I was going to be a mommy after a year and a half of negative pregnancy tests. I had been given the opportunity to go to San Diego with my mom and get away from it all for a week. It was my first time on the west coast, my first time seeing the Pacific ocean, and my first time seeing the Hotel del Coronado (where the inspiration for Remember Mehit me like a ton of bricks), and it was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. I was walking the beach, generally reflecting on how it felt like the two biggest dreams of my life would never come true, and I felt God tell me to hold on just a little longer. I walked away from that trip feeling a complete peace and assurance that everything was going to be alright.
Six weeks later, I got the phone call that F&F wanted to publish The Wood, and six months after that, I found out I was pregnant with our first child, a baby girl. And just because God is God and loves to shower His children with the most amazing blessings, He didn’t stop there. He decided to tie up the promises He made to me on that beach with an extra special bow when Remember Me, the book that was inspired by that trip, was published on the exact same daymy second child, the sweetest little boy, was born. God answered my prayer to become both a published author and a mommy not once, but twice, and in the typical incredible, mind-blowing fashion He always does, which leaves me in complete awe of Him and ever excited to see what He’ll do next.
SP: I think fans are begging for The Wood to become a series! Any chance of that happening?
CB: I would love nothing more than for it to be a series! I did write a proposal for it, but it’s completely up to my publisher at this point whether or not the series will be published. I do have so many readers ask for the next book in the series though, so I’m hopeful that, at some point, in some way, I will be able to give them the next book in the series. I’m just not quite sure yet when that will be possible or what that will look like. So hold on a little longer, dear friends! I’m hopeful that the second book will happen at some point!
SP: We’ve heard you have another book (or books) coming out soon. Can you tell us about those? Please tell!
Yes!!! I’m SO excited to announce that I will have, not one, but FOUR young adult contemporary romances coming out next fall with Wise Wolf, an imprint of Wolfpack Publishing! And the best part of all is that they’re ALL Christmas books! The first book in the series, All I Want for Christmas, pitched as It’s a Wonderful Lifemeets Wish Upon a Star, is about aboy named Graham Wallace who has been in love with the girl next door, Sarah Clarke, for a decade. The only problem is, she’s been dating his best friend for the past two years. But all of that changes when Graham makes a wish on a shooting star and wakes up the next morning to discover he’sthe one who’s been dating Sarah for the past two years, not his best friend, which shouldbe the answer to his prayers, but soon Graham finds himself wondering if some wishes come true in order to show us what’s notmeant to be.
SP: You seem to write across multiple genres, which one is your favorite? Which has been the most enjoyable to write?
CB: I really don’t think I could choose one as a favorite. I love contemporary books for their authenticity and their accessibility, and I love fantasy because it reminds all of us that there ismagic in this world. I think both are important—it’s important to see good overcome evil and love win the day in both a real world setting and in a fantastical one, and since those tend to be the overarching themes of my books, I love getting the chance to explore them in different ways through different genres.
SP: Would you like to offer any advice to other writers and storytellers?
CB: Two pieces of advice spring to mind, and both are semi-stereotypical, but that does not make them any less true or important. The first is that to be a great writer, one must be a reader.This seems obvious, but we live in an age where social media can so easily replace our reading time, because it often feels easier to scroll through short posts than pick up a book, and those posts can be GREAT writing, but if you want to write novels, you’re not going to grow in the ways that you need to by only reading Instagram posts. I speak to this from experience, as within the last year I realized I was picking up my phone and scrolling throughout my day because my brain told me that was easier, and I had completely fallen out of love with reading—a VERY bad thing for a writer, and for someone who has loved reading her whole life. It took some serious re-training for my brain to let go of the perceived and addictive ease of scrolling, but I am so happy to report that now I am reading just as vigorously as (if not more than!) ever (see the question regarding the last book I read below). J
The second piece of advice is to never give up. As I said before, it took me five years and five books to get my first book deal, and countless rejections, and I’m prayerful that if sharing my story does anything, it will inspire the perseverance and patience needed to keep chasing whatever dream is on your heart, and seeking God’s wisdom and loving guidance through it all, because He is the Author of every great fairy tale that has ever been written, and your fairy tale is far from over.
Is Chelsea a…
Plotter/pantster?A little bit of both! Enough of a plotter to not get stuck in too big of a plot hole while drafting, and enough of a pantser to keep it interesting!
Last book you read? This is tough to keep track of because I’m always reading at least 4-5 books at a time (I’m currently reading 7!—3 theology books; 1 YA; 1 narrative nonfiction; 1 biography; and 1 historical nonfiction), but I think the last currently published book I finished was probably The Giver of Starsby Jojo Moyes, but I’ve also finished two books recently that are both coming out Winter 2021 (Calculatedby The Spinning Pen’s very own Nova McBee and Hot Britsh Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce) and both are AMAZING and NEED to be preordered/added to the tops of your TBR piles THIS. INSTANT.
Current dream vacation spot? It would have to be San Diego because ever since I had that incredibly spiritual experience, I’ve been wanting to go back and show my husband how amazing the city is! Also, Disney World, because I haven’t been since I was five and I can’t wait to experience it again through my children’s eyes.
Favorite fall drink?I am a proud pumpkin spice latte lover and I really couldn’t care less how “basic” that makes me. J
Favorite childhood book? Oh, this is so hard!!! How do you choose just one?! Alas, I am a child of the Harry Potter generation, and so I must say Harry Potter, specifically the fifth one, both because it’s the longest and because I love seeing all of the characters go through ALL THE TEENAGE FEELS.
SP: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Chelsea! We are eagerly anticipating your book!
Thank you so much for having me! I can’t wait for everyone to meet all of the couples in my new YA romcom Christmas series next fall! It is my sincere hope that all of the books in the series will brighten every reader’s holiday season.
Ellen McGinty, signing off