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Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday Spotlight: Elise Chidley

On Writing Your Roots Are Showing

The original trigger for Your Roots Are Showing was a house we rented briefly while living in England. It became the inspiration for the awkward, stripped-down house Lizzie finds herself in after her husband walks out on her. I remember standing in the lobby of that house under the bare light bulb and thanking my lucky stars I didn’t have to deal with it alone. And yet there was something weirdly attractive about the place—what it lacked in ‘good bones’ it made up for in potential, if you just had a little imagination. So, rather than dealing physically with the house (which was temporary) I dealt with it at a fantasy level, making it the place where my heroine reinvents herself. A lot cheaper than window treatments!

I wrote most of the novel up in the attic of a different house—a house we were renting in a small town in Connecticut. The attic was a bleak and barren place, full of unpacked boxes and tangled bundles of Christmas tree lights. It was the sort of place where, if you didn’t get into ‘the zone’ pretty soon—and by that I mean the imaginary place where writers go when their work is flowing well—then you weren’t likely to hang around long. There were no creature comforts in that attic, no comfy couch to relax on, no TV to flick on, no coffee machine, no cookies. Even more important, there were no urgent, everyday tasks at hand—no dish-washer to unpack, no laundry to fold, no beds to make.

And if I came out of that attic, my baby son would immediately find me and latch onto me with a vengeance, refusing to go back to the baby-sitter.

I was trapped there, with my computer.

Now I sit at a desk in our living room, placed on a beautiful rug, looking out over the green back yard, just steps away from a lovely leather couch and a pile of promising books that I haven’t yet read. My kids are at school, and there’s nothing stopping me from getting up and going to the kitchen at any given moment.

I think I need my attic back!


Charity said...

I love the cover of your book. It's absolutely gorgeous!

robynl said...

wow, what a contrast. At least you can get cookies now whenever you want some. When in the zone an author can write anywhere so it seems. Congrats on this book.