Release Date: October 14th 2014
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Summary: When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do… or think they do.
Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.
But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden … until now.
To celebrate the release of Chelsey Pilpot’s debut novel, Even in Paradise, I was lucky enough to interview Chelsey here on the blog today. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book since the cover was first released (It’s full of summer vibes…how awesome is that?) and I even had Even in Paradise on my “Our Next Reads” feature a few weeks back!
If you could have the chance to be any of the characters from Even in Paradise, which one would you choose and why?
It’s probably no surprise that I’d choose to be Charlie. I would love to see through her eyes how the world changes once she falls in love with the Buchanan family.
Even in Paradise sounds like an incredibly exciting read! I was wondering how you first got the idea for this story and the writing process that came with it.
The idea for EIP percolated over many years. When I was studying abroad in Scotland my junior year of college, a British friend lent me his copy of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, a lovely and poignant novel about a grand family that is undone by secrets, guilt, and war. Many years later, I started jotting down notes for EIP based on one simple idea: It’s possible to fall in love with an entire family.
I don’t think I can tell you how many drafts I wrote. And I will not bore you with the tedious details of the many ways my story evolved and my characters changed.
As for how long EIP took to write, perhaps it’s most accurate to say that it began as a series of epiphanies and was completed in a year of early mornings and late nights.
I’ve heard a few other bloggers say Even in Paradise reminded them of the atmosphere of The Great Gatsby during some scenes. Do you agree? Did you intend for that connection to be made?
EIP is very much a love letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Evelyn Waugh. My references to Great Gatsby are both deliberate and not. For example, the name “Buchanan” comes from Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan, but when a friend said that the ending of EIP echoed the last sentences of Gatsby—“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”—I was pleasantly surprised.
I did not intend to end with one more tribute to one of my favorite novels, but perhaps I have.
At the beginning of the book Charlotte and Julia form a strong bond, one that seems almost irreparable. Did you model the beginning of their friendship to a similar friendship between you and a friend?
Charlie and Julia’s friendship is the first love story of the novel. They’re soul mates, sisters. I am so very lucky to have a close circle of female friends who’d swim to Pluto and back for me and I for them. They definitely inspired (and continue to inspire) my writing.
The cover for Even in Paradise has a very “summer” and “light” feel to it but the book is much more dark and intense than the cover suggests. What was your first reaction to seeing the cover?
I love the cover! The woman who designed it, Erin Fitzsimmons, is so intuitive and talented. She loved my story and it shows in her work.
The cover captures the joys of Even in Paradise with the way the sun lights the beach, but I also think it hints at the darkness. The shadows falling across the sand cause a tightening in the chest, a realization that this beautiful moment cannot last.Unhindered daylight joy is ephemeral and with night comes heartaches and secrets.
Did anyone really encourage your passion for writing when you were younger? Did he/she ever read any of your books?
I am so lucky to have had (and have) so many wonderful mentors. At Vassar College, I was particularly fortunate to study under the Caldecott-winning children’s book author and poet Nancy Willard, poet Paul Kane, and Professor Karen Robertson, all of whom were very encouraging of my writing. They haven’t read Even in Paradise yet, but I’m looking forward to the day they do.
I am also indebted to my workshop group at the postgraduate writers conference at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. I came to the workshop to talk about a nonfiction book proposal and left determined to make something of the first two chapters of what became EIP. The support of my fellow writers and our teacher Louise Hawes helped me believe I could write fiction.
Do you have any other exciting book news you can share with us here today?
Well, I am wicked (I can’t help it; I’m from New England) excited to share that there will be foreign editions of EIP and I’m working on my second novel while books three and four percolate. (Book five might be there, too. But it’s more like weak tea at this point than strong coffee.)
Chelsey Philpot grew up on a farm in New Hampshire and now works as an editor and journalist. She’s written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Slate, and numerous other publications. Like her main character, Charlotte, Chelsey attended boarding school in New England. You can visit her online at www.chelseyphilpot.com or on Twitter @ChelseyPhilpot.