Hi, booknerds! I am so thankful to God for the opportunity to feature another special author. Chelsea Bobulski is the author of the upcoming YA fantasy novel, The Wood. I really enjoyed this book for many reasons (I gave it 4 out of 5 stars), so if you want to know what they are, check out my review. I hope that reading this interview will encourage you to pick up The Wood when it comes out on August 1, 2017. I personally loved her heartfelt answers. Have a great, bookish day! ^^
- Who or what inspired you to write The Wood? Is it a metaphor for something in your life?
“My writing process for The Wood was unlike any other book I’ve ever written. At the time, I had been pursuing traditional publication for four years. I was on my fourth manuscript, which I had been working on for almost two years, and while it kept getting *really* close to being the one, it kept coming up short. After what must have been my tenth massive revision on the book (it’s hard to say for sure as I lost count of how many revisions I actually did on it), I was really starting to lose confidence in my abilities and, even worse, I was starting to lose my love for writing. Knowing I had to rediscover why I loved writing in the first place, I sat down at my keyboard, put on some instrumental music, and started free-writing whatever came to mind.
“What came out, over the course of several weeks, was the first fifty pages of The Wood (pages which, aside from the inclusion of a couple new scenes, have not changed much from that first draft). Winter’s voice came to me out of nowhere and just started talking to me about this magical wood and the time-traveling portals inside of it that she protected. It was as if she’d been waiting there all along in the recesses of my mind for me to tell her story. Once I got fifty pages in, I realized I should probably stop free-writing and start plotting before I lost all of the threads Winter and Henry kept hurtling my way, since this thing was clearly going to be A Book.
“I didn’t realize it when I was writing it, but The Wood really did become a metaphor for what I was going through at the time. I had received so many rejections over the years and kept getting closer and closer to publication, only to get the door slammed in my face over and over again, that I was really starting to doubt whether this was something I was actually meant to do with my life, or if I’d just been wasting the past four years. It took me to a really dark place for a while, where I felt like I should’ve done something more sensible with my life, like go to law school, even though telling stories was something that had been embedded in my very soul. I couldn’t imagine not writing, but at the same time, I kept wondering if the fact that I kept getting rejections was a sign that I was going down the wrong path and really messing up whatever plan God actually had for me. So the twisting, turning paths in Winter’s wood and the monsters that come out at night really did start to represent my journey to publication and the doubt monsters that would creep in whenever I felt like my writing wasn’t good enough. Writing THE WOOD ended up being a form of therapy for me, as I dealt with a lot of things from my past, both professionally and personally, and I am so thankful to have come out the other side feeling extremely happy and extremely blessed, finally living the dream that has been in my heart since I was a little girl.”
- What life lessons can readers glean from your book?
“I think a lot of the life lessons that Winter personally deals with center around learning how to handle the various (and often overwhelming) responsibilities in her life, both the ones she chose for herself and the ones that chose her. Life throws a lot of curveballs at all of us, and I think for the most part Winter is able to handle her responsibilities with grace, but she is human, so she does mess up from time to time like we all do.Winter also has to come to terms with the fact that you can’t ever really know everything that makes up a person—everyone has so many layers, so many factors accumulated from every experience, big and small, of their lives—even the people you’re closest to. No one really sees things the same way either, which means people will let you down, but that doesn’t necessarily make them purely evil, and people will love and take care of you, but that doesn’t necessarily make them purely good. It’s the gray space that people inhabit that makes them truly fascinating, and also extremely unpredictable. This can be a hard thing to learn when you think you know someone only to find out they aren’t who you thought they were, and Winter has to deal with the ramifications of that.”
- If you were given the chance to spend a day with Winter and Henry, what would you do?
“I would love to walk through the wood with Winter and see all of the magic and the mystery unfolding around me. As for Henry, I would love to take him to the mall, or maybe a football game, just to see how he would react (I can guarantee it would be hilarious!).”
- If you were a character in The Wood, who would you be, and how would you affect the plot?
“I would love to be Meredith, Winter’s best friend, and I would really love to bust in on Winter’s wood and finally figure out what the heck she’s been hiding. I just think Meredith would have such a funny reaction to it and such a different take on the whole thing that it would be very interesting to see.
Perhaps some fodder for a possible sequel…? ;)”
- If you could use the Wood for personal reasons, what would you do? (i.e. Would you go to the past and relive a happy memory?)
“I would *definitely* time travel (even though it’s against the rules). I wouldn’t want to go back and change anything, or affect the past in any way, but I would just love to witness it, everything from when dinosaurs roamed the earth all the way up through modern day. I would love to walk through ancient Egyptian palaces and the alleyways of medieval Venice. I would love to witness the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or attend an Edwardian dinner party at a fine country estate. I would just love to see the history I’ve been obsessed with ever since I was a child come to life in front of me, especially the quiet, everyday moments of all of these people who lived and breathed and loved long before we were ever here.
“On a personal level, I would also love to visit my grandpa. To go back and sit with him in his favorite recliner and watch the Masters while passing lemon drops back and forth to each other. To tell him how much I love him and how much he means to me one more time. He passed away when I was in seventh grade, so I was too young in the moments we spent together to realize they wouldn’t last forever. That there would come a day when I couldn’t hug him anymore, or hear his voice. I’d love to go back and tell him just how much he impacted my life, and how grateful I am that he was mine.
- Reading your acknowledgements made me see The Wood in a brand new way. How did your faith affect your writing process?
“As I mentioned before, I was going through a really rough time while writing The Wood, both professionally and personally. Professionally, I was plagued with doubt and anxiety and wondering if I’d made a huge mistake. Personally, my husband and I were dealing with a very shocking family tragedy, while also trying to get pregnant with our first child for over a year, to no avail. Feeling like I was losing hold of my two biggest dreams—becominga published writer, and becoming a mom—while simultaneously dealing with this other life-shattering thing put me in a very dark, very depressed, and very anxiety-driven place.
“I would not have been able to claw my way out of that dark place if it weren’t for Christ being right there beside me. I was raised a Christian and believed in God all my life; I prayed about everything, but I didn’t really understand what it truly meant to trust God and give everything up to him completely until I was going through this difficult time. My parents divorced when I was very young, and out of that experience I developed this frantic need to stay in control of everything, because I knew what it was like to have your entire world turn to dust, there one day and gone the next. So that’s what I tried to do as everything seemed to be falling apart around me—desperately stay in control. But the more I tried to control what was happening, the worse things got.
“Through it all, I felt God compelling me to give everything up to Him. To trust that He had a perfect plan for my life, and to be okay with the fact that I may never be published, and that I may never be a mom, because if those things weren’t meant for me, He would lead me to the life that I was meant to live. I just had to trust. It wasn’t easy, and I fought it quite a bit for a while, but when I finally gave in, things began to happen. I got the book deal I’d been dreaming about for five years. And, after nearly two years of trying, my husband and I became pregnant with our beautiful baby girl (who will be one year old this August!). God answered all of my prayers—He just wanted me to trust Him first, and learn to give Him control over everything. Once I did that, I not only received blessings in those areas of my life, but I learned how to recognize and appreciate the million other blessings that make up my life, and all of that combined is what got me out of that dark place and into the happiest, most peaceful placeI could ever imagine.
“Now, I don’t write a single word without asking God for guidance and inspiration first. My entire writing process has changed due to my ever-deepening faith, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it. Suffice it to say, I walked through a very deep, very dark wilderness while writing THE WOOD, and my faith is what got me through to the other side.”
- Can we expect a sequel or companion novel to The Wood? I’m still not over that ending. xD
“There’s nothing in the works yet on the sequel or companion novel front, but I am definitely rooting for one! There is so much more I want to explore, both in Winter’s life and in the wood itself, which let me tell you has a whole host of secrets left to uncover! There’s always hope that if The Wood does well enough and its fans are vocal with their desire for a sequel, that my publisher may ask for one, so the best thing anyone can do to try to make this happen is recommend the book to friends and family and generally everyone they meet (I would be eternally grateful for this!) and to also ask their local libraries to order it. Posting reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and sharing the book on social media, are also great ways of getting the word out there. But regardless of if there is a sequel, I am just so thankful for the opportunity to get to share this story with everyone, and I pray it does for others what great books have always done for me—transport them to another world and give them a fun escape from whatever they may be going through at the time. The best books, after all, take you on an adventure and make you feel like you’ve lived a whole other life inside your own. My biggest dream is that The Wood will make someone out there feel this way, as this is why I fell in love with books—reading and writing them—in the first place, that beautiful, transporting magic that is uniquely theirs.”
About the author:
Chelsea Bobulski was born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised on Disney movies, Broadway musicals, and Buckeye pride. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in history, and promptly married her high school sweetheart. As a writer, she has a soft spot for characters with broken pasts, strange talents, and obstacles they must overcome for a brighter future. She now lives in Northwest Ohio with her husband, her daughter, and one very emotive German Shepherd/Lab mix. Her debut young adult novel, THE WOOD, will be published by Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan on August 1, 2017.
She is represented by Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Inc.
Visit Chelsea’s website