Darcie Chan Shares Inspiration Behind Her Mill River Series

Darcie Chan Headshot
Darcie Chan Headshot

Darcie Chan  (Photo credit: Carrie Schechter)

We had so much fun discussing our December book club selection  The Mill River Redemptionthat we asked author Darcie Chan to come back for an interview! Our From Left to Write members had some great questions about the inspiration behind her novels and Darcie even shares her writing process with us.

From Left to Write: I fell in love with the residents of Mill River. I know many people imagine what it’s like to grow up in a small town where everyone knows everyone. How did you come up with Mill River? Was it inspired by a specific place?

Darcie Chan: I actually did grow up in small towns in several states. The smallest, Cheraw, Colorado, had only 160 children in the entire school system  – kindergarten through 12th grade — when I attended middle school there!

The village of Mill River is fictional, but aspects of it are common to all of the small towns in which I lived. It has a strong sense of community. It’s a cozy, comfortable place. The neighbors and townspeople know each other, or know of each other, at least.  Now that I live just outside of the biggest city in the country, I find myself missing these small-town characteristics. I wanted to create a setting for my books that would in some ways provide an escape from our crazy, Internet-obsessed, technology-driven world.

From Michelle at Honest & Truly!: I’d love to know about her sibling relationships – does she have any siblings? Are they close? Were they always close if so and if not, was there a cause to their rift?

Darcie: I do have two younger sisters, and the three of us have always been and still are very close. When I was considering story ideas for my second book, the idea of a test of a sisterly bond intrigued me. I began to wonder about the limits of such a bond — how far could it be stretched? Could it ever really be broken? Or, would something of the relationship survive even unimaginable tragedy?

Mill River Redemption Book Club FL2W

From Val at Children of the Old School: Can you share more about your inspiration behind Claudia’s character, especially for those of who have not yet read The Mill River Recluse?

Claudia isn’t based on any real-life person. I actually wanted her to be a character to whom many women could relate. Claudia struggles with her weight, with her self-esteem…she has remade herself, yes, but now, in her maturing relationship with Kyle and her relatively recent move to Mill River, she is also working to find herself.  I think what she is going through is something that many, many women in their early thirties experience.  

From  Jennifer at mamawolfe: I’m always curious in the pre-writing process. I’d love to know where your germ of an idea started, and how you began drafting. Please tell us more about your process.

Darcie: My idea for Redemption arose out of my thinking about my relationship with my own sisters. (See my answer to the earlier question about that.) But, I find that I can’t start writing until I have the basic story arc in my mind. I have to know how a story will begin, how it will end, and a few things that will happen in the middle. (I don’t have to know every detail…I think a lot of the fun in writing is having things happen in a story that you didn’t plan!) Once I had those basic ideas for Redemption, I typed out a chapter-by-chapter outline — nothing too detailed, just a basic roadmap for things that had to happen in each one. Then, I started writing…and I just worked straight through the outline for about six months until I’d completed a draft.


From Left to Write: What books are currently on your nightstand? (Our readers always love to know.)

Darcie: I’m embarrassed to have so many that I haven’t read yet! Here’s my ever-growing list:

From Left to Write: Can you share any hints about your next book?

Darcie: Hmmm. Well, book 3 (it doesn’t officially have a title yet, although I have one in mind) is pretty much Father O’Brien’s story, although familiar characters are also featured, and a few new ones are introduced. The narrative toggles back and forth between Father O’Brien’s youth during the Great Depression and present time.  Oh, and readers will learn the root cause of his “spoon problem.”  I don’t have a firm publication date yet, but I think it will be out in fall of 2015.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Darcie! I’m excited to read the next book. Father O’Brien is such a calm, strong character. I can’t wait to learn more about his back story!

For updates on Mill River and its townspeople, visit Darcie at her website. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

What book on Darcie’s nightstand do you think she should read first?

Book Club Discussion: The Mill River Redemption

Mill River Redemption Book Club FL2W

Those of us who have brothers or sisters have experienced the joys of sibling rivalry, but the sisters in our December book club selection  The Mill River Redemption haven’t spoken to each other in years. Today From Left to Write members are discussing Darcie Chan’s novel set in charming Mill River:

Did you read The Mill River RedemptionShare your thoughts in the comments below. We’re hosting a Q&A with Darcie Chan next week. Submit your question and it must just end up in our Q&A!

Make sure you enter to win a copy of The Mill River Redemption. Giveaway ends tomorrow! The novel and its The New York Times bestseller companion The Mill River Recluse make a terrific holiday gift!

Learn more about Darcie at her website. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

December Book Club: The Mill River Redemption + Giveaway

Mill River Redemption Book Club FL2W

Mill River Redemption Book Club FL2W

Since we coming upon a 4-day weekend for our Thanksgiving holiday, why not get a jumpstart on December? Our December book club selection is the perfect for curling up on the couch with a hot cup of chocolate or tea. From Left to Write book club members are reading The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan.

I think you’ll be charmed by the residents at Mill River, just like I was. Meet Josie and her daughters:

Josie DiSanti is starting over. Recently widowed, she has fled her New York City home with her two young daughters—spirited Rose and shy Emily—in tow. She takes refuge in Mill River, Vermont, to live with her only remaining relative, Ivy Collard, the local bookstore owner and a woman Josie barely knows. There, the young mother and her girls build a new life for themselves—until a shocking tragedy tears the sisters apart.

Years later, Josie’s still-estranged daughters return to the quiet town for the reading of their mother’s will, which stipulates that they must work together to locate a hidden key to a safe-deposit box containing their inheritance. Even from the great beyond, it seems Josie will do anything to bring about her daughters’ reconciliation. Having no choice but to go along with their mother’s final wishes, Rose and Emily move back to Mill River for the summer to begin the search—discovering that, in the close-knit community known for magic and miracles, an even greater treasure awaits them.

After you read The Mill River Redemption, make sure you read more about how Mill River began in The New York Times bestseller The Mill River RecluseWe’ll be back in a few weeks with a Q&A with Darcie. In the meantime, pick up your copy of The Mill River Redemption and join From Left to Write members on December 2 to discuss the novel.

The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan

More about the author: Darcie Chan is the author of The Mill River Recluse, a debut novel that became a word-of-mouth e-book sensation. With nearly 700,000 copies sold, The Mill River Recluse appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists for 30 weeks and became a heartwarming favorite of readers across the country.

Darcie was born in Wisconsin and grew up in the small towns of Brandon, Wisconsin, La Junta and Cheraw, Colorado, and Paoli, Indiana. Thanks to loving and supportive parents who are both educators, she learned to read and write at an early age. She has two younger sisters, with whom she is very close. 
Currently, Darcie lives just north of New York City with her husband and son. 

Learn more about Darcie at her website. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Giveaway: One lucky reader will win a copy of The Mill River RedemptionEnter using the Rafflecopter form below (U.S. addresses only). If you’re reading this in your email, click through to enter the giveaway!

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Book Club Discussion: J by Howard Jacobson

J Howard Jacobson Book Club Banner FL2W

J Howard Jacobson Book Club Banner FL2W
Today we’re discussing our second November book club selection J by Howard Jacobson. This multi-layered dystopian novel is set in the near future in a world that has been rocked by something apocalyptic that is only referred to as “WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED.” Both slow to trust others, Ailinn and Kevern seemed to have found each other in their greatest hour of need.

What do From Left to Write members have to say about this Booker Man Prize finalist? Head over to their sites to read our book club discussion of by Howard Jacobson:

If you haven’t read yet, check out an excerpt.

Have you read any of Howard Jacobson’s other works?

November Book Club: J by Howard Jacobson

J Howard Jacobson Book Club Banner FL2W

J Howard Jacobson Book Club Banner FL2W

For our second November book club selection, we’re reading  J by Howard Jacobson. A finalist for this year’s Booker Man Prize, is a character driven novel about a dystopian universe where no one is allowed to own an object older than 100 years old. We’re excited to dive into the novel:

Set in a world where collective memory has vanished and the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited, J is a boldly inventive love story, both tender and terrifying. Kevern Cohen doesn’t know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a word starting with a J. It wasn’t then, and isn’t now, the time or place to be asking questions. When the extravagantly beautiful Ailinn Solomons arrives in his village by a sea that laps no other shore, Kevern is instantly drawn to her. Although mistrustful by nature, the two become linked as if they were meant for each other. Together, they form a refuge from the commonplace brutality that is the legacy of a historic catastrophe shrouded in suspicion, denial, and apology, simply referred to as WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED. To Ailinn’s guardian, Esme Nussbaum, Ailinn and Kevern are fragile shoots of hopefulness. As this unusual pair’s actions draw them into ever-increasing danger, Esme is determined to keep them together—whatever the cost.

J by Howard Jacobson

Join From Left to Write book club members on November 20 as we discuss  J by Howard Jacobson. Make sure to grab your copy so you can join us!

What are you reading this weekend?

Book Club Discussion: A Letter to My Cat

A Letter to My Cat Book Club FL2W

A Letter to My Cat Book Club FL2W

Last week I went away for a conference and was gone for 5 days. Is it bad to confess that I might have missed my cat Pixie as much as my kids? Luckily, I’m not alone when it comes to love for our pets. Today From Left to Write members discuss  A Letter to My Cat by Lisa Erspamer, where celebrity cat lovers pen letters to their beloved pets.

A Letter to My Cat

Grab your copy of A Letter to My Cat by Lisa Erspamer and share your cute cat photos with us. Don’t forget to check out the A Letter to My Cat website and and send out a tweet to your cat!