We had so much fun discussing our December book club selection The Mill River Redemption, that 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?
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:
- Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
- Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
- Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
- The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
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!
What book on Darcie’s nightstand do you think she should read first?