Saturday, August 5, 2017

0 Chelsea Bobulski, author of THE WOOD, on persistence being the key to writing a novel

We're excited to have Chelsea Bobulski with us to share more about her debut novel, THE WOOD.

Chelsea, what was your inspiration for writing THE WOOD?

Unlike other books I’ve written, there wasn’t an “aha” moment that I can point to where I was specifically inspired to write this story. Instead, I sat down at my computer every day, put some haunting instrumental music on, poised my fingers over the keys, and just typed whatever came to mind. At the time, I was deep in a very labor-intensive revision of another book and needed to remember the joy of writing, so I didn’t do it with any intention of it becoming anything other than a fun writing exercise. When I got 50 pages in (pages which haven’t changed much from the first draft to the finished project), I realized I should probably plot this thing out before I lost the thread of what was happening. But from the very beginning, the voice of my main character, Winter, has just been there, as if she’d been waiting all along for me to tell her story. (Trust me, this was a very singular experience. All of my other books have required A LOT of plotting and thinking before I ever put a single word on the page). Having said that, THE WOOD is basically me in book-form. Everything I have ever loved as a reader is in there, as is my deep love for escaping into the woods whenever I need to get away from it all. So, I guess the inspiration came from all of my life experiences, like someone shook them all up in a paint can until they resembled something totally different, and then poured it all out through my fingertips. Writing it was a very special experience that I doubt I’ll ever have again in terms of how it was written (though you never know!).

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

Well, in YA, I am a huge fan of Maggie Stiefvater and Victoria Schwab, so I think if you enjoy their writing styles (especially Maggie’s Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, and Victoria’s Archived series and The Monsters of Verity series), then you might enjoy THE WOOD (or vice versa).

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

I had a very long road to getting my first book deal—a five-year road of actively pursuing publication, to be precise. THE WOOD was my fifth completed manuscript, and, to be honest, I was almost ready to give up on my publishing dream when I sent it out to agents (mostly because I got this close with my fourth book, but it just didn’t quite work out). (Side Note: I’ve just revised that fourth book and am hopeful that it may still see the light of day at some point, or at least that some version of it will). Thankfully, I didn’t give up, which is my number one piece of advice for anyone trying to get published. This is a very hard business to crack into, especially when it comes to traditional publishing, because it’s about more than whether or not you’re a good writer, it’s whether or not a whole team of people are willing to take a chance on you (and since it’s a business, they need to be convinced that the book you’ve written is not only good, but that it will sell). So if this is your dream, keep chasing it. You might hear about the overnight successes who received a million dollar deal off of their first book and think you’re somehow a failure if this isn’t your journey, but these stories are extremely rare (and often only seem like overnight successes when, really, they’ve been working at their craft for much, much longer). Most of us take years to even get through the first door toward becoming a published author, let alone the 75 million* other doors it takes to actually see your book on shelves (*this is a highly exaggerated number, but when you’re trying to get published, it doesn’t feel like it is). For the much longer version of my publishing story (so long, it took two posts to give all the details), check out this blog post on my website.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

I think the only true “key’” to writing a novel is persistence. Showing up at the keyboard—not every day, because, you know, life, and because sometimes you need that time away to plot and think and recharge, but when you do have the time, sit down at your desk (or coffee shop table, or wherever it is you like to work), and write. You can’t fix a blank page, and you certainly can’t get a blank page published. Other than that, every novel is so different that they all might need their own individual “keys” to be written. For example, THE WOOD was written unlike any of my other books—it just flowed out of me like I was recording a living, breathing person’s life instead of writing a fictional story. But another project I’ve been working on, which I’m just as much in love with as I am with THE WOOD, needed a lot more plotting before I ever wrote a single word. The voice didn’t come nearly as easily, and I had to rewrite the first couple chapters over and over again until I finally figured out how they were supposed to sound (not to mention I took a couple months off from it in the middle because I needed that distance to make sense of the plot again). You can never figure out a specific key that will work with every single book. Instead, figure out what works for the book you’re currently writing, finish it, and then do it all over again with your next book.


The Wood
by Chelsea Bobulski
Feiwel & Friends
Released 8/1/2017

After her father goes missing in the woods that they protect, Winter tries to seek the truth in what happened, why the wood is changing, and what it all has to do with the arrival of a mysterious stranger in this thrilling YA debut.

When Winter’s dad goes missing during his nightly patrol of the wood, it falls to her to patrol the time portals and protect the travelers who slip through them. Winter can't help but think there's more to her dad's disappearance than she's being told.

She soon finds a young man traveling in the wood named Henry who knows more than he should. He believes if they can work together to find his missing parents, they could discover the truth about Winter’s dad.

The wood is poisoned, changing into something sinister—torturing travelers lost it. Winter must put her trust in Henry in order to find the truth and those they’ve lost.

Bobulski’s eerie debut is filled with friendship, family, and the responsibilities we choose and those we do not.

Purchase The Wood at Amazon
Purchase The Wood at IndieBound
View The Wood on Goodreads


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.


Have you had a chance to read THE WOOD yet? Have you ever had a story flowed out of you like you're recording a living, breathing person’s life? Are you committed to not giving up on your publishing dream? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Sam, Martina, Emily, Anisaa, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, and Lori Ann

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