Interview with Chelsea Rotunno

Who are your favorite authors?
J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Ann Lamott, Cormac McCarthy, and William Zinsser. Recently, I have enjoyed the honesty of Shauna Niequist. I have always been drawn to the classics, and a few of my favorite classic authors are John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, and, of course, William Shakespeare!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My children inspire me to get out of bed each day. Sometimes all I want to do is sleep, but my kids are so cute, and when they say "I'm hungry, Mommy," I jump right out of bed.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing or blogging, I am cooking, washing dishes, picking up toys, changing diapers, and spending time with my family.
What is your writing process?
First of all, in order to write, I cannot be tainted by fear. I set all fear aside, and I start with concentrating on a muse--the face of someone I love who needs to hear my story. Then I jot down little stories that have been brewing in my mind, just enough to help me remember what they were. The most important prep is the outline. Even though I hated outlines in school, I love how they help me as a writer. After I complete my outline, I write from one scene to the next according to my outline. After the first draft is written, I can forget about the outline and pay attention to where the story wants to go.
How do you approach cover design?
I found a great designer named Danielle Maait. I tried to design my own cover, but nothing was quite right. Finally, I looked for a professional cover designer, and Danielle was a perfect fit for my genre, a teen love story.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My favorite books:
1. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (does this count as three or four favorites?)
3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
4. Traveling Mercies by Ann Lamott
5. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
There are so many great books! I love books that grab my attention from the beginning. I also love succinct writing.
What do you read for pleasure?
I find myself reading whatever books my husband buys for me, which lately have been books about writing and publishing.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a rich neighborhood in Southern California, filled with beautiful, "perfect" people with white teeth and tan skin. Because my family did not have a lot of money, and we were taught to value Jesus Christ more than worldly gain, I always felt out of place in my neighborhood. This contributed to me noticing a lot of things about the way people interact, what they care about, and how they treat each other. This awareness of outer beauty versus inner beauty, and how each affects how people view themselves and the world, has influenced my writing. My senior thesis in college was called, "Materialism in the Lives of Americans and the Ethics of Being a Wealthy Christian."
When did you first start writing?
I have been writing poetry since high school, but I never considered myself a writer until a few years after I got married. That was when I started writing my first book. I finished my first book before I was 30. But it needed a lot of work before it was ready to be published.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Well ... every church has one–the guy every girl wants to marry.
Goodnight To My Thoughts of You is dedicated to all the girls in my small group at church, but particularly one girl who was going through a hard time a few years ago. We met weekly at Starbucks, and she told the group about how she was in love with a guy at church, and she didn’t know why, but her desire to be with him was tormenting her day and night. It sounded so familiar. I knew exactly how she felt, and I knew exactly how to pray for her. I told her my own story, and I promised her that I would write it out so I could read it to her. Week after week we met, and I read to my group of high school girls chapter by chapter as I wrote the book. Soon they were bringing their friends, and we took up a third of the seats at Starbucks, reading this story out loud. Other customers would interject tidbits about their own life when they heard what we were doing. It was exciting to see the girls hanging on to every word, gasping at the details, squealing in delight, sharing their own sorrows, and praying for each other. Their fascination with my story prompted a new idea: to write some discussion questions to go along with the book, so small groups could get to know each other better and have an open dialogue about what was really going on in their lives. You can access the discussion questions for free on my blog. They are also included within the ebook.
I realized after I wrote Part One of the book, that Part Two was really the best and most important part of the story, so I continued to write. While Part One is about falling in love with an older guy at church, a leader, and how the character of Miriam feels rejected and humbled when he marries someone else, Part Two is based on the love story between my husband and me, the true love story. It is about how God brought Andy (Charlie) into my life. Andy Rotunno: those of you who know him know that he is truly an amazing man of God, upright and devoted to following Jesus. I was not attracted to Andy at first, which you find out in the story. But as our friendship progressed, and his love for me became real to me, I discovered that I had true love and a best friend in Andy. All of my readers love Part One, but agree that Part Two is the best part of the book.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
In my research of agents and publishers, I found that traditional publishing would be a waste of time, considering publishers don't have the money to risk on new authors. I decided that I would go straight to self publishing. This answer seemed natural to me since I knew I wanted to make my book free.
What are you working on next?
My next project, the sequel to Goodnight To My Thoughts of You, is about the ups and downs of married life, and the lessons I have learned from birthing and parenting our four children. It is called Heavenly Here With You.
Published 2014-04-15.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Goodnight to My Thoughts of You
Price: Free! Words: 69,600. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Romance, Fiction » Christian » Romance
(4.75 from 4 reviews)
When Miriam Bernhardt, a 17-year-old high school girl from Burbank, California, falls in love with her youth leader at church, Paul Greer, she decides that it is God's will that she will someday be Paul's wife. She's ecstatic when a perfectly pure but secretive relationship quickly develops--until her mom threatens to tell the church pastor that Miriam and Paul have been secretly dating.