I’m delighted to welcome Elsie Chapman, author of the Dualed series and new release Along the Indigo, out March 20th with Abrams/Amulet.
Kate Ormand: Hi Elsie! So great to have you here! Can you tell us a little about Along the Indigo?
Elsie Chapman: Hi Kate! Thanks so very much for having me! So Along the Indigo is my latest YA, and it’s set in the 80s, and it’s about this small, shady, west coast American town full of old secrets and two teens tangled up within its web. Marsden and Jude being mixed let me explore issues I wanted to write about—identity, racism, that sense of belonging or not, of fitting in and having friends or not. I also talk about harder issues such as suicide, and guilt, hopefully with care and sensitivity.
KO: Small town books are my favourite and I loved the atmosphere you created. What did you enjoy most about building this setting?
EC: I come from a small town, and I think they just have a vibe you won’t find in a large one, whether it’s more of a creepy one or comforting. There’s a lot to be said about living somewhere where you are never anonymous, where nothing really stays hidden, however you might feel about that. So I really enjoyed making the town of Glory all messed up, to the point where it’s almost like a character in its own right, who demands a say in the story. I also had fun intentionally writing something very different from my first two books, which are SF, just to know that I could.
KO: Can you give us a breakdown of how the striking cover design fits the story?
EC: The Indigo is a river in the novel, and as with much of the setting, it’s also got bleak roots, and is one of the aspects representing the townspeople being more or less chained to this strange, ugly place they call home. So the cover of a girl running along a river’s muddy banks, trying to escape, is really fitting, the way mud sucks you in, pulls you down.
KO: You have lots of exciting things ahead! Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming releases?
EC: I do, Kate, and I’m excited for them! A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is a YA anthology (co-edited with fellow author Ellen Oh) featuring retellings of Asian folklore, and it comes out June 2018. I have a short story in Shades Within Us, a YA anthology about migration and borders, with partial proceeds going toward a worthy cause, and that’s out September. Then Spring 2019 I make my middle grade debut! All the Ways Home is set in Japan, and it’s a story about brothers, and family, and I write about the music scene here, about being Canadian, and even a bit about Chinese myth! Then Hungry Hearts (co-edited with fellow author Caroline Tung Richmond) comes out Summer 2019, and it’s a YA anthology featuring interconnected short stories from marginalized authors that explore the connections between food, culture, and family. There are a couple of other things happening that I can’t talk about yet, but I hope to share soon!
KO: And to wrap up can we end with a quote from Along the Indigo?
EC: Sure! And thank you again so much for having me here on your blog!
Jude pointed down the river, squinting in the sun. “If we followed that, we’d eventually end up in Idaho. Ever wonder what’s in Idaho?”
“I don’t know.” The truth was, Marsden had always wondered past it, farther away.