Debut Author Series: Chelsea Ichaso
Welcome to Scribbler’s new blog series, where we interview debut indie- and traditionally-published authors regarding their novel and writing processes.
We’re very excited to feature Chelsea Ichaso, the author of “Little Creeping Things” in our debut author series. For Scribbler box subscribers, you’ll probably remember her book from it’s inclusion in one of our past boxes. If you haven’t heard about Chelsea’s debut novel — which is revered as a “riveting whodunnit” by School Library Journal — from Sourcebooks Fire, we’ve included the description below:
When she was a child, Cassidy Pratt accidentally started a fire that killed her neighbor. She’s pretty sure she didn’t mean to do it, and she’d give anything to forget that awful day. But her town’s bullies, particularly the cruel and beautiful Melody Davenport, have never let her live it down. In Melody’s eyes, Cassidy is a murderer and always will be.
Then Melody goes missing, and Cassidy thinks she may have information about what happened. She knows she should go to the cops, but she recently joked about how much she’d like to get rid of Melody. She even planned the perfect way to do it. And then she gets a chilling text from an unknown number: I’m so glad we’re in this together.
Now it’s up to Cassidy to figure out what’s really going on before the truth behind Melody’s disappearance sets the whole town ablaze.
Thank you so much for participating, Chelsea! So, how did the story of LITTLE CREEPING THINGS come to you?
It really started out as a friendship breakup story centered around a crime. I’ve always been interested in morally grey characters, or characters who are put in tough situations and make the wrong decision. I wanted to explore the aftermath, specifically the toll that one bad choice can take on a friendship.
What was a moment during the writing or publishing process for LITTLE CREEPING THINGS you’ll never forget?
Definitely the moment my agent emailed me to say that we had an offer on the book. I got the email first thing in the morning and shook my husband awake because I couldn’t wait to tell him the news. He went from being panicked, to irritated, to thrilled for me in a very short amount of time.
When did you decide traditional publishing was right for you?
I love the collaborative nature of traditional publishing, so I decided to pursue it the moment I began to take writing seriously. Working with my agent, editor, and the rest of the publishing team has been such an enriching experience from the creation of the fantastic covers to the marketing and distribution.
Can you share three tools you feel are essential to your writing process?
Absolutely! My top tool is OneLook Reverse Dictionary and Thesaurus. It’s a free, online resource that goes beyond a traditional thesaurus. You can enter words, phrases, or even questions, and it will generate a list of words that are related to the search terms. It has lists for each part of speech too. I use this tool whenever I’m line editing and need to vary up my word choice.
My second tool is The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. You can look up any emotion, and the book provides a variety of physical signals and behaviors as well as internal sensations. I use this if I’m in a rut with my characters’ emotional responses (like if they’ve frowned eighty-seven times to show sadness). The great thing about the book is that it ultimately teaches you how to think outside the box and begin to generate your own unique emotional responses for your characters.
Lastly, I use the “Read Aloud” function in Microsoft Word. This is sometimes called “Text to Speech,” depending on what version of Word you have. I use this for my last read-through before turning in a manuscript to my critique partners, agent, or editor. Hearing the text aloud helps me find so many typos, word repetitions, and clunky sentences I never would’ve caught otherwise.
Is there any writing or publishing advice you wish you knew five years ago?
I would’ve tried to connect with fellow authors from the get-go. When I first started out, I didn’t have a writing group, so it was very lonely and I never got feedback from other writers on my manuscripts.
Finding my writer friends has made all the difference for me. We talk about publishing, swap manuscripts, and provide support for all publishing’s highs and lows. I would suggest searching social media groups, like Facebook or Twitter, to connect with people who write in your genre and/or age category.
Has there been an author or piece of work that inspired you to write this book — or to become an author?
I was inspired to become an author by reading The Hunger Games! It sparked not only a love of young adult books, but a drive to write my own stories as well.
Lightning Round: This or That?
Would you rather read fiction or nonfiction? Fiction!
Coffee, tea, or water? Coffee!
Has a book ever made you cry? This is a tough one! I’m not a crier. Maybe Bridge to Terabithia or Where the Red Fern Grows when I was little.
Writing to music or silence? Silence.
“Pantser” or “plotter?” Plotter! I love outlines.
Would you rather handwrite or type your books? Type!
A bit about Chelsea…
Chelsea Ichaso writes twisty thrillers for young adults. A former high school English teacher, she currently resides in Southern California with her husband and children. When she’s not reading or writing, Chelsea can be found on the soccer field. And NEW from Sourcebooks Fire in April 2022…
DEAD GIRLS CAN’T TELL SECRETS
An unreliable narrator.
A camping trip.
A girl in a coma.
Someone knows what happened to Piper Sullivan, but will they tell the truth?
A shocking new wilderness thriller from the acclaimed author of Little Creeping Things.
Piper Sullivan was in a strange hiking accident last month and has been in a coma ever since. Her older sister, Savannah, can’t pretend to be optimistic about it; things look bad. Piper will likely never wake up, and Savannah will never get any answers about what exactly happened.
But then Savannah finds a note in Piper’s locker, inviting Piper to a meeting of their school’s wilderness club…at the very place and on the very day that she fell. Which means there was a chance that Piper wasn’t alone. Someone might’ve seen something. Worse, someone might’ve done something. But who would want to hurt the perfect Piper Sullivan…and why?
To discover the truth, Savannah joins the club on their weekend-long camping trip on the same mountain where her sister fell. But she better be careful; everyone in the club is a suspect, and everyone seems to be keeping secrets about that tragic day.
And Savannah? She’s been keeping secrets, too…
Written by Katarina Betterton
Katarina Betterton is an aspiring adult fiction author. She works for an editorial content agency and specializes in SEO outlining writing and editing. She's also a part of Scribbler's editorial team. When not reading or writing her hobbies include cooking learning new languages and crafting. Follow her writing journey at @iamgirlofwords on Instagram.