Happy Friday, bookworms! I’m so pleased to have fellow #2020debuts author, Eliza Nellums, on the blog today chatting about the recently released, All That’s Bright and Gone. How I loved this book and the compelling voice of Aoife, the child narrator. For more about my impressions, check out my Goodreads review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3084741670.
Thanks so much for taking the time for this author exchange, Eliza, and huge congratulations on this gorgeous debut!
AK: Tell us a little about yourself.
EN: I work in Washington DC and live just across the Maryland line. My very first novel ALL THAT’S BRIGHT AND GONE came out at the very end of 2019 – I just snuck in under the wire! I grew up first in Manchester, England and then the Detroit suburbs, where this book is set.
AK: What’s the premise of your book?
EN: After her mother suffers a breakdown, a six-year-old narrator tries to solve a family mystery: the disappearance of her older brother several years prior.
AK: What inspired you to write it?
EN: It came from watching my sister’s children grow up. I was so struck by how much personality they had at a much younger age than I would have expected – even by three or four years old. Children know what they want, and they love very fiercely. That makes a good protagonist.
AK: What are you most looking forward to this debut year? And conversely, what are you most nervous about?
EN: For most of 2019 I felt like a newbie, like I didn’t really know what was happening and was always behind the curve. Now the most exciting part is that I get to be some kind of voice of experience for the 2020 debuts! I’m most nervous about what happens after all the excitement is over. How do you go back to a normal life after seeing your book in the Washington Post?? When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.
AK: What authors do you admire and/or have influenced your development as a writer? Please feel free to add specific books, we love recommendations!
EN: This book was inspired in part by the specificity of the voice in Mark Haddon’s THE CURIOUS INCIDENT DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME and by the dreamy atmosphere of Alice Sebold’s THE LOVELY BONES. My agent suggested I read the Flavia De Luce series by Alan Bradley, which I think also made the book stronger during revisions. More generally, Annie Dillard’s observations about small elements of the natural world was probably the first writing that really made me sit up and take notice.
AK: What are you working on now?
EN: I have a couple different ideas, but one thing I can promise is that I will not do another child narrator! I am really enjoying being able to live in the head of an ADULT for a while!
AK: What was your path to publication?
EN: I was a total outsider to publishing. I didn’t finish a novel until I was 30. I was writing during my weekends and vacations but I didn’t know anything about the industry, and I wasn’t really making progress. Then I moved to DC and joined a great writing group, who held me accountable for finishing projects as well as really teaching me to consider the reader’s experience. I finally finished a novel, queried it for over a year and couldn’t get an agent – but by then I had started the draft for ALL THAT’S BRIGHT AND GONE. I wrote the first draft extremely quickly. I had an outline that I worked on for months, but I probably finished the complete first draft in about two weeks. Followed of course by five years of editing! I met my agent at the NYC conference Thrillerfest, which I saved up over a year to attend. I pitched him the book at their Pitchfest, and the rest is history. To be honest, it all still seems like a dream.
Release dates: December 10th, 2019.
There’s plenty about the grownup world that six-year-old Aoife doesn’t understand. Like what happened to her big brother Theo and why her mama is in the hospital instead of home where she belongs. Uncle Donny says she just needs to be patient, but Aoife’s sure her mama won’t be able to come home until Aoife learns what really happened to her brother. The trouble is no one wants to talk about Theo – because he was murdered. But by whom?
With her imaginary friend Teddy by her side and the detecting skills of her nosy next door neighbor, Aoife sets out to uncover the truth about her family. But as her search takes her from the banks of Theo’s secret hideout by the river to the rooftops overlooking Detroit, Aoife will learn that some secrets can’t stay hidden forever and sometimes the pain we bury is the biggest secret of them all.
Driven by Aoife’s childlike sincerity and colored by her vivid imagination, All That’s Bright and Gone illuminates the unshakeable bond between families—and the lengths we’ll go to bring our loved ones home.
Where To Get Your Copy:
Let’s Get Social:
Publisher’s website: www.crookedlanebooks.com