Hi Eliza, welcome to For the Love of KidLit! I want to chat with you about The Cresswell Plot, but first I can’t resist asking you a little bit about yourself. In an interview with The Guardian, you spoke openly about your strict religious upbringing and the oppression you felt as a young person. Your family had you on a predetermined path and expected you to follow it. Instead, you found courage and inspiration and blazed your own trail. That takes grit, determination, and heart—even if it didn’t feel like it to you at at the time. Congrats on living life on your own terms 🙂
Eliza: aww wow thanks so much! I am writing this 33 miles into the Santiago Trial so I may be a little loopy- sorry!
When you look back now, how did your upbringing help fuel your creative life? In other words, do you think you would’ve been drawn to writing anyway or did it become an escape you just couldn’t resist?
Eliza: ha, well I suppose I can’t really say but I think, for me, I have more than just that to escape! Sometimes I need to escape everything! Hence, doing crazy things like this trail…
In terms of journalism, what types of stories are you drawn to?
Eliza: I love to speak to unique and interesting people and especially people who are trying to change the status quo.
Kirkus Reviews compared The Cresswell Plot to Flowers in the Attic, which speaks mountains about the stress and constraint the characters must face in your novel. It is one thing to draw from your own pain and life experience, but transferring that feeling into words on a page is no easy task. Was it difficult to dig into your memories and let your characters borrow some of your pain? Or was it a method of healing?
Eliza: Definitely healing! My favourite kind of writing is the writing I do without thinking and that can be the most healing and also eye-opening.
What message(s) do you hope young adult readers take away from this novel?
Eliza: I would just like to encourage anyone to think for themselves and not be afraid to think or to be different.
In the UK, The Cresswell Plot is titled In the Dark, In the Woods. Do you have a preference?
Eliza: No, the more the better! I would call it something different at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Are you still living in London? Can you share 3 things you love most about that city?
Eliza: I love that you can meet strangers with unique stories. I love that you can change who you are every day when you walk out the door and get immediate feedback from the world. I love the diversity and how it reminds me to be a more aware, open and mindful person.
Thank you for hosting me!
About the Book:
Title: THE CRESSWELL PLOT Paperback
Author: Eliza Wass
Pub. Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Disney Press
The woods were insane in the dark, terrifying and magical at the same time. But best of all were the stars, which trumpeted their light into the misty dark.Castella Cresswell and her five siblings-Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem- know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.
Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.
Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.
Eliza Wass is an author, journalist and the wife of the late musician Alan Wass. Her debut novel, The Cresswell Plot, was published in 2016 to critical acclaim by Disney-Hyperion. She has contributed articles to The Guardian, Grazia, NME, Shortlist and THE FALL.
Her second book with Disney-Hyperion, The Life and Death Parade, will be published in June 2018.
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3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE CRESSWELL PLOT Paperback, US Only.