Chelsea Bobulski went to Ohio State, received a degree in history and planned on being a teacher. But her heart has always been in writing, so when she and her husband graduated, the high school sweethearts, who stayed together through college, decided that she should follow her dream.
Now, seven years later, her dream has become a reality. As she tells it, the road hasn’t been an easy one and there are a few manuscripts she wrote that won’t see the light of day. But all of that work and practice has resulted in The Wood, her fantastical debut novel about a girl named Winter who guards a mysterious forest that holds the secret of time travel.
We wanted to know more about Bobulski, so we called her up to talk about The Wood.
You’re from Columbus; how did you end up in Toledo? My husband and I were both born and raised in Columbus; we moved to Toledo seven years ago when my husband got a job at the Toledo Hospital.
How do you like Toledo? Oh, we love it. We live in Perrysburg and it reminds us a lot of the suburb in Columbus we grew up in. It’s really nice to raise our daughter in a similar atmosphere.
How did you conceive of The Wood in the first place? The Wood was very different from other books I’d written. I hadn’t plotted anything out at all. I was freewriting one day and this voice came to me out of nowhere and it was almost as if my main character Winter was a fully formed person just telling me her story. I started writing and about 50 pages later, I realized I should start plotting because it was clearly going to be a book.
You’re a religious person; how do you rectify that disconnect between fantasy and faith (e.g. Harry Potter promotes “witchcraft”)? Honestly, as a faith-filled person, that is something I’ve had to contemplate and study the word on, to see where do I wind up on that whole debate. And for me, I think that you can look at C.S. Lewis who was a terrific fantasy writer who championed his faith as well. I think it’s just a great gift that God has given us to use fantasy as a mirror to show the elements of good versus evil. Morality in general can be portrayed in such a special way in fantasy, so I don’t think that there’s any friction there for me personally.
Which character in The Wood do you identify with the most? Probably Winter. She has the most “me” in her. Out of characters that I think are fun, her best friend, Meredith. If I was going to hang out with one of my characters, I would hang out with her.
You mentioned you had some other manuscripts— are you going to revisit them now that The Wood has been published? Well, the first three I do not want to touch with a 10-foot pole. They were definitely good for learning from my mistakes and progressing as a writer. Nobody needs to see them. But my fourth manuscript, the one I wrote right before The Wood, I’m actually currently revising and would really like to send out to editors once it’s ready.
What kind of advice would you give to people who want to write books? Cultivate that patience and perseverance. It’s so important— especially if you’re going for traditional publishing. It can be a long road with a lot of rejection; for them, it’s a business thing too. There are tons of really great books that don’t get published because they might not fit the current market or the list that a publisher is currently cultivating. There’s a lot of reasons to get rejected, you just have to keep going.
Be sure to pick up a copy of The Wood, a hardcover fantasy novel, from any major booksellers. And check in with chelseabobulski.com to learn about her upcoming book-signing events.