Thank you so much for talking with us today. We loved your cover reveal yesterday, and we’re excited to learn more about you and your upcoming YA Southern mystery.
First, we’re so excited that The Existence of Bea Pearl finally has a cover and release date! Can you tell us a little about your book and the inspiration behind it?
I’m so excited too! Y’all have done such an amazing job with Bea Pearl that I can’t wait to show her to the world! The Existence of Bea Pearl is about a girl who has lost her brother to mysterious circumstances and is shut out by her community when she sets out to unravel the truth. I wanted to play around with isolation and how that affects big thoughts like questioning existence. Now that I think about it, it’s sort of funny this book is coming out during a pandemic, though Bea Pearl’s is more of a mental isolation than a physical one.
The idea-sparks that ignited the original inspiration were an amalgamation: a writing prompt from a 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest to write what scares you (losing a loved one), write what you know (the swamps I grew up in), my childhood adoration of Nancy Drew books, and wanting to explore a place that doesn’t exist anymore.
When you sent this book to us, we fell in love with the unique setting. What is it about this setting that speaks to you personally, and what do you think you bring to life in your story having lived there?
Ah! I’m so glad y’all did! I had such a hard time with plot because I just wanted Bea Pearl to stay in the woods the whole book! I think I bring setting to life as its own character because I know it so well. Like how a person-character comes to life with details. I know trees and shadows and Spanish moss can invoke emotions and mood and I like to wrap it up tight so the reader is *hopefully* entranced by the beauty yet uneasy with the potential danger and decay at the exact same time. It’s calming and wild simultaneously.
Do you see yourself in any of the characters?
I tend to be in my own head much of the time like Bea Pearl. After reading an early draft, my best friend says she reads Bea Pearl as my voice, lol. But I don’t know if I’d be as brave as she is. Especially at sixteen.
If we were going straight to a movie version of Bea Pearl, who would you cast as the main characters?
This was a tough question! I had to do some research, but I’d say maybe Abigail Cowen (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) with her red hair and freckles for Bea Pearl. She’s from a farm in Gainesville, Florida so hopefully has a legit Southern accent. Isabel May (Young Sheldon) for Honey since she has the most adorable, mischievous smile. Maybe Aiden Flowers (The Originals, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) as Junior. He’s from Gulfport, Mississippi so he’d have a proper Southern accent as well. And then for Colin—well, it must be an actor with lovely blue eyes so surely Hollywood can make Zac Efron look seventeen-ish again, right??
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Always. I thought I’d have to be something else too, like in tenth grade I wanted to be a botanist biochemist (until I realized how much math was in chemistry, ugh). But ever since I was little, I was entranced by the idea of one person’s words changing someone else’s perspective. Of seeing the world around them with fresh eyes, and I wanted to do that too.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
It changes based on my children, lol. Now that they’re a little older (7 & 10), and virtual schooling, I can usually write while they’re in their live meetings with their teachers since I only work in our local indie bookshop (as a children’s literature specialist) two days a week now. Before the pandemic, I was waking at 5 am to get some writing time in before the hustle and bustle of getting ready for school and work. So I’m enjoying getting more sleep! Though my brain functions best at writing in the morning. I reserve reading time for the afternoons when my brain isn’t moving quite as fast.
Do you have any strange writing quirks?
I don’t know about strange, but I need to write to white noise. I can’t do song playlists or things like that. I also need to act out facial emotions or physical movements to get it right on paper. I have had my kids and husband ask what’s wrong or who I’m mad at when I’m writing.
What are you most excited for readers will fall in love with about your story?
I hope readers get outside and fall in love with wild spaces. I hope they fall in love with Bea Pearl and Honey’s friendship and have their own too. But most importantly, I want readers to fall in love with believing in themselves.
What are you working on now, and where can we find you online, Candice?
I have a middle grade and picture book out on sub, two picture books under contract, and am constantly working on new projects from short stories to poems to manuscripts. I like to change it up.
I love connecting with other readers and writers! My website is http://www.candicemarleyconner.com, and I’m on twitter @candice_marleyc, Instagram @candice_marleyconner, and Facebook @cmarleyconnerauthor.
Thank you so much, Candice! We loved learning more about you and can’t wait for readers to get their hands on your gorgeous story. Check out the original cover reveal at Pop! Goes the Reader for more great insights from author Candice Marley Conner.
Thanks so much for having me!