Q&A with Bethany Chase
I can’t recall how Bethany and I became friends, but I am sure that the name of her blog (“It’s Better With Bangs”) and her spunky twitter profile (“I’m a women’s fiction author, interior designer, and eternally hopeful A-cup.”) had something to do with it. That same voice – spunky, quick, bold – is what is most unique and fun about her brand spankin’ new novel, THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY.
From the publisher –
Perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, this bright, funny debut from a fresh voice in fiction offers a delicious take on love, family, and what it means to build a home of one’s own.
Sarina Mahler thinks she has her life all nailed down: a growing architecture practice in Austin, Texas, and an any-day-now proposal from her loving boyfriend, Noah. She’s well on her way to having the family she’s hoped for since her mother’s death ten years ago. But with Noah on a temporary assignment abroad and retired Olympic swimmer—and former flame—Eamon Roy back in town asking her to renovate his new fixer-upper, Sarina’s life takes an unexpected turn.
Eamon proves to be Sarina’s dream client, someone who instinctively trusts every one of her choices—and Sarina is reminded of all the reasons she was first drawn to him back in the day. Suddenly her carefully planned future with Noah seems a little less than perfect. And when tragedy strikes, Sarina is left reeling. With her world completely upended, she is forced to question what she truly wants in life—and in love.
Full of both humor and heartbreak, The One That Got Away is the story of one woman’s discovery that, sometimes, life is what happens when you leave the blueprints behind.
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this spectacular debut. Since then, the only person more eager for its publication day than me is Bethany. Though I am far from the only one:
“[A] sparkling debut [that] packs serious emotional punches . . . This utterly enjoyable romance will have readers swooning, sobbing, and eagerly anticipating Chase’s next book.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A warm, witty, and wise novel, The One That Got Away announces the arrival of a great new voice in fiction.”—Emily Giffin, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The One and Only
“This perfectly paced story is full of fresh, engaging characters, but Chase’s greatest accomplishment is Sarina Mahler. Sarina is so human, her inner world such a compelling mix of guarded and open-hearted, confident and faltering, that—through every loss, every funny moment, every blazing triumph—I felt completely with her and grateful to be there.”—Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling author of Falling Together
Bethany Chase is an American author from Virginia who currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and occasionally psychotic cat. What else? Let’s ask her.
What got you interested in writing?
I’ve never not been! My love for words has been one of the most consistent characteristics of my personality for my whole life, though it’s taken many different forms. (Poet, journal-writer, email-writer, blogger, novelist.)
Tell us about the first book you didn’t finish.
It was a historical romance I started writing when I was fifteen years old and heavily in the thrall of the film version of The Last of the Mohicans, with Daniel Day Lewis. (Which means, specifically, I was in the thrall of Daniel Day Lewis.)
So heavily enthralled was I that my novel consisted of a first-person account of a well-bred colonial English lady who for unclear reasons found herself trailing her muddy skirts through the Adirondack forest accompanied by a ruggedly handsome and ambiguously Native American trapper wearing buckskin. Shockingly, I didn’t complete it.
Did you ever keep a journal?
Is there a writer on earth who didn’t? I had kind of abandoned journaling by the time I graduated college, as by that point I had moved on to burdening all of my nearest and dearest with my woes over 2,000-word emails rather than pouring it all out into a journal. But the high school journals are EPIC. Basically, you would have thought I was the first person in the history of humanity to have emotions and be attracted to people who didn’t like me back.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Nope. In fact for most of my life, I avoided the idea, because I assumed it would too hard and I’d never make enough money. I’ll let you guess which of those two assumptions has proven to be true.
What were your favorite books growing up?
The Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon series, which were HUGE for me. I mean, they were books about smart, dreamy, romantic, highly verbal girls who wrote, loved beauty in all its forms, hovered at the fringes of social popularity, and also really liked being alone. Emily and Anne were and always will be my spirit sisters. Also, I think my many rereads of James Harriot’s marvelous All Creatures Great and Small books legitimately helped form my sense of humor. Between Harriot and all of the Monty Python I watched growing up, I think I wound up with a fairly British sense of humor for an American.
Who are your favorite authors now?
Chuck Wendig, Guy Gavriel Kay and Philip Pullman for fantasy; Mary Kubica for suspense; Emily Giffin, Taylor Jenkins Reid and Joshilyn Jackson for women’s fiction; Cara McKenna and Julie James for romance.
Do you have “one that got away?”
I did. He was my high school boyfriend. I tracked him down seven years after the fact, like, legitimately slightly stalker-style, and we actually started dating again, and you know what? We weren’t right for each other. At all. It was all very romantic and fraught as long as one of us was pining for the other one, but actually, just together, with no angst? It didn’t go anywhere. We are both very happily married to other people.
Your bio says you are married – tell us about your love story.
True story: when we first started dating, we had such strong physical chemistry that I assumed that meant there wasn’t going to be any more to it. My friends would say, “How’s Allen?” And I would shrug and say, “he’s hot.” This led to him being known amongst my circle for the first couple months as Hot Allen. As far as Sex-and-the-City style nicknames for guys go, I think he came away in a pretty strong position with that one. But then he just kept growing on me, until a few months into it I realized, holy shit, I’m in love with this guy.
What’s your idea of romance?
No flowers, no candles, no gestures, will ever be as genuinely romantic as those random little moments that happen when you least expect them and you get this flash of piercing sweetness and you think, yep, this is it. For me, personally, it often involves humor or awkwardness, or both. The questionnaire on the dating site where I met my husband asked, “What’s your favorite movie sex scene?” And my answer was the one in that 90’s Liv Tyler movieStealing Beauty, where she’s with the guy and it’s all kissing and dreamy music and then he goes to take her underwear off and it gets stuck on her ankle and she laughs – that is THE BEST. Those little beautifully, imperfect moments. And also just those moments of kindness and support; like how Anne of Green Gables doesn’t marry the wealthy guy who pulls out all the stops on the glitz and glam – she marries the guy who gave up his local teaching position at tremendous personal inconvenience in favor of the farther-away one so that Anne could live at home with her family. That is romance.
What does home mean to you?
The place you belong. I think for most of us the specifics of that place change, but the definition never really does.
How did you come up with your characters’ names?
Well, Eamon has been my favorite name for a guy ever since the first time I fell in love, at four years old, with my neighbor Eamon McCormick (a nice Russian boy, obviously). And despite the fact that I am usually a strident purist about name spelling, I’ve always thought the unusual spelling of “Sarina” had something especially graceful about it. Everyone else was pretty arbitrary. I tend to just go, “okay, think of a name!” and the first one I can think of sticks.
What do you love about the cover for THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY?
EVERYTHING. Seriously, I hit the cover jackpot. I love the colors, the bird, the graceful lettering, and the way the lettering moves rhythmically back and forth across the page. I could give you a full art-history-style image analysis of how wonderful this cover is in every way.
What are you reading now?
I just started Liza Palmer’s Girl Before a Mirror and am really enjoying it. She’s such a funny, yet thoughtful writer.
Who’s your favorite book couple?
Anne and Gilbert. Obviously. In all seriousness, in terms of their mutual love, caring, and respect for one another, I think they are a model partnership for young girls to read about. Clearly, it worked for me.