Interview with Ellie Cahill, Author of Just a Girl
24 Jun 2016
What can you tell us about your new release, Just a Girl?
Just a Girl is my love letter to all the musicians I’ve known. It’s not all glamour and groupies and sold-out stadium tours. For most musicians, it’s passion for the music and all the things they’ll do to be part of it. Just a Girl is the story of Presley Mason, a 21 year-old singer who was in an up-and-coming hard rock group, but petty jealousies among the band members led them to kick her out. She moves back home to Wisconsin where her parents run a well-known music store. There, feeling like her music career is over (except for dusting the piano and filing sheet music in the store), she meets Paul, a guitar teacher. He’s in a band, too, but he suffers from crippling stage fright that keeps the band from moving to the next level. Presley has promised herself she’ll never mix music and romance again, but when Paul’s band finds themselves suddenly lacking in a lead singer, they beg her to fill in. She’s falling hard for Paul, but this feels like a recipe for disaster. Still, how can she turn them down when they need her?
Where is your happy place? Why does it bring you joy?
Can I have more than one? Because when I really want to unplug and relax, there’s nothing like the beach. The sound of the ocean and a warm breeze while I lounge on a chair (in the shade, because I am pale like what) and indulge in uninterrupted reading. That’s bliss. But since I live in the middle of the country that’s not exactly an achievable happy place most of the time. For more practical purposes, I’d say anywhere I can be surrounded by books. The library or a book store. I love everything about places like that. The smell of paper, the visuals of endless shelves covered in stories. Even the quality of the sound. It gets muffled a bit by all the books. I love it. So many possibilities.
Who is your favorite fictional character from literature?
This is where I’m supposed to be all cultured and say something like Elizabeth Bennett, right? Sorry. I’m not that kind of reader. I guess if I had to pick one, I’d pick Fran from Stephen King’s The Stand. It’s pretty much my favorite book of all time and she is a fantastic character. I like that she’s both strong and vulnerable. Resourceful with leadership qualities, but also willing to let others use their strengths.
Your books are often compared to John Hughes movies. Which of his movies is your favorite?
Oh gosh, that’s a great question. I think I’d have to go with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s just such a wish-fulfillment movie. Who doesn’t want to lead a street full of people in Twist and Shout? I think we’d all like to be a little more like Ferris. Plus, Jennifer Grey is so unbelievably great in that movie.
What’s rocking your world this month?
Game of Thrones! I am a total junkie for that show and I am so happy it’s on right now! But I’m also really sad it’s almost over already. How am I supposed to wait another year for more?! Other things that I’m digging right now: Sebastian York narrating Lauren Blakely’s audio books because the man could make a grocery list sound like erotic poetry, iced raspberry lattes, and any excuse to eat kimchi.
How do you like to spend a rainy day?
I have a glassed in front porch and there is nothing better than sitting on the porch, totally dry, while a big thunderstorm rages outside. In the summer time, I live for those first few moments when it starts raining and you get that smell of the earth getting wet. I even love the word for it—petrichor. But if it’s going to be just a drizzly, rainy day, I love to curl up on the couch and watch movies.
What scene in Just a Girl was your favorite to write?
I had so much fun writing the scene where Presley and Paul are hanging out at the store after close. I’ve always loved the idea of being in places after everyone else is gone. The freedom and the sort of illicit thrill of it. And in a music store, you’d have free rein to play all the instruments, make as much noise as you want. Plus it was such fun thinking about what kind of songs they’d use to seduce each other.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
In writing, the best advice I’ve ever gotten was to let go and write. Don’t try to get it perfect the first time. You can fix mistakes, but you can’t fix words that never make it to the page.
But the best advice I’ve ever gotten in life might be to start wearing underwear in bigger sizes. Whatever size you’re supposed to be based on your pants size, go up at least one. Maybe two. Your butt will thank you.
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