Q&A Round-Up With Emma Chastain

March 28, 2017
The Riveted Team
Believe In Your Shelf

Emma Chastain, debut author of Confessions of a High School Disaster, has been busy! With Confessions having just come out earlier this month, she’s been making the rounds online, fielding interviews and Q&A’s, while her book toured the blogosphere for two weeks. Being fans of Chloe Snow and Confessions, we’re not ashamed to admit we’ve been stalking Emma online a bit as of late, keeping tabs on what’s she been up to. If you’re as into Confessions of a High School Disaster as we are, here are a few excerpts of some of our favorite coverage lately that you might have missed. And if you’re not a fan, it’s probably because you haven’t read the extended excerpt we’ve been featuring here on Riveted for the last few weeks and you’re missing out! It’s still available, but only until April 3 so read it now while you can!


From’s Confessions of a High School Disaster Author Emma Chastain Spills on Chloe Snow, Gossip and Guys:

Who did you write Confessions of a High School Disaster for?

Bookish high school kids who feel like weirdos, and adults who used to be bookish, weird high school kids.

Chloe loves to make lists of potential boyfriends, some hilariously inappropriate. Who is your favorite fictional boyfriend and why?

No contest: Laurie Laurence in Little Women. I’m still not over the fact that Jo chose Professor Bhaer, who probably has old-man breath, over her fun and sexy soulmate.

Haha! OK, that’s all we needed to hear. Now we know why we loved the way Chloe wrote about what she was reading so much. We totally want to be in a book club with both of you! So spill…what was your favorite book in high school and why?

I was obsessed with Middlemarch, which I originally picked up because I was a pretentious show-off—I wanted to carry the book around with the cover facing out, to show the world how brilliant I was—but which I then fell in love with, because it is such a humane, funny, wrenching novel. I reread it this year, and I see all the characters differently now than I did when I was 18. I’m sure they’ll change and change again as I age; it’s the kind of book that grows with you.

From’s Emma Chastain On Her Debut Novel, Confessions of a High School Disaster:

“If only I could see into the future, I could relax and enjoy being a bachelorette.” This was one of my favorite Chloe quotes in the whole book. Can you speak to it a little more, in terms of advice to high schoolers?

I wish I’d enjoyed my teens and twenties more. It should have been fun, dating various inappropriate people and dealing with dramas of my own creation, but I could never stop and appreciate my youth and freedom because I was so busy panicking about dying alone. I worried about that in high school! I wanted every single dude I dated to fall desperately in love with me, even the ones I wasn’t too interested in myself. WHY? I knew I wasn’t going to marry any of these guys! I’m the last person who should be doling out advice, but I guess I’d say, if you’re someone who wants to get married, you’ll almost certainly get married, so try to put it out of your mind, especially in high school. You’re not going to turn into Miss Havisham. You’re beautiful and cute and interesting, and so many people are going to love you. Also, don’t waste one iota of energy or thought on someone who’s not nice to you. (I must have spent ten years of my life trying to get guys who didn’t even like me to like me back. Again: WHY?!?) It sounds so obvious, but when you’re feeling sick with love and uncertainty about someone, ask yourself, “Is this person nice to me?” and if the answer is no, well, that’s your answer.

Early on, Chloe notes that she likes doing things by herself because it’s easier to observe the world when you’re not trying to keep a conversation going (I love that she’s independent/comfortable with herself in this way.) Later, Chloe also talks about being addicted to her phone, a feeling to which most of us can relate. What would you say is your/Chloe’s message to high schoolers about reconciling personal independence with dependence on social media?

We should probably all throw our phones in the garbage. I love mine, of course, because I love taking pictures with it, and I love listening to podcasts on it. And my brain thinks it loves social media, but in fact I almost never feel anything but stressed out and upset after looking at Twitter or Facebook. After Chloe gets slut-shamed online, she deletes all of her accounts, which is something I wish I could bring myself to do. I don’t think Chloe realizes this explicitly, but I do think it’s good to try to be alone in the world sometimes without resorting to your phone. It can feel deeply awkward to sit by yourself in a room or cafe or park or wherever, looking around instead of into the internet, but in fact it’s not awkward, because despite what you fear, no one is judging you or wondering what you’re doing sitting there by yourself. And if you happen to want to be a writer, observing the real world, and the real people in it, is an essential task, and one I’m going to get around to as soon as I pick the right Instagram filter for this photo of my nails.

From’s Emma Chastain, author of CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH SCHOOL DISASTER, on working twenty minutes a day:

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

Remember when Pa Ingalls tied a rope from the house to the barn so he and Ma wouldn’t lose their bearings, wander off into the raging blizzard, and freeze to death? For me, an outline is like that rope. I never wrote one before taking a class with Ha Jin, who required his students to try it, and it turned out to be the thing that keeps me from expiring in the snow.

What’s your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I work at home, on my laptop, in a Google doc. I sit either at the kitchen counter or on the couch. While I’m writing, I don’t allow myself to get up, eat, open new tabs, look at my phone, listen to music, or talk to anyone. I let myself stare at the trees in my backyard occasionally, but I try to keep even that to a minimum.

And just because we got a kick out of it, here’s a funny post from Emma Chastain on Facebook:

Two delightful facts about the German translation of my book:

1. The character’s name will be CALLIE Snow, because apparently “Chloe” sounds exactly like the German word for toilet, and
2. The subtitle is “Highschool mit Hindernissen,” which means “High School with Obstacles”

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