[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to have author Chelsie Edwards guest posting n the site today. She’s sharing some memories with us. Take it away, Chelsie!]
“Did I ever tell you about the time your mother almost drowned?”
This question is posed to me casually, the way one might ask, “Would you please pass the salt?”
My mother stifles a laugh and rolls her eyes in response. Her lifelong co-conspirator smiles. Ghosts of his boyhood mischief are still evident in the crinkles of his eyes. This story has the essential ingredients of a great love story. It goes like this: Boy tries to impress girl by winning an impromptu swimming race. Girl, is already impressed by boy— (although he doesn’t know it yet) she’s placed all her trust in him, after all she cannot swim. The girls are to ride on the backs of their champion’s during the race, you see. I know every beat of this tale.
“I came up screaming loud enough to wake the dead! HELP Meee! HELP Meee!” My mother will say, as she flails and croaks dramatically. Half-way through this story we will all be doubled over in laughter. At the end of its recounting they will share a look. He will smile wryly and deadpan, “And that was the last time we snuck in to the University pool at midnight to race.”
The story above isn’t in Upsy Daisy, but its illustrative of things I wanted to capture in the novel; the joie de vivre of youth, the folly and boldness of first love, and the irreverent adventures bored college students are prone towards. My mother, aunties, and uncles—all natural story tellers who came of age in the seventies, provided the stories that I drew from to set the narrative tone of the novel. As a young girl I was often struck with wistfulness listening to their accounts. I wanted to be there with them. In writing Trevor and Daisy’s romance I had the opportunity to bottle the esprit de corps found in those tales into something fresh for romance readers. I read a lot of romance but not much of it reflects my the lived experiences, or those of my mother or those of her mother. One of the by-products of hearing about my mother’s life before my birth is that it made me more conscious of her personhood outside of motherhood. I realized that before she was hugger, home-work checker, and part time alarm clock she’d been someone…else. I wondered about that other her often. I got drips and drabs through anecdotes, but no one tells their daughter everything.
And so the premise for Upsy Daisy was sparked by a simple question, Who were your parents, before they were your parents? Though Daisy and Trevor have previously been side-characters, they occupy a big space in the hearts of many readers. They’re representative in a way— the kind, responsible, model parents, balancing out the zaniness of the Green Valley world. I already loved these characters, I badly wanted to tell their story with the humor, heart and reverence it deserved. It was important to me that the story ground the reader in their reality. Daisy and Trevor as characters came easily, but I struggled to find inspiration for the details that would make up their world. Fashion in particular was a challenge. I’d been able to find a few images on Pintrest—photos from old catalogue shoots and a few vintage Simplicity sewing patterns, but nothing felt right. My grandmother—ever the historian rescued me, she maintains tomes of family photo albums nestled on book shelves and spilling from under coffee tables. My (eleven) cousins and I spent our summers in her and my grandfather’s care. We poured over these photographic time machines, examining each photo with the special wonder little girls reserve for past versions of their mothers.
“Look at how short those shorts are that your momma’s wearing! Can you believe that?”
“I wonder where my mother got those crazy looking shoes! The heels are stacked sky high!? She looks about six feet tall!”
“Look. At. Her. Giant. Afro!”
We spent hours analyzing, envying and…okay poking a little fun at their fashion. We twisted tank-tops into bra-tops, and stood tip toe on mock platform shoes. We memorized these outfits, later we would try to weaponize them. “How is a bra-top different from a tube-top?” Or
“If you wore hot-pants how come I can’t wear booty-shorts?” The teenage angst and righteous indignation were very real.
Those memories—now more than a few decades old, were not at the forefront of my mind as I searched for inspiration. Thankfully, fate intervened, my entire family visited my grandparents for a long holiday weekend shortly after I began plotting this book. I spotted those family albums and memories came rushing back. Suddenly I was in full research mode, flipping through page after page, leafing through old yearbooks, all the while snapping pictures of pictures with my phone. In these photos I could see Daisy, and Trevor, I could see their friends. I was inspired. Between barbecues and fireworks I hounded aunties and uncles for interviews. I quizzed them about slang, and old flames, college majors, meal-plans and mailboxes. They were gracious enough to give me the details I needed to color Daisy and Trevor’s world with nuance.
It is late, my family is still gathered, we are crammed into my grandparents home. We sit on staircases and sofas, folding chairs and floors. My questions have sparked a deluge of reminiscing that’s gone on for hours. My uncle a Fiskite finishes his last story. “Those sure were the good ole’ days.” His tone is wistful, he takes a sip of his drink.
“They sho’ were.” A familiar voice replies. I turn towards him. He grins and holds my gaze a beat before he continues, “Did I ever tell you about the time your mother almost drowned?”
About the Author:
Chelsie Edwards’ mother declared her a smarty-pants at 4 years old; now she gets to be one professionally. She manages project timelines by day and book timelines by night. She resides in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and has no dogs, fish, or birds, but her neighbors cat “Buddy” keeps her company by sunbathing on her porch. Her debut novella is scheduled to be released Spring 2020 on Smartypants Romance and will chronicle Daisy and Trevor’s journey.
Upsy Daisy by Chelsie Edwards, our now!
Daisy Payton has everything. Exceptional grades. Impeccable clothes. Model family.
But perfection comes at a high cost, and Daisy is wilting. Determined to use college as her chance to bloom anew, she’s focused on only one thing, leaving the Payton name behind and forging her own path—even if she has to tell the teeniest of fibs to do it.
Trevor Boone has nothing. Abandoned as a child. Raised by distant relatives. Constantly reminded he’s a burden.
Trevor’s lived at the edges of opulence for years, having all he’s ever desired dangled just out of reach. But his ambition is finally about to pay off and nothing will distract him from his goal—finishing college top of his class and starting life, on his own terms.
When Daisy and Trevor meet it’s clear from the start that they’ll tempt each other to distraction, can they learn to put their ambitions aside and fall or will they lose it all?