Mitchell Morrison and Josie Sedgwick have spent their whole lives at the Indian Paintbrush Community Village, a commune full of colorful characters tucked in the mountains of North Carolina, and they aren’t particularly close–at least, not anymore. Josie wishes she could spend all of her time at Paintbrush planting tomatoes, hiking the trails, or throwing giant communal birthday parties, while Mitchell can’t wait to escape the bizarre spiritual sharing and noisy community dinners. Luckily for both of them, high school graduation is just around the corner. But when Mitchell’s mother makes a scandalous announcement that rocks the close-knit Paintbrush community, and Josie’s younger sister starts to make some dangerously bad decisions, the two find themselves leaning on each other for support – and looking at each other in a whole new light. Their childhood friendship blossoms in to something more as they deal with their insane families, but as graduation approaches, so does life in the real world, forcing Josie and Mitchell to figure out what, exactly, their relationship is – and if it can survive their very different plans for the future.
Will Mitchell and Josie be able to paint their future together, or will the palettes of their lives instead colour their futures apart? The vivid splashes of life in the village of Paintbrush have been skilfully illustrated by author Hannah Bucchin, who has joined me today to chat about the artistic tools applied to the novel ‘Paintbrush’. Hannah, thanks for spending a little time with me today. Where did the initial strokes of ideas come from for your debut novel ‘Paintbrush’?
The idea for Paintbrush was really inspired by place. During my first visit to the North Carolina Mountains almost four years ago I became completely enchanted by the beautiful scenery and the unique culture of the area. The more I visited family and friends in the area, the more the story and characters began to take shape in my head.
When the shape started forming, how did the dynamic between this sense of place drive character personalities and plot? Was the plot pushing the personality development, or did the sheer force of personalities in this village change the plot events?
The plot was informed by their personalities. For me, character is always the first thing that comes to me. The plot comes to life after I figure out what the characters really want.
How do you figure out and keep track of what they really want?
I keep a binder full of ideas and projects. At any given time I have full outlines of two or three other books I might want to write someday!
Multiple outlines on the go is the sign of an author who means business! How much outlining do you do, and do you keep strictly to these outlines as you start writing?
I try to do a basic outline before I start writing, but I find that it’s easy to get bogged down by too much outlining and brainstorming. Once I have the characters set in my head, I like to start writing and see where the story takes me.
Okay, so there’s some preparedness, but you’re willing for the characters to take you on their own journeys. Do you have any techniques to rouse the characters ready for the next part of the journey?
I try to write at least 5,000 words a week, but most often I end up either writing way more or not at all. I do my best work at coffee shops – the hustle and bustle of other people is soothing to me. Plus if I try to write while I’m in any sort of vicinity to my bed, I tend to end up taking a nap. Which does not make for good writing.
*Laughs* Those naps are dangerous things! Other than avoiding the lure of napping, do you have any tips for authors gleamed from your experiences bringing your first novel to the world?
Don’t get stuck outlining and world building forever. Sit down and write!
But world building is so fun! But you’re right; if you never get past the world building then your book is never going to make it to the world. Moving from world-building to building charm, I’d like to toss you a few questions to show off your charms and charisma that’s behind your written words. Let’s start with: what is your favourite quote?
“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer” – Albert Camus
I love the words of Camus. What is your favourite ocean?
Atlantic all the way!
Are you left or right handed?
What is your favourite flavor of ice cream?
Peanut butter chocolate!
You know I’ve never had peanut butter chocolate, but I think it’s something that I should give a go because I’ve had some many authors recommend it. And finally, if you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
A polar bear and a poodle. Basically I just want a tiny polar bear that I can cuddle with.
YES, me too! I totally want a tiny polar bear as well! I’m so glad I left that question to the end because now I’m going to have to research how to make that tiny polar bear possible! Hannah, thanks for sketching the lives in ‘Paintbrush’ with us today, and I hope to see you again in the future with new volumes of your writing career.
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘Paintbrush ( ASIN: B06ZYXH7WC )‘.
Want to find out more about Hannah Bucchin? Connect here!