On Feb 5, Gita Trelease published her debut novel Enchantée, an “escape into a fantasy world,” as Ms. Trelease put it.
Ms. Trelease, member of the Deerfield community since 2005 and spouse of Art Teacher Tim Trelease, immigrated to the United States from Sweden at the age of 5, and recognized that this time in her life sparked a love of reading, which then spiraled into a love of writing.
“Books were a way for me to understand American culture,” she said, “Books were really important to me and, because I read so much, I decided I wanted to try to do that for myself.”
Ms. Trelease described her historical fantasy genre as very enjoyable to write, saying “I get to research and explore this whole world, and build it up.”
In Enchantée, magic meets reality. The streets of Paris are swirling with magic and adventure in the critical time of the French Revolution. In the center of it all is Camille Durbonne, the novel’s young protagonist. She is equipped with magic, however she despises her powers.
When smallpox hits, Camille is left alone, impoverished, to lead herself and her sister through the hardships of the French Revolution. She is able to use her powers to transform metal scraps into coins to help her family, but in the face of desperation, she uses dark magic to transform herself into a noble woman to visit the Palace of Versailles. This deed, however, comes at a great cost.
Ms. Trelease described her own connection to this specific story, saying, “On a personal level, I moved to Paris after I graduated from college and promptly fell in love with the city and its history. I’ve been wanting to set a story there for a long time.”
She explained how people typically think of the French Revolution in terms of its last year, the bloodiest and most violent part. However, she strived to create a milder setting in the first years of the event, which she described as “a morally gray time, when high ideals warred with prejudice.”
Upon reflection of her first publication, Trelease described herself as lucky.
“It has to do with what’s happening in the market and my agent liked the writing, so all those things had to come together,” she explained.
Ms. Trelease said she was fortunate both that she had writing partners who contributed to the revision process and that she was able to find an agent who had been publicly searching for a novel set during the French Revolution.
“You just don’t know, because it’s such an incredibly difficult industry and there are so many gatekeepers,” she said. “You need to get an agent, and the agent needs to send it out to editors, and so there are so many huge hurdles that are out of your control but all you can do is write the best book that you can write.”
Trelease encourages students who are interested in pursuing writing to do three things: read, write, and share.
“We have this vision for ourselves, and we’re always hopefully getting closer to that vision,” she commented. “And when you feel like you’re ready, be willing to get your work out there.”
Enchantée is available through FlatIron Books in bookstores across the nation.