Smile Politely

Chloe Caldwell and the Women of SF/LD

Exile on Main Street is more than your average music store. With a mixture of CDs, vinyl, movies, and video games, this is one location in Champaign where visitors can divulge in their favorite creative outlets and new finds. On October 26th, Exile is adding still more flair to its venue by hosting readings with authors from around the United States in The Women of SF/LD Books 2014 Midwest Tour

Mira Gonzalez, poet and author of I will never be beautiful enough to make us beautiful together, is among the list of guests to visit the music store, as are Chelsea Martin, author of Even Though I Don’t Miss You, and Elizabeth Ellen, author of Fast Machine. With a creative group of authors who tackle experiencing life and the aspects within it in diverse ways, The Women of SF/LD Books 2014 Midwest Tour will remind us of the intimacy and importance of the written and spoken word as they take over Exile.

Last but not least on the book tour bill is an author by the name of Chloe Caldwell. Her latest novel, Women, is described by Short Flight/Long Drive Press as “a novella about falling in love with a woman, about loving women, about being a woman.” The story details heartache, love, and the comical mess in between.

Women was recently in the hands of Lena Dunham, writer and creator of the television show Girls, who went on to say the book “is a beautiful read/a perfect primer for an explosive lesbian affair/an essential truth.”

Before making her stop in Champaign for the SF/LD reading, Caldwell had a thing or two to say about the book itself to help readers understand the concept behind writing a novel in general and the specific experiences that led her to the pages of Women.


Smile Politely: As a bit of background information for readers, can you detail how you got involved with writing and what made you want to become an author?

Chloe Caldwell: I’ve been writing my entire life. I have dozens and dozens of journals. I documented everything. So looking back, I’m not surprised I ended up making writing the biggest part of my life.

I didn’t attend college for writing. I moved to New York City shortly after my 20th birthday. During the few years I lived there, I attended writing classes at the Gotham Writer’s Workshop. It really helped me find myself as a writer.

SP: Can you tell readers how the idea for Women came about?

Caldwell: Women was inspired by a relationship I’d had. I was really interested in females and Female Friendships so I was excited to explore that and also to write a different style and genre than my first book (an essay collection called Let’s Get Led Astray).

SP: Is there a specific chapter or part within the story that really drew you in while you were writing it?

Caldwell: Yeah, I was interested in writing about grief. I wanted to focus on the ugly aftermath of a break-up because I think those ugly parts are beautiful. So, I began by writing the end and then wrote the middle and beginning.

SP: How do you think readers will connect with this book?

Caldwell: I mean, I wasn’t sure if readers would connect with it. But I guess the reason they have been is because we all go through break-ups and dark periods. We think we won’t get over it, but we do.

SP: You have been receiving amazing reviews for your story. How, as a writer, has that made you feel?

Caldwell: It feels wonderful that people are “getting” the book.

SP: Any words of advice for writers that you may have inspired with Women?

Caldwell: Advice for writers is that I don’t think writers should take advice so seriously. Everyone’s process and path is unique to them and what works for one person won’t work for another. Trust yourself.


Although certainly a highlight, Caldwell will be just one reader among many on the tour arriving on Urbana soil this week. If Women or any of the other creative works sound interesting, Exile on Main Street is just a bus or car ride away. The vinyl and video games are just a special bonus.

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