Q&A with Elissa R. Sloan, Author of The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes

by Heather Caliendo
Elissa R. Sloan Q&A - book club chat

Elissa R. Sloan is the author of The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes, which will publish on Sept. 1. 

Elissa R. Sloan is a Texas-native Japanese-American with a penchant for reading books and celebrity gossip. She lives in Austin with her husband and two cats in a house with a rolling library ladder. The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes is Elissa’s debut novel. 

I absolutely can’t wait to read this one! I think book clubs will have plenty to discuss with this one too. 

Here’s the synopsis: 

Cassidy Holmes isn’t just a celebrity.

She is “Sassy Gloss,” the fourth member of the hottest pop group America has ever seen. Hotter than Britney dancing with a snake, hotter than Christina getting dirrty, Gloss was the pop act that everyone idolized. Fans couldn’t get enough of them, their music, and the drama that followed them like moths to a flame—until the group’s sudden implosion in 2002. And at the center of it all was Sassy Cassy, the Texan with a signature smirk that had everyone falling for her. 

But now she’s dead. Suicide.

The world is reeling from this unexpected news, but no one is more shocked than the three remaining Glossies. Fifteen years ago, Rose, Merry, and Yumi had been the closest to Cassidy, and this loss is hitting them hard. Before the group split, they each had a special bond with Cassidy—truths they told, secrets they shared. But after years apart, each of them is wondering: what could they have done?

Told in multiple perspectives—including Cassidy herself—and different timelines, this is a behind-the-scenes look into the rise and fall of a pop icon, and a penetrating examination of the dark side of celebrity and the industry that profits from it. 

Let’s get to know Elissa as she talks inspiration behind the novel, research process, her favorite books and much more!

What are some of your favorite novels?

Station Eleven, Everything I Never Told You, Jane Austen’s Persuasion 

When did you know you wanted to become an author?

I wrote short stories on my family computer when I was in elementary school, and the dream was always kind of there…. I wrote my first full-length book at twelve about two groups of students that start a recess war, that I wished to get published (but nothing ever came of it). I wish I knew where that went; it’d be interesting to reread now. 

What inspired you to write The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes

I hadn’t written anything in years when the first line of The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes came to me. “The day that Cassidy died, the rest of us were in London.” I had just re-watched Spice World and was an avid reader of celebrity gossip, where Mel B’s very public divorce was the subject of many headlines. I began to wonder what it would be like if one of the Spice Girls (or any other big girl group of the late 90s/early 2000s) were to die unexpectedly in the present. I was dealing with what was undiagnosed depression at the time and that probably influenced my thinking. 

Did you research the lives of real-life pop stars as you worked on the book?

I read memoirs of musicians, from Victoria Beckham to Jewel to Keith Richards, trying to get a feel for what life was like on the other side of fame. I never buy the magazines on the racks by the checkout counter, but I’m a reader of celebrity gossip blogs and I folded in a lot of real-life inspiration into the storyline for Cassidy Holmes and her friends.

What was your favorite chapter or part to write? 

I write linearly, and I find that my enthusiasm is the highest at the very start of every project, where everything just pours out. My first four chapters are basically unchanged since I first wrote them, which I think most writers would find unusual. But maybe my second favorite chapter to write was the filming of Gloss (the girl group)’s big music video. I was inspired by a behind-the-scenes look of how *NSYNC made their Bye Bye Bye video with the spinning cube, and an older episode of America’s Next Top Model where the models had to pose in a tank of water. It was fun to visualize this big-budget production!

What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?

Ever since shelter-in-place started, I’ve been having a hard time concentrating on reading. Right now I’m slowly chewing my way through Maureen Johnson’s YA mystery, Truly Devious (which is excellent). I’m really excited about a lot of novels coming out this year, like Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s debut, The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea, Richard Z. Santos’s Trust Me, and Traci Chee’s We Are Not Free. I read a combination of YA and adult novels across all genres.

Click here to order The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan on Amazon.

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