Portrait of a Girl Running by J.B. Chicoine…Book Spotlight and Author Q&A

Portrait of a Girl Running cover 100 dpi

Book links:

 Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble 

About Portrait of a Girl Running: 

An avid runner and talented watercolor artist, seventeen-year-old Leila has survived an unstable childhood in a biracial family with two dads, surrounded by drug addiction and blues musicians. When the tragedy of one of her fathers’ deaths sends her to Long Island to live with her step-grandfather, she meets the handsome track coach, Ian Brigham and the curmudgeonly math teacher, Clarence Myles, who recognizes Leila’s strength and courage and alternately challenges and protects her. When Leila is accused of misconduct by a jealous gym instructor, the resulting judicial hearings put her autonomy, and even her dignity, at risk.

Written in vibrant, lyrical prose, Chicoine’s writing provides a number of unexpected plot twists that keep readers rooting for Leila. Chicoine’s characters, along with the accurately drawn Long Island setting, provide a detailed glimpse into the life of a high school student on the cusp of adulthood, who must navigate the world of adult rules and moral judgments on her own. Leila’s struggles with grown-up choices about life and love reflect those faced by many young people who are coming of age, making her story a particularly relevant and satisfying read for new adults and those who enjoy strong female protagonists.

“I wrote Girl Running for my husband nearly seven years ago, and it has always been my favorite,” said Chicoine. “Like me, Leila is a watercolor artist, and developing her character was very much like painting a portrait: I added layers as I went along, creating depth as she faced various challenges and explored her longing for freedom and independence, along with her desire to find true love. I hope readers enjoy her and the other characters in Girl Running and find them as complex and intriguing as I have.”

Author Q&A:

1. What inspired you to write Portrait of a Girl Running?

Well, I have always been intrigued with unconventional relationships (romantic and otherwise) and what makes them endure or fizzle, especially when a lot is working against their success. Girl Running—and also Protégé—aren’t really about taboo relationships as much as they are about the twisted road that love sometimes takes, about letting to of old baggage and grabbing for something far more enduring that lust.


2. In Portrait of a Girl Running, the main character, Leila, is seventeen and living on her own after being raised by two biracial fathers, both blues musicians. She plays blues piano herself, and later meets Clarence Myles, a math teacher, who also has an interest in the blues. What spurred your interest in this particular type of music?

I’ve always leaned toward having the blues, so maybe that genre just naturally appeals to. So, when I was developing Leila’s character, I didn’t want her to be typical 17-year-old, and blues is not typically what teenage girls listen to. Blues is unpretentious, like Leila, and I think it suits the tone of the story.


3. At the novel’s start, Leila meets Ian Brigham before learning that he is a track coach at her new high school. They develop an obvious attraction for each other, which is an important plotline in the story. What made you want to write about a student/teacher relationship, and how would you characterize theirs?

Leila and Ian Brigham’s relationship is based on not just a physical attraction and compatibility, but on a growing emotional dependency. Although their developing relationship is a major plot point, Leila’s relationship with her curmudgeonly math teacher, Mr. Myles, ends up impacting her life more than Ian, filling her need of a true friend and father figure.


4. Both Portrait of a Girl Running and its sequel, Portrait of a Protégé, take place in the Northeast. How integral is the setting to these two stories?

I think both of these stories could have taken place anywhere—I simply chose settings I was most familiar with. That said, the racial “geography”—the line between the black and white sides of town—is important in Girl Running. Millville, the fictitious town based on where I grew up, fits the criteria for that time period in a unique way.


5. Leila has a number of interests, including running and painting. How does your own career as an artist inform your work?

I have to admit that Leila and I share a similar style of painting—very controlled and detailed. Of course, Leila is a far better artist at seventeen than I ever was. By the end of Protégé, she has conquered a lot of the fears I still struggle with, so I guess I tried on her daringness just to see how it felt.


6. Are you working on another novel? If so, what can you tell us about it?

Yes—it is a psychological drama about a young man whose delusional mother believes he his blind. His story is told through an enigmatic young seamstress, hired to alter the young man’s trousers when he returns from England for his father’s funeral. It is set in New England, of course.



About the author:

Bridget Chicoine - Author PhotoJ. B. Chicoine was born on Long Island, New York, and grew up in Amityville during the 1960s and 70s. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, but found that rural life in New Hampshire better suited her disposition. She has also lived in Kansas City and Michigan, although her favorite setting for novels is New England. She has been writing stories since she was a girl and has completed four novels: Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright, Spilled Coffee, Portrait of a Girl Running, and its sequel, Portrait of a Protégé. When she’s not writing or painting, she enjoys designing book covers and binding novels, doing volunteer work, baking crusty breads, and working on various projects with her husband.

For more information on the author or Portrait of a Girl Running, please visit www.jbchicoine.com or www.amazon.com.

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