‘All Our Yesterdays’ Interview with Author Eleanor Wells

Eleanor Wells is a talented filmmaker and now author. She has a new book coming out in June, All Our Yesterdays. Set against a sprawling backdrop from Minnesota to New York City, All Our Yesterdays follows Marcy Lewis. The new high school graduate has a chance meeting full of promise and instant sparks with budding music superstar Cole Hargrove.  Over Zoom, we sat down with Wells to talk about her journey to the story, some big musical influences (including The Beatles!), and what the story is all about. Read on for the full interview.

The Interview with All Our Yesterdays author Eleanor Wells

[Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.]

On her journey from filmmaking to the novel

Ayla Ruby:  Can you talk a little bit about your journey to the story? You’ve done a lot of filmmaking, but novels are quite different.

Eleanor Wells:  Yeah. I actually started out as a prose writer when I was younger. I wrote a lot of short stories mainly, I did some novels. This is more so high school. I was always that kid that I always had a book in my hand. I was staying up past my bedtime to read. I loved reading, I loved movies, I just loved all kinds of storytelling.

Eleanor Wells: And I wrote some novels that nobody will ever see. And then I just discovered… I’d always loved film, but I didn’t realize it was a thing that people could do. And that journey came later on, in high school. Went to Emerson, pursued my film degree. Still read books, still liked books, but didn’t think it was something that I would ever really go back to. The journey of a couple of years I had in college and after was really realizing that I don’t have to limit myself to one medium.

Eleanor Wells: To me, a good story is a good story. I want to say it was 2017-ish, so my last year of college, I started to discover prose writing more. It was around that time I first picked up Pattie Boyd’s autobiography. She was the first wife of George Harrison of The Beatles. I read it, and when I read it, it was so interesting to me. The perspective, it wasn’t George Harrison the all-famous person. It was my husband, the person I love. It was a very intimate, peeled-back approach.

Eleanor Wells: It was that year I first had the idea for this story, but it took years making a couple of films for everything to just coalesce in the way that it did.

Ayla Ruby:  Did she influence the Marcy character or the Olive character at all?

Eleanor Wells:  A little bit. Marcy is a combination of her, but also on Jane Asher, who was the girlfriend of Paul McCartney. And there’s a little bit of Priscilla Presley in Marcy too.

Eleanor Wells: Olive as a character came later in the development, and she was more a reflection of the various female pop stars of the era of the ’90s and 2000s.

On drafts and the writing process

Ayla Ruby:  Writing a novel, like writing anything, is a beast. Can you talk about what writing was like for you, just that process, how you approached it? Anything you’ve learned?

Eleanor Wells:  Oh, yeah. It was a mountain climb, for sure. You write a first draft of something, and that’s challenging enough as it is. And then you write it. And then you, oh, I feel comfortable enough to give this to people and get feedback. And then they give you things to change and it’s like, oh, you’re right. But then it just feels like going back to a draft, getting up after you’re tired, it takes a lot.

Eleanor Wells: I think the hardest part, really, the whole process, is just starting. I definitely got to a point where I was like, draft 10, draft 11 with this.

Ayla Ruby:  Oh, wow.

Eleanor Wells:  I stopped keeping track after a while. I want to say the final draft is 14 or 15.

Ayla Ruby:  Wow.

Eleanor Wells:  Around draft 9, draft 10, I’m like, oh my God, I’m literally never going to be finished with this. There’s always going to be something to change, something to make better. And I think what I really learned is, nothing has ever really finished because perfection is impossible. You just have to, at a certain point as a creator, say, I’m putting the best version of this out into the world and I will create something new now.

Eleanor Wells: Once I really got going, I started with a couple of drafts that didn’t really go anywhere 2017, 2018. I was away from this story for a while and then I came back to it in 2022. And then I finished the first draft in April of 2022. Then ever since then, it’s been continuously working. And I’m a chronic underwriter too, so I write… My first drafts are usually very short, and then with each subsequent draft, I find that I know my characters a little bit more. So, I go back and add. And that’s also true in my screenwriting.

The story of All Our Yesterdays

Ayla Ruby:  Interesting. We talked very briefly about the characters, but I’d love to know what you can share about the story without getting into spoilers, just, I guess, broad strokes about the book and why people should read it. ‘Cause it sounds really cool from the synopsis.

Eleanor Wells:  Yeah, sure. It begins in the summer of 1999 in the small town of White Lake, Minnesota. The main character, Marcy, is a young woman who has just graduated from high school. She and her older sister, Eileen, are about to go on a trip to New York City, just ’cause she’s also… Her sister has graduated from college, so they’re off to experience the world and what comes next after high school and this little life in their small town that is really all they’ve ever known.

Eleanor Wells: Marcy meets a guy there, a musician named Cole. Cole is on the brink of great things. He’s a musician and a songwriter. He and Marcy have a connection when he’s in New York, and she inspires him to write music, because she wears a pink dress to this concert where they meet. That later becomes an inspiration for his hit song.

Eleanor Wells: And it’s really about how the choices we make affect other people and things in ways that we can’t even comprehend or would really even plan. The hit song is called Life In Pink. And what that’s really a reflection of is how art is a mechanism that we can all filter our experiences through. And then Marcy is an actress too, and she’s a painter, and she has all these artistic aspirations that she doesn’t really know what to do with either, so she’s always looking for ways that she can filter her experiences through her art.

Eleanor Wells: I would say, as far as why people should read it, I hope it’s a reflection on growing up, this really tender time in our life from our late teens to our early to mid-20s, when we’re figuring out how to establish ourselves as adults. And really this idea that everything that we’ve experienced in the past, it leads us to the point that we’re at in this fleeting moment that is the present. We make mistakes, we do things, but they’re all a part of our path.

Eleanor Wells: It’s finite, but that’s also part of the beauty of it, is that we experience things and they don’t last forever. But maybe there’s a way they can. That’s just the main thing I want people to reflect on. And that happens in so many different ways for different people.

On final things to know about All Our Yesterdays

Ayla Ruby:  That’s such a beautiful sentiment, and I’m going to sit with that a little bit and think of that.  Is there anything else you want people to know or anything you’re working on next, or how do they get the book?

Eleanor Wells:  Yeah, sure. It’s available for Kindle pre-order on Amazon right now. I can send you a few links and such too. You can follow me on socials. I have two short films out. I’ve got some stuff in the works that will hopefully be out soon. I hope everyone picks up the book and loves it or just at least finds something of value in it.

Ayla Ruby:  Awesome. Thank you so much.

All Our Yesterdays will release on June 26, 2024.

You can preorder the book and learn more about Eleanor Wells at her website. 

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