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Shelby Van Pelt Books In Order

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Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

The Carnival Fish (2019)
Crush Season (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Remarkably Bright Creatures (2022)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Anthologies

Hope: An Anthology of Hopeful Stories and Poetry(2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Shelby Van Pelt is a general fiction author that is best known for her debut novel “Remarkably Bright Creatures” which was published in 2022.

She first got interested in books when she was still a child. In her childhood years, she was a huge lover of “The Westing Game” as she was fascinated by the mystery and wordplay in the work.
Even as an adult, he is still thrilled by the mystery when she reads the book, which still finds a place in her home library. She also loves how the author pens her characters even as she makes use of several points of view while making everything seem so natural.

Up to this day, she still gets awed by Elen Raskin’s talent in making people care for more than a dozen characters in her story. As such, she considers the work one of her biggest influences in formulating her attitude toward plot and character.

Another huge influence on the young author has to be the “Point Defiance Aquarium and Zoo,” which she used to visit a lot while she was growing up in Tacoma.
Shelby Van Pelt loved to hang out there for long periods and she used to sit all alone in the dark looking at the jellyfish in their tanks. She loved that it was personal even if it was dark.
Today Van Pelt makes her home in the American Midwest. However, “Remarkably Bright Creatures,” her debut novel finds its inspiration in the Pacific Northwest landscape, where she grew up and her visits to the old aquarium.

Shelby has said that her love for animals started a long time ago, which perhaps informs her decision to pen her debut novel on animals.

She is a lover of anything cuddly and cute and as a kid, she used to be the weirdo with a bedroom filled with lizards of all kinds and reptile tanks.

She always found it funny when some of her friends came over to her house and they would hear some crickets singing in the basement. Some would usually escape from their tanks and seek finer ambiance and there was nothing she could do about it.

As an adult, she has become a cat person and considers her two felines her siblings given that they are very attached to her and to each other. They usually follow her around and hang out with her even when she is writing her novels.

Shelby usually does most of her writing at night when most of the people in her household have gone to bed and hence she will usually bounce off her ideas on the cats.

Nonetheless, most of her queries are met with a bored stare and she believes octopuses and cats are alike in that respect and many others.

The inspiration for Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel came from a viral video she watched in 2015. The video was that of an octopus that was struggling to escape its tank at the Seattle Aquarium.
Van Pelt was so struck by the video that it stuck in her mind for weeks. She then started researching octopus behavior on the internet and the deeper she went into the rabbit hole, the more fascinated she became.

One particular program involved an octopus and several other octopi that were determined to outsmart their keepers. She thought the octopus would make for a very interesting character.

It was then that she started hearing exasperated and snarky voices in her head telling her to pen something about her octopus. Soon after that, she decided to enroll in her first-ever creative writing class.
When the tutor gave the class a writing assignment, he instructed them to pen something from an unusual perspective.

Shelby thought that she would become the octopus seeking to escape from its human captors and showcase her frustrations at the humans who she made out to be inferior species as compared to herself.
It was this story that would birth the first chapter of her debut novel “Remarkably Bright Creatures.”

But she still has to figure out her human characters, which is when things got more complicated. It was not easy writing about human characters since she was very green.
While she started out writing a story about an octopus, it ended up becoming a story about some remarkable humans too.

The octopus provides the perspective from which we can look at ourselves with more clarity and a little distance.

“Remarkably Bright Creatures” by Shelby Van Pelt is a brilliant work that introduces 70-year-old cleaning lady Tova who is employed at an aquarium.

She is in mourning following the recent loss of her husband and she has never gotten over the son who went missing about three decades ago.

One of the animals she has to take care of is a giant Pacific octopus named Marcellus, who is about to come to the end of his short life.

The octopus has never been out of the aquarium, even though he has been known to leave his tank and visit other tanks in the aquarium to find some tasty snacks.

The newest employee at the aquarium is Cameron, a man who is trying to find a father that was never in his life.

The author alternates between the several characters in the story which makes for a very enjoyable story. However, Marcellus has to be the star of the show with his grumpy old man vibes and his heart of gold.

The lives of the employees and residents of the aquarium intertwine to create a feel-good heartwarming story that also comes with a mystery.

Marcellus takes center stage in trying to resolve the mystery but it will be difficult trying to piece the many pieces of the puzzle together.

He casts the picture of a curmudgeonly old man but it is clear that he has a soft spot for Tova with whom he has developed a strong bond.

It makes for a delightful and charming story that will put a smile on the faces of its readers.

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