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Artist Spotlight- An Interview with Chelsea Dunkelberger, Author of “As If, Creeper”

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Chelsea Dunkelberger doesn’t like creepers. Like too many women, she’s had to deal with pervy old neighbors, obnoxious bar bros, crazy ex-boyfriends, and a dead-beat baby-daddy she now refers to only as “sperm donor”. Now the 25 year old author from Lockport is happy to debut her first book inspired by her own life, As If, Creeper, which she wrote and self-published, and which she’ll be present for a book signing of at the Pulp 716 bookstore in Lockport this Saturday.

The light-hearted first-person manuscript charts her awkward years going through puberty, her difficulties surviving high school, and her disastrous dating experiences afterwards. It details her fair share of unwanted advances, horrible dates, and terrible encounters with creepers in a manner that’s funny and honest.

Chelsea and I both went to Starpoint High School and had always been friendly, but I hadn’t spoken with her for many years until a few months ago when she reached out to me asking for the opinion of a fellow writer on her book. I had fond memories of the time we spent together in Mr. Gielow’s study hall. He was awesome and we liked making fun of him for the awkward shirtless photos of him which appear in the insert of his band’s CD back when he was a recording musician in the 90s. We liked a lot of the same movies, mostly those of the horror and action genre (she still cites Tremors as a big favorite.) We liked anything that was weird and violent and employed lots of swear words because that’s how we were back then, too. “I lived with my father and older brother so being a girly girl was never an option” she writes in her book.

I was really happy to hear from her and excited to read As If, Creeper. It was a very enjoyable read and even though movies are my thing with Artvoice I knew immediately I wanted to interview her about the book and what inspired her to write. She took time out of her busy schedule to meet me for coffee. Always the writer, she was busy journaling as I walked into Starbucks to see her for the first time since those days in study hall.

“When I began writing the book I was working a part-time job and pretty bored with it, but I always loved writing in my spare time and telling stories. My friends always enjoyed hearing me tell stories about my bad dating experiences and some of the crazy situations I’ve been in, so they also encouraged me to share those stories,” explains Chelsea. “My hope is that girls who read this will be entertained, but also that they can feel encouraged knowing that their own bad experiences with creepers are not unique to them. Ideally they can even pick up on the warning signs I describe so that they can avoid getting into relationships with similar guys in the first place.”

“First and foremost, I just want to apologize on behalf of my entire gender for putting you through all the things you went through in the book”, I said right away. “That’s all right,” she said laughing. “You were never a creeper so you have nothing to apologize for.” All the same, As If, Creeper would be a valuable read for young man as well, as it’s a perfect text on how NOT to treat women under any circumstances.

Although the events detailed in As If, Creeper are mostly funny, many of Chelsea’s own life experiences that she doesn’t explore in great detail in the book are far less amusing. She became pregnant with her daughter when she was 19 and worked hard to raise and support her in the following years. Despite the struggles of being a single mother and the negative experiences and disappointments she’s faced due to men, Chelsea’s ability to find humor in even the worst of times proves very inspiring. She’s hard at work on her second book and hopeful As If, Creeper will receive more widespread exposure in time. She also hopes to someday write a script adapting it as a movie or TV series.

I always thought Chelsea was an awesome person, but after reading her book and sitting down and hearing her story first-hand, I now think she’s a role model and inspiration to young women as well. She is the featured artist of the week at the coffee shop and comic book store Pulp 716. It’s about a half hour drive from Buffalo and she will be present there Saturday, August 18th, at 2pm for a book signing. As If, Creeper is also available through Amazon.

Also she has a boyfriend, so if you’re a creeper and reading this don’t get any ideas.

“You have to go through some creepers to find a keeper”, I mused at one point during our conversation. For the record, Chelsea, you still have permission to use that line in your next book.