Author of The Star-Crossed Series, an eBook series.
I recently read the Star-Crossed series on my Nook and I have to say that I couldn't put it down. Rarely do I contact the author of a book that I've read, but this time I did.
Luckily for me, she actually responded and agreed to be interviewed.
Thank you, Rachel, for allowing me to post your interview.
- Where do you get your ideas? They come from everything. I don't think there is one thing in my life that doesn't inspire me. Part of the problem is, I am always writing in my head so music and movies area always pushing me to develop a new scene in my head. But also, I pull a lot from conversations with other people, words they use that I like, or how they're dressed or a specific mannerism I find endearing or annoying. I draw a lot from my past experiences. I traveled some before I got married and I try to bring all of the places I've been to into my stories. There isn't anything in my life that doesn't inspire me, the story is always playing inside and so every day experience is the catalyst I need to find new ideas or tweak old ones.
- When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer? I knew I wanted to be a writer from a very young age. I started writing poetry and plays when I was in elementary school. I have one very distinct memory of a full-length play I finished, a sequel to Alice in Wonderland. I was in fourth grade and as soon as I "perfected" it, I got all of the neighborhood kids in the middle of the street, practicing scenes and building props. Writing has always been that perfect place for me, where I can find clarity and complete joy.
- What’s the most critical step when you go from an idea to a book? Writing it down immediately. My brain doesn't turn off, I am always thinking of the next story, or the next scene and so if I don't write it down on paper whenever something good comes in to my head, I lose it! I carry a notebook around with me wherever I go. I am a mother of three little ones, and there are a million things floating around in my brain, so my notebook is absolutely essential to writing. If it's not in my notebook, when I finally get a chance to sit down at the computer, it's completely gone and chances are I will never find it again. Paper is also a great place to plot out the book. I can write ideas, and scratch them out and then re-write them. I absolutely adore check lists, so when I'm writing a book I am always surrounded by them and after a chapter I can go back and check off each point I wanted to make sure I got across.
- What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Write what you know. I know this is a very common piece of advice amongst writers, but I am not sure there is any greater truth. Readers want authenticity, and I think the best way to give a reader what they want, no matter the subject matter is to truly believe in what you are writing. Even if the setting/plot is completely fictional, the writer has to be the expert. I think this is true even to the core of the protagonist, the deeper you know the hero/heroine, the more genuine they will appear to the reader. Sometimes I feel like I'm writing an autobiography instead of fiction, but for me, it's the only way I can assure the reader they are getting the best version of their hero. The same for places, I try my best to only write about places I have actually been to, that way I can describe much more than a two dimensional Internet picture. I want to give the reader a specific feeling and emotion for every sense, from background noises to smells to the way different seasons feel. I want every description to be as authentic as possible.
- Did you go through self-publishing or a traditional publisher? What is better? This is an excellent question, and I am not sure I know the answer. I've definitely read both sides of the argument and for me personally I self-published with the hopes of one day soon getting traditionally published. Both have their upsides and both have their downsides. I think every writer needs to explore and research which path is right for them, the answer will be different for everybody.
- What is the biggest misconception about being a writer? That writing the book is the hardest part. The creative part of the process should flow naturally out of you and be the fun part. I don't mean that it's not hard work, because doing anything great is hard work. But it's not the hardest part. The most difficult part of being a writer is following your dream, doing all of the grunt work that it takes to see your book in print. And that means whether you want to be traditionally published and have to take the time to edit and re-edit and revise and rewrite and query hundreds of agents and wait patiently for answers and face rejection after rejection, or even self-publish and do all of the work yourself, writing, editing, cover art, book blurbs, publicity, managing.... Either way, to see your dream through is the hardest part and you will face a lot of rejection. So, writing the book, that's the easy part! Seeing it through until you've reached your dream is the hardest work you will every do.
- What did you do before you became a writer? Before I was a writer, I was a nanny. My husband and I were just married and I was finishing college. I worked as a nanny until my second child and then I worked from home for a while. I wrote two books during that time, but it wasn't until this last March that I decided to self-publish them.
- Do you plot out your novel or do you just go with the flow? I go with the flow! Sometimes I have no idea what is going to come out of my fingers. My first ebook series, The Star-Crossed Series, was conceptualized as something else entirely. I initially sat down to write a story about vampires! But the deeper into the story I got, the less likely it was that vampires would ever appear and at the end of the first book, I kind of sat back and said, "Huh...." And that happens to me a lot! Characters and scenes pop up all the time that I never had one thought about until I sat down. I like to have a clear plan and refer to my notebook, but once my fingers start typing, I don't always know what is going to come out of them!
- Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? I have amazing readers! Seriously, they are the best! I get the sweetest notes all the time from people who just love my characters or hate my characters or are irritated with them! And I love to hear it all! My favorite is when someone has really dissected the story line and will analyze what such and such character has done and why. I love it because it will remind me to think everything through and stay true to who I have designed them to be. So the readers definitely keep me accountable. One thing that I have been absolutely surprised to hear is that a lot of them will say thank you. Every single time I want to write back and say don't thank me! I need to thank you for reading!! But it is very flattering and I am just so appreciative to anyone who reads my stories.
- What do you think makes a good story? Definitely a relatable protagonist. I want to be drawn in with the subject of the story. As a reader, I want to emote with him/her and enter into their world. As long as I feel like I'm standing right there with them I will love the story, no matter what genre or age group it's written for.
- What’s next? I am finishing up The Star-Crossed Series. The third book in the series comes out this month and then the fourth and final book is tentatively set to be out in December! So for now, I have a lot of writing to do! After this series I have two more young adult paranormal series floating around in my brain, begging to be written down! I hope to be writing for a very long time to come.
Thanks again Rachel for allowing me to post your interview, for responding to me when I flattered and flattered you about your book (which you probably thought I was some crazy psycho), and for writing such a great story that I can't seem to stop talking about.