Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Rebecca: When I was a kid I made a “Velt Book” out of felt. In sixth grade, I started a novel similar to the Encyclopedia Brown series, I even illustrated it.
Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?
Rebecca: I graduated from BYU with a degree in Communications—my oldest son believes I over-communicate J. I’ve taken classes from the Institute of Children’s Literature and Writer’s Digest. I’ve written numerous children’s magazine stories and articles, some of which have appeared online and in the Friend. I am the author of a children’s picture book, Grasshopper Pie, as well as three novels, Heaven Scent, Altared Plans, and my newest release, The Upside of Down.
Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?
Rebecca: I have to get the stories in my head out on paper or they won’t leave me alone. I hear my characters talking to each other and, some days, they drive me nuts. I have to write their stories so they can stop talking in my head. I also love to create worlds and people, especially if I can include a theme that’s important to me. I can’t imagine not writing.
Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Rebecca: I worked on my first novel on and off for years while I read how-to books, attended conferences, took classes, and met other writers. Before the internet (yes, I’m that old—I remember life before the internet) I was pretty isolated, but as soon as I was able to connect with writers online, I learned so much. It took me about 10 years from the time I decided I wanted to be serious about writing until I had my picture book published. A few years later, my first novel, Heaven Scent, was published by CFI.
Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Rebecca: Discouraged? Absolutely. The Ensign rejected my first official submission and I was crushed. I cried and was sure I’d never write again. My picture book was rejected before it found a publisher as well and I often considered throwing in the towel. After my first novel was published and I received some negative reviews, I considered quitting again, but I just couldn’t do it. I love to write, it’s my outlet and even if I never have another book published, I will continue to write. I write because I love it and that’s what keeps me motivated and helps me through the discouraging times.
Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
Rebecca: Hahahahahaha. I try to write every day M-F. Some days it might be for an hour and other days it might be for 10 minutes. I’m a list person so I keep lists each day with my goals and I include writing in that. I try to get other things done like taking care of kids, housework, laundry, etc., so I can have time to write but that doesn’t always work. I have found that if I trust in the Lord and do my best to serve Him by taking care of my family and doing my calling He will help me find the time to write.
Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Rebecca: My ideas come from my life. Grasshopper Pie was based on an experience when my kids tried to feed me a live grasshopper. Heaven Scent was inspired by my mother who died when I was a little girl. Altared Plans is based loosely on my courtship with my husband. The Upside of Down is about an LDS woman who is raising a large family and includes experiences I’ve had with my kids (they say write what you know J). I play with an idea and plot it out to see if it can sustain a book. If not, I toss it out.
Deirdra: I was really touched by the premise of your book The Up Side of Down. Can you tell us more about it.
Rebecca: The main character, Natalie, thinks she’s spiritually invincible. She’s endured years of her mother’s rude remarks about being LDS and thinks her faith is secure until a series of events pushes her faith to its limits. She learns that she has to fight to reclaim her faith as well as trust in a plan that’s different than she imagined. She also learns that even in trials Heavenly Father sends blessings and that everything is not always as it seems.
Deirdra: It seems like being close to nature, from the ocean to the country, has played a big role in your life. Can you tell us about how your environment shaped you as an author.
Rebecca: I love the ocean. I love the peace that comes from sitting on the shore and listening to the waves lap against the shore. I also love the mountains, especially when the sun rises and paints the snow-capped peaks in shades of pink. We’ve been so blessed with such a beautiful world and I think in nature, away from the city stresses, we can feel Heavenly Father’s presence and bask in His creations. Being in nature has helped me to appreciate my blessings.
Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Rebecca: I have included themes in each of my books and I hope readers will take something from those themes and see how they apply to their own lives. My themes have included eternal families, learning to trust in Heavenly Father’s plan, and seeing beyond someone’s physical limitations.
Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Rebecca: I outline. I’m a planner. I’m not a pantser at all. I sit down and come up with scenes, a narrative of the whole story, character goals, descriptions—I put all those together before I start writing the story, but I leave enough room to adapt my outline as I write.
Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Rebecca: I have such little time to write, I don’t really get writer’s block. I “write” while I’m driving, washing dishes, taking a shower, vacuuming. When I actually sit down at my computer, I already have ideas going.
Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Rebecca: Absolute quiet? What’s that? My house always has noise. I write while Sesame Street is playing, while my kids are practicing piano, while they’re running around playing games, or when my teens are listening to what they call music.
Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Rebecca: I find photos on the internet to help me “see” my characters. I write letters as the characters. I interview my characters. I also talk to my older kids to get ideas for characterization. I also watch movies and read books to get ideas for characterization and plot.
Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Rebecca: After my mother died, a woman became my “second Mom.” Her name was Jeannie and she always encouraged me to write as a teenager. She believed in me. Unfortunately, she died when I was a senior in high school. Since then my husband has been a huge support as well as the rest of my family. They all believe in me and lift me up when I am down. Without my family’s support, I couldn’t accomplish much of anything.
Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Rebecca: I try to base them on real people I know and think about how that person might react. I also think about how I, or my kids, would react in certain situations. I will also ask others if a character’s reaction seems realistic.
Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?
Rebecca: I love that JK Rowling inspired reading again in so many kids. What an incredible imagination. I also admire Suzanne Collins’ ability to pull you right into the story.
Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Rebecca: Nuts—almonds, peanuts— and water.
Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?
Rebecca: Ummmm. I used to play piano and knit but I gave those up. Does changing diapers, doing mountains of laundry, and swishing toilets count? I’ve recently started making jewelry and flower barrettes to spend more time with my kids.
Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Rebecca: Write, write, write. Read, read, read. Attend conferences, network with other writers, take classes. Above all, though, never give up. Keep writing.
Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Rebecca: A YA paranormal for the national market. I’m still in the rough draft/working out the plot kinks stage.
Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Rebecca: Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, LDS Bookstores, eBay.
Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Rebecca: Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to write and have my books published. I feel very blessed and hope I can serve the Lord through my writing. I love to write and I am so happy to be able to share my writing with others. Thank you again!
My website www.rebeccatalley.com