Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Interview with Author Rachel McClellan

Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Rachel: For as long as I can remember, I’ve always written stories. My first one I wrote was on the inside of my mother’s womb. It was called “When I Get Out”. It didn’t do so well. As for being an author, I didn’t know I wanted to be one until 2007 when I traveled to Ireland. Something magical happened their on the Cliffs of Moher, and I’ve never been the same.

Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?

Rachel: I’ve studied everything I can on the art of writing, including other author’s novels. It’s important to study how other authors develop their characters, begin a story, explain their world, etc. As for an education, I think I attended a couple of years of college. Can’t really remember, wink, wink.

Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Rachel: Cursed (or blessed) by the magical forces of Ireland, I returned home and wrote two books in nine months. One was a sequel to the first. Like many first time authors, I thought my book would be the next big thing, but as luck would have it a little book called Twilight suddenly became a huge success. Why did this affect me? Because my books had a vampire in it. I decided not to query them until things settle down in the market. This was a little discouraging, but I already had my next novel underway.

Meanwhile I began another project called Fractured Light (originally titled By the Light of the Moon, but the publisher helped me find a better name, thankfully). I queried this one to 50 agents. Three requested full manuscripts, two of those rejected, but one wanted me to fix the first 100 pages to include more conflict. I did this, but when I went to resubmit the work, the agent said they had just signed someone else with similar content to my book. A little discouraging, but I didn’t dwell. I’d already started my next project and was excited for it.

I decided to shelf Fractured Light, but before I banished it to the closet I thought I’d try submitting to a smaller publisher that came highly recommended. Within two weeks of submitting to Cedar Fort Publishing, they contacted me and made an offer.

Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Rachel: Of course! I was most discouraged when I realized the path to getting published was long and hard, but then I asked myself, “If I don’t get published, will I still write?” The answer was yes. Taking this pressure off me has made writing more enjoyable.

Deirdra: As a mom, what is your writing schedule like?

Rachel: When I’m red hot, I write from 6:00 to 8:00 in the morning, or whenever the kids wake up, and then at night from 10:00 to midnight. When I’m slothing it up, I write when I have a few spare minutes – usually in the bathroom. But no matter what happens, I always write every day, even if it’s just a sentence (because the sentence always turns into more).

Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book Fractured Light?
Rachel: I’d love to. In fact, I’ll share my actual query letter to agents that got 3 full requests, and two partials. Honestly, it could’ve been stronger, but whatever. I hate query letters. J

Seventeen-year-old Llona Reese thought dealing with her parents’ murder would be the hardest thing she’d ever overcome. She was wrong.

Following their death, Llona moves frequently in order to protect her identity as an Aura, a female gifted with the power of light. She’d rather be on the move than attend Lucent Academy where her kind are kept hidden. The Auran Council believes Aura’s are special and shouldn’t participate in today's competitive world where people only want to be better than others. They also want to hide the Aura’s to protect them from Vykens—ancient beings who hunt them to gain more power. But Llona wants nothing to do with Lucent and their warped ideas. She wants to live a normal life despite the fact that she can manipulate light and absorb its energy, making her stronger and faster especially during a full moon.

It’s only been a few months since her latest move to Bountiful, Utah when Llona stumbles upon the scene of a brutal murder eerily similar to her mothers. Suspecting her identity has been uncovered by a Vyken, Llona chooses to break the Aura’s number one rule and use her sacred gift as a weapon. It’s either that or suffer the same fate as her parents.

Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?

Rachel: At least four. A good beta reader is a treasure.

Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

Rachel: Interesting question. I could say something really cool (or lame) here, like “After reading my book, I want readers to know they can accomplish anything by following their hearts.” Really I just want readers to enjoy the world I’ve created. If they get something more from it, as I did, then awesome.

Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Rachel: Must. Have. Music. I’m convinced that in every musical note there are characters shouting for their story to be told.

Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Rachel: It started with my mother who shared her passion for writing with me, but now I have close friends and sisters who encourage me on, too.

Deirdra: What authors do you admire, and why?
Rachel: I love authors who have helped shape my writing:

Dean Koontz for his brilliant character development in the book Odd Thomas.

Markus Zusak for the way he made words come alive in the book The Book Thief.

Robert Louis Stevenson for his brilliant insight into a man’s mind in the book Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

And C.S. Lewis for making me a better person in the book Mere Christianity. I write better because of it.

Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Rachel: Food is too distracting for me. I chow before and after writing.

Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?

Rachel: I love running, racquetball, volleyball, basketball and football. I also enjoy cooking and making dipped chocolates. I also love to throw parties. Is that considered a talent or a hobby?

Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?

Rachel: Don’t get hung up on your first book. Do the best you can, query it and move on. It’s hard, but your next book will be so much better for it. You can always go back to it, but you’ll quickly find you love your new characters as much as you did your original ones.

Deirdra: What are you working on now?

Rachel: A novel titled “Confessions of a Cereal Mother” is currently with beta readers. While I’m waiting for it to come back, I’m working on a dark, urban fantasy called “Unleashed”. Of all my books this has been my most favorite to write.

Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Rachel: I have a horror short story called “Simon Says” that’s being published in an anthology titled “After Dark: A Collection of Haunting Tales.” This book will be out anytime and can be purchased on Diversion Press’s website: http://www.diversionpress.com/. Fractured Light will be out February 2012 and can be purchased at the usual outlets – Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Rachel: Know what’s most important in your life and prioritize accordingly. For many of us writing is a passion, but don’t sacrifice your family or friends to do it.

6 comments:

  1. Don’t get hung up on your first book. Do the best you can, query it and move on.

    Excellent advice, Rachel. Really enjoyed the interview and your query letter - thanks for sharing that, as well.

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  2. Great interview. Will you be doing some book signings and I would love to meet you! ;) I've heard so many good things about you. Can't wait for Fractured Light to come out!!!

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  3. Great interview… Rachel has helped me more than she knows, and more than I can express. Can’t wait to read her book, thx a ton!!

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  4. I write while listening to music also. Helps with the creative process. :) Great interview!

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  5. Excited for your book!
    You are very talented!

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