Welcome to my weekly series Author Interviews.
Over recent months some inspirational and amazing writers have sat in my red chair. They have opened my eyes to the world of being a writer, filled my brain with useful tips and made me want to get a book out there.
This week I am proud to say that the author of one of my favourite books ‘The Beauty Thief‘ is sat in my chair, swinging her legs, with a mug of Yorkshire tea in one hand and nibbling on a virtual ginger snap biscuit with the other…
She also hosts a blog and runs the Blog Battles. Here is Rachael Ritchey!
Thanks, Queen Lu! I’m thrilled to be in this big red, super comfy chair! Wow, is it comfy or what?
This is one of those chairs that looks uncomfortable but actually it’s the opposite. The tea and biscuits are fab, too.
Yes…watch the crumbs please!
Tell my readers about yourself and the book / books you have written?
I’m a North Idaho native, born and bred. And, no North Idaho is not its own state, but we still capitalize the ‘n’ in north!
You could say I’m just a simple girl with a simple life and a simple plan. I’m so lucky to be a stay at home mom and have a family that supports my writing endeavors.
I’ve written two books and am working on the third. These stories are for my Chronicles of the Twelve Realms series which is young adult fantasy fiction.
When did you write your first book?
I started writing the first one two and half years ago.
How long did it take to write your first book?
It took three or four months to write it (March was tough with busy life stuff), and then it took another six months to revise, edit, get feedback, revise, edit and have it edited again, then there was the month and a half of formatting for self-publication. In all, it was just over a year from start to finish for that first one.
What was your motivation to write your first book?
Motivation for writing the first one came from eons, ages, years, months, weeks, days, minutes, and seconds of wanting to write but not knowing where to start.
On a totally unrelated subject, there came a cold December day where I couldn’t take it anymore, and it brought about my motivation. I was emotionally disconnected from my family and friends, I felt ugly on the inside, so one day I found myself silently having a serious conversation with God in the van on the way to church. And as I sat there whining about my ugly insides, not to mention how selfish I was feeling, this story started forming in my mind about a princess, the daughter of king, whose beauty is ripped from her, but not just her outer beauty, everything beautiful about her is taken. She’s left an empty shell of who she was, and though she’s surrounded by loving people it isn’t enough to save her.
After a week the story was still floating around in my head.
It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, the crack in the dam, the little ray of sunshine in a gray world.
The Beauty Thief is a constant reminder to me that true beauty comes from the inside and is worth protecting. That’s pretty good motivation.
What writing issues did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?
With the first book you don’t always know what issues you are encountering until you’re up to your neck in them. I had internal issues: letting go of words, sentences, sections, and characters I desperately wanted to keep. I battled against changing the beginning of my book, but did after much internal questioning and feedback from beta readers.
When it came time to get the changes from my editor, she basically told me I needed to rewrite the entire ending, that it was not worthy of the rest of the story. Ugh. She was right. Susan is one smart cookie.
Did you go through any bad writing patches during writing your book – what kept you going?
I mentioned before that March was a tough month because there was a lot going on in life, but it wasn’t really a bad writing patch except that I did almost no writing.
Are you a plotter or do you just write / see what happens?
Plotter vs panster, huh? Oh, I’m a plotter who loves to fly by the seat of my pants.
My process is something like:
Here’s my character, here’s some stuff that will happen along the way, and the ending.
Even though I’ve got a non-standard outline I’m happy to let the characters change my well-laid plans if their choices influences the circumstances. I think it’s a really bad idea to be so married to your plot and outline that you bend the will of your character to match the story instead of letting their personality and background dictate how they handle situations.
The most important part of my plotting is that I keep my mind and writing focused on the end goal of the story, that I don’t lose sight of what the protagonist’s ultimate goal is, and herd the story that direction.
I’m full of metaphorical speak today! I’m not sure if I should apologize about that.
It’s the biscuits! I have a thing for sugar…here let me have some! Carry on..
What is the best thing about being a writer?
It has got to be that I get to imagine and see things in my mind which are unique to me, but then that as a writer I can share it. It’s humbling to make oneself vulnerable by sharing what has been so intimately kept in one’s mind and painstakingly placed on the page.
What is the worst thing about being a writer?
The best is also the worst. It’s humbling to write, to make myself vulnerable by sharing what has been so intimately kept in my mind and painstakingly etched on the page.
Have you ever considered quitting writing, and if so how have you worked through this?
Every few months the thought enters my mind, not because I don’t have a bajillion stories to write, but because I doubt myself and the worthiness of my stories.
Of course, when I consider quitting out loud it makes my stomach ache, Karl scoffs at the idea, and the not-quitter in me rebels against the very image conjured by the words. I guess I just work through it by not giving up just because I’m not 100% always and forever confident. I love writing.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
On days where I am able to focus on novel writing it will typically start with me dragging myself from bed after being accosted, in rapid succession, by my four children before my alarm goes off.
If I set my alarm earlier I’m afraid it would all just start that much earlier, so I leave it be.
After the morning routine and getting the kids off to school I come home and sigh before taking a big sip of coffee, put on my earphones and type away until it’s time to pick up one child from school.
After lunch it’s almost impossible to get in concerted writing time, so I sneak it in where I can, usually after everyone is in bed and asleep.
Do you suffer from procrastination and if so how do you handle it?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t, but generally I give myself deadlines and do my darndest to stick to them.
I have a knack for estimating how much time it will take to finish x, y, and z, which helps me procrastinate as long as I can without causing issue.
It’s easier when I’m accountable to someone else, though, so I try to make others aware of my deadlines so that I’m not just ignoring them.
If I didn’t regulate myself I’d never accomplish anything. I guess that’s part of being an adult. Who else here has jumped on the “I don’t want to adult today. Don’t make me adult today” bandwagon? I’m so there. Come join my band.
Which is more important – plot or characters and why?
I’m a character driven writer, but mostly because I subscribe to the idea that the plot is nothing without the characters. I think both are necessary to have a good story, but I make the characters the biggest priority.
What have been your 3 biggest learnings during your writing career?
1) Getting honest critiques of your work is essential
2) Being a writer means wearing many more hats than just “Writer.” You also wear “Brand Rep,” “Marketer,” “Design Lead,” “Editor,” “Blogger,” and a few more titles that mean you have to talk to people and do things that will take you outside your comfort zone.
3) Balance out your time and don’t neglect the real world too much.
How do you manage social media as a writer?
I think more often than not it manages me.
Social media is a tricky one. It’s important to make writerly homes for yourself at several social media hang outs, but if you overdo it you’ll get lost in the constant need to update everything. I think it’s most important to start with a blog or website where you can always be found and branch from there, so that’s what I do.
Do you have any tips or advice for budding aspiring authors?
Have a plan, learn to brand yourself and your work, be present on social media (e.g. Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and/or etc.), save up for editing fees (this even applies to those authors looking for traditional publishing), don’t give up, and keep writing.
When it comes to the writing itself, push yourself beyond the bounds of what you’re comfortable with because it will make you a better writer. It might stink at first, but you’ll grow.
Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so how do you overcome?
Not usually. I have moments of indecision or find certain scenes difficult to write, but I’m not blocked so much as fighting against the story, I suppose.
Do you ever think of the next book whilst writing?
Constantly. I’m writing a series so I am thinking forward and backward as I write. It helps to keep the story’s plot points in line and not veer too far from the beaten path.
What do you wear to write?
Whatever I put on before dropping the kids off at school (i.e. jeans, T-shirt, skirt, blouse…whatever). On occasion jammies. I don’t have a special hat or booties or tie or anything, though the thought is intriguing. Maybe I should get a special something or other to only wear when writing. What do you think? Maybe a feathered cap? Maybe a diamond bracelet? Maybe special underwear or a lucky sock?
Thanks for this fab interview! I could listen to you for hours.
If readers want to get in touch how do they contact you?
Thanks so much for having me in the big red chair today, my blonde friend. I hope you don’t mind if I close my eyes for a bit while I’m sitting here.
All this talk and tea has been so relaxed and enjoyable that I could use a wee nap. Cheers and all that!
Psst..wake up…I have to do my really important bit now!
I loved this interview Rachael. I liked how the idea for the ‘Beauty Thief’ came to appear in your mind. Your tips on writing are really useful and I like how with writing a series you are always looking forwards and backwards. I think a feathered cap would be a great writing outfit accessory.
Your book ‘The Beauty Thief’ is fab!
Thank you so much!
I am just going to grab my virtual hand held vac to hoover up those crumbs…sigh!
Next week Chris Mentzer sits in my red chair!
I don’t know whether anyone has picked up on this but I have been nominated for Funniest Blogger in the ABBA Awards. I do like to keep things quiet…and not broadcast stuff….like a shy mouse – me! Sigh!
If you want to vote please click here. Rachael is also nominated in the Book Reviewer category.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/79577679@N00/5448848999″>the chair in the attic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>