Welcome to the one hundred and seventeenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with wife and husband writing duo Rachelle Reese & John Miller. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hello Rachelle and John. You’re my first husband and wife duo. Can you start please by telling us what about your writing?
R & J: We are currently writing urban fantasy, but we have written horror, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, and even a little poetry.
Morgen: Wow, plenty to choose from. What have you had published to-date?
R & J: Our first book was “Bones of the Woods”, a collection of short stories we published in 2007. Our second book was “Mind of a Mad Man”, which is also a collection of short stories. We have currently published five books in the Dime Store Novel series. The latest is “The Reunion”, which we released in August.
Morgen: Yay, short stories. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
R & J: We do a lot of our own marketing, but we do have some friends who help pass the word through social networks and word of mouth. That really helps.
Rachelle: I belong to a group called Writers that Chat. We help each other in a lot of ways, including marketing.
Morgen: As they say, “it’s not what you know…” Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Rachelle: I won a few competitions years ago and I think they did help boost my confidence.
Morgen: And something to add to the CV (well done, by the way). Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
R & J: No. We think there was a time when they were, but things have changed so much in the last couple years that we believe indie writers can succeed without one.
Morgen: I think you’re right (I’m hoping so anyway). Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
R & J: The Dime Store Novel books are all available as eBooks.
Morgen: They are and thank you for the vouchers; that’s very generous of you.
R&J: We experimented with eBooks by converting some individual stories from the collections, but we plan to convert both short story collections in their entirety this fall. The process is getting easier, but we still feel like we have a lot to learn about formatting our eBooks so that they work really well on all readers.
Morgen: I do get the feeling that’s it’s going to be a learning curve for me too.
Rachelle: Yes, I do read eBooks.
John: I’m still lagging behind.
Morgen: I got as far as buying one but rarely use it. What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Rachelle: My first acceptance was a prose poem entitled “Blacks and Whites are Red All Over”. And yes, being accepted is still a thrill.
John: Yes, still lagging behind.
Morgen: That’s funny John. Have either / both of you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Rachelle: Too many to count. I used to paper the walls them, but now they’re just in a box.
John: I feel they are a way to grow as a writer.
Morgen: Absolutely. Mine are in an 80-sided sleeve display book, so far only one book but I have more books at the ready. What are you working on at the moment / next?
John: “Striking Angels”, which is the sequel to “Angels in Hell’s Kitchen”. Also, a story I have not yet named…it’s a departure from what I usually write and is based on a biblical story. I’m also working on Metal ‘n Flesh, which is a steampunk graphic novel.
Rachelle: I’m less of a multi-tasker. I’m working on “Dirty Money”, which is the sequel to “The Reunion”.
Morgen: Series are popular – agents love series. Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Rachelle: I only wish. I don’t count words, so I can’t tell you exactly, but it was enough to wring me dry, emotionally and physically.
Morgen: Oh dear.
John: Currently no, not every day. I would like to, but I am also in the midst of rendering 3D scenes for trailers and for the graphic novel.
Morgen: Oh wow. It sounds like you’re a great team. What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
R & J: The only cure is a good dry champagne and an afternoon away from the computer.
Morgen: To recharge the batteries. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
John: A little of both.
Rachelle: Actually, we plot a bit together and then we go off running. My characters drive the story after that.
Morgen: They do do that don’t they? I love it when that happens. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
R & J: We discuss the characters a lot and try to give them flaws and quirks to make them believable. As for the paranormals, we look to nature for our main inspiration.
Morgen: A lot of writers do, especially poets. Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
R & J: Each other.
Morgen: You’re so lucky. My housemate isn’t overly responsive. He thinks everything’s great, especially when accompanied by a treat. He’s a 10-year-old Jack Russell-cross. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
R & J: John: Rachelle does all the editing for me. It’s hard for me to read because of my dyslexia.
Rachelle: I edit John’s words a lot. Mine, not so much. We do perform a read-aloud edit of each book before it goes out. We find we catch a lot of inconsistencies that way.
Morgen: Isn’t it amazing what a difference that makes. I’ve just recorded a red pen podcast episode and although I’ve read the story through while critiquing it I spotted other things (good and ‘needing word’) when I recorded it. Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Rachelle: I nearly always write on the computer. Even I cannot read my handwriting.
Morgen: Mine’s not too bad, it’s just really slow.
John: I write on the computer. Actually I speak my stories. Rachelle gave me Dragon Speaking Naturally for Christmas last year and it has really helped.
Morgen: I bought that but found the TV interrupted it but more annoyingly I was a faster typer although I understand that it takes a while to get used to your voice and commands but it sits in a box. I’ve been a Secretary for the past 20-something years so average 70wpm, enough to match my brain speed. What sort of music do you listen to when you write?
John: Pink Floyd.
Morgen: Yay, a man after my own heart. I wouldn’t have said that they were my favourite group until I realised that they’re the one artist (group) that I have more than any other (closely followed, I think, by Coldplay).
Rachelle: Sometimes I listen to music that complements what I’m writing. For example, Regan Worth’s muse is Amy Winehouse. However, most times, I write in silence so I can hear the rhythms of speech.
Morgen: Silence seems to work for a lot of my previous interviewees; I was quite surprised actually. I tend to be a classical writer. Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
R & J: Sometimes. It really depends on the story.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
John: Oh yeah. I have too many stories in my head.
Rachelle: Possibly. Although I’d really like to write and publish them all – even if I only blog it.
Morgen: Good idea. I only started this blog at the end of March this year but hadn’t a clue how it was going to change my life. Sorry, that sounds so melodramatic. Most of my spare time is spent involved with it which, I admit, is to the detriment of my writing but I’ve met so many great people doing it. It’s worth every second. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
John: My favorite is the joy we give our readers.
Rachelle: My favorite is the flow. When the story is writing itself and I’m lost in its emotion, it’s exhilarating.
Morgen: I’d agree with that.
John: My least favorite is when a reader tells me the story is not done.
Morgen: Oh no! That’s a bit mean. If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
John: People wanting to appear as characters in the story.
Morgen: Oh wow. Cathy Kelly did that as a competition prize once; to have a character named after a member of the public. I entered but no joy. I’m not sure who won – maybe there’s one of her books out there with a Albert Finkernickel or Belinda Bullthwait in it, but then would we know the difference? Maybe she picks her names from her spam emails like a lot of writers do. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Rachelle: Don’t let fear stop you. If you have a story to tell, tell it.
John: As Stephen King would say, write for the love, not for the money.
Morgen: Because there isn’t much for most of us. No, I agree; it has to be for the passion. What do you like to read? Any authors you could recommend?
Rachelle: I am a voracious reader and there are far too many authors to list here. Some of my favorites include Margaret Atwood, Anne Rice, Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut, and Stephen King.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?
R & J: We raise cattle, garden, take walks in the woods, go wine tasting, and play roleplaying games.
Rachelle: I love to dance.
John: 3D rendering.
Morgen: Pardon me? 3D rendering? Ah, thank you Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_rendering) – I love those photographs, especially of the ‘ray-traced image’. In which country are you based?
R & J: We’re in the United States.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Rachelle: I’m on pretty much all the social networks. I have met some wonderful people that way.
Morgen: Me too… isn’t it great? Where can we find out about you and your work?
R & J: We have several Web sites:
We also have a blog:
Morgen: Thank you for those. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
R & J: We believe indie writers are making a strong show and will continue to do so.
Morgen: I agree (and I plan to be one shortly). Well, thank you both for talking with me today.
I invited Rachelle and John for an extract of their writing and this is from ‘The Reunion’.
“Breathe in,” Toledo Cats spoke almost in a whisper. The young woman lying on the bed inhaled sharply. Sweat glistened on her pale forehead. Her blonde hair clung to one cheek in limp ringlets. “Hold it.” Toledo put her hand on the woman’s swollen belly and looked into her eyes. “He is ready to join us. Let your breath out slowly and push him gently toward the world.”
The woman exhaled and pushed, letting out a stream of expletives.
“Why, Amy Belle, if your mother could hear you say those things, you’d be tasting her lavender soap,” Mama Cats scolded gently from her position at the foot of the bed.
“It hurts, Mama Cats. You don’t know how it hurts,” the woman cried.
“Oh, but I do know. You think Toledo here showed up in my cabbage patch? I’ve been where you are with no one near as experienced as me to ease things along. Now this time when you breathe in, do it slowly. Smell the lavender, rose, and jasmine in the air and think about how pretty those flowers look.” Mama Cats moved up to Amy’s side and took her hand. “You take my place, Toledo.”
I love the dialogue… thanks again.
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