Welcome to the three hundred and twenty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with fantasy and science-fiction author Rachel Cooper. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Rachel. Please tell us something about yourself, and how you came to be a writer.
Rachel: Hi there, I’m a compulsive dreamer in sunny Australia. I have always been a big reader and because of this I’ve always had the compulsion to write stories of my own.
Morgen: I used to read a lot in my teens (Stephen King mostly) and other than limericks for colleagues in my 20s, it never occurred to me to write until I went to evening classes in my 30s (definitive light bulb moment). I was clearly missing out all those year. What genre do you generally write, Rachel?
Rachel: Fantasy and science fiction because that is what I prefer to read. I sit down to write something else and it always turns out having elements of fantasy.
Morgen: They’re both very popular. What have you had published to-date?
Rachel: My self-published début novella, called ‘We Of The Universe,’ has just been published on Amazon and Smashwords.
Morgen: How exciting. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with rejection?
Rachel: I’ve had a few for short stories I’ve sent out to magazines that have received form rejections. Rejection is hard for me, because I immediately take it back onto myself. Fear of failure is something that I have been trying to get a grip on for a while. I’m trying to get myself in the mind frame that everyone has their own opinions and my work is not going to appeal to every body. It should be interesting getting my first negative review.
Morgen: I’ve had a couple of those on Goodreads recently (1* because they couldn’t go any lower), one of which said that my story (Feeding The Father) had put her off reading me for life. Initially I was disappointed but then I found it quite amusing that someone would feel so strongly. Sadly it dragged down the average of a 4* review but hey, at least I’m being read (although not by that lady anymore ). But yes, it’s just one person’s opinions and that’s what I say in my Short Story Saturday reviews and my podcast red pen episodes. Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Rachel: My work is only available in ebook format. I read both paper and electronic versions of work. I have trouble letting go of paper books because I grew up with them. I am not however too stagnated in my ways to appreciate what a good invention ereaders are.
Morgen: Aren’t they great. I’ve only had a Kindle since January but I love the fact that I can’t damage the spines of eBooks. And of course having 400+ books with me at any one time. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Rachel: I am still learning a lot about marketing and branding. I am not going to be doing too much of either until I get some more work up and I’ve got some solid reviews. Building a brand without work to back it up seems a waste to me.
Morgen: I’m exactly the same. I’ve not touted myself (other than the blog itself) as my novels aren’t online yet. That’s the master plan for the next few weeks. If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Rachel: Hmmmmm, for the three main viewpoint characters it would be:
Captain Haslow – George Clooney
Marta – Emily Blunt
Legeve – Yvonne Strahovski
Morgen: I don’t know Yvonne but good old Wikipedia told me she was in the TV series ‘Chuck’ so that would explain it. And the title / cover of your book? How important do you think they are?
Rachel: I created my cover on my own. I think they are very important. I myself choose or ignore a book by the cover on the front. Titles aren’t that important. The only thing I want from a title is it’s not boring or generic.
Morgen: I love titles but I don’t not buy because of them – I even bought James Patterson’s ‘The Quickie’ (which I think is a terrible title) not read it yet though but having it co-written by Michael Letwidge helped (he co-wrote ‘Step on a Crack’ which I thought was brilliant). What are you working on at the next?
Rachel: The next book in the ‘We of The Universe,” trilogy. Also a dark, gothic novel and a fantasy work.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Rachel: I’m currently studying to be a teacher and I have a six-month old, so I’m not getting done as much writing I would like. Unless essays count. I’ve found writer’s block exists for a reason. If I try to be too analytical about a story, instead of letting the story just happen is when writing block happens to me.
Morgen: Fantasy’s often have very elaborate plots, do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Rachel: I start with a story seed from creative visualization and then I write from there, using picture or quote prompts if I get stuck.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking?
Rachel: I prefer third person to read and write with. First person is difficult but I have read some books where the author has done it well. Hats off to them.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Rachel: Cleopatra, to see what the appeal was. Was she beautiful or did she just have a beautiful mind?
Herodotus because he’d be so interesting to talk to. I’ve read ‘The Histories.’ and they are just so entertaining. Not really fact driven history but he sure knew how to tell a good tale.
My Great Grandma Hilda because she led such an interesting yet sad life. I’m a bit of a family history buff and she is the person who has captured my imagination the most. She had four husbands, one of whom was a bigamist. All of her husbands were at least forty years older than her.
I would cook roast duck, with date stuffing, with gravy. I think that would appeal to all three and if not I’ll just eat it all.
Morgen: Wow, your Great Grandma Hilda sounds fascinating – definitely a story there. Cleopatra has been one of the most popular choices – I bet she’d be thrilled. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Rachel: Que Sera Sera, Whatever will be will be, the futures not ours to see, Que Sera Sera.
Morgen: Ah yes, Doris Day. Are there any writing-related websites or books that you find useful?
Rachel: The Artist Way by Julia Cameron is a great book for those who wish to get more in touch with your creative side. Chuck Wendig at Terribleminds is great for writers who want to be told how it is, with the cussing and swearing included. Mur Lafferty at I Should Be Writing is also a great motivational resource.
Morgen: I Should Be Writing was one of the first podcasts I listened to and definitely an influence on starting my own. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Rachel: I want to one day be able to write as a job but until then to have people read and enjoy my work… priceless.
Morgen: And even better when they get in touch. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Rachel: I don’t have a website as yet. It’s something I’m working on.
Morgen: I’d highly recommend a blog with WordPress. I have a website as well but just leave it as a static page with contact form as the software with this blog is SO much easier, and it’s free. Thank you, Rachel.
I then invited Rachel to include an extract of her / his writing…
“Weavers are dropping like flies,” the captain said to the ship girl, “so either they’re all weak girls, which is always a possibility, or I’ve found yet another probe.”
The ship girl sat in a metal chair, a plotted hologram of space spiralling around her head. Every now and then its position changed, as the ship girl looked at it from a different angle. “Another probe,” she said simply, “locating its position.”
You never got much good conversation out of ship girls. Their minds were too busy working along the lines of the ship — maintaining shields, life support systems, relaying instructions to the personnel. The implant they received at the start of their traineeships took away most of the communication part of their brain. Talking to them was rather like talking to the now defunct ship’s computers of old, and the captain often had to remind himself that he was speaking to a human.
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