In this world of young adult writing, there are many fantastical stories about otherworldly creatures, good versus evil and the fact that truth will prevail. And then there is the reality of our world, which holds more secrets and stories than any mystical tale in a far-away land. This is where YA author Cheryl Rainfield holds court.
While Rainfield writes both YA realistic and YA fantasy novels, she has a particular skill for telling tales of the real, the powerful and the painful moments that many teenagers might experience.
“My YA realistic novels (SCARS and STAINED), are edgy, gritty – they address painful subjects honestly and with emotion. My YA fantasy (HUNTED) is a paranormal fantasy/dystopian – still addressing some painful issues, but in a world where paranormal powers are illegal.”
For Rainfield, writing and being a writer is a huge part of who she is. She started writing as a child, carrying it through her teen years and found it to be her voice.
“(Writing was my voice), my way of talking when my abusers silenced me,” said Rainfield, whose personal experience at the hands of abuse and oppression give her characters the reality that is needed to keep her stories genuine.
“For all my books, I write about subjects I deeply care about, and that I’ve been through – self-harm, sexual abuse, being queer, torture, oppression, abduction, abuse. I don’t think of them as controversial – I think of them as things many people have gone through and that there needs to be greater understanding and compassion about.
“I come from an insider perspective (though that isn’t necessary to write good fiction), and I don’t shy away from my emotion or emotional truths; I put them into the work.”
In SCARS, 15-year-old Kendra has lost her sense of safety after recalling memories of horrific child abuse, of which she cannot remember the most important detail of all – who her abuser was. She is frightened, afraid that she is being watched and followed… and relieves the pressure by cutting. Her self-absorbed mother never notices Kendra’s cries for help; instead she reaches our to her therapist and art teacher, and Sandy, a close family friend who encourages Kendra to pursue her art, as well as Meghan, a classmate who becomes a friend and possibly more. However, the truth about Kendra’s abuse is waiting under wraps to come forward with consequences nobody could foresee.
In HUNTED, Caitlyn is a telepath in a world where all paranormal powers are illegal. She runs from government troopers, settles into a city and falls for a Normal named Alex (sans paranormal powers). However, when she discovers that dangerous renegade paranormals are about, Caitlyn must choose between staying in hiding to protect herself, or taking a stand to save the world.
It took many years to bring her words to light – 10 in fact. Rainfield submitted SCARS to publishers for 9 years before Evelyn Fazio at WestSide took the story on and brought it to success. When it came time for Hunted to go around, Rainfield went with tried-and-true Fazio and again experienced the magical joy of bringing a story to life.
Did she have an agent at that time? No, but because Rainfield was so tenacious with her submission of Scars, she did finally receive an offer from a publisher. But she didn’t go with it alone, instead allowing the offer to help her snag the agent she wanted (and was previously rejected by).
“I remembered reading an article that said once you had an offer it was a great way to get an agent. So, when I got the offer for SCARS, I asked Andrea (Somberg) if she’d represent me, and thankfully she did. She’s been wonderful with me and for my books,” said Rainfield.
Fortunate is Rainfield to have a good agent on her side, as well as the ability to write for a living.
“I feel very fortunate and grateful that I am making a living as a writer, and that I can write full-time (even if it’s tight sometimes). Writing full-time, for me, includes doing book promotion every day; I want my books to reach people.”
Reaching the readers is what Rainfield does best by being truthful.
“I think people can sense my honesty and appreciate it. I try to make sure that the issues I write about are threaded through the manuscript (not dropped), and that there is some change, some healing and hope that happens. And I also try to make sure that the characters are emotionally strong and likable – that there’s enough in them that readers can connect with them even if they’ve never experienced any of the things they’re reading about.”
She also emphasizes her goal of making each story as powerful and well-written as she can, without being preachy. With the right amount of tension and allowing her characters to have emotions, reactions and sensory experiences of taste, touch, sound, feeling and sight, Rainfield’s stories grip the reader and keep them turning the pages.
Today, Rainfield is putting the finishing touches on her next book, STAINED, about a girl who is abducted and must find a way to rescue herself, as well as a sequel to HUNTED. You can find Cheryl Rainfield here, and begin enjoying her stories at Amazon, B&N, The Book Depository, IndieBound and other bookstores.