Saturday, August 3, 2013

Words With Writers: Q & A with Rachel, author and publishing intern

Welcome to another installment of Words with Writers! You can check out the last interview here. Words with writers will run every other Saturday, right here on YA Stands. If you're interested in being featured and you write YA, please email jolene dot haley at gmail. dot com. 

Now, on to the awesome interview today!

I was lucky enough to interview the world traveler, author, and publishing intern Rachel

Hi Rachel! Thank you so much for offering up your time, I know you're a busy lady! Last I heard, you were an Entangled Publishing intern, is that right? What do you do there?

Thanks so much for having me on YA Stands! I am still an Entangled intern, and I love it. I read manuscripts for a freaking awesome editor and her assistant (hi Stacy and Alycia! *waves*) and then I write reports on them, whether or not the plot/pacing/characters/etc. worked. It's a lot of fun.

According to your blog, you travel a lot. Where have you been? What's next on the Rachel-Conquers-The-Globe list?

I love to travel! I am a traveloholic/wanderlust queen, etc. ;-) I've been to Australia, England, Israel, New Zealand and Switzerland. I'd love to go to Ireland next. I really want to hit all of the 7 continents (I've hit 4 so far!), but we'll see what happens...

I've heard you wrote two novels while in college. Can you tell me about those? Are you planning on publishing them?

The first novel I ever wrote was written when I was a freshman in college. I spent over a year writing it and it was a ton of fun. It is a YA fantasy (the main characters were 19 and 21, though, and at the time there was no 'New Adult' category and all I read was YA so that's what I called it!) retelling of Beauty & the Beast, where the Beast is from a kingdom where women rule. Yes, the Beast is the future king but it is the Queen and women that go to war, and the men stay home and take care of the children. I even rearranged the Bible so that the matriarchs are held in higher esteem than the patriarchs. It was a ton of fun. Unfortunately, I will never publish this one (at least the way it is right now) because I half-edited and got frustrated. I did no world-building when I wrote it and didn't understand in editing why I had to explain things. LOL. I'm a bit stubborn. ;-) So rather than work on it, I shelved it. 

The second novel I wrote in college was called VIOLENT DELIGHTS. It is a dark YA contemporary, pitched as Heathers meets HATE LIST by Jennifer Brown. Two teenagers fall in love, obsessively, and get revenge, make a suicide pact and, well, things don't go 100% as planned. I wrote it in 5 weeks, barely edited it and queried for 5 months. I got a revise & resubmit (by miracle -- I swear!) from an agent and worked on it for over a year before handing it back. I completely rewrote it, revised, wrote new subplots, deleted characters, etc. I learned how to edit during this process, something I never thought I would've because of my first book. Now we wait and see what happens. I hope it gets published one day! I really love this story. 

Are you currently working on a novel? If so, what is the genre and what is it about?

I am about 24,000 words (roughly 90 pages) of another dark YA contemporary. It is about three sisters; the
eldest, who went off to fight in the war in the Middle East and dies, the middle sister who deals with the grief by sleeping with her older sister's boyfriend, and the younger sister who reverted to being a child, instead of the fun bubbly teen she used to be. The older sister also has a dark secret that the middle sister is determined to figure out. It's about grief and small towns and identity. My beta readers liken it to LIKE MANDARINAMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE,THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE and say the writing is like A.S. King's. 

What book do you wish you could have written?

I WISH I could've written DUNE by Frank Herbert. Despite the fact I write YA contemporary books now, I grew up loving science fiction. DUNE was the first book I really, really fell in love with and wanted to steal the library's copy. I was 10. (I still don't own a copy -- in case anyone I know is reading this...hook me up!) The world building is exquisite, the characterization is awesome and the storytelling is strong. It tells of a planet where spice is very important, and how a prophecized child will make or break them; the prophecized child was thought to be a girl but is actually born a boy. 

What is your favorite book in the entire world?

Oh gosh...this is such a hard one. I love so many books! If you know me even a little bit, you'll know how much I
rave/riot/adore the ANIMORPHS series (they shaped who I am, my writing, etc.), but my actual favorite book of all time, OF ALLLLL TIME!, is A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith. It was the same year I read DUNE, actually, that I picked this one off the shelf and felt like Smith "got" me. Her character, Francie, was 11 when the book opened up and wanted to grow up to be a writer. I love that this book is a family saga, too. It doesn't just tell the story of Francie, but also her parents, uncles and aunts and grandparents. Even though the time period is way before me (the early 1900's to 1917), I felt a kindred spirit in Francie Nolan. 

Tell me more about the classic conquest? It's really interesting!

Oh gosh..the classics conquest! Ha! My goal is to read a bunch of classics I never experienced in school. I've read some of them, but not all, and I have to be really honest... The Classics Conquest has fallen off the bandwagon. I think I need someone to push me to read more of my list. :-)

What writing tips or advice do you have to offer others writers and authors?

My advice is to be open to critique and editing. Even if you THINK your book should go one way, maybe your reader has a point. Especially if more than one reader/agent/etc. says something to you. I struggled a lot with hearing my main character was not relatable. I didn't know how to fix it and no one seemed to be able to give me a clear answer. I went through many readers before I found one who was able to pinpoint what exactly was wrong (it turned out it was the voice!). Even then, I had trouble hearing I'd have to rewrite my novel. "Rewrite it? But that will take ages!" Or so I thought. (It actually only took me a few months.)

Also: don't be afraid to step away from your book. I am not a writer who can write every day. If I am having trouble with a plot point, I CAN'T go forward in the story. I just can't. I write very linearly (even if my story may not be written that way ;-)). I have found that, for me, if I need to take a few days or a week or two away from my writing -- that's okay. It works for me, and that's what matters. What works for you

Do you have any writing habits/practices? Tea and music? Silence?

I have to have coffee. I can write with or without music, but if I do write with music - it's one song on repeat forever. My iTunes says I have listened to the one song that represents VIOLENT DELIGHTS over 100 times. 

Who is your favorite book villain?

Hands down, Voldemort. I did an independent study in college on the HARRY POTTER series and really saw how J.K. Rowling based Voldemort on Hitler. It's fascinating. (Yes, we can talk more about this if you want to, readers of this interview...)

Which novel would you love to see made into a movie?

I would love to see MEANT TO BE by Lauren Morrill made into a movie. (I have a million and one thoughts on what novels should be made into a movie, so I used my most recent read :-)) MTB is a romantic YA about a 16-year-old girl who is a stickler for the rules and goes on a trip to London with her classmates. She ends up paired as buddies with the class clown, who tries to get her to loosen up. Add in a text message mix-up and a wild goose chase to figure out who is sending the texts, and you've got a great romantic comedy. :-) I would love to see it made...even if its just for TV. 

If your life had a theme song, what would it be?

I have always had a thing for "Where The Streets Have No Name" by U2. Don't ask. It just makes me want to go for a run whenever I hear it. It gets me pumped up! ;-)

Lightning round: Which do you prefer?

Skittles or M&Ms? M&Ms. 

Coke or Pepsi? Coke. 

Night or day? Night
Coffee or tea? Coffeeeeeeeee!

Sour or sweet? Sour
Lord of the Rings or Star Wars? Star Wars! 

Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty? Agh...neither! But I guess if I had to choose...Sleeping Beauty.

Hermione Granger or Harry Potter? Hermione.

The Goonies or The Sandlot? The Sandlot. 

Pirates or Ninjas? Pirate-ninjas? LOL. I guess pirates. No, ninjas. No, pirates. Agh, I can't choose! Pick one for me! 

Thanks so much for having me, Jolene! 

About the Author

Rachel is a long-time lover of power play relationships (give her Anakin Skywalker over Luke, Voldemort over Harry Potter, and Valentine over Jace any day), children's literature and making silly faces (see picture!). She is a recent college graduate, who has travelled to 4 out of 7 continents. She's been sky-diving, canyon jumping, glacier hiking and ridden a camel. She is an intern for Entangled Publishing, and spends a lot of her time stalking Publisher's Marketplace to add books to her TBR. You can find her on Twitter and

Thank you so much Rachel for your time and your awesome answers! Keep us updated on your releases. I can't wait to buy your debut novel one day!


  1. Fun Interview, Rachel! Interesting take on Voldemort. I'll have to reread with that in mind.

    1. Hi Jaye! Thanks for stopping by! I agree, it was a very interesting interpretation! I plan on going back and re-reading for that!

  2. I am not surprised you talked about animorphs. And OBVIOUSLY coffee... although I like tea. :)

    1. Hehehe. Right? Is there anything better to discuss than Animorphs?! Thanks for the comment fakesteph! *raises tea in a cheers*

  3. Ahhh, A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN! Love that book. And I wouldn't have figured you for a DUNE girl, either. I hope this is the year for VIOLENT DELIGHTS!

    1. Hey Kiperoo! Thanks for checking the interview out! :) You're awesome! See, I don't know the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Methinks I need to change this.

  4. great interview! am now completely obsessed with the concept of your college WIP :)

    1. Hey Emery! Thanks for stopping by! I agree. Her writing is VERY intriguing!