Rachel lives in the forest with her family on the outskirts of a small town in the Scottish Borders. She studied Science at University in New Zealand before moving to the UK in 1997 and in 2007 set up a medical distribution company with her husband. She began writing when she found herself driving long distances for work every week and started to make up stories to pass the time.
1) First I want to thank you Rachel for doing this interview with me! When did you know that writing was something that you wanted to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about writing frustrates you the most?
Well originally I never thought I would want to be writer, in fact I hated English at school and dropped it at 4th form level (when I was fourteen). I carried on with Science and studied Marine Biology at university. It was only a few years ago when I was driving long distances for work and started making up stories in my head, that I thought I should start writing them down. The first book took a long time to write because it took a while to develop my style and I ended up re-writing most of it. Because I have been writing emails and letters as part of my job, my grammar was surprisingly good (considering I never studied English!)
The thing I love most about being a writer is creating stories that capture people and make them think. I love getting so involved in the story that it almost feels like I am there when I am writing. I also like being able to screw with people’s expectations and surprise them with characters and plots that don’t fit common stereotypes for the genre.
The only thing that frustrates me about writing is that I have so little time to do it. Because I am just starting out I still have to work a day job to make a living so all my writing is done at night and at the weekends.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you? What projects are you currently working on?
The first book I wrote was The Poison Profession. The idea started when I found an extremely remote island on Google Maps and started to make up a story about who might own it and what they might do. The main character was an extremely rich woman (Louisa Clayman, CEO of Clayman Security). Although to the world it looked like she was making her money from her company, she was actually a vigilante assassin carrying out her work on the Dark Web and using a complex money laundering web to convert her bitcoin assassin fees into income from her company. Louisa falls in love with an internet gamer (Rikard Larsson ) and the rest of the story is about how she and her brother have to protect their assassin identity from discovery when one of his friends starts to investigate who Louisa really is.
Because I was sick of reading books with predictable characters and endings, in my book the woman is the billionaire, in love with her boyfriend purely because they have chemistry and he’s attractive in a tattooed, rock star kind of way. It also does not end happily ever after – because for this particular story, a sad ending is what fits the best. You will cry when you read it – I cried when I wrote it.
The book uses flashbacks to tell back story and also has a character being developed in parallel during the story. The reader only finds out why Akela (the woman from Columbia) is important at the end of the book. I did a huge amount of research for this book as it involves descriptions of complex computer hacking, faking accounts and money laundering. At the end of this book it was clear that there was another story to be told – that of Rikard’s daughter and her quest to find out what happened to her father.
That story is told in the second book I wrote; Louisa’s Legacy. I won’t go into too much detail about this book as there are too many spoilers for The Poison Profession, but it continues the story and also leaves it open for a third book which will complete the trilogy.
I am writing the third book just now and have a rough outline of the plot and where the trilogy will end. It will be the final book in this series and I have already written the ending! I also have plans for more books after this which will be a completely different genre.
More information about my work is on my website www.rachelwrightbooks.com
3) What’s a typical day look like for you in your writing career? Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
Because I don’t yet write full time, I normally write for a couple of hours each evening. (I gave up watching TV and browsing Facebook to do this!) and I feel proud that I have created something out of this time. I usually outline my novels in a couple of pages – several lines for each chapter, and then let the details of the story happen as write. I spend several hours a day driving in my day job and spend this time thinking about the story in more detail. I might make up a chapter in my head during the day and then write it down in the evening. This way I can write complex stories with good plots.
The first book I wrote took several years to write. I wrote about half of it, then lost interest and put it away for about a year. Then I met a friend who had successfully self published a book and this inspired me to get the manuscript back out and finish it. At that point I re-wrote most of what I had already written.
The second book only took a couple of months to finish because I had some time off work at that point. I then didn’t publish it for a year because I changed jobs and was extremely busy. It was good to put the manuscript away and then come back to it with some fresh ideas; I re-wrote some parts at that time. I’m expecting the current book to take about six months to write and I’m getting faster at formatting, making the cover and doing most of the editing. I give it to a professional editor after I have run it through pro-writing aid.
4) Growing up were you an avid reader? What’s the first book you can remember reading that really touched you emotionally? Who is your favorite author and what are you currently reading?
Yes, I used to read at school instead of playing with the other kids. The first book that made me cry was “My Friend Flicka”.
I can’t say I have one favorite author but I love William Horwood, especially the Duncton Trilogies. Also Stephen King and James Herbert. Currently I read to my nine year old daughter at night and have been reading the “Miss Peregine’s home for Peculiar Children” series. They are fantastic and I would recommend all adults read them too – far more complex than Harry Potter. The movie was great but really didn’t capture the whole series very well.
5) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
Writing, publishing, marketing and selling two books. It has been a massive learning curve and I would never have imagined this five years ago. In the next five years I expect to have published another three or four books, but not be a full time author by then.
6) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry has drastically changed in terms of traditional and self-publishing?
Being only self-published I haven’t had to deal with large-scale rejection. I’ve had a couple of one-star reviews but I didn’t let them upset me because they were more about the reader’s taste than anything wrong or substandard with my book.
I think the publishing industry is probably better and fairer now because a lot of good books were being rejected before. Unfortunately, there are a lot of really poor quality books being published and it can be difficult for readers to find the really good ones. It is also difficult for your own work to be seen amongst everyone else’s but if you persevere, you do get noticed.
7) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work? Do you ever just sit with your own book and read it as if you would read any other book?
I liked reading them at first but with pro-writing aid, you have to read each chapter 4-5 times and after that I can’t handle reading it again for a long time.
8) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
Everyone seems to take a different amount of time to become successful. I have friends who are making six-figures from their second book and others who will never sell more than 100 copies. It really is different for us all and I think that regardless of “success” (whatever that may be), if you have a book to write, then do it and don’t worry about whether it will sell.
9) What advice would you give to a writer who is getting a late start in the writing industry who is getting discouraged right now and preparing to throw in the towel?
I guess it really depends why they are writing. If it is purely to sell books and make money then they should write to the market, write series that will hook in readers and publish books as close together as possible. (Everything that I don’t do)
10) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I have a huge life experience to draw on for my stories. I’ve travelled all over the world, done a lot of scuba diving and owned horses, worked in the medical industry, in the music industry and a number of other things. All this allows me to produce stories drawing from authentic life experiences and make it easy to imagine that I am where/what I am writing.
I feel empowered when I am writing because I am using my time for something creative and productive. Publishing books allows you to leave behind something interesting after you die.