Rae Else is an Urban Fantasy author, most at home in the spaces between reality and the imaginary. When in the real world, she resides with her husband in Plymouth. The Arete Trilogy is her Young Adult, Urban Fantasy debut. Her upcoming series, The Dark Between, is a decadently dark YA Fantasy, featuring a whole cast of paras—shifters, vamps, witches, mages, fae … and lots of soul magic.

Rae studied Classics at university and a lot of her stories draw on mythology and ancient worlds. In her twenties, Rae worked as a teacher and now writes full time. When not reading or writing, Rae loves to scuba dive and sail. She finds the big blue to be like a good book—a portal to a different world.

The Lost Assassin novella and two companion e-shorts to The Arete Series can be downloaded for FREE at http://raeelse.co.uk

1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me!  When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?

Writing was a bit of an annoyance throughout my university undergrad years. I kept coming back to this one story that I had to write down. (I thought once I had that one down that was really just for me, my little obsession back then, that the inclination might pass.) But after doing a teacher training degree and working as a primary school teacher in my twenties, I kept returning to work on this idea over the years, and then to jot down new ideas every so often. I guess, therefore, I knew by my late twenties that pursuing fiction writing was my calling – because it just wouldn’t leave me alone! 

What I love most about being a writer is definitely the ability to lose myself in a wholly different world. When the flow strikes and you just immerse yourself, there’s nothing like it. To me, that’s the best feeling on Earth.

Haha, there are plenty of frustrations, but, I guess, the biggest one for me is self-doubt. It takes a lot of resilience and self-belief to keep working on a manuscript and not get waylaid by the doubts that creep in. And because you don’t have colleagues around it takes a certain amount of strength to be your own cheerleader. During the writing and promotion of my latest series, I’ve found that having an editor, cover designer and enthusiastic book reviewers around you, really helps with this. 

2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you? 

Sure, my latest series in a Young Adult/New Adult Urban Fantasy series called The Dark Between. Luna the first book just came out in September. It’s about shifters (werewolves) and draws on the myth of Romulus and Remus to build a world where there are two wolf clans who have been enemies for thousands of years. As well as shifters, it has a whole cast of other supernatural races – mages and witches, vamps and fae as well. 

Book 2 is due to be released in November. You can find the series on Amazon and through most other book retailers – Barnes & Noble, etc. 

3) What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently busy drafting book 3 of The Dark Between Series, Umbra, which is due to be released in Spring. It takes my main character to the fae world, Umbra, so it is both fun and challenging writing a completely different world. I definitely feel like I’m venturing into the realms of High Fantasy in crafting this world, so it’s a bit different to my usual Urban Fantasy – blending our world with fantasy that I’m used to.

4) 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?

Probably publishing the first book in this series that I’m currently working on. I put a lot into my first series, The Arete Series, but I definitely feel that that one was me cutting my teeth with that one. I learnt so much about craft and about the audience that I was writing for over the course of getting those books out, that with Luna, I felt genuinely ready and confident about the story and characters, and that it was truly ready to be shared with readers. 

Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years? 

I’m on track to be independently publishing two novels a year. (Which is quite slow for a lot of Indie authors but I definitely feel like for myself this is the right pace for me.) So, in other words, much where I am now, just with a wider collection of series out there. I’d also like to have a few audio books produced by then. Whether it happens with the series I’m currently writing or the next, I’d expect to have at least one or two out there in five years’ time.

5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?

For a while, just after my undergrad degree I queried my first novel to agents, but didn’t get anywhere with that. I did feel flat after that, especially as just after uni I didn’t know what I wanted/should do with my Arts degree. (I did Classics and definitely couldn’t see where to go with it, which to be honest led me to train as a teacher.) 

It wasn’t until a good few years later, that I started querying with short stories and did, finally, get one accepted to a magazine. I think the stepping back and making writing just something I did for me helped with the rejection and learning a lot about craft in the process. During that time I also went on a writing course to again develop my skills and have like-minded people around to support and grow from. 

Then, lastly, because I felt ready to share the books I’d written for my first series, I gave myself permission to independently publish them. I think this has been key when dealing with rejection for me too – realizing that traditional publishing which is right for some writers, isn’t the only way to go. 

So, in other words, a lot of perseverance, taking stock of why I was writing, and then pressing go when I was ready for it.

6) 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?

I tend to try to do a 9-5 writing day, and write 4 days a week and take 1 day to sort promotions, marketing and author admin stuff. 

I outline all my books before I start drafting them. The series I’m currently working on took me 6 months to outline before I started drafting the first book, which took me two months to draft. After that it was a month’s revision after getting a developmental edit from my editor. Then after that it was another two weeks after content and line edit.

So probably about 4 months per book from blank page to finished product.

7) 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?

No, I don’t believe there is a time when it’s too late for any writer to enter into the industry!

I definitely believe that it’s about believing in yourself and owning that you’re a writer/author. I remember reading Joanna Penn of the Creative Penn blog and fiction writer, that she carried around a piece of paper in her purse that said ‘I am an author’, and through the daily affirmation gave herself permission to be one, and to embrace her creativity. I think early on, the killer to creativity can be labelling yourself as ‘aspiring’ and setting too many bars in your path to what ‘success’ is defined as. 

If you’re showing up to the page or the canvas, or whatever it is that you’re creating, then you are a creative. And you’ll know you are by how happy it makes you, and how vital that creativity is as part of your life. 

8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you?  Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?

Absolutely! I’ve always loved reading since I was a kid. I can’t pick one but there’s a handful that stand out in childhood – I Capture The Castle and Little Women. They definitely all moved me so much, and I frequently go back every few years a reread them.

Favourite author of most recent years is Laini Taylor. Although I have found some wonderful Indie authors of late who are totally on par with Laini. A. J. Lancaster of Stariel Quartet and Raven Kennedy of Plated Prisoner Series are my latest finds.

I’m currently reading Mexican Gothic and loving the Wuthering Heights/Jane Eyre vibes.

9) The Pandemic was a challenging time for some writers and creative individuals but also for others it was time that they needed to focus on their creative passions. Which side of that spectrum do you fall on? Are there any lessons or nuggets of wisdom that you gained during the Pandemic that help you within your writing career? Did the quarantine stifle your creativity or did it make you even more driven to get things done?

I was definitely of the time to focus on my creative side of the spectrum. I had been running a dog walking/day care business in London for the last five years when the pandemic struck. As you can imagine, with people suddenly working from home all the time, business just dried up. So, I focused a hundred percent on planning my new series and it was a very productive time and gave me the ability to re-analyze my writing goals. On top of that, my husband and I decided to take the plunge on a goal we had been saving for to buy a boat and become liveabroads. So just after the first lockdown lifted we dove in and found a sailboat, upped from London to Plymouth, and have now been liveaboards for a year!

Of course, throughout all that change there were times when my creativity was stifled, but all in all it’s been a really positive change and has allowed me to get half a series out and the rest of it well under way.

10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you? 

I definitely lean towards independent publishing. I see so many Indie authors doing it well (such as A J Lancaster and Raven Kennedy that I mentioned before), and it’s so inspiring to see that this kind of successful publishing is attainable to anyone. (of course, with a team of professionals for editing, design and promotion). But I think we live in such an exciting time where this is possible and feel very fortunate. And, as I say, seeing the successful individuals out there who are doing it well, gives me something to aim for and try to emulate. 

On the hybrid front, I guess I would totally be interested in a partnership with a publishing company for paperback sales. I’d definitely want to keep the royalties for my Ebook sales but can see how it would be beneficial to promoting paperbacks to have a traditional publisher onboard.

11) 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 totally agree with you!

I think the themes I have always been interested in – from that first obsession I was talking about writing all the way to my current series – have largely been the same topic that are my authenticity. I’ve always been into exploring the intricacies of human consciousness, of the soul, which for me is best explored through the lens of fantasy and magic. I also always end up being drawn towards the darker side of this, and find my art exploring themes of mortality and humans’ innate fear of it. 

I don’t think this is unique to me per se, and that’s where these themes are powerful in fiction because they resonate with people. But, I certainly write what I do to better understand and express what I see in the world, and so love when other people connect with that too. That’s one of the absolute best feelings as a writer. I guess writing makes me feel empowered in this as I always feel more ‘me’ when I’ve expressed something on the page that has been brewing. Like I’m unearthing a little truth that I get to share with people, that might resonate and move them too.