Sometimes you come across a blog or website that really draws you in. What draws one person in might be completely different than another, but when it comes to Rachel from Fiktshun, for me, it’s her voice.
The voice of a writer is the same thing that draws me to read a book after sampling a few pages. Whether or not the premise interests me is of course, important, but it’s not nearly as important as the voice. Not for me.
Voice is precisely why I’ve been begging Rachel to write a book and publish it. For me personally, there is something about the way she writes. Her voice literally pulls me in, and it’s that voice that has pushed me to buy so many different books that I in no way have time to read right now, but they’re on my bookshelf nonetheless.
Rachel was a blogger I met a few months after I published my novel. I’d had my eye on her and her website for quite a while, but I was extremely nervous to approach her. How could I possibly ask someone to read and review my book that obviously has such immense talent? Her gift intimidated me to say the least.
I don’t remember the exact conversation, but I had gotten involved in a chat on Twitter with her and a few other bloggers, and I felt a good vibe, so I decided to go for it. To my surprise, she already owned my book and was planning on reading it in the coming months. I was ecstatic about this, but for some reason, knowing she already owned my book made me even more nervous.
When she posted her review of Exiled, it blew me away. You can find it here, and you NEED to read it. If not this specific review, than one of her many others. They’re poetic, there is a depth to the way she writes that brings a smile to your face, and you can literally feel her passion when she writes about how much she loves a book. It’s magical.
Rachel has half a dozen or so blogs that she operates and tends to regularly. They each have their own purpose, and I have a true love for all of them. They’re at the top of my TBR list every time I open my Google Reader.
I want to start this interview by saying thank you to Rachel for agreeing to take part in this, and I’m happy to announce that today is the day we all get to learn a little bit more about her.
1. You’re favorite genres to read are Paranormal and Urban Fantasy of both the YA, and non-YA variety. From this genre, tell us your favorite type of Fantasy creature, why they’re your favorite, and what book represents this creature the best in your opinion? And to counter it, can you tell us the creature you find most terrifying, why, and what book represents them the best in your opinion?
Well, that’s my favorite right now…. I do tend to switch things up every few years.
And my favorite creature? Hands down it’s the vampire. I have loved reading about vamps since I was in high school and I still do. They’re such versatile creatures. Their myth was born out of something so incredibly fascinating to me. They can be either gruesome and terrifying or terrifying and incredibly sexy. Yes there are other kinds, but I don’t talk about the sparkly ones.
While I’m not a huge fan of their blood-sucking nature, there is something incredibly enticing about their immortality, their aversion to sunlight, their predatory nature and the whole sleeping in coffins bit.
And there’s no way I can choose just one book that best represents this species of immortal, fanged creatures I love. Because I don’t just love one type of vampire. So, how about just a few. The scary vamp – Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. The evil-ish, rogue-ish, hedonistic vamp – The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice – yes it’s a series, but it’s not cheating. And for the sexy vamps – the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost, the Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill and the Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris.
Terrifying creatures? Growing up there was only one that terrified me and that was the Gorgon, Medusa. Do I really need to explain why? Snakes for hair, eyes that turn you to stone. Did I mention snakes for hair? Eww. I can’t think of anything in modern fiction that best represents Medusa. Though there was a story I loved, where the character is a descendant of Medusa, but as that’s totally spoiler-y I can’t mention the book. It’s YA though.
2. You do things a little differently as a book blogger. You purchase a copy of every book you review to show your support to the author, and on top of that, you purchase almost all the giveaway content that is found on your blog. Obviously, there is not really any physical reward for you when it comes to blogging. Now most of us know there is a ton of work that goes into running a blog, and you have multiple blogs that you keep regularly updated, as well as a full-time job that often occupies fifteen hours of your day. By choosing to spend your time blogging, you also open the doorways to deadlines, stress, and sometimes high school-like drama behavior. When you find all of this becoming overwhelming, to the point where you wonder if it really is all worth it, what keeps you going?
I do buy way too many books. I purchase almost any book that sounds interesting, even if I don’t get to read it. It’s a very dangerous habit addiction. My version of my “new releases” weekly posts aren’t just a listing of books released, they’re books I’m buying. I just need more time to read them all.
There are really two things I love about being a book blogger, aside from the fact that it is a creative outlet (and I totally need one of those) and it gives me a little something all for me, as everywhere else I’m all about compromise. One is having friends in the community that love to talk about books, authors and characters as much as I do. I don’t have anyone like that in real life.
And the other thing I love is that rare moment when an author asks me for my opinion about their manuscript. Long before it becomes an ARC. Even if I can’t tell a soul. Because it’s not about the boasting, bragging, whatever. I respect (and often revere) authors so much, so that their asking me for my thoughts blows me away. And I can’t imagine giving up even one chance to have that opportunity.
3. Hypothetical: You are awarded an entire day dedicated to meeting the authors you love. What authors do you meet, where (from my predetermined locations below), and what question do you most want to ask them?
Location 1 – Early morning, on a New York City Roof Top where there are two lawn chairs, coffee (or your beverage of choice), and a clear blue sky.
Location 2 – Late afternoon, while you’re floating in an air balloon over LA, where you will scale to the top of said floating air balloon, Richard Branson style, and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Location 3 – Shortly after midnight on a cloudy night, in the center of a massive goosebump-inducing cemetery.
Oh come on! This is impossible! Although, truth be told, there are some authors I’m not sure I’d want to meet as I want them to remain idols in my mind and not be brought down to the reality of being just regular people.
But your locations and times? There’s no way I’d want to meet any author in the early a.m. I am not an early a.m. person and would be more of a blathering idiot than I would be normally around authors I love. So I’m avoiding that one.
And I am not getting in a hot air balloon. Nope. No way. No how. Been there, will never do that again. Unless I hated an author and wanted them to have a miserable time.
So I’m stuck with one author and one location. Which is perfect. Because I’d pick…
Stephen King in Location 3. Though I wouldn’t be afraid in a cemetery. Of course I’d want him to tell me some super scary story he just made up, so that I could be terrorized by the story and not by the fact that I’m sitting on a grave, talking to Stephen King.
I wouldn’t be able to ask him any questions, because I’d be way too nervous. But I’d want to know every possible thing I could about his own journey with The Dark Tower series.
For anyone who missed it. Everything Rachel did just there was cheating. Cheating. Cheating.
4. As I said, I – and many others in fact – believe you have a gift when it comes to words. As a book lover, you have an obvious passion for books, but I want to know where your passion for writing comes from. Where did it start? When did you first begin to explore it? And do have the desire to ever publish something you’ve written? And to make this question more difficult, you are not allowed to deny, or argue my statement of your talent in any way, shape, or form. Failure to comply will result in a cyber-lashing that involves three gold-fish, a strand of Bigfoot’s hair, and a grapefruit.
Gift? I don’t know what you’re talking about. Who said this? I’ll rastle them to the ground if they won’t take it back!
And no, I’m not retracting my statement, because I answered before I read the last part of your question. And because I totally want a strand of Bigfoot’s hair and a grapefruit… unless you mean together. Because hair on a grapefruit… *GAG*
My passion for books started around the same time as my passion for writing. Well, kind of. It was more storytelling as I couldn’t yet write. I started making up rather elaborate stories involving small woodland creatures on adventures. That continued on until I could actually hold a pencil and put together words. I still have three of those stories that my father saved for me. They were illustrated, as I just couldn’t resist adding fun, colorful images.
I’d always wanted to be a writer, until I headed off to college – yeah, really great time to make that choice – and while I was pursuing an advanced degree. At some point during those years my characters and imagination abandoned me. So when I decided I wanted to return to writing there was nothing there to write about.
While I think the desire to write was all my own, I have my father to thank for encouraging me. He is a creative and loved the fact that I was passionate about something creative. Especially writing. He introduced me to Poe when I was in Kindergarten, Shakespeare when I was in first grade. And I think it kind of explains the darker turn to my stories when I was in the third grade.
Do I have the desire to be a published author? Yes and no. I think it would be pretty cool to have a book published, but it’s a business and I don’t like the idea of having to sell my product, market myself and adapt it to fit a standard that is marketable. And as I have family who went through the querying process, I’ve seen first-hand just how hard the rejection hits someone. I don’t know if at this point in time in my life I’m ready for that.
Oddly enough, I make up stories about small, woodland creatures when I’m telling my daughter bedtime stories. We call them the azoozoo.
5. You are kind of obsessed with blog design, avatars, and in general, the talents of Parajunkee, who just so happened to design this site. What is your favorite Fiktshun avatar she has designed for you?
I have always been passionate about design. Obsessed, actually. I am so particular about how things look visually. If something is slightly off it drives me absolutely crazy. Blog design is only one of the facets of design that I love. And Parajunkee is an amazing designer so I love to be able to get just a fraction of that talent focused on me and my site. She has an incredible eye for what works and because she just “got me” so quickly working with her has been a pleasure.
I can’t choose a favorite avatar! But I do love the teen vamp girl with her ever-changing streaks, no matter if she’s decked out for summer, dressed as a shifter, reaper or demon.
6. What is the most emotional evoking book you’ve ever read, and why?
See, these questions never work for me. Because I don’t think in terms of “best” or “most.” I don’t judge things as the “top” either. I would never be able to narrow down the books that I’ve connected with to just one. As I make emotional connections to all sorts of books.
Goodbye Darkness by William Manchester is a heartbreaking memoir that I loved. Even though it’s been over a decade since I’d read it, I can’t forget about it.
The Long Walk by Stephen King is a book that hits me a little bit differently each time I read it, which is once a year, and I find myself saddened, horrified, heartbroken, hopeful.
Paint It Black by Janet Fitch is a book that haunts me. I read it just before I started reading YA and I can’t get it out of my head. I don’t want to read it again because I know I’m in a different place right now, but it still haunts me.
7. You’re a hunter in The Protector series, what element are you?
Oh I have no desire to have any paranormal ability, though when I was little I wanted to be telekinetic or have the ability to fly. I don’t think I’d want to wield an element like fire and the idea of manipulating the earth freaks me out. I suppose water would be cool, though I’d likely use it only to build myself an in-ground pool.
8. You’re a huge fan of Rachel Vincent and her Soul Screamers series. What is it about her series that you love so much?
It’s not the series, it’s the author and her writing. Rachel Vincent is an extraordinary talent. She has the ability to create tension and let it build throughout each of the stories she creates. She creates characters that aren’t always lovable but yet you always feel something for them. And she challenges you to love them anyway. She is one of a rare few authors that has managed to completely make me switch “teams” – not only in her YA series but her adult series, too. You can clearly see just how much work she puts into building her stories, creating her characters, and drawing readers in.
You can feel just how much she loves them and it makes you want to love them too.
9. Fiktshun has an off-the-menu 6 “Batties” rating on a rare few books. How do you decide what books get this rating? If 5 Batties is amazing, what does a book that gets 6 Batties have that other books you love are missing?
Oh that’s a secret! But I’ve been debating admitting it, so here goes….
It’s not a decision. It’s a feeling. Five stars means that the book hits the right notes, meets what I deem to be “top quality” standards. But a six star is a “me” book from start to finish. And that can vary depending upon my mood. But a must is that I become so emotionally invested in the story that I’m devastated when it’s over and I have to fight the urge to pick it up immediately.
It could mean that the author’s writing is so beautiful it brings me to tears, the characters are put through such hardships that I ache for their suffering, the story is so nail-biting and action-packed that I get so lost in the adventure that time has escaped and dawn has broken and I haven’t even noticed.
10. Last month I did a You Tell Me post regarding covers. If you had to pick your top three favorite book covers of all time, what are they and why?
Oh you ask such impossible questions, do you know that? I love covers, it’s what draws me to pick up a book in the first place, but I don’t really pick favorites. Though I guess you could say I love the cover for Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics. And I love the artwork throughout The Dark Tower series books.
The cover for Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith is pretty awesome. Scary as all heck, but awesome.
11. Like me, you’re quite the movie connoisseur. Pick your favorite movie from the 80’s, the 90’s, and the 2000’s, and in three sentences or less, tell us why they’re your favorite.
So unfair. Again, I don’t really do favorites. Of course I loved Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Better Off Dead, Suburbia (okay, well maybe that’s not an “of course,” Dogs In Space, Decline of the Western Civilization Part I and 2, Say Anything, Permanent Record, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Lost Boys, Mrs. Soffel, Labyrinth, Night of the Comet, Dune, Electric Dreams, The Dead Pool, Ladyhawke, um, I could go on…. Why? Either they’re classic ‘80s flicks, they’re totally cheesy but fun or they’ve got awesome soundtracks.
The ‘90s are easier. I think The Matrix was my favorite film of that decade. Just the first one. It wasn’t just because I was sitting across the aisle from an awesome movie star. I remember leaving that movie, with its wicked soundtrack and thinking it was so freaking (I may have used another word there) kick-a**.
And the 2000s? Gosh, trying to remember what movies I saw in the past twelve years. Did Almost Famous come out in the2000s? Maybe that one. Or the Lord of the Rings trilogy. While I love a ton of movies from the 2000s, I can’t say that I was so blown away that actually remember it was from this past decade and change.
What’s your preference?
It’s not over yet? This is an opus, dude! No one’s going to want to read this!
Best Concert You’ve Been To: The Godfathers
Dream Vacation: Either Sweden during the white nights or Ireland
Cats or Dogs: Cats. I love dogs, well big dogs, but I love the independence of a cat.
Spiders or Snakes: Snakes. Well, depending upon the snake.
Dessert before or after dinner: Instead of dinner?
Place you’ve lived: Brentwood
Protector Series Character: Rayna
So it was long (Rachel warned me before I sent her the questions, but I didn’t care) but it was worth it. Thank you, Rachel for taking the time to spend some time answering my questions. Want to follow Rachel? Here’s how: