My name is Rachael Ritchey. I’m in my mid-thirties. And no, I won’t be revealing the actual number. I had thought about being twenty-nine again, but I doubt I could rewind the clock quite that much. Suffice it to say, the number doesn’t reflect the sometimes immature side to my nature.
I’m originally from Northern Idaho, but I’ve lived from Alaska to Arizona. East coast life is foreign! I’m a stay-at-home mom with four kids to keep me on my toes. Then there’s our puppy, Hashtag, who thinks she’s a forty-five pound lap dog. Family is numero uno, and so I would say I’m a lot bit boring outside talking incessantly about their growth and accomplishments.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
R: Thanks for asking. The latest, greatest news is I’m on the cusp of releasing book two in the Chronicles of the Twelve Realms. Just a couple more months! That doesn’t sound like a cusp moment does it? Still, Captive Hope is working its way closer. It will be out by January 2016.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
R: As seems to be common amongst writers, I started writing in middle school. But I didn’t get serious about it until almost two years ago when I wrote my first novel, The Beauty Thief.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
R: I had no problem calling myself a writer when I first started, but for some reason I had trouble saying ‘author.’ Maybe I feared being considered a fraud. After publishing The Beauty Thief I started saying it out loud more, but it kind of reminds me of when I was first married. Calling my spouse ‘my husband’ or saying ‘I’m so-and-so’s wife’ was unfamiliar and awkward but not bad. In fact, it always gave a little thrill. It was the same when I started thinking of myself as a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
R: The first book was a bit of an outcry of my soul, you might say. I’ve talked about this a few times, but the gist of it is that I had turned off emotions, distanced myself from everyone, even those closest to me and was just going through the motions of life. One morning I cried out to God to help me. I felt so ugly. The Beauty Thief came out of that time of self-loathing. Is that even inspiration? Maybe it was more desperation.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
R: Not exactly. I host a weekly writing prompt on my blog called #BlogBattle, and I use it to experiment with different writing styles all the time.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
R: The title of my first book went through many stages, but I ultimately settled on The Beauty Thief because it encompassed the whole essence of the story in a succinct fashion. Admittedly, it’s not a title that catches young men’s attention, but there’s plenty in the story that could appeal to them.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
R: Yes, but I almost don’t want to write it out here. I hope you can grasp any applicable message from the reading without me ever having to explain it. I will say beauty is deep in the soul, an overflowing of a gentle, kind, and compassionate heart.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
R: The Beauty Thief and Captive Hope (when it’s available) are really more realistic than fantasy based, but there is an element of magic that runs throughout. I like to think of this series as historical fiction with a fantastical twist. A few friends and various readers have compared the first book to classic fairy tales.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
R: Nope. Not a single one. Although, at some point after writing and editing, I did find likenesses between wonderful people I know and characters I wrote, but none were based so!
Fiona: What books have influenced your life most? A mentor?
R: I’m thinking fictional influence here. I love classic literature and so I would say some of the most influential books I’ve read have been Hidden Hand by E.D.E.N. Southworth, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, everything I’ve ever read by Shakespeare, Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, That Printer of Udell’s by Harold Wright, Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. I’ll stop there. I also love a lot of YA fic by authors like Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine. I don’t have a mentor, per se, but I do often look to those who have more wisdom seeing as how there is always something new to learn.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
R: I finally broke down and have picked up Game of Thrones, but I’m not sure it’s my cup of tea. Please don’t be angry with me lovers of the Game! Other than that I’m also reading children’s fairy tale story books because a very good friend, author, and illustrator has agreed to work together to turn The Beauty Thief into a short and beautiful ( J ) children’s story book! So excited about that, and so I study.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
R: I haven’t really read any new authors lately, and at the moment I can’t think of a single book that I’ve fallen in love with of recent. I’m sure that will change in the near future as I get a chance to read a few stories from some new authors.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
R: Currently, I’m just working on my blog and outlining for book three in the Chronicles of the Twelve Realms series. Captive Hope is in the capable hands of my editor, Susan Hughes. Once I get the edit back I’ll be furiously tearing through to the hidden gem she sends back.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
R: Can I only name one? That’s hard! There are soooooo many. Okay, for today I’ll say my dear Blog Battle peeps! You know who you are. I appreciate you all so much. You have been a huge support and encouragement to me.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
R: Definitely a career, but not one I am currently getting paid for, you could say. I spend more than I make, which I hope to eventually have a return on. I’m not holding my breath. I just know it’s inconceivable, the thought of not writing.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
R: In the published one? Oh, probably. I mean, yes, there are things I would change, mostly because I hope I’ve improved as a writer with each passing day.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
R: Yep. Sixth grade English. Daily writing exercises and poetry. Loved every minute of it. I enjoyed sharing my stories and poems. We would sit at our desks with blank paper placed just so and I’d feel a hum of excitement down in my gut while I waited in anticipation for the first sentence of a prompt. I love writing.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
R: Sure. This hasn’t seen final editing yet, but here’s an excerpt from Captive Hope. This is Idra who has just been ambushed with her escort while on her way to visit her parent’s home:
She stood paralyzed. The grogginess of sleep was ripped from her in a matter of seconds when first she witnessed her guard slain, but after that she couldn’t look away from the man on horseback. Idra would never forget the face of her nightmares.
It was certain he’d come to finish what he started. She’d be dead in a matter of minutes, but she couldn’t move. Even when she heard the horrible cry of the young maid, she stood frozen in place and held her breath, anticipating the strike of his perfectly thrown knife.
It never came.
Her dry lips parted to cry out but no sound echoed forth, and several blinks did not dispel the image of the tall mercenary who dismounted and grinned at her as if he’d won a prize. For Idra it was Death who moved toward her, but her legs were stuck as though in mud so deep she couldn’t escape without driving herself deeper in to the clutches of its hold.
“It’s a pleasure to see you again, Lady Idra. Though, the last I saw of you wasn’t long ago. I did espy you a few days past wishing a farewell to your precious king and his guardsmen. You didn’t see me then, but I think you remember me now.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
R: Can I say everything? I have no natural talent for anything, and everything I do takes a great deal of work. But I love to be challenged. Writing wouldn’t be a fun and passionate thing without a challenge. Something about it particularly challenging, though? Not being redundant, clichéd, or choppy on occasion. J
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
R: Favorite author? That is such a hard question. haha The answer seems to change over time, but I still have a soft spot for Jane Austen. Her work feels honest and simple yet still so easy to picture because, in truth, the world she wrote of was so much more complicated than meets the eye.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
R: Not at this time. Not that I don’t want to, but just really can’t afford such ventures. I’m still a new and vastly unknown entity in the writing world, so who knows? That may change over time.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
R: For now, I design my own covers, but that is because I enjoy doing it. I’m sure there is much more I could learn in regard to the marketing aspect of the job, but the artistic side of me likes to design.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
R: The hardest part of writing my books is “killing my darlings,” as they say. I have a hard time removing sections and sentences I’m fond of but don’t necessarily add anything to the story. I am getting better at it, but it is still painful on occasion.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
R: I learned that I can plan all I want, but sometimes the story has a mind of its own.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
R: Listen to the advice, critique, feedback, and praise of others for your work, but do not take it all to heart. Only hold on to the parts which will improve your ability as a writer. Stay humble, but be confident.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
R: Yes! To my readers: Thank you. There is way for me to express to you how giddy and humbled I am that you choose to read my books.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
R: Don’t have a clue. But it was probably something like Cat in the Hat, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, or Clifford.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
R: I laugh so easily, and conversely I often cry just as easily. It takes next to nothing to make me laugh, though. I love the feel of it. I’m generally a goofy person and look for opportunity to laugh. Crying? Well, I cry for other’s hurts, for wrongs done, when I’m overwhelmed by circumstances, for my characters and their hurts (yes, this really happens, and I feel quite silly when I let it get to me), and so much more. I have deep empathy, and this is why it was difficult before writing The Beauty Thief when I shut down emotionally. That uncaring soul is not me.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would like to meet and why?
R: There’s a long, long list here, but my author-self would love to meet Charles Dickens. He had such an interesting and varied grasp of human nature. His characterizations are funny, dismal, honorable, trite, deceitful, agonized, hopeful, kind, and cruel. I would love to pick his brain.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
R: Uhhhhh…Here’s what’s left of Rachael on earth, but don’t worry, she’s not here. She’s with her maker listening to the best stories of all.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
R: I sketch and paint, read, watch movies, hike, swim, blog, and sing. Sketching, singing, and reading are my favorites, though.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like everything from BBC Masterpiece theatre to Blacklist. Action, Romance, Comedy, Suspense, Drama. It would be easier to tell you what I don’t like, I think. haha
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
FOOD: Southern Thai Chicken, Lasagna, and Choclate
COLORS: Blue, Green, Red
MUSIC: Just about everything.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’ve come to realize I’d have liked to have become an engineer. Possibly something involving buildings or mechanical. I love taking things apart to see how they work. I love building things. It is satisfying to see the handiwork of my labours.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes! Thanks for asking. J My blog/website is rachaelritchey.com. I’d be so pleased if you’d stop by and take a look around.
Places to follow:
Amazon Author Page: Rachael Ritchey Amazon Author Page
Places to buy Rachael’s books:
Amazon France: http://www.amazon.fr/-/e/B00U6GS07I
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00U6GS07I
iBook/iTunes Apple: http://www.apple.com/itunes/?cid=OAS-US-DOMAINS-itunes.com
Thanks for hosting me on your blog, Fiona, and for the lovely questions. It has been a pleasure spending some quality time with you and your other guests!