Name Rebekah Raymond
Where are you from:
Calgary, Alberta Canada
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I Graduated with my BFA in drawing from Alberta College Art + Design in 2006. Since then I married my High School sweetheart and had two great kids. I am a full time working mom (I am a senior claims adjuster for a medical plan but bring my son to work with me and my daughter when she isn’t in school). On the side I am also an academic strategist with students at the post secondary level. And of course I write. And write. And write.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I am very excited to have recently sent Book Two of my Life’s Series to my beta readers. It is tentatively called Life’s Hope and I am happy to see it is on its way before I tackle one last round of edits and send it to my editor.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have never not been writing (yes, I did just bring out that double negative). For as long as I can remember I kept a journal, wrote poems, short stories, whatever. I think I always liked the idea of keeping a record of life. Later it became more about storytelling, and then a way to pass the time. I joined story development email based role playing games online, and liked being forced to step up both my stories and character development.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I really considered myself a writer when I seriously started developing my stories. That was a few years ago now. When I could read my own writing and actually be interested in reading it. But when I published my book was when it really hit home.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
While this wasn’t actually my first book, it was the first worth doing anything with. Life’s Defeat started as a short story, written as a writing swap. A friend and I sometimes swap short stories or portions of writings, just to see what the other is doing. This started out like that. Then, he suggested gently (well, maybe not so gently) that I join NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Between that and a friends death hitting me hard and making me realize life was too short to not do what you love, I worked on this book. Finally in 2014 Life’s Defeat was the result.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Of course others may argue with this, but I feel like I write old-school. I like description. I like movement. I like explaining. I like articulating when someone speaks. And I quite like first person, which is funny because I can’t remember ever doing that before except in my poetry.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Strangely enough, the title was always Life’s Defeat. I have no idea how it came to be, but while I was advised to change it to something more positive, I knew that was the name it had to have.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
It’s a pretty grim story. I’d like to say something uplifting, like “every downfall has a silver lining”, but… Honestly, I just want them to hold on tight and enjoy.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
It takes place in the dystopian future, so on that sense, not very. However, the weapons, action scenes, and death scenes were all edited and re-edited for realism. So little details like the way the main character moves, how she uses against others, and the technical aspects of her deaths are all pretty realistic.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Dear god, I hope not. I know that I have put a smattering of my own life into the books though – some characters love of reading, and a disability of the main character that is based loosely on my own physical problem.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Too many books to count. I love the Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey, reading and rereading those every single year. There are the classics, like Shakespeare and Poe. Then there are authors like Daniel Abraham and Diana Gabaldon, who I have met, but read very little of. I just love their character and appreciated their honesty about the business and in writing in general.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I read so fast that I don’t spend a lot of money on buying books – most are author swaps or freebies that come up on various groups. Right now that is “Dom Wars” by Lucian Bane
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Not sure how new someone has to be to be classified as new, but T.E. Ridener is probably the latest. There are others I have liked recently but I believe they have been at the game for a long time.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I have been tirelessly writing Book Four, the last in the series, as well as a novella based on one of Life’s Defeats secondary characters. I am very excited about the latter and that main character has really captured me lately. He is a bad-ass jerk who is slowly becoming the man we see in Book One. It’s one hell of a ride.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
While there have been others, I would have to say foremost is my friend, Paul. We met way back on a Star Trek role playing game and he is always just a click away for me to bitch to, bounce ideas off of, and gain knowledge about weapons and military (he serves with the US Army). His friend ship and writing genius has been invaluable to my own process.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I would love to say yes, and one day, perhaps. For now I am one of those people who needs to be very very busy, all the time. I think if I were to stop that and write eight hours a day instead I would miss the everyday muse that feeds my writing so well.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I can’t say I would. The most common criticism is that it starts out slow, but my books come across as sort of memoirs, in which case the action simply cannot start right from page one, at least not in this particular main characters case.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I don’t recall exactly how, but I do remember being very excited about the children’s stories and poems that would be published in the weekend paper. I always looked forward to the fairy tales and illustrations. It’s a real shame they don’t do that anymore.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Passage 1 (unedited):
Hours later the sun was beginning to rise, and with it, the vision of just what we had done.
Bodies were everywhere. The violence, in fact, had been mostly done by the time we had arrived, the two volatile groups waging war on each other and taking out the bulk of the others resources. The fight was one as old as time—the first group believed they had claim to the town due to longevity of their stay, the second believed it only because they had the financial resources to maintain it.
We were there to try to keep the peace, or at least, to minimize the casualties. But it didn’t matter. The bodies when we arrived attested to the haste with which the groups had attacked, the brutality they had performed their actions. And then, when the last survivors of the groups saw us, the vigilantes, they panicked.
Suddenly the betrayal was felt by both groups that the other had called us, and the black earth, already soaked with the blood of their comrades, exploded. Grenades and other home made incendiary devices popped and bounced and exploded, throwing clumps of earth, chunks of human flesh and sprays of blood and fluids around the square.
Being the youngest I was told to observe, hanging back with the most superior captain who was in control. I helped to keep his tablet in place as his booming voice gave commands over the squalls of our people.
He was calm. He was determined.
And, he was slated for death.
Passage 2 (unedited):
Fighting the tingling that flooded over me almost immediately I shook my head. “So what now? You gunna turn me in, Smart?”
Captain Smart turned back, cupping his mug on the bar between his hands. He stared down into the almost empty vessel. “I think we both know I don’t need to do that.” He glanced my way and with a feeling that was almost becoming familiar with certain soldiers, my stomach flipped. “He always knows when you leave. You do know that, right?”
I couldn’t look away from the man’s intense stare. It was a feeling of falling, a pull that kept my eyes locked on his, no matter how badly I wanted to glance away. “How?” In my mind the word was all encompassing, a firm question. Outwardly it sounded feeble, like a child too scared to ask.
The captain’s eyes widened momentarily and he blinked twice, clearing the stare. “Finnigan. He enjoys nothing more than ratting you out.”
Grabbing the second shot glass I downed it as well, slamming it down on the wood. I coughed and wiped errant drops from my lips. “Finnigan’s an asshole.”
Smart raised his mug. “Yes, but he’s an asshole whose actions will lead you to a promotion before he gets one. If you play your cards right and straighten up.” He took a casual swig.
I took in his words. No one had ever confided with me on another soldiers future before, or my own. Why this man? Why now?
Who the fuck cares.
“To assholes.” I raised my original glass, a small amount of burgundy liquid left in it.
Smart did the same. He drank the rest of his beer in one gulp. “To Finnigan.”
A bond was forged in the cohesive act of a celebratory toast that night. Eyeing each other with shared interest I found the captain extending his hand. “Dalco.”
It took me a moment before I understood what the man was offering. Then I grinned, careful to grab only his hand in mine and shake it, not the usual soldier under the elbow grip I was used to. “Jakob.”
And in that one gesture, my future was altered.
Passage 3 (unedited):
“Didn’t you ever wonder why you haven’t been promoted?” Dalco stared at me, his thumbs looping through his belt straps.
I shrugged. “Bureaucratic shit, I figured.”
“No Jakob, it’s you.” The man shook his head.
I opened my mouth to argue, but Dalco spoke first.
“You’re way too cocky, and far too cock-sure.”
“What the hell do you mean by that?” I could feel my face flushing as the man seemingly insulted me.
Dalco put his hands on his hips. “You’re good Jakob, we all know that. But you show up late to trainings, swear like a sailor, slack off during briefings, you walk around like you’re the best—“
“—I am the best.”
My friends lips pursed into a fine line. “And you sleep with everything with two legs.”
“That isn’t fair,” I responded, grinning. “So far I only screw women.”
Dalco blushed. It was an unfair comment. I knew he had somewhat of a crush on me. Dalco’s orientation was not a secret, but like the others he didn’t flaunt his indiscretions. None of the other soldiers did, except me. I was happy to boast about the latest skirt I had managed to find: the women from the bar, the local miners daughters, the twins that had been visiting the complex. That last one had been my favourite—they were my first threesome.
They were also the commander’s girls. That had landed me a weeks suspension and isolation.
It was worth it.
The man across from me turned a deeper red as the blush extended down his neck. He could see what I was thinking, I knew. Dalco had that talent of being able to read people, an infuriating event on my end, but I knew it had saved his hide more than once. Hell it had saved my own skin several times in the five years we had been friends.
Retraining my thoughts I looked back at Dalco. “So what if I fuck around a little? That shouldn’t have any merit on my job.”
“But it does, Jakob.” Dalco sat down on the only single chair in the room. In response I flopped onto the couch across from him. “How can our commander trust in your ability to work with a team when you are so unreliable? When he doesn’t know if you are sharing our secrets in pillow talk? None of us can count on you, Jakob. Not to show up when you’re supposed to, not to follow through with your word.”
He was insulting me now. It was my turn to purse my lips.
“Besides, that’s one of your problems, viewing this as a job and not what it really is.”
“And what is it, Dalco?” I demanded, “a spiritual demand? A fucking calling?”
“—it should be.” The man ran his fingers through his buzzed brown hair, his frustration clear. “The cause is more than just a paycheque. We’re all here because we believe in what we are doing, that working together we can make a difference. I would think someone with your background would have some inspiration to that end…” He drifted off. “You’ve been here a while, and got no where. You’re what, twenty-five? With the six years you’ve been here you haven’t advanced in rank, and are hardly ever picked for the really good missions.” Dalco was preaching and knew it, a heaviness to the tone of his voice. “You’re an amazing fighter, a talented shooter, with an uncanny sense of forethought and tactics.” He was praising me now and I felt my head swell. “But you suck as a soldier.”
I drew in my breath a bit at his last jab. Everything he was saying was true, although I’d like to think I could argue against the last point.
“Why are you telling me this, Dalco? Why the intervention?” My voice was colder than I intended.
The man sighed, leaning his elbows onto his knees. “I won’t lie, the commander asked me to speak to you, to see if I could make any progress.” He spoke through my surprise. “As I said, you have a lot of talents that make you invaluable to this faction, but your liabilities are becoming too great. The commander needs to see a change for the better or he’s going to reconsider your usefulness.”
My back straightened, my heart beginning to pound. “Meaning?”
Dalco stood slowly. “Meaning if you don’t straighten up, he is going to consider ending your employment. You’d be hard to replace—there aren’t that many soldiers out there with your combined abilities. But there are enough young people with separate skills that he can mold into better soldiers than you are. You need to think about what I’ve said, about what being here means to you, what you get out of it. You need to decide if it is what you are destined to do or only a blip on your radar.” He moved to the door, opening it. “Just think on it, ok?” With a last glance my way he stepped out, closing the door quietly behind him.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The characters, for one. And society. Let me explain. I do automatic writing, so the characters often go off on their own tangents, writing their own stories. Sometimes this ends up in theological rants, or murder, or an unexpected romance. And I can’t do a damn thing about it. Sometimes I want the character to be a certain way and they sort of put their heels down and resist. Those times it might take me three days to write only 1000 words.
As for society, I grew up a good Roman Catholic girl. And then the arts stole me away. In the meantime I got married and had children. Now I write thrillers involving fighting and murder and suicide and death of all forms. And a part of me feels a bit guilty, like I should be writing instead about inspiration and healing truths. Like I should be writing story books my children can read and feel comfort in. But, in the end, I can only be who I am and write what comes to me.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I would have to say, again, Jacqueline Carey. Her books are so vibrant and full of life, the worlds so fleshed out. I have probably read her series twenty times now and read every word. I’m never bored, despite knowing what is coming next.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Unfortunately no. I am hoping that one day I will be able to do more book signings and ‘research vacations’ though
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My editor passed along the name of a wonderful designer, under the name AprilVolition cover designs. She was fabulous to work with, and very reasonable.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For Life’s Defeat I would say the hardest part was the editing. I knew it wouldn’t be quick, but it was a lot more tedious than I thought. And, there was a major plot error we came across around three quarters through the edits, and I had to go back and fix up much of the beginning because if it. Glad I did the fix though.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that writers must have confidence and stick to their own truthful style. Yes, all writers can (and should) learn. Yes, they should develop their skills. But in the end, there are many different ways to write, many different voices and techniques. And none of them are “wrong”. In fact, the way I write now is how my teachers in school told me NOT to write. And, most times it is the thing that stands out as the most liked part of my books in reviews.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write however you feel is right. They are so many interpretations of how a story should be structured, the way it should be presented, people forget that writers are primarily storytellers. We are no different than any other artistic form in that we have our own unique spins on how to get the story out. Always be willing to learn and improve, but never doubt yourself.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just, thank you. Thank you for the support, for the reviews. Thank you for the little messages and texts and emails criticizing and praising the book and hoping for something to happen.
And Yes. Please, contact me. There is nothing better I like than having a private message or tweet or email from a reader questioning something or complimenting a character, or inquiring about something that happened.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Unfortunately no. I suspect it was something much too challenging though – I always seemed to take that route.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I love stupid humour, but cry at anything to do with partners or children dying. As a wife and mother, these subjects hit too close to home.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I would have loved to meet Leonard Nimoy. He seemed like a very contemplative man, both down to earth and able to dream. I would have loved an afternoon tea with him to pick his brain a little.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Nothing. No stones for me. My goal is to be shot into space or scattered somewhere.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I love anything artistic: drawing/ painting. I like to crochet and sew. I love to read. Our family camps quite a bit which gives me ample time to watch the fire and just think as well.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love stupid comedies, especially with slap-stick humour. That and investigative mystery. When my husband isn’t at home I watch historical films and more gory shows as well like ‘bones’
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I’m half Sicilian, so needless to say I love food. A good cheesy pasta or chocolatey desert has got to be my favourite though. My favourite colour is a red so deep it is almost black. And music would be mostly instrumental such as Lindsay Stirling or The Piano Guys.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
if I had the ability I would love to go back to school to try anthropology, do more silk screening. I would have loved to learn more instruments and joins a Choir again. There are so many things I would do.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
And my author page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorrebekahraymond
Amazon Authors page http://www.amazon.com/Rebekah-Raymond/e/B017G7U00Y/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1