Today’s spotlight has caught up to Rachael Wright. This old soul can be found lurking in the dusty aisles of those quaint places called libraries. We must share a soul, because dusty books are my favorite too! Without further ado, here’s…Rachael!
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Let’s talk about your novel! What is it about?
My novel is about the grieving process and how the main character, Emmeline, survives while parenting her five-year-old daughter. ‘The Clouds Aren’t White’ is also a story of the human condition and the mistakes we all make in life. There are so many different themes that play out in the book but its core is the family. Family isn’t perfect and it certainly isn’t easy but after a lot of heartache, Emmeline is able to see the rewards and know herself to be capable of living.
Tell us a little bit about the characters? What are they like and how did you come up with them?
Emmeline is a strong woman but a woman who hasn’t had to be independent. She’s been a closet feminist for a long time. She has a fiercely strong will (my grandmother’s trait) and is deeply committed to her choices. Sophie is partially based on my own daughter: hilarious, sometimes a stick in the mud, and also highly intuitive. My daughter is very aware of the people and places around her and acts much older than her age. Sophie and Emmeline are a compilation of traits and personalities of friends/family as well as imagined ones. Something JK Rowling once said has stuck with me “Let my daughter be a Hermione.” In essence a woman who is more concerned with her mind and the way she treats people rather than how she looks or whether she gets the guy. Emmeline has this in spades. Many of the other characters (i.e. the parents) were formulated to be hindrances to Emmeline and her quest, the antagonists if you will. I wanted to pit her against the last vestiges of her security system.
Where did you find your cover artist and what was the process like?
Do you have any advice for writers who want to self-publish?
What brought you to write this book?
My husband had been a police officer for many years and there were days when he would not call for his entire shift or I’d wake up in the morning and he still hadn’t returned home from work and the fear and paranoia that sets in is almost debilitating. The Clouds Aren’t White was a way for me to process what would happen if my husband were to die and how I would support our daughter. I wanted to probe the very terrible situation behind spousal loss as a way to understand my own mind.
Why spend years of your life writing this book?
I’ve always been a writer. The time passes anyway and the writing gives me such pleasure. I also wanted to show women just how powerful they are, just how much they can handle without breaking. The human spirit is remarkably resilient.
What are you trying to achieve with this book?
I want women and men to understand that there are greater things than themselves, beyond losing a spouse and having to get up everyday and take care of a young child. Life is full of hardships and pain and loss but there is always more than just pain, there’s joy and happiness everywhere…if you know where to look.
What got left out in the final draft?
There were a few scenes that didn’t make it in because they detracted from the flow of the book. I cut dialogue that was redundant. Overall I added more than I took out.
Where there alternate endings you considered? If so, what were they??
I didn’t consider any alternate endings. As far as this book goes, there was really only ever one ending. I did tweak by adding in characters.
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
I am finishing the editing for my second novel, Lives Paris Took, which is based on a true story. The book is set mostly in Paris which has been a dream to write about. I spent an hour researching fine caviar and then spent another hour looking at the Palais Garnier where the Paris Opera is held. Lives Paris Took is in much the same vein of The Clouds Aren’t White, it is a story about the human condition-about what happens when our backgrounds clash too much with our later lives and when we make mistakes that simply can’t be put right. I’m terribly excited for readers to get their hands on it.
What made you want to start writing?
Oh gosh…books. They were an escape from a childhood that wasn’t very bright and I fell in love with the way words could transport you out of yourself…or into a better version of yourself. After I read The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis I felt as though I knew more, that Lewis was speaking to me on a personal level.
What things have you read that have especially helped your writing?
It’s a very strange list: Lord of the Rings, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Bible (I absolutely love the word choice and sentence structure). I also have to say many of my history books from college as well.
What’s the hardest thing about writing for you?
The hardest thing is when I want to spend all day writing or editing or knee-deep in research and I have to pull myself out because…I have responsibilities. I don’t mind “writer’s block” because I don’t see it as a problem but as a way to make the story even better. What is hard is being in the middle of a flow of ideas and being interrupted. It’s hard to get back to that place.
What do you wish you knew before you started?
That literary agents and book publishers are notoriously hard to come by. I spent far too long throwing myself at the feet of agents because I felt that self-publishing was really vanity press. But after meeting readers who were strangers before, I’ve come to realize that if you have a story inside then it must be written and it must be shared.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I love to tell stories and I love to listen to them. My favorites have always been stories of other people, of their courage or failings or how events molded their personalities and made them who they are. My grandfather fought in WWII and I spent most of my childhood following him around, begging for a story. History is my other love and I find that I always go back to it.
Where did your love of reading & writing come from?
My grandmother who had an entire wall in the guest bedroom taken up by built-in bookshelves, which were quite fabulously filled. The smell of the yellowed pages, the thrill of the stories within, it awoke something in me and they were my best and favorite escape. I learned almost everything from books, how to cook, how to write, how to dream.
How long have you been writing?
Since a very early age but its only been the past five years that I have been writing with purpose.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Sobbing through the very emotional bits of the book. There were times I felt like an a** for what I was throwing at my main character.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
The other authors and fans that I have met. I’m a part of a fantastic Indie Author Group, they have been such a great support network, not to mention their varied and vast amount of knowledge and expertise on book writing and publishing. I’m indebted to them.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t so?
That women’s fiction isn’t just for women. Women’s fiction doesn’t just mean a girl who meets a guy, a wrench is thrown in the plans, and then they finally get back together with fanfare and crepe paper. Women’s fiction is labeled such because the main character is usually a woman. There’s no “men’s fiction” because that’s simply fiction. I write stories about people and their lives and the hard process of living.
What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, that they need to know?
It’s not about getting the guy. It’s about female heroines that aren’t in lycra or spandex.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
My book is a very real account of what happens when a husband dies. It’s not the stylized movie of a woman throwing herself on her bed and never eating again. It is real life and the fact that life goes on and most women and men do not have the option to lie down on top of their lover’s grave and never move again.
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? Write it out here, then answer it.
Is Emmeline MacArthur a feminist? And my answer would be, damn right she is.
What are you social accounts if people want to connect with you?
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