Today, I am really, really happy to introduce you to the first author I ever met. She really encouraged me with my own book.
She read part of The Dragon's Son when it was still "baking in the egg", and she became absolutely relentless in her praise, instruction, and encouragement. Every time we saw each other, even in passing, she would ask "So, how is your book coming along?"
She saw the potential and the little flame flickering in me and she fanned it. For that, I thank her. Without her encouragement and her advice, I'm not sure if I would have come this far.
So without further ado, I proudly introduce you to Rachael Van Horn!
Thank you so much for joining me today, Rachael.
Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Do you have pets? Family?
I was born in Ipswich, England to a father who was a fighter pilot and a mother who stayed at home to care for the family.
From that point, we moved to Germany and I lived in Europe until I was about 6-years-old.
At that time, 1968, my father had just returned from his second deployment in Vietnam. He was very damaged by that war and spent a lot of nights out at bars, away from us trying to pull it together and come back to living a normal or semi-normal life.
I just remember one day on a Sunday, on our way to church with my mother, having to hop over his vomit where he had been sick just outside the door of our one car in the wee hours of the morning.
We didn't speak of it, because there wasn't a lot of communication in my family - just a lot of stiff-upper-lipping it. I WAS born in England after all.
Our service men and women, past and present, have certainly sacrificed much for our freedom. I am eternally grateful for their sacrifices.
Tell us a little about your writing. When did you start writing, and why?
I have always loved the written word as long as I can remember, which is somewhat of a miracle since I was really behind in school. My mother became worried when I was showing signs of struggling to read in the first grade. I suppose I owe her a lot of gratitude, because she went and spoke to my teacher about her concern. The teacher basically said every time she turned her back, I had gotten up from my little first-grader seat and would wander into the playground to play with the animals - various cats and stray dogs that happened by. I've always been a little earth-muffin, I guess.
My first "book" so-to-speak was a story about a wild horse, much of which I believe was largely plagiarized (or at least the idea for it anyway) from Thunderhead, the first, or near the first full novel I read at age 7.
Later, as an adolescent, I would cut all kinds of words out of magazines and when I had hundreds of random words in a little pile in front of me, I would create poetry with what I had by gluing them onto a wall in my closet. This was not what my parents had in mind for that wall and I subsequently was punished for this and told to take it down. But the poet in me was born, I believe at that time. I still remember one of the poems I made with those words. It goes like this;
"Give your mother the sweet earth. For there was never anyone so much like you."
My mother, God love her, said it was "cute" and that hurt my feelings. I felt it was better than "cute" I felt it was meaningful and expressive. And THAT was the first crushing blow of many thousands and millions of crushing blows to my inner writer I would have to overcome to really get behind my own work and "belt it out", so-to-speak.
That saying of “sticks and stones” is one of the most incorrect sayings ever. Our parents words make a huge difference in our lives.
Do you write for a particular genre, or do you cross genres? If so, what is your favorite genre to write for?
I write newspaper journalism, I write blogs for web designers, I write advertising copy, I write white papers for corporations, I write catalogue product descriptors, I write biographies and I write fiction. In the fiction market, I write current fiction with an historical or current event type focus. I write primarily adult adventure fiction. I do not write romance, however that it not to say that a loving relationship does not or cannot develop in my fiction. It simply means I do not write graphic sex into my books.
Wow. You write a TON. I thought I spent all my time writing, but… wow. That far exceeds me!
Are you a planner or a “pantser” – do you plan out your books meticulously or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I am somewhere in between. I do a light and very flexible outline that OFTEN changes a lot.
However, my poetry, which is perhaps some of my best writing, is all done by the seat of my pants.
I'm just the opposite. I have to loosely plan out my poems, or they will sound like something from Dr. Seuss’ (who is one of my favorite dead dudes, don't get me wrong).
What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
Well, as I said above, I write almost everything because I make my living full time as a writer.
I enjoy my poetry and fiction writing most. But in the purest sense, I am passionately connected to my poetry.
Poetry feeds and unburdens the soul!
So, where do you find inspiration?
In find inspiration from literally everything in a moment to moment way. For instance, today I was having an ice cream cone at Dairy Queen and there was a son and mother having a conversation behind me. He was leaving to go find his way and I could hear the fear in her voice, and yet she continued to try and encourage him in his endeavor - he said "it's just something I have got to do." She said, in almost a whisper, "I know."
Something about that spoke to me and it will likely find its way into something of mine in the future.
When I was in California about a year ago, I saw this and wrote it:
"The sand from Seal Beach is sticking to my legs, where you rubbed the oil on them.
You try to wipe it with your towel and then we go to some sexy, beachside bistro.
We have the best grilled salmon you've ever tasted and glass of Chardonnay and its 60 degrees outside and I get chilled.
The sand is still clinging to my legs where you rubbed the oil on them, except tiny grains of it that scatter on the concrete floor of the bistro.
In the corner, there is a couple who doesn't really know each other, but they think they do.
A slip of afternoon sun divides them but makes them feel warm.
So they don't notice how it separates their table and makes her squint to see him.
And the sand from Seal Beach still clings to my legs and the oil you rubbed on them."
By Rachael Van Horn
That really makes me want to go to a beach sometime. I’ve never been to one!
What is the most difficult part of writing for you and what is the easiest part?
I do a lot of business writing and I am simply not terribly inspired by it. And yet, even business writing can offer someone something.
I also struggle with all the sitting you have to do to be a writer. I am an active, outdoorsy kind of gal and I get pretty depressed when I must be still for long hours of time to get a project completed.
I also do not like reading something after it has been published.
Really? After my book was published, I picked it up and read it right away! It was like reading a whole new book! Haha…
Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? Do you do anything unusual while your write?
Absolutely NOT. If I do that, I find evidence of someone else's work seeping into my work.
However, I do listen to classical music when I write.
Same here on both accounts. Though I listen to more Irish/Celtic music now, than Classical. But reading and movies totally bleed into my writing.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing?
Yes, underneath all of my writing is a sensual, life affirming, be-present-in-the-moment message. When I say sensual, I am talking about using your senses, not necessarily referencing sex...although I am not exactly NOT referencing sex. It is just whatever applies.
I use a ton of imagery in my writing. I write with verbs. "The trees clapped their hands".
I remember you told me that very thing when I first showed you my book. I firmly believe that it made a positive influence in my writing.
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading?
I read constantly. Most recently I have finished about four John Grisham novels and a collection of his short stories. I also read a ton of non-fiction. Most recently I read a memoir called "Black Cat 2-1, because I know the author. It was splendid.
But I have read literally thousands of books over the years.
So many books, so little time! Can you name your favorite traditionally published author?
Yes, John Grisham. He understands the importance of characters to a book, even when some of the characters are not central to the plot. John understands the importance of bringing to life each sentence and paragraph a reader consumes by breathing life into each character.
And your favorite indie/self-published author?
A guy names D Mikels. His real name is Mick Matheson and he is an insurance agent in Woodward.
He wrote a book called "The Dawn of Transcendence". Very creative and was a nice, clean copy with very few mistakes.
I think I need to add both of those authors into my “To-Read” list… *scribbles on list*
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books?
Quite a bit since I always include a little news history that is local to the region. My next book, "Red Horse Creek" has required a lot of research because the main character is a Native American and I want to get those details correct.
Oy! I have a couple of Native American stories concocting in my brain, and the tiny bit of research I have done has made my head spin!
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case?
I self-edited my first book, "Sage" and I will never do that again. I missed a lot. I did this because I didn't have the funding to hire a good editor.
So, I take it then that you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited?
YES, YES, YES, YES!!
You and I are both in total agreement there! I did not realize that my issues had issues in my book until my editor got a hold of it! *waves my "editors rock" flag*
What was your experience with getting your book published? How did you start out? Did you have help?
It was pretty awful. I learned a lot!
No, I did not really have help. I just stumbled through the process.
Thank God I had a very nice, very smooth publishing experience, mostly thanks to my helpful VA/Editor.
Well, Rachael, thank you so, SO much for taking some time to hang out with me and answer my questions! I really enjoyed myself.
To all my readers, thank you so much for stopping by! Please check out Rachael's book, Sage. It is really awesome (especially since it is based on a local town near where I live... tee-hee).
Author of the fantasy series, Tales of the Wovlen, Kathryn spends a great deal of time in the world of her imagination, having tea with fire breathing dragons, writing books on flying space ships, and practicing her mad scientist laugh with gusto. However, on occasion,she returns to this world just to play with her dog and blog about her fun.
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