How long have you been writing?
I have been writing in some form or another for my entire life, but the last five years have been the most serious. I wrote my first novel for a little more than a year before realizing the plot was not savable and I took a break for about six months to regain my bearings. I wrote the first draft of my current novel after that, and after major (so major it burned) edits about a year later, I had draft two of it. From draft two I’m revising key parts in the beginning and early middle, and I hope to complete the third (and final) draft by November!
Has writing always been something you wanted to do?
I never knew what I wanted to do as a profession when people ask. I still don’t really know. Writing is too fun to be a profession, but I’ve always wanted to write and read in some form, whether it was poems or novels. Books have always been in my life.
What books or stories have you written? Published?
Nothing published yet, although I have every hope and dream for my current work in progress, “Immemorial Love.” Of course, the title will probably change dramatically. As mentioned above, I have the terribly plotted novel sitting on my hard drive, half-finished and waiting for a second chance. Some day, it will get it.
Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?
Both of my books are YA fantasy in some way, although the first and unfinished one was more high fantasy. “Immemorial Love” is a modern, urban fantasy with a very prominent romantic subplot. Both deal with the social and political interactions between humans and the not-humans (for lack of a better, all inclusive word) and how love comes in every form imaginable. “Immemorial Love” is about two boys, one a human and one a daphir, who fall in love and are forced to fight in a war over magical weapons and the consequent struggle for control of the Earth because of their destiny, which may or may not leave one of them dead and the other heartbroken.
More about “Immemorial Love”
When Jesse and Brycen swear to love each other regardless of the pain, Jesse doesn’t know that Brycen isn’t human. A bloody nose reveals it, however; Brycen is a daphir, a human life species with instinctual bisexuality, a deadly allergy to oranges and alcohol, black blood and survives on life energy called Corr. After a near-fatal night Jesse is labeled a target by Project Genesis, a cult of daphirs who assembled genes in a daphir to make him a weapon to overthrow the world: Brycen.
The boys take refuge with governmental daphirs, but with constant danger they will never live in peace. Project Genesis needs Brycen for the magical Immemorial Knives, weapons they made him to be genetically compatible with them. The danger heightens when Project Genesis steals one of the six Immemorial Knives and threatens to make a new, evil daphir to enslave humanity, and to keep the world safe and live peacefully with Jesse, Brycen will have to obtain all six Immemorial Knives and destroy Project Genesis.
All Jesse wants is the Immemorial Knives, as legend has it they would enhance his human life to match Brycen’s several hundred year one, but all eyes are on him. Why does his Corr burn so bright? Is he human? Or is he the soul mate of a daphir from legends? Only the Immemorial Knives can tell…
It was a late night, I can tell you that. Brycen and Jesse are the main elements that carry through all three drafts (and the only common factor between draft one and two), although I originally made them to simply be the best of friends. Other authors can attest to when characters take on lives of their own, as mine did, and it can be frustrating. The scenes I was writing with them weren’t turning out, and then I realized they were in love! A great plot twist from my subconscious. Brycen could be any teen who never knew his parents or was in foster care/adoptive systems, or anyone having an identity crisis. Actually both could be identity-stricken teens, although Jesse definitely “struggles” with being gay. I say “struggle” because he loves himself and Brycen, but he has issues with his neglectful parents, and especially how his father (who, as a heart surgeon, has unreachable and undesired standards for Jesse) would receive him. Luckily the parents are absent for the first book, but they make a cameo eventually.
Overall, I got the inspiration from anyone who has ever been different, said so, fought for what/who they loved, who stood up and said, “This is MY world, and you’re not taking it from me.”
And this book is for all of you who bravely stood up; may you inspire those yet to come.
Are the books based on personal experiences?
Nope. In my life there has been no best friend turned lover, no lover turned not-human, no normal life gone crazy fantastical with destinies, knives and reincarnations. I wish, although I do have a little of the family tension Jesse experiences, but who doesn’t?
Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?
Just do it. Sorry Nike.
Just do what you love, write what you love, read what you love, never let anyone tell you no. Never stop, always do something to keep your mental juices flowing and don’t give up. I won’t lie, though. It’s hard. I still have no agent (although hopefully that will change soon) and no publishing contract. It’s not easy to get one either. But if you have something you’ll die for, die for it. Metaphorically. And never say it’s your best work. Because that’s the beauty of writing: it never ends. There’s always more improvement, self criticism, you’re never done. The day I’m done will be very sad indeed.
Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?
I actually had part of my book edited/criticized by a pro editor, and quote, “Best reality bitch slap ever.” Truly. Everyone looks at their work and sees, well, their work. But other people look at it as what’s strong, what’s weak, what works, what doesn’t. Other people’s opinion is gold, you just have to learn to take it well. They’re trying to make you better. Take it well.
What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?
Definitely the “I’m small and no one knows me, I have no connections, my book has some controversial elements but it has heart and meaning, and people need it but I’m scared,” complex. That was totally me. I was young, alone, typing into Microsoft Word for an average of an hour today. I knew nothing. I taught myself everything. I had no social life. Writing was (still is) my life. And I’m still not published, but still not stopping. I have learned you have to stand by your work, even if it’s controversial in any way, shape, or form, because guts=glory. Agents, publicists, etc… like people who love and will die hard for their work. If the author won’t stand by it, who will? So be your one person fandom. Do it. Because someone, someday, will be impressed by it.
How did you find time to write your books?
I’m a time budgeting-aholic. I balanced school with writing, which is no easy task. I’m not a procrastinator at all: my motivation for working was so I could have time to write. I set a writing time, say after dinner on week days, and that motivated me to be done with everything else before dinner. On weekends, I did half of my work before I can write, so by Sunday evening I was task free, except for writing. I’m also always thinking about what I have to do next, new developments and plot twists, and new ways to make it better. The notes app on my iTouch is perfect for the random one liners and plot ideas that fly through my brain at any time of day!
Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?
Absolutely! Writing is a perfect way to send a message or feeling about a certain issue. It’s how I express my opinion, how I want to make my stamp on the world. And it makes us smart.
Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?
If I’m having a miserable, trashy day I can just go vent, write, escape for the time while I’m breaking imaginary faces and plotting to take over the world. It’s my hobby; I love to do it. And my characters always love me back, no matter how many times they’re nearly shot. I’m also a very intellectual person who gets bored easily, so perfecting aspects of a plot and characters is the perfect activity for my over-stimulation.
Has writing made you a better person?
Without a doubt. I am no longer afraid of criticism, even the bad kind. I’ve also learned how to talk to myself objectively, to tell myself, “Rachel, this bottom out sucks, and you sooo know it.” I know who I am, know what’s my “thing,” and I know what I’m out to do. I have my niche in the world. I will always be a writer. And in the process of writing, when my characters came to life and decided to love each other, I taught my young mind to not judge any person because of who they are, which I believe to be a skill every human could benefit from.
Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?
Of course!! My favorite genres are all those who have some kind of fantastic/not real aspect. I don’t even know if I own a pure contemporary novel. And I’ll probably get chewed out for saying this, but I don’t want to read what I could experience in real life. If I wanted that I could go out and do it, but if I wanted to go fight a magical war for the sake of the Earth and fall in love with my soul mate who was not human, I think I would have a hard time doing it.
Born where it never rains, Rachel Done taught herself to read when she was three, although she still can’t spell. In the second grade she altered every reflection journal prompt to be the opening sentence in a series of childish shorts about a girl living in a jungle with animals, and her teacher let her do it. It wasn’t until sixth grade she discovered the true joy of writing, and she is now on her second novel. The first one remains hidden in her computer, as its plot is so butchered and unplanned that it would take years to repair. Someday she will return to it.
She runs because she really loves dessert, and could survive with only her laptop, Microsoft Word, an unlimited knowledge base/dictionary, note cards, a pen, and of course, books. Her favorite office tool is a binder clip, and she shuns paper clips. Visit her at immemoriallove.blogspot.com.