Happy Monday, everyone! I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be bringing you another unofficial UtopYA Con author interview. So far we’ve had a number of awesome authors give their time and expertise to make us smile. If you missed any of the past interviews, get on over to my page dedicated to these lovely ladies. If you don’t have your tickets for UtopYA yet, what the heck are you waiting for? You’re gonna be the only girl left out of the party! Get yours here. Let’s get our interview on! Get your clicking fingers ready so you can check out author Rachel Harris’s books after the interview. Snug up and let’s go!
Jo: Hi, Rachel! It’s an absolute honor to have a fellow coonass here on the blog. I don’t like to tease my readers (they’re a wild bunch), so we’re gonna jump right into the questions, okay? Are you ready?
Rachel: Let’s do this thing! :)
Jo: So, during my research of you, I came across a cool tidbit of information: Your first date made you puke. Now, we’ve all had dates we wanted to get out of, I’m sure; but your story was one that cracked me up. Mind sharing it with my readers (and telling us if you’ve ever used that scenario in one of your books)?
Rachel: Dude, I plan to use it one day…just have to find the perfect book and character. I mean, that’s made for fiction, right??? But yes, this happened to me. Settle in for a story, kids…
The guy was older, he was cute, and I was so excited to go out on an actual date that I didn’t care that I woke up feeling ill. Nothing was keeping my butt home. I was thirteen and he was seventeen, but we met in my church’s youth group so my mom knew him. Even though she was cool with me dating him, she refused to let me ride in his car, so she picked him up. He got in the backseat of our minivan and for some reason (maybe it was a move?), he mentioned he’d forgotten to put on his cologne and preceded to take out the bottle and douse himself with it.
Prior to this experience, I loved the smell of Cool Water. After? Not so much.
Anyhoo, my mom smelled how strong it was from the front and subtly opened the back windows (tee hee). We went to my house first to hang out, and I have a picture of us somewhere—I’m as white as a ghost. I was so ill, but I was also one determined chica. He went to the movies next and we sat down in the theater (the film was Look Who’s Talking 2, by the way. Dating myself there), and when the lights went dark, he leaned close.
The smell of the cologne hit my nose, and I leaned away. He thought it was a game. I leaned away, he leaned close, I leaned away, he leaned close again. Finally, I jumped up and screamed I’d be right back…but sadly, I only made it to the trashcan right outside our theatre before tossing my cookies. Right as the neighboring theater let out. Head over the trashcan, my date patting my back, I heard a little boy ask his mom if I’d be okay. It was classic.
The dude was a sweetheart and even asked me out again. But I have a feeling neither of us have ever forgot that day LOL
Jo: That's funny. Poor you. Poor him. How embarrassing! Thanks for sharing though. *grin* I saw one of your books was Historical Romance/Science Fiction (I’m a lover of Historical novels) and was set in 1500 Florence, Italy. Having written a Historical Fiction novel myself, I know the time it takes to get it right. Care to share how much research you did on the era before writing the book, and what you may have learned that’s interesting/cool?
Rachel: I did a TON of research for sure. My favorite resources were the videos on the Renaissance from the kids section (they spoke my language) and a travel book written like a tourist guide to Florence, but it’s set in that time (Renaissance Florence on 5 Florins A Day). I have a huge binder filled with notes and I’d say that part of the pre-plotting took about a month. Strangely enough, it was book two, A Tale of Two Centuries, where it’s a sixteenth century girl who time travels to present day, that took the most research. See, I purposefully wrote book one with the main character super slangy and the characters in the past very proper as a fun way to constantly be showing the fish out of water contrast. Then I get to book two with a very formal first person narrator who could only use words that were in existence then...at least until she learned others in our time. I constantly had to stop and look up the etymology of different words and seeing the world through historic eyes.
Cool? In My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, I researched their dances extensively, watched video instruction, and even got off my butt and did it with them! As for A Tale of Two Centuries, the hero is a surfer, something I knew nothing about, so I spent a few days learning everything I can via YouTube. My favorite reviews are ones that mention how they can tell I love to surf ;)
Jo: I totally get where you're coming from. Yassa was an exercise in patience and research, too. *bows* You’re from New Orleans, eh? I grew up in Lake Charles, myself. I love meeting folks from my home state, but I know I miss certain things about it. What do you miss the most now that you live in Houston? Do you skip over the border often for a visit?
Rachel: I go home as often as I can, as I have many relatives still there. Luckily, most of the food can be found in Houston, so that’s not as big an issue, but there’s nothing like a Danny & Clyde’s shrimp po-boy or a Pat O’Brien’s hurricane.
Jo: Nothing like a Pat O'Brien's hurricane!! *misses boudin* I miss the food most. LOL I read that you’re a meticulous plotter. I’m dying to know if you’ve ever pantsed a novel and how many hours you put into creating your plot lines.
Rachel: ONE time I co-wrote a novella with a friend in eleven days, and we had to pants it. That was the most stressful experience of my life LOL. I don’t think I’ll ever do that again. I am a huge plotter, and because of all the work that I do ahead of time, I don’t have to edit for plot holes or anything like that once I’m done. And I actually edit my chapters as I write, so when I reach the last chapter, it’s usually in my editor’s hands the next week. As for how long it takes to plot my stories, I’d say two weeks is a good estimate. Sometimes it comes together in a week, but between interviewing all my characters, casting them, creating my story soundtracks for inspiration, doing my character arcs, and GMCs, weaving those with story theme and central questions…yeah, two weeks is usually the norm.
Jo: I'm a total pantser. I don't have the patience for an outline. You may be my hero. *smiles* Rapid fire questions! Who’s your favorite Food Network star?
Rachel: Bobby Flay
Jo: Rock on, Bobby Flay! Love him! Favorite kind of cuisine?
Jo: I love Mexican food, too. Yum! Time for the alien question of the interview! I see you attended the Vegas Valley Book Festival in 2013. Did you go look at the super secret airplane base right outside the city? Were you nervous being so close to Area 51?
Rachel: HA! No, I didn’t… I was only there for a very short time, unfortunately, and saw very little. Thankfully, my girl Lisa Burstein took me on a rapid fire tour of the strip the last night I was there, otherwise the only thing I would’ve seen was the inside of the airport, the local high school I visited, and the book festival LOL.
But next time…. ;)
Jo: When you go back to Vegas, make time to really do a tour. It blew me away with its hugeness. I've never seen anything like it. You should also go to Bobby Flay's restaurant there: Mesa (the food is off the hook awesome). Do you ever wish your kids were in public school so you’d have more time to write, or did you decide to homeschool your two daughters for a specific reason?
Rachel: I know I wouldn’t trade homeschooling them for anything in the world—the memories we form learning together are priceless. But, some days, when the deadlines for new projects are piling up, and I have guest posts to write for releasing books, and other books coming in for edits, I daydream (just for a minute) of a house that is quiet eight full hours a day. Wow…I don’t know what I’d do with myself (tee hee)
Jo: You actually get a lot done. I was nervous about my daughter starting school but I wouldn't trade all that free time for the world now. LOL Good for you for making that a priority in your life. Now, please tell us about your publisher, Entangled. Where did you find them, and what can we expect to see from you via them next? Do you have anything with a different publisher?
Rachel: I’m blessed to have two publishers, Entangled (Bliss and Teen), and Spencer Hill Contemporary. They are both fabulous!! My first agent is actually responsible for both relationships, and I’m so happy with the editors and team I work with at both houses.
In 2014, I have My Not So Super Sweet Life (YA) and Crazy in Love (adult) releasing with Entangled, and The Fine Art of Pretending (YA) releasing with Spencer Hill Contemporary. I then have another YA and a NA project releasing with SHC in 2015.
Jo: Congratulations! I know a ton of people would kill to be in your shoes. That's awesome! I saw you’ve made the leap into Adult Romance with your book Taste the Heat. What made you jump out of YA?
Rachel: Yep! I have two adult books out now, Taste the Heat and Seven Day Fiance, and can’t wait for readers to get book three, Crazy in Love. I actually JUST finished the first draft on Friday (woot!). As for making that jump, my current editor with the teen line is also in charge of the Bliss adult line. Considering that line is often romantic comedies, focus on family and heart and are a bit sweeter in nature, it felt like a natural, easy transition. Plus, I read a lot of new adult and adult in my spare time, so I was eager for the challenge. Also, I really wanted to tell stories based on my experience growing up in New Orleans, and this gave me a great opportunity to do that.
Jo: I'm actually not a huge fan of romance, but because they're set in New Orleans, how can I not check them out? How many cons to you attend each year and which ones are they?
Rachel: It depends, but this year, I’m doing a ton. This year, I’ve already attended Authors are My Rockstars, Montgomery Book Festival, The Houston Author Bash, and Austin Book Fest. Later this year, I’ll be attending RT (Romantic Times), BEA, RWA, UtopYA, Houston Indie, Chapter by Chapter, NOLA DitterCon, the Louisiana Book Festival, and Houston Book Rave.
Yeah, that’s a lot ;)
Jo: Girl, you wore me out just reading that. Good luck this year! *grin* Anything I didn’t ask that you’d like to share?
Rachel: Be on the lookout in April for the hashtag #SuperSweetRead. We’re doing a month-long read along of books 1 and 2 in my YA series before book 3, My Not So Super Sweet Life, releases April 21st. There’s gonna be tons of prizes and silliness. Because, well, I love giving away stuff, and I’m a silly dork.
Jo: Sounds like fun! Awesome insider tip. Thank you, Rachel, for doing this interview! I can’t wait to meet you at UtopYA Con in June.
Rachel: Can’t wait to meet YOU! Thanks so much for having me <3
Now it’s time to tell you about Rachel’s featured book!
Title: A Tale of Two Centuries
Author: Rachel Harris
Genre: Fantasy Romance with Historical elements
Length (print): 320 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $5.69 B&N $5.69 iTunes $5.69
Synopsis: Alessandra D’Angeli is in need of an adventure. Tired of her sixteenth-century life in Italy and homesick for her time-traveling cousin, Cat, who visited her for a magical week and dazzled her with tales of the future, Alessandra is lost. Until the stars hear her plea.
One mystical spell later, Alessandra appears on Cat’s Beverly Hills doorstep five hundred years in the future. Surrounded by confusing gadgets, scary transportation, and scandalous clothing, Less is hesitant to live the life of a twenty-first century teen…until she meets the infuriating—and infuriatingly handsome—surfer Austin Michaels. Austin challenges everything she believes in…and introduces her to a world filled with possibility.
With the clock ticking, Less knows she must live every moment of her modern life while she still can. But how will she return to the drab life of her past when the future is what holds everything she’s come to love?
While your fingers are in the clicking mode, why not give Rachel a follow on social media?
Facebook: Rachel Harris Author
Blog: Rachel Harris Writes
I hope you all enjoyed meeting the lovely Ms. Harris!
If you have questions you’d like to ask Rachel, drop them in the comments below.
Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!