Today we have working mum Rachel Brimble talking to us. Do tell us how you got published, Rachel.
To plot or not to plot? How much of a planner are you?
I start with a two to three page synopsis, detailed character sketches of my hero and heroine and then allow myself to write a ‘dirty’ draft from start to finish without stopping. The hard work comes in the second and third drafts when I whip it into shape and hopefully end up with a good story that my editor and readers will love. So I’m a bit of both.
What do you think an editor is looking for in a good novel?
A story that will keep the reader turning the pages, that will leave them satisfied and wanting more from that writer. I think in romance the most important thing is the characters and the believability in their vulnerabilities, hopes, dreams and how separately they are great but together they are fantastic.
Where is your favourite place to work?
I am lucky enough to have my own garden office, which is a little log cabin where I have stacks of overflowing bookshelves, an L-shaped desk and a view of the garden. I must admit I use it seasonally so sometimes the sofa with the laptop is more appealing! My black Labrador is a permanent fixture wherever I am so he often has to tolerate me asking him plot/character questions – he generally grunts in reply, which isn’t that helpful in the long run…
Do you write every day? What is your work schedule?
Yes, I have to or I am miserable (ask my family!) – I am lucky enough to only work the day job four mornings a week so the rest of the time I write in between taking my kids here, there and everywhere. The evenings are mine to enjoy with the family so the housework is more often than not a second thought…or a panic when I know we are expecting visitors!
Which authors have most influenced your work?
Nora Roberts, Marian Keyes, Jilly Cooper & most recently, Nicola Cornick.
How do you develop your characters?
Slowly! I always think I have a good idea who they are when I start writing the book because I complete quite in-depth characters sheets for the main characters but once I get past that first draft they have often brought things up that have happened to them that I had no idea about when I started. These things often become the crux of the story, the catalyst for the entire journey I want to take the reader through. Characters arcs are, for me anyway, what make a good story, great. We want the hero and heroine to be better/happier/more spiritually centred by the end of the book, I think.
What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Plotting – see above. My books tend to change quite a bit from first draft to final draft so I often get frustrated with myself and the characters. I’m sure any writing tutor will say this lack of planning is not a good thing but for me it works – at least at the moment. Now I’ve got an agent, she might say differently!
Do you find time to have interests other than writing?
I live in Wiltshire and my favourite times are walking the countryside with my family and dog, stopping at a country pub for a bite of lunch and then heading home. That is the perfect Sunday for me. Other than walking, I love reading, watching TV dramas and knitting. You’d think by that I am a quiet person but socializing and having parties at our house with lots of food and wine comes in a close second!
What advice would you give a new writer?
Keep reading, keep writing, keep focused and keep believing. Writing is a craft that can be learned, it is not a case of you can or cannot. If you truly believe you can write and have the tenacity to face rejection, brush yourself off and start again, you will get there.
What draws you to your particular genre?
Love – who doesn’t want it in their life? If you look at any TV programme or blockbuster film, there will be a developing romantic relationship in there somewhere. Even the films advertised as ‘action’ or ‘horror’. It’s what we all want and it’s what we’re put on the earth to do – to find someone to build a life with, to have a family if we chose to and generally make another person see just how special they are.
Do you enjoy writing sequels or series? If so what is the special appeal for you?
I haven’t yet but my next book, Paying The Piper which is due for release in September may become part of one. My editor keeps asking me to consider developing the secondary characters. She loves the book and the characters and is passionate my readers will want more too. So watch this space!
How do you promote your books?
Most of my promotion is done online because I write for US publishers and my audience is a lot more internet focused than readers here in the UK. I spend a lot of time completing interviews, blogging and making guest appearances on other writer’s websites and my publishers’ sites. I was skeptical at first that online promotion works, but my sales figures are increasing at a surprising rate so I have been proven completely wrong, which is great news.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so what do you do about it?
Nope, the phrase is not even allowed in my vocabulary – I write through any problems and keep going. It’s best to write something, anything…a blank page can’t be fixed!
In what way has the RNA helped you or your career?
The RNA has helped hugely with my confidence as an individual as well as a writer. I get so nervous meeting new people and walking into new situations for the first time. Once I joined the RNA, I was desperate to meet other writers but just didn’t have the confidence to reach out for a very long time. I then made a New Year’s resolution in January 2009 and put a call out on Romna for any members in the Wiltshire area. Sarah Duncan put me in touch with Alison Knight and the rest is history. Alison dragged my behind to local book signings, meetings, and the biggest fear of mine, the 2010 annual conference. And yes, you guessed it, I loved every single minute of it and made friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. In the Autumn of 2010 I founded the Bath/Wiltshire RNA chapter which has twelve regular attendees now which is fantastic. I am a new woman because of the RNA!
Are you a specialist of one genre or do you have another identity?
I write romantic suspense, contemporary and historical romances under Rachel Brimble (my real name) and erotic romance under the pen-name Rachel Leigh. The variety keeps me and my writing fresh, when my characters start talking to me, they tell me their problem and I usually know which sub-genre they fit into and then I take it from there.
Tell us about your latest book and how you got the idea for it.
My latest release is Getting It Right This Time, published by Lyrical Press. It is only available in eformat right now but hopefully the paperback will be released later in the year. Here’s a snippet from the blurb:
Two years after her husband’s death, Kate Marshall returns home a widow, seeking security and stability for her three-year-old daughter. But when her path crosses with ‘the one who got away’…her husband’s best friend, she has to fight the desire to be with him for the sake of further heartbreak for her…and her daughter.
The idea for this story came about by a very sad conversation with my then eight year old daughter. She asked me if I would re-marry if my husband died and if I did, she wasn’t sure she’d like it. I saw the fear in her eyes and long after she’d forgotten all about it, I hadn’t. The whole ‘what if’ began twisting and turning in my mind until I knew I wanted to explore the emotions of widowhood and finding new love…
Can you tell us something of your work in progress?
I am working on a contemporary romantic suspense which is set in the fictional seaside town of Templeton Cove. It is the story of three friends whose families holidayed there every summer holidays. Ten years on and now in their late twenties when one of them is murdered. The surviving two come together, determined to find her killer. And of course, fall in love along the way.
Thank you for that fascinating insight into your life, Rachel. If you want to know more about Rachel’s books, please visit her website:
Interviews on the RNA Blog are conducted by Freda Lightfoot and Kate Jackson. If you would like an interview, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org