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I have got another surprise for you!!! Another interview…only this time from an amazing, teen author!
She is only seventeen and has written and published two outstanding books, and is working on her third. Rachel, is also offering a giveaway of her new book…Chasing Jupiter! AMAZING BOOK. You definitely should enter.
Interview with Rachel Coker, author of Interrupted and Chasing Jupiter
What are some neat things about you?
Hmmm… I’m not sure what qualifies as “neat”, but there are definitely some strange things about me! I have a huge collection of vintage clothing and shoes, most of which I salvage from thrift stores or buy from Ebay. I love modern art—two of my favorite artists are Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was thirteen. The list goes on and on! (:
Tell us about your walk with Christ! How old were you when you welcomed Jesus Christ into your life?
What a wonderful question! (: Well, I grew up in a “Christian” home—my parents both accepted Christ when I was about five years old, and they always homeschooled me and taught me both with their words and lives what it really means to follow Christ. And I never really opposed Christianity or thought much of it, up until I was about twelve or thirteen years old. And then I remember sitting in church and hearing the pastor preach about the beauty of the Gospel, and it was so powerful he started crying. And then I felt the words really sink into my heart as I considered just how much God must love me, and then my eyes started filling with tears. And then, I really can’t explain it. I had this new hunger to learn about God and the Bible and to tell others about what God was showing me. There really is no other way to describe it but that I had this new passion for life and for Christ. I just wanted him to spill out in everything I did. And obviously, I still made mistakes and would sin, but this time when I sinned, I shed hot tears of sorrow at how wicked I could be sometimes, and my heart was pierced anew at the wonder of the thought that God still loved me. It’s a truth that continues to rock my world and fill my heart.
Do you recall how your interest in writing started?
Sure do! I wrote my first fiction story when I was eleven or twelve years old, as a writing assignment in sixth grade. My mom was so blown away by it that she decided she couldn’t teach me creative writing (I was homeschooled) and so she found an ad online for a fiction writing coach and signed me up for a few months of lessons with him. I knew absolutely nothing about creative writing before that, so it was a whirlwind time in my life of learning how to create characters, cut adverbs, describe scenes, and all the other basic things that writers have to learn! I was only twelve or so at the time, but I remember thinking, “This is what I was born to do.”
How did you research for your books?
In the most enjoyable ways possible. I watched movies made in those time periods, listened to the music, had long chats with older people in my family and at my church. I was interested in more than just the basic historical facts. I didn’t just want to know who was President, I wanted to know who the average person was. What kinds of clothes would my main characters wear? Where would they shop for those clothes? What cars would they drive and what would their phones look like and how aware would they be about what was going on in the world? I definitely made some mistakes, but it was a process of learning and imagining and working it all into a story.
What was one of the most interesting things you learned while writing your books?
I learned that I’m definitely a teen of the twenty-first century and that I can be quite dense sometimes! I wrote a scene in “Interrupted” where Allie answers the telephone and then walks with it into another room and my agent just about died laughing. I guess I forgot that they didn’t have cordless telephones back then!
While you are writing, do you ever imagine yourself as the character?
Wow, I’d never thought about that! No, I guess I don’t. I tend to do that more when I reading someone else’s book and I can just lose myself in their story, without knowing what’s happening next. With my own stories, I’m constantly analyzing, and rewriting scenes, and thinking, “No, she wouldn’t say that. I’m going to have to change that.” And all of that makes it kind of hard to “lose yourself”. But I do tend to think of my characters as my best friends, in a way. I really do love and care about them, weird as that sounds. And when I’m writing a really emotional or sad scene, I do sometimes cry because it hurts me so much to hurt them. Does that makes sense?
What was the hardest part writing your books?
Finishing the first draft. That’s always the hardest part of any book. As long as I can just finish the first draft, the editing process is so much easier. I’m always so thankful when I get to the end of the 50,000 words.
How long did it take you to write your first book?
Hmm… I think “Interrupted” took me about three or four months to write the first draft? I wrote much faster back then. (: But then I had to go back and do a few edits with my agent and editor, so I think maybe the overall writing time was about six months??
Which of your books was the easiest/hardest to write?
“Chasing Jupiter” was the easiest, by far. The Lord just blessed me so much with that book. Everything just fell into place and the scenes flowed so easily and I always knew what was coming next. It was such a joy to write!
I’d have to say that Book #3 is proving itself to be the hardest, actually. Only because I spent so long searching for just the right story for my third work, and I’m still praying for guidance and perseverance in finishing it, since it’s a bit out-of-the-box of what I usually do. Hopefully, all this hard work will pay off in the end, though!
Do you have a favorite book of yours?
Oh, how could I choose? I will always have a special place in my heart for “Interrupted” because it was my first book and really reflected a special growing period in my life. But I think I like the story and writing of “Chasing Jupiter” better. I was a little older, and I can definitely see how much I had matured in just two short years between the two stories.
What are some things that you want your books do to your reader’s life?
If my book could inspire someone else to write, that would be amazing. Or if it could draw someone closer to the Lord, or help heal them of some old wound. Any of those scenarios would just fill me with so much gratitude and humility, I think.
Do you have anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I’m really excited to share the news that I’ve decided to start my own writing tutoring business, and help other young writers to develop their creative voice, just like I did so many years ago! I’m so excited to start working with writers from all over the country and world via email, and really help them hone their writing skills. It’s what I love doing, so the thought that I can do that for others is almost overwhelming! But I’m still taking students right now, so if anyone is interested in getting more information, they can find my contact info on my blog, www.rachelcoker.wordpress.com.
Are there any plans for a new book anytime soon? If so, can you tell a little bit about it?
Yep! I’m hard at work on Book #3, and I hope to share the details with everyone really soon. But until it’s under contract with Zondervan, I don’t want to spill the beans just yet! (:
Out of your family is there a #1 fan, or are they all equally supportive?
My whole family is amazingly supportive. They’ve all read my books and given me so much advice and encouragement. And they come with me to book signings and talk to my fans and brag on me, which is so sweet. But I do have to say that the proudest moment in my whole career, I think, was when my dad told me that he’d read my book and loved it. It was just such a big little moment between the two of us. He never reads fiction, and he’s not mushy at all, but just to know that he was proud of me really meant a lot.
Do any of your characters represent any of your family members?
Haha, noooo… I would never embarrass my family like that. 😉 Just about all my characters are entirely made up and aren’t representative of any real people who I know. But I love how they’re just crazy and random enough to make readers think that they could represent anyone in real life, from a crazy aunt to the crotchety old man who might sit behind me in church. They’re realistic characters!
Besides writing, what are other things you really enjoy to do?
I love photography, and I have my own portrait photography business. I’ll always enjoy playing the piano, I think, as well as reading huge piles of classic literature. I love watching old movies and swing dancing and doing normal teenage-girl stuff like shopping and hanging out with my friends.
What is your favorite time period? Why?
The 1960’s, hands-down. I would give anything to live in London in the Swinging Sixties, and wear the little dresses with the eyeliner and listen to The Who. I also love the decadence of the 20’s, though. “The Great Gatsby” had me wanting to go for cab rides in the hot afternoon and dance the Charleston under the pulsing electric lights in the evening.
Do you have any suggestions for young writers?
I would encourage young writers to read, read, read! Read everything decent that you can get your hands on, even if it’s not something you particularly think you’d like. When I was younger, I was sure that I would hate modern poetry, but then I read some modern poems and now I love it so much more than poetry from the 1800’s. It’s done so much to inspire my own writings, but I’d never know that unless I tried it!
How do you overcome writer’s block?
Take a break for a while and come back to it. Or listen to cool music, or go read a good book. Anything to take my mind off how stressed and uninspired I feel. Then I come back invigorated and ready to attack that story again!
Who is your favorite author?
Hands down, Katherine Paterson. But I also love Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind”.
What inspires you to write?
The joy that I get out of writing is my main motivator. But I also love thinking about the finished product—the story that will be there when I’m finished with these 50,000 words. And of course, thinking of my fans and readers always motivates me. I want to inspire them as much as they inspire me!
Where can people follow such an amazing teen author?
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