Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Spotlight: Rachel Ann Nunes

Our spotlight today is on Rachel Ann Nunes, author of Saving Madeline.

If you missed the online review, you can find it here.

Me: Hi, Rachel! Thanks for driving traffic to my blog today! I mean, agreeing to do an interview with me! I have to say, I was very impressed with Saving Madeline. I really enjoyed it. I noticed on your blog that you've written many novels. When did you start writing?

Rachel: I came up with novel plots as early as ten and eleven, but the dream of being a writer wasn't concrete then. The first remembrance I have of really knowing I would be a writer was when I was twelve. I loved reading, especially fantasy and romance, and I wanted to make up my own stories. I wrote my first short story in the seventh grade and started my first novel based on that story at seventeen.

Me: Wow! Seems to be a common story. Writers get the call to write when they are young. My first novel is also a rewrite of a book I wrote in seventh grade. (Did I mention I also find ways to shamelessly plug my own writing while I do interviews?) I read a little bit about what inspired you to write Saving Madeline. Very fascinating. Can you tell us a little about it?

Rachel: Several years ago, shock radiated throughout Utah when an infant was found dead after ingesting meth she had found in a plastic bag on the floor of her home. What made this tragic circumstance even more notable and horrific is that weeks, earlier her father had forcibly taken her across state lines, hoping to protect her from her mother’s substance abuse.

Authorities found the child, placed her back with her mother, and sent the father to jail for assault and burglary. A little over a week later, the baby was dead and the mother was charged with desecration of a dead body for moving her daughter to cover up the drug abuse. All charges against the father were eventually dropped.
When I heard this story, I starting thinking, wondering about how far a father would go to save his child. Would the ends justify any means? I thought about it for more than a year before I actually came up with a story I wanted to write.

Me: I want to cry every time I hear that story. I'm so glad you wrote a book that helps bring it to light. Do you think this is something that happens often? Children dying from a parent's drug problem?

Rachel: Sadly, during my research, I found that the story of the father and baby were far from the only instance of a child becoming the victim of a parent’s drug use. There are many more instances, some of which I’ve written under the Author Comments for the book on my website at http://rachelannnunes.com. Keep in mind that though the idea for this novel was inspired by the true-life stories I researched, the plot, characters, and resolution in Saving Madeline are completely fictional. No actual experiences or interviews of real-life people were used in the text itself.

Me: That's why I say this book was 'inspired by a true story.' How many of your books are inspired by real life events?

Rachel: I think about 5 out of 29 of my novels were directly inspired by real events: a bridge collapse, the death of child, a kidnapping, a subway bombing. But of course the plot takes on its own life and becomes its own story. I've also written many "issue" type books where I do a lot a research of real events even though the story wasn't inspired by any one true event. Writing is basically combining a lot of what you see, experience, and hear about, with what you make up or simply "feel" you should write.

Me: One of my biggest fears is being a on bridge when it collapses! I know, what a silly thing to think about. I'll have to check that book out. What sorts of books do you read?

Rachel: I mostly read national women's fiction, paranormal romance, and general fiction for myself. With my kids I read a lot of youth fantasy.

Me: How did you get started in publication?

Rachel: I always knew I was going to be a writer, so when I finally became serious, I checked out all the writing how-to books from the library and started following what they said. I ended up writing three complete novels in a period of a couple years before my first novel (the third I'd written) was accepted by a publisher.

Me: I know so many people who have done that. I'm always impressed with the ability to write more when the other novels aren't published. I mean, it's not like writing a novel is something that can be accomplished in a week! Speaking of which, what's your favorite color? Yeah, I know, the question has nothing to do with anything. I'm just curious.

Rachel: Red. I like black and hot pink, too. Baby blue is nice.

Me: Is it only girls that can't narrow the favorite color down to one? Mine's purple. But I really like blue and green too. And orange. Would you rather swim in a lake, pool, river, or ocean?

Rachel: I'd choose the ocean in a heartbeat. I love the ocean, sand and all. My husband was born by the ocean, so his love of it has probably influenced me. I love floating in the water, seeing the endless stretch reaching out forever. I adore sitting on the warm sand and reading a book, or playing soccer and volleyball without my shoes. It's a great way to spend an afternoon with the kids.

Me: Do you like to read in bed?

Rachel: I love to read anywhere, but especially in bed!

Me: Ha! I knew it! I'm a bed-reader too. What about eating and reading? Do you like that?

Rachel: I'd love to eat chocolate while I read, but that's terrible for my figure, so I try not to eat and read.

Me: Well, okay. How long does it take you write a book, from start to finish?

Rachel: Usually about five months. In the old days when my children were tiny and didn't need so much driving around and help with homework, I could do it in two or three.

Me: Really??? You mean these are the good years? For some reason I thought it would get easier when my kids got older! You know, the self-sufficiency thing...but wow, five months for a book? And that's your slow time?? How do you do that? Do you have a critique group?

Rachel: Not so much a critique group as author friends who exchange manuscripts with me, and a few friends who are readers who give me feedback. Also, my daughters often read my manuscripts.

Me: What do you do for fun with your family, besides read your rough drafts together?

Rachel: We go swimming, play soccer. Go to family camp. Watch seasons of movies together, read together. We're all big readers.

Me: If you could change one thing in your writing career, what would it be?

Rachel: I think I'd focus more on what I wanted to write instead of what my publisher expected of me. I'm only now exploring stories that have been waiting a long time to come out. That's not to say I haven't loved all my stories. I've been really happy with my progress so far, plus I've been able to publish and work from home. It's not easy, but satisfying.

Me: Very, very good point. I'll have to remember that. I am happy you're able to create what you really want to know. Thanks for sharing, Rachel! And good luck with your writing!

(That's it, guys. Interview's over. You can go now.)

Oh, and don't forget. If you comment, you get entered into a chance to win her book!

Sequel Stats:
today's goal: 40,573
actual: 40,652
tomorrow's goal: 42,652


Kate said...

I really like the way you make your interviews sound like you two are in the same room talking together.

T. Anne said...

Great interview! I'll have to check out Saving Madeline.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Thanks, Kate! It's a fun endeavor. (Wait, what do you mean?? Of course we're in the same room talking together!)

Stephanie Faris said...

Wow. Tough subject for her book. It sounds interesting. We deal with Meth where I work...the task force came and did a presentation. It was pretty startling.

Karen Gowen said...

This lady really inspires me, the amount of work she produces on a regular basis is astounding. And this book I really want to read. I hoped I would win a copy but I guess not...sigh...

Christina Berry said...

Fantastic interview! As a foster mother, the topic of the book fascinates me.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Tamara!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Thanks for returning the visit, Christina! I really can't wait to read your book. (I'll be getting it from our local indie.)

My husband and I used to work at a group home. We were so touched by the children we worked with that we got licensed to be foster parents. So I've met a lot of parents battling meth, etc.

One Cluttered Brain said...

I LOVE RACHEL NUNES!!!!! I have read ALL of her books and I am one of her BIGGEST FANS. When I am reading her books, I probably neglect the kitchen too much but her books do that to me. MUST READ NUNES!!!! She is thrilling. Hope I win!!!!

Wendy said...

Love the interview. Fun to read. I hadn't read what the new book was about either. I think I'll need a box of tissues for that one!

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