We usually feature TWO Indie Authors a Month but there were a few deadlines that needed to be met before Sunny, Natalie, and myself, could move on and focus on something else.
Normally January is long, cold and boring In Iowa and Minnesota. But both states have had a fair winter. With Lake Effect Snow I’m never going to say winter is easy but it’s definitely easier than normal. I’ll see little kids outside, people walking their dogs down by the harbor even in horrible wind and cols because everyone is SO SICK of staying inside. Hard to believe we are almost coming up on a year of this pandemic. I Just realize this is the first time I have mentioned the pandemic here, I guess I have just wanted to pretend life is normal.
To get back to normal….stay on task…..why don’t we get to know the Sweet Romance author, Rachel, a little better. Coming to us through an interview Sunny had last week. As always thank-you for helping me support the indie author community.
Sunny: Hello, Rachel thank you for stopping by today.
Rachel: Hi, Sunny! Happy to be here!
Sunny: Can you give us a little bit of your background?
Rachel: Sure! Language and music have always been big influences in my life. My mom grew up in France, my dad lived in Germany for a couple of years, and so we did a lot of reading, singing, and art in my house. So, naturally, I became an elementary school teacher who has music and writing side hustles.
Sunny: What drew you to writing sweet romance? Having you’re your novels I can’t even recall ONE cuss word. Yet I feel your character always gets there point across.
Rachel: I’ve always been a bit of a romantic at heart. I’m from a pretty religious family, so my mom made a big deal of making sure we were consuming media that was wholesome and intelligent. So, when I started writing romance, I knew I wanted more of a Hallmark movie channel content level. That being said, I’ve experienced things like depression, anxiety, and heartache enough to know that those things resonate with readers, no matter their tolerance for heat, violence, and gore. So, I try to make sure that my heroes and heroines have real reactions to life’s difficulties. Also, a shout out to my paternal grandmother, one of her favorite quotations was, “Profanity is the effort of a feeble mind to express itself forcefully.” I’m not sure it’s a motto of mine, necessarily, but the sentiment has definitely made its mark in my writing.
Sunny: Being a mid-west girl like myself how much, if any—for those who haven’t read your novels—of the mid-west, or Missouri, Do you put into your stories?
Rachel: Oh, that depends on the story, haha! I’ve lived in all sorts of places. Utah, Virginia, Kansas, Missouri, Washington, South Dakota… I also went back and forth to Denver quite a bit for a year or so. So, in my Need a Little Christmas series, I definitely use some Kansas City landmarks to help give the warm holiday feeling I experience every Christmas. In Backward Blessings, I got a chance to really lean into my experience living in small towns. That was a fun one, too. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go back to Blessings, Kansas in the near future.
Sunny: Favorite thing about your home state?
Rachel: Ooh, that’s a hard one! I think that one of my favorite things about Missouri are the green, rolling hills. As much as I miss the mountains of Utah (my birthplace), we had never seen such verdant green as we did when we moved to Kansas City.
Sunny: I agree with the green, I love southern Missouri. I love the Springfield area.
Sunny: Favorite Romance trope?
Rachel: I love a great arranged marriage/fake romance story! I’m learning they’re a little harder to write than just read, though. Haha!
Sunny: Did you sneak Romance books to read before you were old enough? Or did you read age appropriate as you grew up?
Rachel: Like all kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s, there were always threads of romance in things for girls, except maybe some of the American Girl stuff that I read. My mom said one of my favorite movies when I was a toddler was “’la la,” my name for Cinderella. I honestly don’t know a time when I wasn’t fascinated with the idea of finding someone special to spend the rest of your life with.
Sunny: You are also musically talented, tell us what are your favorite styles to play and sing?
Rachel: Aw, shucks! Now, I’m blushing! I am a classically trained opera singer, but I graduated about the time of the 2008 wall street crash. So, I teach private voice and piano lessons instead of “real” performing these days. I love musical theater and Disney music because those songs are some of the most fun to sing in a group around the piano.
Sunny: Do you transfer any of your talents to your female leads?
Rachel: None of my female leads can sing or play the piano… Yet. Marissa Lambert, in Sweethearts Old, once had to give up being a concert violinist in order to be more responsible, so in a way, her story is mine. It’s not the same, by any means, but I’ve definitely felt some of the emotions she has when she picks the violin back up after an extended break from it.
Sunny: What has brought you the most joy during the COvid19 shelter in place orders?
Rachel: In spring of 2019, I really decided to embrace my authoring career, and I moved to live closer to my parents in Kansas City. I left a warm community with friends I loved a great deal, but I honestly don’t know if I could have managed during COVID-19 lockdowns without living in the same house as my parents, my youngest brother, my uncle (when he moved back from Thailand), and my grandmother. It’s been particularly delightful to read my work aloud to my grandmother and see first-hand her reactions to various phrases of dialogue or lines of prose.
Sunny: if the world is ever normal again, what will be the first thing that you do?
Rachel: Travel! I have a nephew who’s more than a year old, and I haven’t gotten a chance to meet him yet. In a few days, I’ll have a niece as well. Auntie Rachel has to go spoil them (and nephew’s older brothers) with lots of loving!
Sunny: Your series, beginning with one of my favorite romance’s, “Sweethearts Old” is a fresh take on the something old, something borrowed, something blue, something new…So tell us what is next?
Rachel: I’m in the process of writing Sweethearts Borrowed. Alan and Catarina are so close to my heart right now. They both feel so alone in their own ways—so sure that they’ll never find love—and it’s exciting to really see them open up to one another as they grapple with the beliefs they’ve each brought into this fake relationship that keep them from seeing the way the other is starting to care.
Sunny: One more thing before I let you go…All of us writers have stockpiles of Notebooks, pens, and of course, books. What is something you hoard Outside of being a reader/writer?
Rachel: Lately, it’s been painting projects. Wooden word signs? Sign me up! Decorative stoneware that needs to be painted? I can find a place for that! Seriously, it’s getting to be a thing. It relaxes me and lets me watch television without guilt. 😉
Sunny: Thank you SO much for stopping by Big Canvas Reads and chatting with me.
Rachel: I really appreciated chatting with you! Thanks for inviting me for the interview!
We Named Rachel’s “Sweethearts Old” as one of the top 5 Reads of 2020