Monday, December 14, 2015

Introducing: Rebekah Raymond

Good morning Bookworm Nation!

I have the best job in the world. Writing is both frustrating and rewarding. The path I chose, like many others have, puts me in the position to meet some absolutely wonderful people. Rebekah Raymond is a new to me author, and she's recently released her debut novel!

Now you can get to know her as well!

Rebekah Raymond is a born and bred Canadian, currently living in Calgary, Alberta. Her debut thriller, Life’s Defeat, was launched October 7 both online and at a bookstore (Owl’s Nest and Books) in Calgary.

Raymond is an insomniac (which lends itself well to the writing of large novels), is married to her high school sweetheart, and a mother to a seven year old girl and almost two year old boy. She is an avid trekkie and Sci-fi buff, and has been writing science fiction and fantasy through a number of online platforms for years. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (major in drawing), an Academic Strategist certificate, and has worked in many, many jobs. She also has some very unique (and some qualitatively regular) experiences: guarding rooms for celebrity singers through a security job, playing instruments and singing in groups for 10+ years, working with students with handicaps of various kinds, observing and drawing cadavers when she was earning her degree….

She credits her current literary success to her very supportive husband, eager friends and family, an amazing editor, and a few extremely worthwhile friends who push her in both her writing and her attitude of writing. 

Here's my interview with her :) 

Tell us a little about yourself and your debut novel.

I am a born and bred Canadian, living in Calgary, Alberta (Canada). I am an insomniac (which lends itself well to the writing of large novels), married to my high school sweetheart, and a mother to a seven year old girl and 20 month old boy. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, an Academic Strategist certificate, and have worked in many, many jobs. I also have some very unique (and some qualitatively regular) experiences: guarding rooms for celebrity singers when I did security, playing instruments and singing for years and years, working with students with handicaps of various kinds, observing and drawing cadavers when I was earning my degree.
My debut thriller, Life’s Defeat, was launched October 7 both online and at a bookstore (Owl’s Nest Books) here in Calgary. Life’s Defeat is a psychological thriller, bordering on horror (or so I’m told). It takes place hundreds of years after WW3, when the governments have given up on military support, and leave their people to their own devices. The story centers around a young woman, raised and trained within a school. She is made into a vigilante soldier, under the command of StPatrick, the schools headmaster and vigilante faction's commander.
The young woman is captured by the times mastermind, tortured and killed, again and again. Eventually she is rescued, a broken and bruised husk of the woman she once was. And from there her journey continues...

How did the idea come to you?

To be honest, Life's Defeat started out as a short story I wrote probably back in 2012 so I don't remember exactly where it came from. I can tell you that many of my storylines come from dreams, even just a little bit. From there it is mostly automatic writing to continue, letting the stories develop themselves.

Personally, I know that the research involved in any storyline can be extensive or light. How much research went into Life’s Defeat?

 To start it was light. I didn't bother doing too much until after my first draft was written. After that I read a lot of books and articles on post traumatic stress, discussed weapons with a friend in the US Army, and watched endless videos on hand-to-hand combat. So, after all was said and done, there was a fair amount of research that went into it.

What has been the hardest part in the writing process for you?

 This may sound silly, but letting go is actually the hardest part for me. What I mean is that my characters are very ethereal in how they move through me into the story and back. Because much of my work is written through automatic writing, the characters pretty much write their own lives down, and sometimes I find myself stopping, reading what has been written, and wanting to rewrite a portion due to someone dying, an emotion not being quite right, etc.
I am trying to learn to trust my characters as they outpour their lives to me, but it is so hard.

Hypothetically, let’s say that you have just had an amazing idea come to you, right now. Walk me through your process of getting started:

First, if it were possible, I would grab my iPad and just start writing. Whether that means quick jot notes of a storyline or actually dialogue and description depends on where I am and how much time I have. Later when I have more time I would flesh out those ideas, reread them and lay them down into cohesive work. And if I didn’t have my iPad? I would just make notes on my phone or scratch them down on a piece of paper. I always have some kind of writing device handy...
What is your perfect writing environment?

 Dark room, comfy couch to sprawl on, unlimited music choices at my fingertips..

It’s been said before, and I agree completely, that we writers leave pieces of ourselves in our work. Have your noticed this? If so, what is something that you left in Life’s Defeat?

In the book I left a bit of physical ache. The soldier is injured badly, leaving her body worse for wear, and her leg gibbled. Although I am not entirely hindered by it, I have a problem with the muscles on my own leg, which means I am almost always sore or in pain, and sometimes limp. Somehow making this strong, independent woman have a physical disability similar to mine made me feel better somehow. Although, misery does love company…

What is your favorite quote?

 “If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be”
--Maya Angelou

Who is your author role model?

I really love Diana Gabaldon. I haven't read all of her books, but I met her this summer at a writing conference and she was the nicest, most down to earth person. So humble. And hearing her talk about her writing was amazing – she truly believes in writing what you love and not taking crap from anyone about your ideas. It was truly inspiring.

Life’s Defeat is in the Thriller genre, and you said it was suggested by readers that maybe it should be in Horror, that got me thinking. What’s the creepiest or scariest line you’ve written? 

His heavy body went rigid a moment before going slack, his head flopping from the broken neck. I blinked, coming back to myself. It had been a delusion, the murder a hallucination of my increasingly unstable mind.

If I were to come visit you in Calgary, tell me three of your favorite places that you would say I HAVE to see before leaving.

1    1)   The Calgary Stampede – while it is only a ten day event once a year, it IS the biggest outdoor show on earth and is a pretty amazing undertaking that dominates the entire city. It isn't necessarily my favourite, but it is quite the sight!
    2)   Owl’s Nest Books – this is the bookstore where my book is selling and while it is small, it has an amazing collection of books, both local and international.
3    3)    Heritage park – a historical park where old buildings have been transported and regrouped into its own little town. The staff Is in character the entire time, the sights are educational and entertaining, and it is amazing to behold the little piece of history come alive.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

 Aside from the automatic writing, which apparently isn't all that strange, I think I am a fairly “normal” writer.

When I was little, I liked reading, but it wasn’t a strong like. I had more fun playing outside and getting into trouble. Somewhere in middle school I began to hate reading. Part of the curriculum was reading books that usually didn’t interest me much or the teacher wanted us to only read a few chapters at a time. It wasn’t until high school that I would feel love toward books again. The book that reopened that door was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. What is the book that made you fall in love with literature?

 Oh boy, that is impossible to answer! I remember looking forward to the kids fairy tales printed in the paper every weekend, I remember falling in love with Edgar Allen Poe and Shakespeare at a really young age. I just LOVE language. So I really don't think I could narrow it down to just one. Although I do distinctly remember one story striking me when I was little, that stayed with me always. It was “The Gift of the Magi”. So heartbreaking and tender.

What is the best advice you were given regarding writing?

 “There are no rules.”

Is there anything you wish you were told before publishing Life’s Defeat?

 I wish I was told how hard waiting for reviews would be. I never understood until I was published how important those little tidbits of people's opinions were. I wish someone had told me.

When you make time for reading, what is your go to genre?

 I would say paranormal or science fiction. Both together, if possible.

Thank you so much for joining me Rebekah! Congrats on your debut! I look forward to seeing more from you in the future!

Isn't she lovely? I so enjoyed speaking with her and I am so happy that she contacted me! 

Now, here's a little more about Life's Defeat:

Tragedy places the soldier in StPatrick’s complex, determination to be someone of use keeps her within its walls. When she finally takes her first breaths of freedom, the soldier is sucked back into military servitude, her long, violent capture and imprisonment by Rochester setting her path of physical and psychological terror.
Under his rule she learns the depth of her own depravity, and how far she can go before she threatens to lose herself. But when Tomlin and his team rescues her, she discovers a new threat in the life she chooses to lead.
As the pages of her genetically-altered history are revealed, the solider finds the key to achieving her new goal: revenge.
It’s unfortunate it might just kill her in the end.

This Psychological thriller will lead you to the depths of despair with this young woman, then back as she finds peace, love, and resolution once more.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Another Question & Another Answer

Question: I like writing but I don't know how to make my ideas pop you know. I think authors are so amazing, to keep there ideas flowing and Yh. It's awesome. I know you probably get blocks but how do you keep it going? How do you keep it fresh lol.

Writer’s block SUCKS. I handle that in a wide range of ways. Sometimes I ignore the story completely. Other times, I've put the characters in a genre-opposite scenario just to see what they do. Aisling has been in a space ship manned by blob-like aliens, in Paris to figure out the metro on her own, and a quick substitute for a daycare instructor that needed to use the facilities. (I could post those at some point. They're kind of amusing.) Other times, I get stuck because a previous scene has a flaw that makes the current situation not feel right. That's preferable over being stuck, stuck. I've been so stuck that it's like watching a silent movie. I've also been so stuck that I see and feel nothing. No urges, no nudges. Coming back from that is trickier. I'm not sure how I managed that, but I know it was difficult. Some days I added zero words, others I'd add a whole paragraph. 
As for the other part of the question, how I keep it fresh? I read, listen to music, and just be live my life. I haven’t been unfortunate in the idea department. Inspiration can come from a conversation, a phrase, a song, a lyric or graffiti painted on a passing train, you just have to pay attention. Part of who I am is paying attention to little things, details, body language…It’s just me being me. The real struggle is determining which idea is new and not just another scene in an already started idea. I don’t always get a name attached to a stray thought like that. One thing I do is write notes; napkin, notebook, the notes app on my phone, etc. Sometimes it leads to finding things I don’t remember writing.
From the time I first started writing, I never expected to finish anything or publish it. The first story I tried writing was something that happened to me in high school. I didn’t get far with it before I tossed the whole journal into the trash. Then, I didn’t write at all for a while. It was random when True Connection came to me. It wasn’t something I expected or planned for. I didn’t expect to finish it or publish it or even tell anyone in my life that I was writing. It was a complete whim. Since then, I’ve heard many writers say that they have a hard time sticking to one idea and seeing it through. It’s hard work to get to THE END. It’s rewarding and scary. I keep short goals for myself; get to a certain word count in a week, finish a particular scene, etc. Sometimes I need a break from a storyline or character, and that’s when I work on some other shiny ideas. I write big books, so I spend a lot of time with one set of characters for a chunk of time. I get that bored feeling every not and then, even though it’s not a boring story. I feel stale being in one “environment” for too long. I’ll read then, too. I usually go on reading binges every week or every other week. I try to read at least one book a week, but that one book tends to spur a reading binge. I’ll read six books or so in a night. It’s a good recharge for me to get lost in someone else’s words and world. A good “fog clearer.” I tend to stay away from the genre I’m writing. Example: Twisted Destiny is YA Paranormal. I'll read contemporary or another genre until I move on.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask me! I love answering questions as much as I love to ask them! :)