Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Author Interview: Rachel Ann Nunes

Our Author Interview today is with Rachel Ann Nunes, one of the most best-selling and beloved authors in the LDS market. Rachel is a busy wife and mother of six children, and lives in Utah with her family. She also is the founder of LDStorymakers.

Hi Rachel. Welcome to my blog. This new book is your 27th novel. What made you start writing?
I've always loved to read, and I began to dream of writing my own book very early in life. By the time I was in seventh grade, I knew the goal of being an author was firmly fixed in my mind.

How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I wrote several short stories in seventh grade and started my first novel when I was seventeen. Then I was busy with school, a mission, getting married and having children. I wrote some during those years, but it was only after I'd had my third child that I really became serious about my writing. Since I'd planned to have more children, waiting until they were grown wasn't an option. I wrote two days a week for that first year, and then five days a week the next, and it was during that second year I wrote Ariana: The Making of a Queen. It was accepted in 1995 and published in 1996, selling out of its first printing in little over a month.

What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?
I never make detailed outlines. In fact, the only time I ever did that before beginning a story, I never actually started writing it. I guess I already knew what happened, so what was the point? Usually, I know where I want to begin and generally how I'd like it to end, and a few scenes in between. I like to be surprised with the rest and where the journey takes me. Sometimes the book doesn't end up where I thought it would.

How do you choose your characters' names?
In the beginning I used names I liked or made up. I've even used a few of my children's names over the years. Now I mostly look through the phone book to spot a name I want. The only exception is if I'm searching for names in a specific country, like say, India. Then I'll use online sources.

You have six children. What is your daily schedule like?
Busy. I'm in the car a lot. I now listen to books on CD so I don't hate the carpooling as much as I used to. I write in the morning after I get most of the children off to school. I work better when I'm fresh. I usually write in my pajamas, and I don't bother to comb my hair until later. The book must come before such mundane things! I'm thinking I should post a sign at the door: SCARY-LOOKING WRITER AT WORK! ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK.

I still have a child home at this point, so I'm interrupted a lot. Sometimes I have to leave my computer on all day to reach my daily goal. I would normally be able to finish in a few hours if I didn't have the interruptions and errands that are associated with running a household full of children. After the children come home from school I rarely write. I'm too busy helping them with all their homework and driving them to lessons.

How do you handle life interruptions?
Interesting question. When I was younger, I could easily keep my mind on two or three things at once. I could pause in the middle of writing an exciting scene--maybe to solve a dispute or pick up a child from a piano lesson--and come back and start writing exactly where I left all with no change in the flow. I could write with children talking around me, or holding a wiggly infant on my lap. But lately I find I crave more solitude for writing, and if I'm interrupted during a scene, I'll sometimes need to read through it again before I can pick up where I left off. If the kids are making noise around me, I'll stop whatever I'm doing and get them settled--and out of my office--before I attempt to write. But I thing this is a natural progression of both my age and my position as a published author. These days I'm not so anxious about getting something written in record time. I have time to be more particular about how I get the writing done.

I know I could solve a lot of interruptions simply by shutting my office door, especially during the summer when the kids are home all day, but I very rarely do so. I want my children to know they come first. They're pretty good to come in and out as they need me. They've grown up with me writing, so it's a part of their lives. Setting your own schedule has a lot of rewards. I get to go on all the school field trips and see all their performances. Interruptions might just be what keeps authors from becoming completely eccentric.

Do you write to music? If so, with lyrics or only instrumentals?
Very, very rarely do I write with music on, and never with lyrics. Occasional I find music will help me catch a mood, but mostly music just interferes with the voices in my head. I need to hear them to get the story right.

What food or snack keeps the words flowing?
I have one food rule: Never eat chocolate at the computer. Since I love chocolate and writing, I might never leave my office again. I do often eat lunch, fruit, or vegetables at the computer. It's a good way to get in the veggies. Other foods are off limits because it'd be too easy to take in mindless calories with little or no nutritional value.

But occasionally when I'm under a stressful deadline that requires overtime writing, I will buy one of those huge bags of peanut M&M's, turn the household over to my husband, shut my office door, and break my chocolate rule. I'm a morning writer, but chocolate will keep even me writing all night, if necessary.

What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?

The act of sitting down and seeing that first draft emerge from my imagination, as real to me as anything that is going in the real world, is always magic. Sometimes writing is like slogging through mud, one word at a time, but often I'll hit a time when the story is coming so fast I can barely type in the ideas fast enough. Those are times I live for.

The thing I like least about writing is the business end. It's the accounting part, the tax returns, mailing contracts, letters, and manuscripts. Leaving my family for a book signing or to speak at various places is also a challenge. While I love talking to my readers and enjoy enriching the community, appearances take a heavy toll on me. Something usually suffers when I'm away from home, and you can bet I'm making sure it's not my family. Usually, it's my sleep or my writing time that suffers. I've had to cut way back appearances these past years in order to keep up my writing pace and my health.

What is your next project?
I just finished a manuscript called Eyes of a Stranger that will be out around September 2008. Now I'm working on another novel. I don't even have a working title yet, but the opening scene has a man kidnapping his own child in order to protect her from the mother. The story was inspired by a clip I read in a newspaper some years ago. It has strong potential, and I'm excited to see how it'll turn out.

What is your advice for other writers?

Read everything you can get your hands on in the genre you wish to write. Attend writers conferences, network with other authors, and write regularly. I'm a firm believer in the saying "Writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration."

Tell us about your new book.
Fields of Home, published by Shadow Mountain, is not quite like any other book I've published. It's similar to other nationally published women's fiction, though without the smut and questionable values.

After fighting her way through a bitter and hurtful past, my character Mercedes Johnson has painstakingly carved out a life of quiet contentment on a Wyoming farm with her husband, Wayne, and their three sons. All that changes when the birth father of Mercedes’ oldest child returns to Riverton. Dr. Brandon Rhodes threatens the carefully balanced life she and Wayne have created, but especially Mercedes' own perceptions of her life because she still cares for this man who should have been her husband.

In Fields of Home, everything happened because of one decision Mercedes made many years ago, a choice that can never be altered. Or can it? My purpose in writing this book was to tell a story that could belong to any woman. I've found that many of us wonder what might have happened if we had taken a different path at some point in our lives. Where might it have led?

Yes, I've often wondered the same thing. What other work of yours has been published?
As you said, I have twenty-seven book published. Some of the most popular are the Ariana series, originally published by Covenant in 1996. In April/May 2008 Deseret Book is republishing the first three Ariana novels in one book called The Ariana Trilogy. Other books include Winter Fire, No Longer Strangers, Chasing Yesterday, and The Independence Club (a
Whitney Finalist novel)--all published by Deseret Book in the past three years. Shadow Mountain also released my novel Flying Home, just last fall. Though I am primarily a novelist, I have two award-winning picture books, The Secret of the King (2005) and Daughter of a King (2001), published by Shadow Mountain and Covenant, respectively. To see all of my titles and read sample chapters, please visit my website, www.RachelAnnNunes.com.

Thank you for being my guest today, Rachel.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, it's great to learn more about the life and times of Rachel Ann Nunes. Well done!
    Shirley Bahlmann


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