A chance encounter with a celebrity, an impromptu video, and a shiny new espresso machine all added up to a juicy tale for Rachael Allen to share with friends. But when her best friend posts the video online without her knowledge, Rachael begins receiving bizarre threats from an obsessed fan.
An author interview with Densie ~
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
I’ve been a freelance writer and editor my whole career, specializing in health and nutrition, writing for consumers and for professional journals. I actually have a PhD in nutrition and I’m a registered dietitian. I began the transition to fiction writing about 8 years ago, with the encouragement of a dear friend. It took a while to wind up, taking writing courses, reading craft books, and sharing pages to get feedback. “When Robins Appear” was published with Red Adept Publishing in 2020 and “Breathing in Reverse,” also with Red Adept is being published on August 1st of this year.
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
I don’t really have any hobbies, besides reading. I am studying modern Hebrew, which is hard, but fun. I love listening to music. I actually consider Spotify my muse.
Do you have a particular writing routine?
Not at all. I’m all over the place. I keep thinking I’m going to establish some kind of regular writing routine, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Is there anything major that changed in this novel from when you first plotted it out?
Not so much the plot, but the characters. The story involves a celebrity stalker and I originally had some chapters from the POV of the stalker. On the advice of my developmental editor, I cut all 26,000 words from the stalker’s POV and wrote new words from the main character’s POV. It was painful, but I think it works.
Finish this: “I can’t write without…”
Music. I know writers who need silence, but I always have music playing and I find inspiration in the lyrics.
What career did you think you’d have as an adult?
This is boring, but I ended up doing basically what I thought I would do—that is before I started writing fiction. In an 8th grade civics class we had to write about a profession, and I chose to write about being a registered dietitian (RD).
What is something about you that would surprise people?
I had a motorcycle when I was in my 20s. Kind of freaks me out to think about it now.
Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
I still write about health and nutrition for newsletters and magazines and do consulting for industry, but am slowly shifting my time to fiction.
Where do you get your ideas, or what inspired this book plot?
I don’t have a ton of ideas in the queue. I tend to come up with one, maybe two story ideas at a time. “Breathing in Reverse” was inspired by an interview with a young actor who voiced his feelings of vulnerability because of all the sometimes crazy fans, and I ran with it.
Do you have a manuscript in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day?
No. I’m not one of these writers who has a “spare” story or two. I stick with a story until I feel it’s done and then I move on to the next one. Plus, I’m a very slow writer, which makes me fully committed to whatever it is I’m working on.
Do you have a go-to first reader after you feel your manuscript is ready?
No, I wish I did. But, I’ve had a variety of critique groups and partners over the years, who have helped me tremendously along the way.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?
No. The time it took was well spent, as I developed some skill and learned the ins and outs of publishing. I feel grateful to have a found a publisher that is very involved with writers and works with them to promote their books. Getting your work published is a combination of determination, dedication, skill, and just plain luck. Every writer has heard the stories about wildly successful novels that were rejected dozens of times before finally being accepted by an agent and a publisher. Sometimes it’s a matter of hitting the right person at the right time.
How do you market your work?
Mainly via Facebook ads, which have worked well for me. And a small amount of Amazon ads. I tried BookBub ads, but they were relatively expensive with no results that I could see. I think BookBub is mainly geared toward readers looking for deeply discounted books. I also do author takeovers on Facebook pages, post on Instagram, Facebook, and now Threads. And, for both releases I schedule a book blog tour.
What are you working on now?
I’m about 50,000 words into a story about a relationship between a young American woman and an Irish singer. It’s a bittersweet story that alternates between the past, when they met and fell in love and the present.
What is a bestselling book you’ve been itching to read?
I belong to a Writers’ Book Club and we’re about to read “Hello Beautiful” by Ann Napolitano and I’ve got “The Whispers” by Ashley Audrain on my coffee table. I’m really looking forward to both, since I read “Dear Edward” by Napolitano and “The Push” by Audrain and loved them both.
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
I think most writers base at least some events and characters in their stories off of real life. There’s a character in “Breathing in Reverse,” who is the mother of the celebrity who’s being stalked. She’s from Louisiana, where I’m from originally and she’s an amalgam of every southern woman I knew growing up. Her name is Cora, named after an aunt of mine.
Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
I’d have to say it’s a tie between the prologue and the last chapter. The prologue is the only section from the POV of Mick, the celebrity in the story, and it paints a clear picture of what his life has been like up to that point. And the last chapter offers a bit of a twist, which I always like in stories.
Do you have a favorite character?
I can’t play favorites, but readers have expressed an affection for Cora. She doesn’t play a big role in the story, but I think she stands out.
What was some unique research you had to do for a book?
I was able to interview a psychologist who specializes in stalking and has testified in celebrity stalking cases. I couldn’t believe he gave me 45 minutes of his time. It was really fascinating—and disturbing.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
You have to be in it for the long haul, and first and foremost, don’t quit your day job. Unless you get extremely lucky right out of the gate, it can take years to develop the skills, get a book published, and develop an audience of readers. And READ! I’m always appalled when someone says they want to write a book, but they don’t read. Every book is a lesson on what to do or what not to do.
What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?
I wish I wrote faster. Publishing a book every 18 months would be a lofty goal for me, but it’s something I’ll be striving for.
Favorite band or music?
It always changes. Right now, I’m obsessed with the voice of young Scottish singer, Lewis Capaldi, as well as the lyrics of his songs.
Favorite book and/or movie?
I can never answer this question. There are too many to choose from. But at this point in time, I’m going to say, “The Light We Lost” by Jill Santopolo because it was the inspiration for the story I’m working on now. I love stories that break my heart.
Place you’d like to travel?
So many! I’d love to go to Portugal, Ireland, Croatia, Iceland and, if you can believe it, I’ve never been to Canada, so Quebec is on my list. My daughter is my favorite traveling partner. Last year we went to Rome and Naples. I’m hoping we’ll have a lot more travels together in the future.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
This goes not just for my books, but for any book you read and enjoy. It is so appreciated if you leave a rating or a review. A review can be as simple as “Loved this story!” It helps authors so much! More ratings and reviews means more exposure and the ability to get the next book published.
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