Monday, February 7, 2011

Interview with Author Rachelle J. Christensen

I really enjoyed reading Wrong Number, a Whitney finalist, and thought I'd have a chat with Rachelle Christensen, award-winning author of "Wrong Number" and "Lost Children: Coping with Miscarriage". I like to ask authors three critical fundamentals in writing. Let's start with . . .
Plot—Your plot kicks off strongly from page one. Did you struggle to keep the momentum going? How much of the story was plotted out or outlined before you started writing?
Rachelle: My character, Aubree Stewart, sometimes had a mind of her own and that led to more tension. But I also went back through each chapter during revisions and looked for plot development, tension, etc. to make sure the pacing of the story would keep the reader turning pages.
Character—I liked how you showed character growth from a wife dependent on her husband to a woman who takes charge of her situation. Was this something you strengthened during revisions or did you plan her character arc from the beginning?
Rachelle: Thank you! It was fun to see Aubree’s character development. A lot of that happened naturally with the paths she took in the novel, but I also tried to refine that during revisions. Something I tried to keep in mind was that the character needs to have faults and flaws so they are progressing with the plot as well.
Renae: It was fun to discover who Aubree could or couldn’t trust. Any tips on keeping a secondary character mysterious while showing their development?
Rachelle: Red herrings are a wonderful tool to make anyone seem mysterious. I’ll admit I find it tricky to keep the bad guy a secret because obviously I know who he is while I’m writing :) so I’m always double-checking my writing and asking myself, “Are they going to figure out the bad guy?” and then adding in subtle movements, red herrings, and foreshadowing to keep the reader guessing.
Conflict—There were lots of conflicts along the way culminating to the biggest one where there was no escape. Where do your ideas come from?
Rachelle: My ideas usually come from something that sparks my interest like a news story and then I start asking, “What if?” For example, we all get wrong numbers and I’ve had plenty where people just start talking (this especially happens on my voicemail) and I’ve had to correct them and tell them “I’m sorry you must have the wrong number.” So what if someone called the wrong number by accident and gave out information about a murder?
Renae: It always exciting to win awards. How different was the final product from what you submitted to contests?
Rachelle: Wrong Number won second place in the LDStorymakers contest in 2007 and I had another novel (one of my many work-in-progress) win first place in 2009. The first chapter didn’t change much, other than being tightened up a bit and some extra scrubbing and polishing. But the first draft of my novel was right around 50,000 words. By the time I finished re-writing and revising for several months, the final word count was nearly 72,000 words and that doesn’t account for all the words I cut during revising.
Renae: Did your marketing or publishing strategy change by going from a non-fiction book to suspense?
Rachelle: Definitely. I found it much easier to market my fiction book because it was for anyone. Whereas my nonfiction book was written for a specific niche of readers.
Renae: What else would you like to share about yourself?
Rachelle: I’m a stay-at-home mommy of four beautiful kids. I love to play the piano and sing. I enjoy anything creative, especially making cards, creating photobooks, sewing, and gardening. And right now I’m counting down the days until sunny weather when I can go running any time of day while listening to my iPod and thinking of ideas for my next novel.
Renae: What are you working on now?
Rachelle: I’m currently revising the spin-off from Wrong Number. The working title is Caller ID and I’m excited about the plot in this story. I came up with the idea by combining the elements of two different stories I saw on the news a few years ago. I think my readers will be excited to see who the main character is in Caller ID. I’ll give a hint, it’s not Aubree.
Renae: Do you have any advice for other authors?
Rachelle: If you’re serious about writing, attend writers conferences and classes, join a great critique group, read novels in your genre of interest, and write, write, write! Also, learn how to take criticism and know when to apply it to your writing and when to chuck it out the window.
Renae: Where can we find your books? (BTW, I can personally recommend Wrong Number!)
Rachelle: Anywhere books are sold. If you don’t see it, ask for it and they can order it in. Available wherever books are sold, including Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Amazon
If you’d like to get a sneak peek at Wrong Number, check out the book trailer—it’s awesome! Stop by my blog,  to see what I’m up to. Thank you so much for this interview! Happy reading and writing.

Renae: Thanks, Rachelle. I invite readers to stop by tomorrow for my book review of The Peasant Queen by Cheri Chesley as part of her blog tour. I'll tell ya what I think!


Rachelle said...

Thanks again for letting me visit your blog, Renae. :)

Kristie Maynard said...

Very nice interview. I read Wrong Number and loved it. It kept me interested and turning page after page, even when I should have been sleeping. Can't wait for the next book! I have a guess as to who the main character will be, but will have to wait and see if I'm right. Thanks for posting this interview, Great job!

Renae W. Mackley said...

Thanks for stopping by Rachelle and Kristie. One cool thing about the book that I didn't mention was that my first time at Paris Springs campground was last summer and I visited the ice caves. I thought Rachelle did a great job describing everything.