Saturday, September 12, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Rachel Thompson


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Rachel.  Welcome to The Gal.  I have read some of your work and followed you on Twitter for a long time, so I am super excited to have you on today.  Let's start off with something easy: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Rachel Thompson:
I'm a single mum of two (girl age 16, boy age 10), have published five books, own a business (BadRedhead Media, helping authors and business with social media, marketing and branding), direct the Gravity Imprint of Booktrope Publishing (bringing stories of trauma and recovery - fiction or nonfiction - to life), and as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, help child sexual abuse survivors find help and resource (including the weekly #SexAbuseChat on Twitter every Tuesday at 6pm PST with survivor/therapist Bobbi L. Parish), while raising funds for the Joyful Heart Foundation.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Rachel Thompson:
1) I took ten years of classical piano but mostly play Beatles songs or almost any melody by ear.

2) I am terribly phobic of spiders.

3) I had eye surgery when I was four years old and yet still wear glasses.  It's complicated.

4) I love most any kind of spicy food, but especially Asian or Indian.

5) I'd almost rather do anything than watch TV (unless it's Orphan Black - then do not talk to me - Tatiana Maslany is a genius and should win the Emmy Award for both best actress and best supporting actress).

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Rachel Thompson:
Well, the one I remember having the most impact on me as a writer was The Secret Garden.  My fourth grade teacher read it to us in class and after the first chapter I was hooked.  I made my parents take me to the bookstore so I could find out what happened - I couldn't wait!  I knew then I would be a writer.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Rachel Thompson:
Besides sifting through manuscripts for potential Gravity Imprint books, I'm finishing up Tea & Madness, a gorgeous book of poetry and prose by Gravity author C Streetlights.  Her book makes me want to be a better writer - every word is beautifully crafted, and her poems and stories also give such validation to any survivor.  Honestly, every Gravity book is amazing (not that I'm biased), because they're all such beautifully written stories of trauma and recovery, strength and fragility.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Rachel Thompson:
My mother became pregnant with my younger sister around the same time as The Secret Garden story (see above), so I started with short stories dedicated to her with horrible little scribbles of drawings, and it thankfully grew from there.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Rachel Thompson:
I prefer to be in my office with my earbuds in, door shut, music pushing me on.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Rachel Thompson:
I prefer a dark room, music going (earbuds over a stereo filtering into the room - it's more intimate to me), coffee and water at hand, door closed, and preferably my cat somewhere close by.  I write when my kids are in school when I have my house to myself, or late at night when everyone is asleep.  I don't write well in chaos.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?

Rachel Thompson:
I love character-driven books (whether fiction or non-fiction) so anything by John Irving or Pat Conroy I enjoy, though I'm definitely a fan of their older works (The World According to Garp and The Great Santini are favorites), Audrey Niffinegger's The Time Traveler's Wife is masterful storytelling, Dani Shapiro, Jeanette Walls, Mary Roach, and Lorrie Moore are all so terrifically talented - anything they write, I read.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Rachel Moore:
Finding the time!  Besides that, avoiding self-editing as I get through my first draft.  I force myself to just dig really deep and let it flow.  Oftentimes, I'll close my eyes and simply type, almost disassociating myself completely from the conscious me.  That's when the good stuff really comes out.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Rachel Thompson:
Well, as I write nonfiction and memoir, I look at it from that angle, though it can apply to any kind of writing: write what scares you.  If the writer doesn't feel it as we write it,  how can we expect the reader to feel it?  Keep digging until you bleed; then it's ready to share.
            As a reader, I particularly enjoy anything paranormal: not vampires and such, but more in the form of magical realism: suspending belief of the normal, and adding just that slightest touch of something magical, that 'what if?' aspect.  I suppose that's why I love The Time Traveler's Wife so much.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why did you pick your particular genre?

Rachel Thompson:
Writing nonfiction came very easily to me, though I have reams of short stories and a half-written romance novel in my bottom drawer (doesn't everyone? Ha.).  My first two books are nonfiction, satirical humor, and while I loved writing them, I felt like I was hiding my real story: the childhood sexual abuse I experienced at age eleven, but I wasn't sure how to go about sharing it without seeming like I was exploiting myself in some ways, so I let it simmer for a long time.  Decades, really.
            Then I was lucky enough to meet Dani Shapiro at a reading in Southern California, where I lived at the time.  She's so wonderfully gracious.  As she signed her latest book, she kindly asked about my writing aspirations.  Though I wasn't ready to share something so personal about my life, she took my hand and said, 'Those stories are in there, whatever they are.  Mine them.'  Her advice really hit home with me, and I started doing exactly that.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Rachel Thompson:
My book Broken Pieces and the current release Broken Places (and The Broken Collection, a collection of book books) are a combination of both poetry and prose that discusses not only the abuse (in a non-explicit way), but also how I reacted to it as a woman and mother.  Survivors often don't understand or even realize they have PTSD or how it affects them in their relationships with others - I know I had no idea.  These books delves into those many aspects in various ways, both poetic and straight-up.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your 'trunk'?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have some extra time.  Do you have one?)

Rachel Thompson:
Like many people, I know I have an erotic romance novel in me that HAS to be better than 50 Shades, right?  I've started an alter ego, and even started marketing her.  Half the story is written and she interacts with people on social media - pre-marketing, right?  I don't have much time to spend on her, but when I do, it's quite fun.  The next step is to finish her website and blog, and finish up the damn story.  So far, my editor likes what she's seeing.  I'll likely publish it through Booktrope, perhaps through one of their erotica imprints.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Rachel Thompson:
Well, I've got several ongoing projects (in addition to what I've mentioned above): a social media book for authors (tentatively titled Tough Love for Whiny Authors, based on an an article I wrote for The Huffington Post that won an award), the third Broken book titled Broken People, continuing my advocacy work with sexual abuse survivors with the #NoMoreShame Anthologies (we're opening up submissions for the third volume now), potentially the erotic romance at some point, my professional regular writing gigs for The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, BookPromotion.com, and EverBliss, a new mental wellness site that launches in a few days!  I'll be (cross your fingers) a regular contributor to their blog, as well as marketing all the Gravity Imprint authors, continuing to market my own writing, and working with my wonderful BadRedhead Media clients.
            I miss sleep.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks for stopping by, Rachel.  It was great having you.  With all of the things you are so busy doing, I'm even more honored that you took the time to be here today.  You have definitely inspired me, and hopefully some of my readers, and I can't wait to pick up Broken Places and give it a read. :)


About the author:
Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places (2015 Honorable Mention Winner, San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk in the Snark and Mancode: Exposed.  Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope where she directs the Gravity imprint helping authors share their stories of trauma and recovery.  She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors.  For affordable group sessions, check out Author Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors!  Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says...), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.
            Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish.
            She is also now the director of the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope, bringing stories of trauma and recovery (fiction and nonfiction) to life.
            She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut.  She lives in California with her family.



About the book:
Genre: Memoirs, Women
Publisher: Booktrope
Publication date: 1.13.2015
Pages: 126

Award-winning author Rachel Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose: Broken Places.  The sequel to Rachel's first nonfiction book, Broken Pieces, Rachel bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life's most difficult topics with honesty.  As you follow one woman's journey through the dark into the light, you will find yourself forever changed.  Rachel's first book in this series, Broken Pieces, has been a #1 best seller on Amazon (eBooks) on Women's Poetry and Abuse.  Please note: this book discusses serious topics, and is intended for mature audiences only.

2 comments:

Rachel Thompson said...

thank you so much for the feature and interview! you learned all my secrets :)

Meghan H said...

You're very welcome, Rachel. Thanks for stopping by :)