First Monday of the month always brings an author interview. This month, I’d like to bring you Rachel McCoy. Rachel writes some hella good Scifi, and Urban Adult fantasies with mythological, fairy tales, and alien invasion elements.
If you know young people who like to read, she writes great YA stories. She is active on a writing site that I’m a member of, making her an asset to the writing community. I urge you to go check out her stories, you won’t be disappointed.
Please allow me to introduce a fellow Texan, Rachel McCoy.
Hey, Rachel. I’m so happy you stopped by for a chat. Let’s get right to the questions. What do you think makes a good fantasy story?
Rachel: For fantasy, world-building is a must. If you take the hobbits, wizards, and elves out of Tolkien’s work, it’s just not the same. Creating those really strong fantasy foundations in your world makes everything else work. Of course, you still need great, vibrant characters, a tense and action-filled plot, and beautiful writing!
I agree, world building is vital. I do a ton of research with my historicals to get the setting just right. Let me ask you, how long on average does it take you to write a fantasy book?
Rachel: Three to six months is my average, depending on the time of year and if my kids are in school. I’ve spent as little as six weeks (Sparks, YA Epic Fantasy) and as long as a eighteen months (The Killing Jar, Science Fiction).
What are you currently working on and what is it about?
Rachel: My latest project is Hale and Gemini, a retelling of Hansel and Gretel. It’s the third book in my fairy tale retelling series that takes place in a fantasy world in which people receive a totem animal and can shift into bears, wolves, birds, or deer. It’s been a super fun series to write and I have a total weak spot for anything fairy tale!
What does your family think of your writing?
Rachel: My husband is my biggest supporter despite being totally anti-fantasy (I know, right?!) and my kids think my books are ultra boring because they don’t have pictures in them. I have received nothing but 100% support and encouragement from my parents, friends, and entire family. I definitely consider myself lucky.
Having your family’s support means you soar. When your kids are older, they’ll appreciate your work. How are you publishing your writing and why?
Rachel: My books are currently self-published but I’ve started down the road to traditional publishing. My ultimate goal is to be a hybrid author, with some self-pubbed and traditionally pubbed works. I love the independence and entrepreneurship of self-publishing, but there are so many doors that are only open to traditional publishers. I think hybrid is a perfect option for me.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Rachel: I’m addicted to paperbacks! I spend all day on screen, so for the sake of my eyeballs, I refuse to read on a screen for my pleasure reading. And hardbacks are so heavy and I lose/damage the dust jacket and I just can’t even with those things. So paperbacks for me! I collect and arrange them on my shelf and post pictures of my current reads on my Instagram account. It’s a super nerdy but delicious past-time!
I love paperbacks too. Nothing like folding down the corner to save your place. Let’s talk about marketing for a moment. Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
Rachel: Definitely! I’ve had my debut novel (Sparks, YA Epic Fantasy) listed as free on all platforms for going on three years now. It’s by far my most consistent series in sales. Additionally, I list a first book in a series for free to promote a new release in that series. Last fall, I gave away almost ten thousand copies of my paranormal romance Blossom and the Beast, and a significant portion of those readers came back to purchase the sequel a week later. It was one of the best sales months of my career!
What a great idea! Book reviews are important. Do you read your reviews?
Rachel: Always. I know a lot of authors avoid them, but I think it’s important to know what readers are thinking about my books. I have thick skin and never take it personally, and I never engage with a comment or anything else. But to know that readers love/hate a cliffhanger, thought my characters were strong/weak, and the world-building was solid/conflicted is really important to me. How can we improve if we don’t know what is working and what isn’t?
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? What was it about?
Rachel: For this question, I’m fortunate to have started writing late in my life. I was twenty-five and wrote a story about a team of researchers venturing into the deepest underwater canyons and finding crazy creatures and ancient objects that affected their emotions. It was definitely a hunk of garbage that will never leave my laptop, but it was such a fun piece to write and helped cement my love of writing.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?
Rachel: Japan! I love Japanese culture and sushi is my favorite food. I’ve been to Europe a few times as well as Canada and Mexico, so I think my next trip will have to be west. Japan is definitely on my bucket list.
Thanks so much for dropping in! This was fun, don’t be a stranger.
Rachel McCoy is a Texan living in New Jersey. Between binge-watching MTV reality shows and baking gluten-free treats, she writes paranormal fantasy and science fiction novels.
She is the self-published author of the Sparks Saga trilogy, The Alder Tales series, and The Extraction Files. Back when she lived in the real world, Rachel earned a degree in marine biology, which contributed to her die-hard love of manta rays.