What have you had published?
I was lucky enough to have nine books published by Harlequin Mills and Boon under my pen-name Rachel Elliot. I also wrote a series of romantic short stories for the Sun newspaper under the same name. Now I’m self-publishing as myself. I've brought out two paperbacks so far - Forbidden Love and The Best Afternoon Ever! They're both collections of short romantic stories - Forbidden Love is a bit spicier, while Best Afternoon could safely be read by anyone without blushing. Forbidden Love is available on Amazon and Best Afternoon soon will be.
What genre(s) of book do you write?
So far it’s always been romantic fiction, but I’m beginning to spread my wings a little bit and to explore new writing territory.
What inspired you to write your first book?
The first book accepted by Mills and Boon was ‘Song of Love’. In it a young singer is stranded in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish Highlands when her car breaks down in a thunderstorm. A handsome castle owner comes to her rescue. However the inevitable sparks fly between them when he mistakenly thinks she’s using him as a stepping stone to stardom. The inspiration actually came when I was on holiday in the Scottish Highlands and my car broke down in a thunderstorm - alas no handsome hero came to my rescue, but it gave me a great idea!
How long did it take you to write ‘Forbidden Love”?
Hard to say really because I wrote the four short stories over the space of a couple of years before deciding to bring them together in a book. Forbidden Love itself probably took me a month or so - I really enjoyed writing it because the hero was so much my type of man!
What is the working title of your next book(s)?
I’m working on two books at the moment. Dark Tide is a little bit darker than my usual stories, and contains very little romance. I suppose it’s the story of a woman coming to understand herself and her life - with the help of a horse.
The second book is called Busk It and it’s a memoir, telling the story of my years as a Reporter/Presenter with Border Television which is based in Cumbria in the north of England.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been a scribbler ever since I was a kid. I don’t think I ever had much choice in the matter really - stories in my head just demanded to be written down. My stories then were always about horses, but at school I also ran a kind of fantasy-writing service for my chums - in which they always managed to get the boy of their dreams!
Do you self publish your books or go through an agency?
I’ve never worked through an Agent so far - when I wrote for Mills and Boon I just sent the stories direct to an Editor. Now I’m doing it all myself, which is incredibly hard work but I love the freedom and the challenge.
What part of writing books do you find the hardest?
Probably the middle section. I’m not a planner - I generally know how a story will start and finish, but haven’t the foggiest notion what will happen in the middle, so there’s always a slightly scarey stage halfway through.
What do you do in your spare time?
I work freelance nowadays on a variety of media-related projects, including writing for magazines, producing dvd’s, teaching media studies, writing blogs, presenting events and of course writing books, so spare time is a bit of an unknown luxury. I also have horses - so any spare minute I can find is devoted to them.
Who is your favourite author?
I have lots of them - JoJo Moyes is amazing - and her book ‘Me Before You’ is beyond brilliant. I’ve just started reading Jodi Picoult - ‘Lone Wolf’ was excellent. For quality romantic fiction, you can’t beat Nora Roberts. My literary all-time favourite is Lewis Grassic Gibbon who set his stories in the north-east of Scotland - which is where I was born.
What’s your favourite genre to read?
Well I do read a lot of romantic fiction, but more generally I like contemporary fiction. I have quite broad reading tastes, but I don’t like horror or violence.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
The best advice is to just sit down and write. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike - and don’t wait for the perfect opportunity - just grab any old five minutes you can find and get writing. It’s practically obligatory for first drafts to be rubbish, so set yourself free to write any old twaddle, because you can sort it all out in rewrites.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’ve done NaNoWriMo two years running now, and have been successful both times. (National Novel Writing Month challenges people to write 50,000 words in a month - there are other challenges available for younger writers.)
I have found NaNoWriMo to be a fantastic spur to my writing - it’s made me find time every single day to write, it’s set me free from the carping inner critic, because there’s just no time to keep changing your mind about what you’ve written, and I’ve found it to be incredibly worthwhile. I’d recommend it to writers at any stage of their career.