Interview with N.L. Westaway, Author of Letters From Rachel
15 Dec 2020
What can you tell us about your new release, Letters From Rachel?
The original story was based off a writing prompt for a contest, where if you won, you were granted the opportunity to write a book with an extremely popular traditionally published mystery author. I’d had someone do a quick proofread of the outline and key chapter, prior to my submission, and when they had finished the review, they’d told me, “Please, if you don’t win—you still have to write this story!” The story itself has been brewing for about 5 years and had to be put on the backburner while I finished up my other novels in The Guard Trilogy. It was just this past year that I pulled out the outline for it and began fleshing it out again, with the goal of having it ready for the holiday season.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
My path to writing novels was a complicated one, and my love of reading didn’t arrive until my late 30’s, despite my mother and siblings being voracious readers. I have always loved mysteries, real, urban fantasy, paranormal, all types, but the idea of story writing had never sparked in me until I found an old journal of my mother’s along with boxes of old letters to and from my grandmother. Going through the letters and the journal had triggered the ‘what if’ question over the mysteries that I could potentially discover in them. A few story ideas had been born from there, and ‘the rest is history’ as they say.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
Trying to nail down my top 5 books would be difficult, though naming my favorite series as part of the list might be a bit easier. Some books I prefer in print while others I prefer in audio—there is something endearing about being read to by a great narrator(s).
1) Jim Butcher – The Dresden Files series with 17 books currently, is probably one of the best urban fantasy series I have ever read.
2) J. R. Ward – The Black Dagger Brotherhood, another urban fantasy series, currently consists of 19 books and several offshoots, and I’m a big fan of the audio versions.
3) Karen Marie Moning – The Fever series has 11 books with the final one coming out next year. I can’t wait for that next book, but it will be very sad to see that series come to an end.
4) Anne Rice – The Vampire Chronicles, has 13 in total and a few side stories as well, and this was the first urban fantasy series I read, and it was the one that got me to eventually love reading.
5) Diane Setterfield – The Thirteenth Tale is not part of a series, but it was a book that I found myself completely engrossed in while reading and was in the audio version.
If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it?
This was an easy question. Reading!!! Interesting enough, I find that as a writer now, I have less and less time to devote to reading other author’s books, so I would very much enjoy a dedicated hour to just uninterrupted reading, for the sheer joy of getting lost in a book and not for any other purpose.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
I really enjoy the researching part that I do for my characters, the locations, and the facts that I like to include in my stories. I love plausible fiction stories where the characters could be real or you feel as though you might know them, and the things that happen to them occur in real places or are based on actual history or details you can look up. Using facts combined with the mystical is a fun way to write, and it’s even more enjoyable to hear readers say they feel as though the story I’m telling is real, that they ‘believe’ in the mystical parts because it feels like truth to them. I want my readers to feel as though they are there with the characters, that they might even miss them when they need to put down the book to go back to their real lives. The research I do to evoke this kind of feeling in a reader is the best part.
What is a typical day like for you?
Being an Indie author, my typical day is usually a combination of writing plus doing everything else that is involved in managing my author life. My days start at 5am during the week, 7am on weekends, there is always coffee involved, and I set certain days for writing and certain days for the rest, and all mixed in with the regular parts of my life. I prefer to be organized, so I set schedules for myself that involve doing all the marketing, social media and website maintenance, the creation of all the images used for those posts and advertisements, plus all the interactions required to maintain connections with readers and other authors. Glamorous it is not, but it seems to work for me, and being organized allows for me to make time for fun or relaxing with my hubby, and friends/family—as it was before the pandemic. Having the time to work on my writing these days I consider a luxury that I am beyond grateful for.
What scene from Letters From Rachel was your favorite to write?
The story is a murder mystery so I can’t tell you too much, but there is once scene—the turning point, or so the reader is led to believe, where one of the main characters comes face to face with a character who has been missing throughout most of the story. They don’t realize who they are until the last moment, the literal last second of the chapter. The pace and the dialog and moments within the chapter was fun to write because I knew the reader would feel the excitement and the urgency. It is not a long chapter, but it holds one of those ‘oh my god—oh my god’ moments that readers and authors love so much.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
If you get a chance to review my Bio on my website, you will read about the diversity and convoluted path I took to get to writing. One of the things I did prior to writing, was I ran a wellness business that had an emphasis on healthy living and trauma recovery. As part of the counseling I provided, there was a focus on creating happiness as opposed to chasing or trying to find happiness. Helping people find their joy. So, I guess my philosophy is more a question to you, to everyone, “How do you do joy?” Most people do not know what makes them happy, though they can easily tell you what they hate, but joy—that is much harder. Identify those things that bring you joy and focus on how to bring that into your life daily. Obviously, there is more to it, but that is one of the first steps to having a quality life.
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