MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR R.L. WEEKS!
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
Hi! I’m Rebecca and my pen name is R. L. Weeks and my primary genre is Young Adult, usually paranormal, horror, and fantasy.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
I am releasing Raven’s Heart next, on September 1st, which is book three in the Raven’s Shadows series. The series concept came from my love of the Victorian period and gothic style and my obsession with mystery stories. I wanted to create something unique, as close to something that hasn’t been done before. The name Raven for the main character came to me when I was mapping out what I wanted to the series to be about. I wanted to write in a gothic style set in a gothic world, and the bird, raven, always makes me think of that style so I chose that for her name. The original idea for Raven’s story changed as I was writing it. I wanted to explore the darker side of YA fiction and therefore based my book around a serial killer, an orphanage, and some evil heritage.
Book three is set in Romania in the 1800s as I love the folklore and gypsy lore from that time period. They were a very superstitious people in that time due to the famine, the natural disasters and diseases in Romania, and I wanted to bring the folklore of that to life.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
My first book was a paranormal romance and the second book I ever wrote was a Young Adult fantasy, so they were the two genres I had always loved since the beginning. Since then I have tried my hand at a variety of genres including horror, erotica, romance, sci-fi, fairytales, and found that although I love reading romance novels, they just weren’t for me when it came to my writing style. I prefer writing for a younger audience (although I and many others I know read teen-fiction even though I am way past my teenage years). The style is very action-oriented and the focus is simply to entertain.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
Tons! I watched documentaries on the Victorian period, read books about it, and researched about Jack the Ripper, vampire lore, Romania in the 1800’s, and an array of other things. I have learned a lot from writing this series.
Can you tell me about your Series?
I think I’ve already talked your ear off about it enough, but I will say that it will be an eight-book series with the final book releasing in 2021.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
So far, the one I have just written, Raven’s Heart. We really see her mature with age and experience, and we also get a glimpse inside Emmett’s head who is honestly, next to Raven, my favorite character.
Was it always meant to become a series?
Yes. I had always planned for that, but I didn’t leave a cliffhanger on book one so people could read it as a standalone too if they wished.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I try to write 2000 good words a day, but sometimes I only manage 500, sometimes I can do 9000, it depends on how inspired I feel (or how quickly that deadline is looming.)
I write at my desk which is in the dining room which is rarely-used. I have an array of indie books by desk too, so I can also read at night.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
The next book after Raven’s Heart is Stories After Twilight. It’s a collection of four dark fairytales for adults. The stories are a prequel to Beauty and the Beast, a retelling of Alice in Wonderland (The Red Queen), Red Riding Hood, and the Ugly Duckling.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
Maybe I’m the odd one out but I rarely use names of any family members or people I know well. I try to keep the names separate to anyone I know so not to cloud my character’s actions in my head.
Where do your ideas come from?
I wish I knew, I’ve always been stumped when asked this. I guess it just comes out of nowhere.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Rewriting and editing it after, lol.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer, or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I’ve done book trailers and I loved doing them, but I didn’t find them too useful in promotion, so I rarely do them now.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
In my career, probably when I finished and published my first book, and when I started my design company. Both felt very rewarding.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
I get to work in pajamas and drink tea all day 😊 For reals, it’s knowing that I get to create a whole other world that others can dive into and escape for a while. I was an avid reader growing up, so it’s an honor and a pleasure to be able to create what I loved doing for so long.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I don’t even know where I see myself next year, honestly. I hope I’m still writing and I’m happy, maybe I’ll have a child by then, or I’ll be a NYT Bestseller (one can dream).
Have you always liked to write?
Yes and no, I hated writing formally in school, like essays, but I have always loved creative writing.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
For self-publishing and indie authors – It is really, really hard and I wish I had known how hard it was going in, but it can be very rewarding. My advice would be not to set your expectations too high. So many new authors I have come across have told me that they know they are going to sell 1000000 copies and become famous straight away.
Yes, there have been a lucky few who have made it straight off the bat, but that is extremely rare. If you’re in this to make money in the indie world, be prepared to put a lot of your time and money into it before you start seeing any profit back.
If you love to write and want to entertain then it can be a lot of fun. Get involved with other authors, go to book signings, join groups and meet new people.
Lastly, be careful how you promote yourself online. Your readers watch what you write and what you say, and building a brand is important, oh and try to stay out of the drama.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I already design so I would probably stick to that, or go back into sales.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I never respond to bad reviews, it is their choice to leave a review and most of the time constructive feedback like that can help me in the future. If it’s just someone posting bad reviews and haven’t read the book then I just leave it. People will see them and not take them seriously, but I’m lucky to not have too many bad reviews.
I try to stay out of the reviewing part, because I don’t want anyone to feel pressured to leave me a good review, so I don’t really respond to any. However, I will pick out some good reviews and put them in the front of the book, and I do read every single review I get on all platforms.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
The waiting for the book to go live! Once I write it, I want everyone to read it straight away, but I have learned to be patient 😉 Also, the promotion can be hard, but I’ve got used to doing it now so it’s not as grueling.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Of course! Here is an excerpt from Raven’s Heart –
My mind drifts back to the night when I had learned of the story, savouring each detail I was told. Vasile, a man whose family I had been staying with me, told me of the tale of Death’s chariot. He was one of the only Romanian’s I had met who spoke English. He had spent time in London in his earlier years.
“I lived in Rășinar,” Vasile told me. He lowered his voice to a whisper and looked me dead in the eye. “The whispers of the tale of Death’s chariot hang like a noose around each of our necks.”
I sat forward. “Tell me more,” I said.
“They say that the rider of the chariot is Death and over a hundred years ago he had come for a woman.”
My eyes lit up. “Who?”
“It was midnight on a Wednesday.” He said. “There was a girl. Alana. A simple farm girl. She was tending to the animals in her parent’s farm and was finishing up her rounds by the moonlight when she was confronted by a tall, dark man with a black cloak that dragged across the ground.
She knew who he was. He was Death. Stories of Death had circulated the villages like a chilly wind for as long as any of us could remember.” He took a deep breath. “I was just a boy then.” He said. “I couldn’t remember it all, but I do remember my mother telling my father that Alana’s cough had grown worse over the passing weeks, and blood had recently made an appearance on her coughing rag.”
I bit my lip. “So she was the woman Death came for?”
He nods. “Yes. Death had extended his hand and told her to come with him, for her time there was at an end. Alana took his hand and walked away from her family’s farm without looking back. She was the first to treat Death like an equal, and quickly, Death fell under her spell.
He allowed Alana to live and visited her often in the dead of night.”
I was in a daze. “Death could love?”
Vasile shrugged. “So they said.” He waved his hand. “Regardless, after months, Alana was set up to be married to a local man. She told Death on his next visit of her engagement. In anger, Death killed the man and took Alana to the underworld to become his bride.”
My mouth agape, I looked at Vasile, begging for him to continue. He did.
“Shortly after going to the underworld, Alana became pregnant with Death’s child and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Alana had begged Death to return to her village to see her family one last time. He allowed her one visit.”
I felt the chill of the night set into my skin. My hairs erect on my arms, I leaned in closer to Vasile. “Did she stay with her family?”
He shook his head. “When she returned, the family were in disgust over the child and her story of Death. They believed Alana to be possessed by demons and burned Alana and took the child far away to raise her somewhere safe.” He pointed his finger at me. “But when Death returned to the village and heard what they did to his bride and child, he vowed to return once every year, on that same night, to take one of their own until his child was returned to him.”
I gasped. “So he returns every year to Rășinar?”
“Yes.” He cleared his throat and finished his ale. “No one could find the child and every year since then someone has gone missing on that same night.”
I leaned back. “What night?”
I stood up and left the Inn. October tenth was fast approaching.
Where did your love of books come from?
Harry Potter probably was the book that really made me fall in love with reading. I devoured the first book at four and a half years old and then each one after. When I was six I started reading other fantasy books and ever since then I have just loved to read.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
I could list hundreds, but my favorites are J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, Stephanie Myers, Richelle Mead, Cassandra Clare, Lauren Kate, and Marian Keyes.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
Raven, because I get to watch her mature, and I love the depth of her mind. Emmett is second because he reminds me of my husband.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It exhausts me, I feel like I need to take a few naps in-between but I still love it.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
English Breakfast Tea and diet coke 😀
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Original. I could care less about what’s popular, I like to write what I find interesting and I write what I want to read. I figure if everyone tries to write the same thing, then there would never be anything new.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
Diaries of a clumsy tea drinker (shrugs)
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️