Rachel Hunter is the focus of today’s Before and After, a new feature on this blog. In Before and After, we will hear from new authors before the publication of their novel and then follow up after the book’s publication to find out how the experience went.
Rachel’s first book is A Llathalan Annal: Empyreal Fate, coming out this spring from Hydra Publications. Rachel has also just released the short story, “Perfect Nothing,” about her battles with anorexia nervosa. Proceeds from this story will be donated to Give Kids the World. It is available now on Amazon.com.
Gwen: Welcome to the blog, Rachel! I always like to start out by having the author tell a little bit about their book. Can you share with us what the book is about?
Rachel: Greetings, Gwen!
Thanks for featuring me on your blog. I would be delighted to share a bit about my book: Empyreal Fate – Part One of my Llathalan Annal fantasy series.
Filled to the brim with forbidden love, an ancient evil, and a nation in disrepair, Empyreal Fate is a tale of riveting bravery and mortal corruption.
The land of Llathala lingers on the brink of war between men and elves, a dark history surrounding each race. Stirred by tensions of the land, a shadow of the past reemerges, taking precedence in reality and consuming the very soul of mans’ mortal weakness. Darrion, the son of a poor laborer, is ensnared in a hostile world, forced to choose between loyalty to his king or the counsel of the elves. Yet Fate has other plans in store, tying his course to Amarya, an elven royalblood of mysterious quality and unsurpassable beauty. But this forbidden connection incites betrayal from members of their own kin, marking them as traitors to the crown. In a land torn asunder, only Fate’s decree can allow such love to coexist with an ancient enmity.
Behold: A Llathalan Annal: Empyreal Fate – Part One.
I won’t give away much of the details here, but Empyreal Fate basically sets the stage for a great war between the races of man and elf. Part One focuses on developing a crucial piece of the story (which the reader will unravel as he ventures forth), and it establishes the basis through which the characters will learn and grow. I find a story comes to life when its characters mature and express marked wisdom. Indeed, as my Llathalan Annal series progresses, I hope the reader is able to make those connections and also tie himself in Llathala’s realm as well.
Oh – and just a word of caution… Keep an eye on the young one. She’s not always as she seems.
Gwen: What inspired you to choose fantasy as your genre?
Rachel: Fantasy – a beautiful word against my lips! What could be more magical than transporting oneself into realms of the impossible – the enchanting? Since I could but only grasp onto the covers of a book, I have been reading to my heart’s content. Although I enjoy works spanning all genres, I have found that fantasy beckons my attention far above all. There’s something in the nature of the fantastical that draws me in; there’s something about the feel of alternate worlds and mystical planes that ensnares me. And this is why I’ve chosen fantasy as my own genre. I want to make others feel the way I do about words: to breathe in awe at their elusive connectedness – to marvel the fluid way in which they bind. It’s this internal delight that delivers life upon a sheet of parchment. And it is this feeling I wish to instill.
I wish to add a side note here, as I have also a penchant for poetry. ‘I dance with words,’ as some may say. As a poet, I have incorporated my fascination of speech within Empyreal Fate, thereby bringing to light the lofty language and mystical tongue of an epic world. Every sentence I wrote flowed through my head along with a beat, and I recounted my tale accordingly. Thus, I wish to share with all the beauty of words and the unique way in which they breathe.
Gwen: I know that I myself was reading fantasy from a young age—the first book series that really captured my imagination was the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Reading so much fantasy–particularly those novels with their use of metaphor and subtle discussion of religious themes–definitely influenced me as a writer. Have you had a similar experience with any books that you’ve read? Is there any theme or aspect of a novel you read early on that just sticks with you?
Rachel: Vivid words and breathing characters. Regardless the genre and regardless the message, if these crucial elements are for lack, the tale will hardly hold together. Fantasy-speaking, I do well enjoy political references and spiritual subtleties. In fact, when I wrote Empyreal Fate, I sewed in some ties of my own spiritual quandaries. I would definitely say that having read other works throughout my life has inspired me to intertwine such concepts. The most important part I gleaned was how – despite the message or whether I truly believed it– the influence or ‘readability’ of the characters was key. In fact, I believe The Shannara Series – by Terry Brooks – was the first truly epic fantasy collection I read, and I was immediately intrigued by the character dynamics. Without that connection, the inner workings of the novels would not have been as profound.
Gwen: When we write, there is often an idea behind it that we want our readers to discover (and we’ll talk more about that in our “After” interview). As a first-time novelist, however, what ideas did you uncover in your own work? Did you learn any lessons from your own characters?
Rachel: Indeed – as I wrote, I delved further into the histories of my races: how they came to be and why, etc… At first, I had only a rough outline in my head, but as I progressed, the details blossomed anew. Needless to say, I could hardly keep up! I had so many ideas rampaging at once. I suppose that’s where the subsequent parts to series will come into play…
As for my characters – they instilled in me the importance of virtue, of love, and of truth. (I would say more, but for fear of spoiling anything, I shall refrain.) I will, however, suggest that one takes note of the Cauychin. Now there’s a witty beast with heart to tell.
Gwen: Let’s shift gears a little and talk about one of the hardest things that any author has to do—finding a home for the work when they’re finished. What was the most difficult part of this process for you?
Rachel: Oh – goodness! Where to begin? I would definitely say that querying agents and publishers (in general) was the most difficult part. It seems everyone has different procedures that must be followed; and to break a single ‘rule’ in the process is a one-way ticket for rejection. Patience is key. It was difficult to fathom the fact that publishers generally look for reasons to decline a book – especially if they are swamped with submissions. So… yes… I would have to say that finding a publisher who met my needs – as well as found interest in my novel – was the hardest part. (Especially finding a publisher with whom to trust. A completed manuscript is like a babe – you cannot simply sell it to just anyone on the street.)
Gwen: How did you come to choose Hydra Publications for your book?
Rachel: Actually, I was offered two contracts for Empyreal Fate within roughly the same week. It became readily apparent, however, that the first company was not the right ‘fit.’ Therefore, Hydra graciously accepted me into their family, and I could not be more pleased – nigh, honored!
Gwen: Do you have any expectations about what will happen once the book comes out? Any special plans for other projects?
Rachel: Well, with college and various academic endeavors, it is difficult to find the time to specifically plan things. I do, however, hope to attend more writing conventions, assert myself further via social media, and perhaps participate in blogs/interviews such as this! Of course, I also plan to polish the rest of my series, but as for a schedule – it’s up in the air! We’ll see where Fate takes me. So far, the journey looks promising.
Gwen: What has been the most rewarding part of your experience thus far?
Rachel: Meeting new people – immersing myself in the collective wisdom of my peers. Simply experiencing the joy of fellow authors and readers claims my heart. It rewards me most of all when I can share my opinions with others – whether about novels, poetry, or life in general – and, in turn, gain insight of my own. I’ve learned a lot from others throughout this process thus far. And I, too, wish to inspire. I wish to awaken the muse in those who seek its majesty. You never know what one may discover within.
Gwen: If readers want to follow your work or find out more about you as an author, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Rachel: As of now, one can find me on my blog, websites, Facebook, and Twitter. Also, be sure to visit Hydra Publications’ Website, where I can be found – as well as a plethora of other amazing and talented authors: http://www.hydrapublications.com.
Some of my links can be found below:
Again, thank you for having me! ‘Twas a pleasure indeed.