It is my pleasure to host Rachel Nightingale today on my blog. A YA fiction author that will tell us a bit about herself and her work.
When and why did you start writing?
I started writing when I was about eight years old. I can’t remember any particular reason why I decided at that point I wanted to be a writer – I just found I wanted to create my own worlds and characters and place them in stories. I was one of those kids who was always imagining she was somewhere else. I’d walk to school picturing myself wearing the cloak of a gypsy, or I’d sit in class and conjure up magical spells in my thoughts, because that was way more interesting than science. My first story was about Pasha the bear and his little sister Sasha. I did illustrations to go along with it. I can’t remember any of the details, but I know Pasha liked to roller skate. That story was lost many house moves ago but I don’t think it was going to win any awards so that’s fine.
What inspired you to write for teenagers and YA?
The books that have stayed with me all my life are the ones that I read as a teenager. I think with YA writing you can delve into difficult topics that have a lot of layers to them. It’s okay to offer hope and belief in a better world in YA books – adult readers sometimes lose that. But I am hopeful that we can make a better future if we stop saying ‘this is the way it always is, and always will be’, and I’m incredibly inspired by the young people who are currently standing up for what they believe in and working for real change – doing away with conventional limits.
Have you created a special character? Can you introduce this character to us?
I have to admit I have a soft spot for Harlequin, who is (maybe?) the bad guy in my trilogy. Harlequin is traditionally a trickster character in improvised theatre, so he’s like the Loki of the stage. He’s flamboyant, theatrical and has many facets to him. But he’s also really hard to pin down so just when you think you know what he’s about, you’re going to be surprised. There’s something about the trickster energy, wild and unbound, which is really intriguing. He’s always a lot of fun to put into a scene.
Which of your books did you enjoy writing most and why?
Although I’ve only got one book published at the moment, I’ve written four novels and one children’s book. I really enjoyed writing the children’s book because it’s about a little bird who is pretty quirky. He’s trying desperately to be like everyone else, but it’s not working out for him. He was so awkward and adorable that it was really fun telling his story. And he met some crazy characters, like an iguana
For what age group would you recommend your books?
Harlequin’s Riddle is suitable for readers aged about 13 and up. The second and third books get a little darker but are still suitable for anyone that age or up. Some of my most passionate readers are adults.
A review from a reader that made your day…
My absolute favourite review is from my niece, who said ‘It’s better than Harry Potter!’, but that’s probably a bit too close to home to really count. I think my all-time favourite was this one: ‘Needed sleep but couldn’t put it down until I finished it. Can’t wait for the next instalment.’ Every time I get a review from someone that says ‘I can’t wait for the second book’ it makes my day, and inspires me to keep writing.
Is there a particular author that has inspired you on your journey as a writer?
Like lot of writers I was a voracious reader as a child, so it’s impossible to pick just one. I fell in love with the magic of words because of Ray Bradbury, who is a master of prose, but also of exploring deep ideas about human nature. In terms of storytelling, one of my favourites is Susan Cooper, whose Dark is Rising series incorporated mythology, adventure and magic.
What can we expect from you in 2018?
The sequel to Harlequin’s Riddle, which is called Columbine’s Tale, will be released in August. At the end of the first book my heroine, Mina, has escaped an awful situation and is facing a difficult choice. The next book shows which way she has chosen and begins to uncover a deeper, darker secret than the one she’s already uncovered about the travelling players. She is going to be really tested in terms of her talents and bravery. At the same time, she’s going to develop real power as a story teller – power that will let her literally change the world.