Thank you to Rebel for the review copy of her new novel, Awakening. Rebel took the time to answer a few questions for me about her book. See what she had to say below. Review to come soon!
What was your inspiration for writing Awakening?
I always knew I wanted to write a novel, but didn’t know when or about what. My inspiration was very sudden. I was thumbing through the successes of up-and-coming authors in the latest issue of my alumni magazine when the opening sentence to the novel popped into my head: “I am a queen.” It sounded like a story that needed to be told. But a sentence does not a book make! So I had to start thinking about who this ‘queen’ was and how she came to be. My reading library is as eclectic as my musical tastes. You’ll find erotic romances to theories on the foundations of the universe and everything in between. I found the idea of bringing a coming-of-age romance (also known as new adult romance) into a future setting where new experiences in sexuality, love and career could be explored in greater depth very appealing.
Can you briefly walk me through the process of having your first novel published?
I started my novel in November 2014 and finished and submitted my evaluated manuscript for copy editing six months later. My novel is set hundreds of years in the future, so I needed to start out with a clear vision of the world I was creating. The world had to feel real to me, so that when I wrote about it, the underpinnings of the Realm − the society in which my characters live – would come naturally to me. After developing my world bible, as authors call it, I booked time in daily to work on the novel. I work in communications during the day, so I spent my lunch hours and my train commutes with my headphones on, typing away on my iPad. Even if I felt like what I was writing wasn’t working, I would tweak it a bit then plow ahead. What helped was setting a hard deadline. In addition to a day job, I have two children, which makes for a busy household – there’s simply no time to procrastinate! During writing the first draft, I made a conscious decision not to research writing advice. It’s contrary to popular advice, but my goal was to try to find or develop my own voice first, and then when the rough draft was done, seek guidance through my editor and online resources on how to refine it. The writing community is incredible. There’s a wealth of knowledge available online and, believe me, I took advantage of it! Writing Awakening was such an exhilarating experience. I enjoyed every moment of it even when assaulted by plot ideas and dialogue that I had to jot down in the middle of the night!
What was your greatest challenge in writing this novel?
Anything to do with names! The Realm is based on a caste system that puts great value on an individual’s role and contribution to society. All of my characters have last names that reflect their occupation and so, rank. Trying to think of different ways to refer to a scientist or an administrator made me a very regular visitor to Thesaurus.com! Also, the title of the novel went through about ten names before I settled on Awakening. It reflects the female lead’s coming-of-age experiences in all aspects of her life – sexuality, career, love, and family and social relationships. My advice is to any new or aspiring authors is to wait until your novel is almost complete before trying to confirm an appropriate title. The story will tell you what it wants to be called.
Is there a character you relate to most? And why?
I probably relate the most to Sela, the female lead’s best friend. During high school, I loved hanging out with the girls who were the most rebellious. I tend to be very practical, reliable and straight-forward. While I normally question popular beliefs and opinions, I do it in a quiet way. I think I enjoyed living vicariously through those high school girlfriends. I suppose writing about strong female leads is simply my adult way of living vicariously and expressing that rebelliousness!