Author Crush Friday with Rachel Rust
Glitter girls, you have pressing questions for your favorite authors and we have their answers. Welcome to our weekly segment, Author Crush Fridays.
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to Rachel Rust, author of the new creepy and twisty YA, 8 Souls (May 6, 2019; Entangled Teen). Thank you for talking to us today, Rachel! We’re honored! If you haven’t picked up 8 Souls yet, run, don’t walk, to grab this one.
GLITTER: Tell us five things that people might not know about you.
1) I don’t use a pen name. The “RR” alliteration is real.
2) In first grade, I went to speech therapy to learn how to say my Rs. (…oh cruel irony)
3) I met my husband on a blind date and we were engaged three months later.
4) I have a degree in Addiction Studies and used to work as an addictions counselor.
5) I briefly worked inside a maximum-security prison.
GLITTER: How would you describe your writing to a new reader?
RACHEL: Mysterious YA stories with darker themes and a dash of romance.
GLITTER: Do all of your ideas turn into books, or do you write a ton down until one resonates with you and then start writing that book?
RACHEL: I write down a ton of ideas, but thoughts happen faster than my brain can expand on them. I keep a “miscellaneous” file on my laptop with random ideas. Some are literally just a Word document with one line typed out. That said, all my books have stemmed from these little nuggets of creativity, so it’s well worth documenting every bit of imagination!
GLITTER: How do you find the emotional truths in your writing?
RACHEL: Some emotional truths appear out of nowhere like gut instincts, and some come with time as I get to know the story and characters better. While writing a rough draft, I go bare bones, just getting the basic story into place. My first (second, third…) editing pass is often where I flesh out the story, including emotions and emotional arcs. That said, even while drafting the outline, there are usually a few character moments that I feel intuitively, and the words pour onto the page from somewhere unseen. I also harness emotional truths from random things around me—people watching, talking with my kids, reading other stories, following the news. There’s literally a whole world of inspiration out there!
GLITTER: What one question sparked the whole plot of 8 Souls?
RACHEL: This one is easy: Who killed the Moore family and Stillinger girls?
I’ve always had an interest in the true crime story of the Villisca axe murders. In June 1912, the six members of the Moore family, plus sleepover guests, Ina and Lena Stillinger, were all killed by a still-unknown assailant. I grew up just a few hours from Villisca and my eerie fascination with the story grew as I grew. Of course, 8 SOULS is a work of fiction and does not purport to know the real-life truths of the crime or the killer. However, I felt pulled to write a story around the murders to bring awareness of the lives of the Moores and Stillingers to those who may have never heard of them.
GLITTER: Do you have any particular writing rituals?
RACHEL: I wish I were organized enough to have rituals! I don’t write every day, nor do I write in the same place or at the same time or surrounded by the same environment. I do drink coffee when I write. Is coffee a ritual? Then, YES, I have a ritual. It’s called caffeine.
GLITTER: What character do you relate most to?
RACHEL: I relate to Chessie, the main character in 8 Souls. She’s lived her whole life with recurring dreams she can’t talk about, and now her parents are splitting up and she holds in a lot of emotions about the fate of her family. I can’t relate to all this specifically, but I do understand the frustration of holding things in. It took me a long time and a lot of life experience to learn that it’s not rude to speak up and speak out when it comes to what’s best for yourself.
GLITTER: Do you have anything that you love to collect?
RACHEL: I’m an anti-packrat, so collecting sort of goes against my use-it-or-lose-it nature. However, I DO collect pug-related items. I have figurines, artwork, blankets, and even pugs themselves. 🙂 Currently, I have a black pug named Hank, and a fawn chug (chihuahua-pug) named Niko. My dream job, aside from writing, is to start a non-profit pug rescue. Now I just need to figure out how to do that…
GLITTER: What book of yours do you hope to see on either TV or as a movie and why?
RACHEL: Wow, this is the dream. The honest answer is I’d love to see any of my books onscreen. But 8 Souls would be especially awesome as it would bring awareness to the Moore family and the Stillinger girls who lost their lives back in 1912. I grew up in the Midwest, so I’ve known about the unsolved Villisca murders for a long time, but I’ve found most people have never heard of it before. I hope 8 Souls changes that and pays at least a small tribute to the lives lost.
GLITTER: What one piece of advice could you give any teen going through difficult times now?
RACHEL: Never be ashamed of your feelings. Feelings themselves are not right or wrong, they are simply a natural part of being human. And it’s okay if “talking about it” is difficult at first. It’s not easy opening up about painful experiences. Write down what you want to express. Practice saying it out loud. If you have a pet, tell them about it first (they are so lovingly nonjudgmental, aren’t they?).
GLITTER: Did any of the authors you read in high school affect how you write now?
RACHEL: High school was a while ago, but the authors I read back then definitely shaped the types of stories I like to tell. Once I discovered authors like Christopher Pike in middle school, and then Stephen King and Mary Higgins Clark in high school, I nearly forgot all about the sweet stories of my younger years. It was an eye-opener to learn it’s okay to write about the dark parts of human nature and human experiences. In my own writings, I like happy-for-now endings, but I also enjoy putting my characters through turmoil to get there. 🙂
GLITTER: What are you passionate about in life?
RACHEL: In short: My family and my writings. They are both what I think of at all hours of the day and they make me who I am. I also love to travel and am very passionate about seeing as much of the world as time and money will allow.
GLITTER: What are you working on right now?
RACHEL: I’m working on three manuscripts right now: A YA murder mystery that’s still being drafted; a YA paranormal that’s currently in a weird, messy state of editing; and, a YA contemporary with a dash of magical realism that’s in the hands of my agent, Eva Scalzo.
Rachel Rust is a YA author who loves all things mysterious, romantic, and thrilling. Her favorite stories have twisty plots, and if it’s a whodunit, she’s all about it. When not making up stories, Rachel can usually be found with her family and their two dogs — a pug and a chug (chihuahua/pug).