Posted on August 1, 2019 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Today we’re interviewing Rachael Wright, an author of international mysteries.
Wright is a Colorado native with degrees in history and political science from Colorado Mesa University.
She is a devoted tea drinker, Manchester United fan, wife, and mother who lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, daughter, and very full bookshelves.
Much of Wright’s writing is drawn from her experiences as a police wife, a life in politics, and the challenges of parenting.
She began her current series, based on the life of Captain Alexandros Savva of the Hellenic Police (Lesvos, Greece), in 2018.
The series, likened by readers to the Armand Gamache novels, traces the experiences of Savva as he deals with the murder of his only child and the crime on his small island.
SADYE: What experience in your past or general aspect of your life has most affected your writing?
RACHAEL: My childhood was a strange and difficult one.
My mother, whom I’ve gone no contact with for four years now, has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and she was incredibly abusive to myself and my sisters our entire lives.
It affected me deeply and created a lot of trauma that I’m still processing, but out of it came my ability to empathize, to see pain, to put myself in others’ lives.
Reading was my most constant means of escape during that painful period.
I lived more between the musty pages of my father’s set of Lord of the Rings than I did in my own life.
Reading gave birth to writing, and writing is my life.
I like to believe I live more deeply now than I ever have because I am constantly searching for pieces of stories, writing down descriptions of interesting people, capturing the look of a warm sun on a boulangerie window in Portland, Oregon.
SADYE: Tell us something about your writing process that’s unusual or that you haven’t revealed before.
RACHAEL: When I first started writing, I read a lot of advice about how to write, and the terms “pantsers” and “ploters” came up frequently.
Basically it’s the idea that you either let the story tell itself and “write by the seat of your pants” or that you plan the novel to death and don’t allow your characters any agency.
Unfortunately I’m one of those people that never falls into one specific category. I like to have a brief outline.
But then Captain Savva turned up and demanded that he be the center of a new series, and I realized that mystery novels can’t just flow — they need to be carefully orchestrated.
I like to allow Captain Savva and his cohorts agency in their private lives, though.
Another rather interesting fact about my writing process is that I compete with myself on how many words I can write in an hour.
It goes like this: type out a general idea of the scene; imagine yourself there and decide how it’s going to play out; sit down at the computer; jot down the time in your specially made Excel spreadsheet; write.
Usually I try to write 2,000 to 3,000 words in a day; for me, once the words flow and I know what I want from a scene, it’s difficult to stop and even more difficult to pick up again.
Once I finish, I figure out how long it’s been since I started and then do some quick math to note my words per minute.
It’s incredibly encouraging to beat your previous day’s self. It’s also slightly strange to be competitive with yourself, but hey, whatever works.
SADYE: Which of your characters would you most and least like to trade places with?
RACHAEL: I absolutely love Eleni, the female sergeant in the Captain Savva series.
She’s such a quiet badass. She’s everything I admire about my two best friends.
She also knows that her worth as a human being doesn’t depend on anything but how she treats people and how well she does her job.
The character I’d least like to trade places with is Savva. Being a parent, I can’t imagine the pain of losing your only child.
He has a fabulous wife, and my husband envies his car, but he’s also stunted emotionally because of the trauma in his life.
SADYE: What period of history would you most like to travel back to and why?
RACHAEL: So I have a degree in history with an emphasis in English history and this is a difficult one, but I’d love to be at the court of King Malcolm III and St. Margaret.
They are my direct ancestors, and Margaret was instrumental in bringing both education and Christianity to Scotland. It’s all fascinating.
SADYE: What message or theme would you like readers to take away from your work?
RACHAEL: I’d like readers to take away that healing is possible.
So many of my characters have been through severe trauma in their lives, as have a lot of my loved ones.
Life seems to demand that we be present and that we keep moving forward.
Your lungs breathe on their own, your heart beats without your consent, and people come into your life and you love them.
Healing from every trauma is possible.
Murder, imprisonment, kidnap, rape, long-term abuse, a near-death experience — the human mind and heart are capable of healing.
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Categories: Author Interview