Hi Gary, thanks for having me today! I'm Rachel and I'm a Young Adult sci-fi author. I'm 24 years old and I'm an English girl, born and raised. I love tea, cake, Lord of the Rings, bread and butter, and rain. You have to learn to love the rain if you grow up in the north of England.
Tell us about your books/What genre do you consider your books?
I write YA science fiction. Sci-fi is a genre I kind of accidentally fell into; all my previous attempts at writing have been YA dystopian/apocalyptic novels. I never set out thinking that I'd end up writing science fiction. Don't get me wrong, I love science fiction films and I love reading other YA sci-fi books – learning about new technology/civilizations and the way in which these things impact on society have always fascinated me. But it wasn't until I was a good halfway through writing Synthetica that I even realised I was writing sci-fi. I just thought I was writing a 'futuristic' YA novel...it wasn't until I had to define it in a category for my query letters that I realised it was, in fact, sci-fi. And now, I can't seem to stop thinking of other science fiction stories to write...
When did you start writing?
I don't remember a time when I wasn't writing. Even in primary school, I remember folding up coloured pieces of A4 paper to make a book, scribbling a story in the first few pages and then abandoning it (that habit hasn't actually changed that much – only, now I use a computer rather than random bits of paper). Making up stories has been the only thing that's been constant throughout my life – I've never doubted I'd become a writer one day, but it's only in the past few years that I've decided to take that ambition seriously. I first started writing novels three years ago, when I was about to graduate from university. It was while I was waiting to hear back from the hundreds of job applications I'd sent out that I decided to write my first novel and see what became of it. I've stopped and started a lost of books over the last few years, but I finally feel like I'm ready to take my writing career seriously.
Why do you write?
I write because I simply can't imagine not writing. I'm always making up stories and characters in my head. Apparently some people narrate their life in their minds – I make up stories in mine. Most of the time when someone is talking to me, my mind will start to wander and I'll be making up whole worlds in my head, when I'm actually supposed to be listening to what they're saying. This is a very bad habit, but I can't seem to stop myself!
What would be your choice for a superpower?
Fire. Lots of fire. The ability to conjure up fire from your fingertips has always fascinated me – it looks cool, and no one would ever dare to mess with you again.
Who is your favorite author?
I've loved J.R.R. Tolkien ever since I first read LOTR at ten years old. He's the only author I've bothered buying other works/companion novels for. I'm so in love with Middle Earth and it's rich history – there are times when I forget it's made up! But lately, I have to say that George R.R. Martin has competed for my affections too – probably because Westeros is just as rich in history and characters as Middle Earth!
What are you reading now
? I've just finished reading Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. Having suffered from panic attacks in the past, and continuing to suffer from anxiety now, I found this book incredibly liberating. I was going through a rough patch when I bought it, and it really opened my eyes and made me realise that no one has to suffer depression alone. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has, or has experienced depression and anxiety. I've also been hoarding books for my Easter break – including Half Wild by Sally Green, Burning Kingdoms by Lauren Destefano, and Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater, so I'm really looking forward to taking break and digging into them over the next few weeks!
Who is your favorite character to write?
This is a hard one to answer! Although I love all the characters in Synthetica, there are two in particular that I couldn't wait to write: Clay Winterbourne and the Hacker. I loved writing Clay's chapters because he's such a misery guts and he's got such an intriguing background, that I could have a lot of fun exploring his reactions to certain situations. He's not used to being around people and suddenly he's thrown into this situation where he not only has to interact with people, but he also has to go back to the Imperial City and try to face his personal demons head on. He's turned his back on the city that framed him for murder, but he has to decide whether he's stubborn enough to refuse help to someone who genuinely needs him.
And the Hacker – well, who doesn't love writing about villains? I always knew I wanted the Hacker's POV dispersed throughout the novel, so we could get a sense of his motivations and why he was committing the crimes he did. It was a challenge to get across his personality in such short scenes, while also making him a bit of an enigma. The Hacker continued to surprise me throughout the book – I always knew he was going to be a sociopath, but I found myself constantly wondering exactly how far he'd go to achieve his goals. He's a man who genuinely has no regard for human life, which makes the stakes all the higher when Anais encounters him.
Do you have a writing process?
When I first think of an idea, I'll quickly jot it down on my phone or on a piece of paper. On my laptop, I have a special folder called 'Ideas', and in that folder is a file called 'Random Notes'. Any story idea I have, no matter how weird or stupid, goes in there. Although I'll probably never write 90% of the novel ideas that are in there, I think it's a good practice to have, as it gets me used to thinking about different stories and characters. Occasionally, I'll think of an idea that I just can't get out of my head, and I'll be thinking about it constantly on my commute to work, while I'm at work, while I'm watching TV...it's when I get one of these ideas that I'll create a brand new Word doc on my laptop and write down every singly thing that occurs to me about that story. It might take a few weeks or months, but eventually, I'll bring all these notes together and start plotting the outline of the novel. Once I have an outline, I'll write my detailed synopsis, which is where I get to plan out every stage of the novel to see if it works. Then I'll leave that synopsis alone for a month or so, and it's only when I've come back and looked at it with fresh eyes that I'll finally start to write the actual novel. As you can probably tell, I'm definitely a planner when it comes to writing novels!
Don't give up. I'm not going to lie - writing a book is hard. It takes a lot of perseverance. There are times when you're halfway through writing your first draft and you suddenly realise everything you've written is awful, or you've written in a character that doesn't work with your plot anymore, or you've just spotted a gaping plot hole. It can be disheartening, but remember, no first draft is perfect. Just keep going, and eventually it all comes together. First drafts (and second, and third , and fourth drafts...) can always be rewritten and restructured, so just keep writing. You can change the words you've written, but you can't change anything on a blank page.
What inspired you to pursue writing?
Even though I've always imagined I'd become an author one day, it's actually my anxiety that has been the main driving force behind my writing. After university I was stuck in such a dark place, and one day I said to myself, 'you know what? I'm not going to let this stop me anymore.' There have been times when I thought I've never achieve my dream; but each time my anxiety has come back, I've forced myself to slow down, take a break and remind myself that I'm the only one in control of my life. If I want to write, I will. I'm not going to let my mental health define me, or keep me back from my dreams.
What are your favorite TV shows/Movies to watch in between writing?
My favourite TV shows at the moment are Better Call Saul, American Horror Story and Orange Is the New Black. I love anything with a strong plot and characters that break the mould. Me and my partner tend to binge watch Netflix over the weekends, so we're constantly on the lookout for new shows!
What are your current projects?
At the moment, I'm currently having a lot of fun writing the sequel to Synthetica, which I hope will be published before the end of the year. Just a word of warning - if you thought Synthetica was dark, it's nothing compared to what's in store for book two *evil laugh*.
I'm also currently outlining an idea for a standalone novel, which I'm working on during my breaks from the Synthetica series. Nowadays, people seem to put a lot of emphasis on the amount of 'likes' or attention they get on social media (myself included), and this got me thinking – what if you took this concept and applied it to a situation where it actually mattered how many 'likes' you received? For example what if in this world, the amount of 'likes' you had decided whether you lived or died...? I'm super excited to explore this idea, although at the moment I'm having a hard time getting the characters of Synthetica out of my head!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?
I can't express how grateful I am for everyone's support both while writing and publishing Synthetica. For an indie author like me, your support means everything, so thank you so much! Without your support and encouragement, I wouldn't be where I am today. Every single day, it's the thought of my readers that inspires me and keeps pushing me forward, even when I feel like giving up. Without you, I wouldn't be able to do the job that I've been dreaming about for so long – so, thank you :).
Cats or dogs? Cats
Coffee or tea? Tea – I am English after all
Favorite food? Cake. Any kind of cake.
Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream? Vanilla
What are 3 things you never leave home without? My phone, my purse and my glasses
Laptop or desktop? Laptop
Who are 3 famous people you would like to hang out with? Jennifer Lawrence, J.K. Rowling and Barack Obama
TV or Movies? TV – it lasts longer
About the author
Rachel Pattinson graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a BA Hons in Publishing Media. Born and raised in the north of England, she shares a love for anything to do with tea, cake, bread and butter, rain, the dark, lakes, fells and Lord of the Rings. She now lives in Norfolk with her partner in crime, and is currently working on several new projects, including the sequel to Synthetica. Find out more at www.rachelpattinson.blogspot.co.uk and follow her on Twitter: @REPattinson1
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