Writing Q&A: NextGen Edition

Okay, here’s a new batch of Writing Q&A that I whipped up this morning under the realization that I haven’t been talking much about writing lately. No kidding, I totally love writing and will talk about it for hours to strangers who don’t know me personally and who I don’t feel awkward around. But sometimes I get so sidetracked by photos and funny stories and random jokes that I forget I am an author. And so it is my responsibility to talk about writing. At least once a week or so.

Anyway, here are a few questions I received at last week’s NextGen Writer’s Conference, along with my answers:

  • Who is your favorite character that you’ve written?

Hmm… Tough call. While I love all of my characters, I think my absolute favorite one is the little boy in my second novel, Chasing Jupiter. His name is Cliff Blaine, and he is a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e. No joke. He’s sneaky and spunky and he gets so fired up and cranky sometimes, but then he has these moments of incredible sweetness that just melt your heart. Agh. I love him.

I’ll also always have a really close connection to Allie Everly. I always love all of my main characters, but there’s something special about Allie. I think because her personality and life are so closely based to my own experiences and feelings. She feels very autobiographical in a way. Plus, her personality and thought life are so similar to the way I was when I wrote her character. I’ve always had that mentality of loving people, but holding back and not letting anyone get too close for fear of getting hurt. It’s getting better now, and I’m not like that as much anymore, but I could really relate to Allie because that was my personality for so long.

And, of course, all of my leading men. Sam is pretty adorbs, I’m not going to lie. And I think you’ll like Frank, too. 😉

  • How many drafts did you write prior to submitting Interrupted? Did you join any critique groups?

Get ready for some shocking answers. I only wrote one draft of Interrupted before sending it to my agent Bill. Then we only did one more quick draft before sending it to Zondervan. Then Zondervan only had a few small changes before it was published. So it actually wasn’t a super time-consuming project. Chasing Jupiter took way longer to write and edit.

And no, I have never joined any critique groups. I was, and still am, so ignorant when it comes to writing groups and websites. I know a lot about writing, and I do feel like I have strong opinions and advice to share with others, but I had to do a crash course on writing lingo once I started working with Go Teen Writers. Like WIP?* I had no idea what that meant the first few times I heard it used. Same with MC**. I mean, isn’t that like a music DJ or something?

  • How did your life change after publication? Does it affect your school work or personal life?

My life changed completely and my life didn’t change at all. I know that’s hard to understand, but that’s the best way I can describe what happened.

Obviously, once my first book was published, I had a whole new world of responsibilities. I started traveling, and speaking at all these places, and appearing on blogs, radio shows, magazines, newspapers, and even TV! I was (and still am!) getting emails and letters from people all over the world.

However, at the same time, I don’t talk about my writing career much in real life. Some of my really, really close friends will hear things from time to time, like “Oh, I can’t go to the pool today. I have to work on my edits for my second book.” Or “I’d love to come, but I have a book signing that weekend.” But that’s really about it. I think the most a lot of them ever hear me talk about writing or my book is when they like my Facebook page and get updates. But, once again, I feel like that’s not really the same as talking about it face to face, if you know what I mean.

The best way I have of describing what my life is like is to admit that I do sort of have two personalities. There’s the professional, author version of Rachel Coker. That part of me loves writing and talking about writing. I really, sincerely enjoy getting into discussions with teens after my talks and chatting about the publication process and characters and plot twists. I can do radio shows, and TV interviews, and talk about my book and be totally fine.

Then there’s the real-life Rachel Coker. And she’s just a sixteen-year-old girl, who worries about keeping up with her Spanish, laughs too loudly at the movie theater with her friends, and passes up the donuts in Sunday School because she doesn’t feel like working out. That’s me. And that part of me just wants to be like everyone else. So that’s why I don’t talk about my author life much with my friends. I don’t want to intimidate them, or make it seem like I think I’m better than them, because I’m not. As much as I thrive off of traveling and speaking and sharing with teens, there will always be a part of me that wants to act like my life is no different from any other sixteen-year-old girl’s. And hopefully that will never change.


*Work in Progress, by the way.

**Main Character


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