rachelcoker


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words category.

Sequels and Why I Hate Them

When the news first came out that I had written a second book that would be released later this year, the automatic gleeful question from everyone I talked to was: “Ooooh — Is it a sequel to Interrupted?” I got a few crestfallen faces in reply when I reluctantly answered, “No, sorry. It’s not. It’s a totally different book with a whole new set of characters.”

“But whyyyyyyy???? Why can’t you write a sequel to Interrupted? I loved that book/those characters/that setting.”

 

 

This is always an awkward situation. It doesn’t make sense to a lot of my readers why I wouldn’t want to go back to Interrupted and continue writing the story. They sometimes jump to the conclusion that I hate that book or those characters or that setting. Obviously, that’s not true. I don’t hate anything about Interrupted. However, there is one plain and simple truth:

I’m sick and tired of that book.

But wait — I don’t mean that in the way you think I do! I absolutely love my first novel and I really enjoy talking about it with people. It never fails to put a smile on my face when someone emails me to say that they enjoyed it. My voice always grows slightly higher when I ramble on and on about the book and how I published it. I truthfully do enjoy discussing Interrupted and hearing from people who enjoyed it.

That being said, I also feel like that book represents a certain period in my life that is closed now. When I first started writing Interrupted back in 2009, I was a much different person than I am now. And so the book reflected everything that was going on in my life and personality at the time. When I re-read the book now, I can definitely see huge chunks of who I was and what I thought about life and the world at fourteen years old. However, a lot of that is much different from who I am now. I’m older, and (hopefully!) more mature, with many different ideas about who I am and what I want out of life.

When you’re as young as I am, so much about yourself can change in just a few short years. So it’s very difficult for me to even think about re-approaching Interrupted and continue working on that story. While I’ll always have an emotional attachment to those characters and that story, I don’t relate to it as much anymore. And it’s so, so hard to write about something that you’re not emotionally in tune with anymore. I love Allie, but I understand her less now than I did when I was fourteen.

It’s a sad thing to be a writer, in some ways. You get these characters into your head and think about them constantly for months and months on end. They’re a part of everything that you do and everywhere you go. When having a normal conversation with a friend, you’re constantly searching for ideas and inspiration for scenes. When brushing your teeth, you start wondering what your character sees in the mirror and whether she likes it or not. When going to bed, you wonder if your character’s bed is hard or soft and whether or not they care. It’s so much different than just picking up a book, reading it, and moving on to something else in a few hours. No, as an author you have to keep coming back and coming back again and again.

By the end of the six or seven months it takes to write that book, you’re very tired of it, in a way. Sure, you’ll always love talking about it, and promoting it, and hearing what everyone else thinks about it, but it always feels like a chapter of your life has just ended. You stop writing that book and start working on something else. And then, before you know it, you’ve detached yourself from that story. It isn’t yours anymore. Now it belongs to everyone, to read and judge and love or hate. And, as the author, all you can do is throw your hands up and say, “Well, I enjoyed it while it was mine.” And then you move on to something else.

That’s very much the way I feel about Interrupted. Once upon a time, those characters were everything to me. I lived, breathed, and slept them, in a totally non-creepy way. But that was years ago, and now I feel like they belong to everyone. I don’t understand Allie much better than a fifteen-year-old girl living in Ohio does. We can all enjoy her, and think about her,  but none of us are really qualified to write her sequel.

I was talking about this with my uncle one day, and he made some really wise remarks on the subject. “You’re not ready or qualified to write her sequel right now, Rachel. You’re still too young to really understand what it would be like. But wait a few years, and write a few more books, and then one day, when you really know what it means to grow up, you can go back and write about her life again.”

So maybe I’ll do that, or maybe I won’t. I think only time will tell. What I do know is that I still love Interrupted, no matter how tired I am of being in the heads of those characters all the time. That book will always be a part of who I am. It was a chapter in my life that was unlike anything I’d ever experienced up until then, and it will always stick with me. I hope that all of you who have read the book sort of feel the same way.

-Rachel


Wishful Movie Thinking…

I decided to do something fun today. One of the great things about being an author is living with the ever hopeful dream that someday–someday!–your book will be made into a movie. Wouldn’t it be amazing? I don’t let myself get too carried away with dreaming about that idea since it will probably never happen, but it is really cool to think about how absolutely amazing it would be to watch Interrupted on my television. That would definitely be a big moment in my book.

Anyway, I got a really fun question in an interview ages ago asking me who I would choose to cast as my main characters should Interrupted ever be turned into a movie. So I thought I’d share with you a few photos of what a movie version of Interrupted would look like in my head, and you have to share what you would think! (Because it’s as much your story as it is mine!)

SETTINGS:

First, let’s talk about the settings of Interrupted. I usually think of three main buildings in the book.

Allie’s Tennessee Home: The first is obviously Allie’s home in Tennessee with her mother. I don’t think I actually described the physical home in the book, but I always picture a cute little cottage in the middle of the hilly countryside, with a beautiful garden and lots of open space.

This is the perfect house, I think. Too bad it’s a painting. I’m not sure if this house actually exists or not (I’m assuming it does), but this is definitely where Allie would live. If Interrupted ever becomes a movie, I am sending the company this photo and ordering them to find this exact house. Can’t you just see Allie looking out that top window at night, writing in her notebook? And I have to believe it has a garden in the back. I choose to just believe that.

Beatrice’s Victorian Home: The second big building I think of in the book is Beatrice’s house in Maine. In the book, this is described as being from the Victorian era, and being all white, with “dozens of windows and red shutters and sharp points” . It also sits on a hill overlooking the ocean, which is a bit intimidating, I think. All in all, it’s very prim, formal, and feminine. Like this:

Definitely the kind of house that makes you want to keep your shoes on. I can see why Allie was intimidated. I think the above house would be perfect. I wonder if it overlooks the ocean?

Irene’s Diner: To tell the truth, when I was writing the book I just made up the look of the diner completely in my head. Wasn’t sure if anything like it existed in real life, but it seemed to fit in the book. So I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find a photo online to match the description in the book. But guess what? I did!!! Check this out:

So perfect, right? Just change the sign to read “Goodey’s Diner” and add a bright pink car in the parking lot. Voila! There you have it, folks.

CHARACTERS:

Now we get to the good part. Who would I cast to play all the main characters in Interrupted? Let the pickings begin…

Alcyone Everly, played by… Astrid Berges-Frisbey

Okay, so technically Astrid is a model and I’m not even sure she can act. But I heard she was in Pirates 4 (which I’ve yet to see, sadly) so she must be able to act a little. Whatever the case, she can learn. She will learn, because she was born to play Allie. When I think of Allie Everly, this is the only face I see. What do you think of our leading actress?

Sam Carroll, played by… Logan Lerman

Agh. Logan Lerman. Never mind the fact that he has those beautiful blue eyes and a knee-weakening voice. (How can a voice be attractive, you ask? I have no idea. But somehow his voice is) This decision really comes down the simple fact that Logan just is Sam. Look at him, girls. Can’t you just picture him sitting on that kitchen counter, pouring his heart out? Um, yes.

Charlie Cooper, played by… Alison Lohman

Or at least a young Alison Lohman. Because I think she’s like 32 now. But remember her in Big Fish? Take that face and add a spunky personality and you have Charlie. It’s a done deal.

Beatrice Lovell, played by… Honor Blackman

Okay, so I think that Honor Blackman is actually over 80, and Beatrice is only in her 60’s, but still. Look at that face. “A woman of age possesses much sage.” She’d be a cinch at playing Beatrice.

Irene Goodey, played by… Amy Adams

Of course Amy Adams was going to play Irene. Bubbly, ditzy red-head? That was a no-brainer, people. She’d play Irene fabulously and everyone would love her.

*

I think that’s just about everyone. So… What do you all think? Did I make any missteps? Anyone that you would love (or hate) to see play these characters?

-Rachel


When I’m Reading Reviews

Sometimes, I forget I wrote a book. Well, okay, not really. Now that I’m a full-fledged author, I’m kind of always thinking about writing and editing and speaking events and blogging. But sometimes I forget that I’ve already finished this book and that it’s out there in the world and people are reading it and talking about it. When Interrupted first came out, I used to Google my name about once a week and read what people had to say about it. That was waaaaay back in the first few days after its release (think March and April), so there weren’t very many reviews.

Well, just the other day I decided to Google myself again, for the first time in months, and see if anything new came up. I have to say, I was a bit surprised. Not only were there way more reviews than I had expected, but there are a lot of photos and interviews and blog posts of mine floating around out in cyber world. It’s a little bit scary, to say the least.

Anyway, I read through most of the reviews on Goodreads, and decided to share my thoughts on some of them here. Not sure whether or not you’ll find this interesting, but I thought it might be cool for you hear my perspective on what people are saying about my book.

Interrupted has a 3.91 rating on Goodreads, as of right now, and 105 reviews. Yeesh!

Let’s see, where to begin…

Reading Teen wrote, “Rachel Coker has written a novel with a Christian-based theme that is entertaining and interesting without being preachy or ‘goody two-shoes’.”

I must say, that is an immense relief. I always feel like I get the rep in my community for being “Miss Goody Two-Shoes”, and while I don’t mind it, it’s good to know that my novel wasn’t too predictable or  overly moral. I’m still trying to spice up my writing a bit and make it more interesting.

Jacqueline wrote, “Really, only a few grammatical errors kept this from being a five star book.”

She gave it four stars. Which is still really sweet. And, yes, I caught those same errors and cringed over them. It was awful. But what fourteen-year-old is going to have perfect grammar, anyway? I’m still surprised none of my editors caught that, but whatever. It was still my fault, I guess.

Martha said, “I think I’ll give this one to my granddaughter at some point.”

Awwwwww! Old ladies (or middle-aged ladies) buying books for their grandkids is the best! That always happens at a book signing, sometimes three or four times, and it always makes me smile.

Andrea Smith thought that, “Unfortunately, this book should be called ‘Disconnected’, rather than ‘Interrupted’. The entire story was disjointed and had no flow”.

Um, ouch. She gave it 1.5 stars, but that probably shouldn’t surprise me.

Muzik_gurl said, “This is a very cute Christian romance that takes place in the 50’s.”

Agh! 40’s, 40’s, 40’s!!!!! But, it’s okay, because she gave me a stellar rating and she seems really sweet. 🙂

Monica said, “A great heart-wreching read. I cried, at least, 3 times.”

Aw, so sweet! I want to hug this Monica chick.

Brian McBride said, “To be honest, I was never one for Historical Romance – or rather, I’d never been interested in trying it. But this book shocked me, and not in a bad way. It took me a bit to get into it, but when I did, I enjoyed every page.”

I LOVE hearing about guys who read (and enjoyed!) Interrupted. Seriously, you don’t know how happy this makes me. 🙂 I had a group of teenage guys buy a copy of my book at a homeschool convention in June, and while part of me thinks they were just trying to get my attention, the other part of me is really hoping that they read the book and like it. 😉

~Kate~ wrote, “I had stopped reading a book the other week because I found it a bit too sad and very close to home yet this one in the sadness department was worse and I was crying loads and even throughout the book yet I actually loved it and I think that was down to the beautiful style of writing by Coker.”

Somebody give me the address of this girl so I can go to her home and give her a hug. Like,  not in a creepy way or anything. I’d just love to show up on her doorstep on a rainy night in a bright yellow raincoat or something, singing “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” and then showering her with hugs. Because I really like her, and I loved reading her review.

And, last, but not least, this is my absolute favorite review ever of Interrupted. I love it so much that when I first read it, I took my laptop around the house and read it to everyone else. Because I think that this woman really understood exactly what the book was about, and that made me feel absolutely fantastic. So here is kindlemom1’s review of Interrupted, unabridged:

“Rachel Coker’s debut novel Interrupted was such an endearing read.

I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Allie. From an early age she had a lot of responsibility on her little shoulder’s, taking care of a very sick mother. My heart went out to her for all of her struggles and heartbreak.

But while I understood the way she was, so aloof and hardened I couldn’t help wanting to be sad for her too, not because of what she was going through, but because of what she couldn’t see that was right in front of her the whole time.

For the things that she was missing and for hardening her heart against being loved and loving someone else.

I love that this book was set during the era of WWII, I love reading stories set in this time period.

And while I know that the time period wasn’t all full of romance and love (I mean there was a very real and very horrible war going on with lots of people dying every day) I can’t help but think of handsome young men in their uniforms and women in pretty dresses falling in love. When men were gentlemen and women were ladies. There is just something fascinating about the time period that never ceases to amaze me so I really did enjoy the novel taking place between the years 1939 and 1945.

Allie really was a great character. She was downright mean at times but there was always that underlying edge to her that made you wonder what was underneath all that harshness. At times her soft and caring side came through just a little bit. Just enough to let you know that she wasn’t completely hardened and completely lost.

Sam was a great character. I love how strong and steady he was for Allie. Always being there and taking her crap like he did and loving her all the more for it. He truly was the best thing for her.

Beatrice and Irene were such great secondary characters. I love how much they cared and loved Allie. How they never left her side and never gave up on her even though it literally took years for her to finally see what was right in front of her the whole time.

I loved the simple undertones of faith and love in this novel. That doesn’t always work in stories, sometimes it can come off as preachy and overbearing and I really didn’t find myself thinking that was at all about that in this book. I liked how Allie’s faith and new found religion helped her grow and become stronger and happier.

I like in the end the person that she became.

Overall I think this was a great story about growing up and becoming a better person, however you find it along the way.

Don’t you love the part about Sam “taking Allie’s crap”??? Love it! 😉

Anyway, I tried reading through more reviews to share with you, but there were a lot of pages of reviews online, and after a while they all started to run together in my head and I couldn’t distinguish them anymore. But here were a few of the best (and most painful), in my mind. I’m sure I missed a lot of other great ones, though. 😦

-Rachel


FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY

To celebrate my Facebook fan page hitting 100 “likes” yesterday, I’ve decided to offer a fun giveaway for all of my Facebook fans! I understand that this excludes some of you who don’t have Facebook, and I’m very sorry, but I thought I’d do something fun just for those who follow me there. I’ll always have future giveaways in mind for my blog followers. 🙂

The giveaway contest will be open until 10 PM EST this Saturday, and one randomly selected winner will receive a signed copy of Interrupted, a bookmark, and a 4-page writing critique!

 

To enter, all you have to do is like my page and comment on my giveaway status! (It’s a photo under the album “Wall photos”) You can also win an extra entry by sharing the status and commenting “Shared!”

Good luck to everyone, and I definitely hope you like the page and enter the contest!

-Rachel


My First Live TV Interview!!!!

Yesterday was a very important day in the history of my life. Because yesterday was the first time I was on TV!!!! That’s right–I was interviewed by our local morning news show, CBS 6’s Virginia This Morning. I talked about the story behind my book Interrupted, my life as a writer, and the fun fact that I practiced my signature for both my driver’s license and autographing books at the same time!

Obviously, I am yet to master the art of the TV interview, but I hope I’ll get another chance to redeem myself at some point! For those of you who don’t know me in person, no, I am not usually that hyper or loud. I was really nervous! But I think that all went smoothly, in the end. I’m so blessed to have been given this opportunity!

You can find a video of the interview here!

-Rachel


Novel Teen Blog Tour!

This is the first Monday in a while that I have literally been counting down the days to. Because today is Jill William’s Team Novel Teen Blog Tour–featuring none other than Interrupted: Life Beyond Words. Being the author of Interrupted, I obviously have special interest in this event, but hopefully you’ll want to check it out, too! Eleven different bloggers are talking about Interrupted today, and I’m posting the links below for you to check out! Ten dollars to any reader who visits every blog and comments “Rachel Coker is the best. I know her personally and I can truthfully attest to the fact that she is funny, staggeringly brilliant, and cute!” (Joking ;P)

Anyway, here are links to the reviews:

Jill Williamson, ADD Librarian, The Book Fae, Book Nook, Colorimetry, CTF Devourer, Gillian, Life With a Mission, My Story Shelf, Oh, Restless Bird, Inspiring Darling 

Most of these bloggers also posted a review of my book on Amazon, which just tickled me pink. It’s so weird to go on Amazon.com and see that Interrupted has a 4.3 rating and over 20 reviews! A few years ago, I would have never ever thought that something like that could be possible. I guess God had different plans than I did! 😉

-Rachel


News Day

So my mom found out yesterday that my book was featured on the front page of crosswalk.com. Is that cool or what? I thought you guys might like to read what they said. I personally found it very complimentary, but obviously I like hearing nice things about myself. 😉

Interrupted: Life Beyond Words reintroduces a classic question in literary criticism: to what extent does the author matter when considering the quality of a piece of writing? Here’s the skinny on Interrupted author Rachel Coker: she’s a 16-year old whose debut novel possesses a maturity of emotional perceptiveness and writing quality which far surpasses her years. While most of her peers are content to pound out text messages on the latest smart phone, and the ambitious ones scribble out angst-ridden poems in their journals, Coker’s actually planned, plotted, and successfully published a Young Adult historical fiction novel set against the contentious backdrop of World War II.

For all of that, Coker deserves the highest admiration. But, perhaps a more challenging task is to take Interrupted on its own terms, setting aside Coker’s remarkable personal story. In that regard, Interrupted is a relatively safe place to start a career, a traditional coming-of-age tale made slightly more original by its historical setting and the thematic nods to Emily Dickinson. It’s the story of Alcyone Everly, a 14-year old girl whose safe and sheltered existence is shattered when her mother dies and she’s taken in by Beatrice Lovell in a Maine estate.

After Everly arrives in Maine, she becomes re-introduced to Sam Carroll, a native of her hometown in Tennessee. Sparks fly between the two, but Everly is stymied by her inner bitterness over the loss of her mother and frustration with Lovell’s efforts to become a mother figure in her life. Everly retreats into her writing, where her love of classic literature and self-expression proves to be an impediment to making valuable connections in her new life.

The emotional landscape of Interrupted is tactfully rendered and maturely handled. Coker takes great care to sculpt a believable protagonist in Everly, and walks her through a solid character arc, moving from devotion to her mother to a place of independence by novel’s end. That said, the plot is fairly thin. The inner coming-of-age struggles Everly faces compose the bulk of the conflict, and they’re not very dramatic. And much about Interrupted is a bit too genteel, from the idyllic Maine setting to Everly’s interpersonal conflicts with the other main characters. Everly never seems in real danger, either physically or psychologically, which takes the edge off the story’s stakes.

While this is technically historical fiction, the historical backdrop plays a minor role in Everly’s story. Until the story’s latter third, when Everly’s love interest is shipped off to war, it’s hard to get a sense of the time period, or why Coker chose it. In a sense, it’s the same story as could be told against a contemporary backdrop.

One neat element Coker includes which deserves mention is the homage she pays to poet Emily Dickinson. Each chapter of Interrupted opens with a short excerpt from a Dickinson poem which relates thematically to the chapter’s content. It’s refreshing to see such a young literary voice connect so fully with one of the greats, and potentially introduce Dickinson to a new generation of readers. In addition, one can feel Dickinson’s presence in the character of Everly, who is content to stay cloistered when the world is too scary. People are messy, Interrupted admits, but when you let yourself get messy, the joys are worth it.

In her publication debut, Coker displays a remarkable amount of poise and polish, and while Interrupted isn’t the flashiest or trendiest piece of YA fiction, it might show something more valuable: a young voice with potential staying power in today’s here-today-gone-tomorrow marketplace.

Another cool thing happened yesterday. I got a full-page spread in our local area newspaper! It had photos and everything, which was really neat. Unfortunately, I left it at our church last night, so I don’t have a photo to show you. 😦 But as soon as I get it back, I’ll post a pic!

So, have any of you finished Interrupted yet? Be honest: Tell me what you thought!

-Rachel


City of Brotherly Love

I know you all are dying to hear about my trip to Philly this week, and obviously I’m bursting at the seams to tell you. For those of you who aren’t up-to-date, I got to attend my first ever book signing in Philadelphia at the PLA Conference on Thursday! [insert wild cheers here] Everything about my trip was absolutely amazing. I got to hang out at the book for what my mom tells me was forty minutes, but to me it felt more like five. I signed two hundred copies of Interrupted and met so many people. I’ve been practicing my signature for about a month now, so I think I’m finally starting to feel happy about it. It has to look messy, but intentionally so, you know what I mean? Anyway, I think I’m one of the few teens in America who had to practice her signature for both her driver’s license and debut book signing within two weeks of each other. 😉

Here are some snapshots from my day in Philly, for those of you who are interested. It was a little cold, but so much fun! I got to meet my editor, Jacque, face to face, and spend time with both her and another woman at Zondervan who I work with. My mom served as my travel companion and we ate the best cheesesteaks ever, binged out on milkshakes and HGTV, and even did a little shopping. Here is how I am a failure as a homeschooler: I didn’t make it to the Liberty Bell or even feel that sorry about it, but I did find the nearest Urban Outfitters! 😉

-Rachel


Murphy’s Law and Book Reviews

Okay, so I was planning on uploading a vlog video today, but Murphy’s Law decided to pay me a visit so of course the internet connection died two minutes before it was finished loading. I lost eighty minutes of my life today. Eighty minutes of buffering that I will never get back. 😦

I thought I’d share with you the latest hot review for my book. Interrupted was featured on USA Today’s teen blog, and I’ll post what they had to say below:

“It’s not every day a book lands in my box written by a teenager, but that’s exactly what happened when I opened the package from Rachel Coker‘s publicist and pulled out this pretty paperback. Although I’d detected hints of a buzz surrounding this debut novel, I was a bit skeptical. Was it just marketing hype? Or, at 15 years old, had Coker really pulled off a historically accurate, coming-of-age romance?

So with doubtful thoughts, I opened the book … and found myself captured by her tale.

The sitch: Alcyone Everly – “Allie” to almost everyone, was named after a star – but her life hasn’t been bright for quite a long time. Solely responsible for the care of her dying mother, Allie would be alone in the world, if not for her annoying neighbor, Sam Carroll, who constantly interrupts her plans. One such interruption takes Allie away from her mother at her darkest hour – and she vows never to forgive him for it.

 Whisked away from her mother’s funeral to become the “daughter” of a prim and proper woman in Maine, Allie retreats into her journal, writing letters to her mother to retain some sort of connection beyond the grave. Beatrice Lovell longs to make some sort of connection with the young girl she’s adopted, but Allie will have nothing to do with Beatrice. Tension fills the home. As World War II looms ever closer, Sam arrives in Maine to stay with his aunt for the summer, and Allie’s already uncomfortable world turns upside down with the new emotions he ignites in her heart.

Across the ocean, American boys are dying – and Sam could soon be one of them. Will Allie’s stubborn hold on the past be able to protect her from the pain if he is lost? Or will she have to become willing to take a chance at allowing herself to love – and to be loved – in order to survive?

Hits & misses: Having an almost-15-year-old daughter of my own, I recognized a few moments in the story that seemed to fit within the limited life-experience parameters of a teen girl’s existence; but Coker’s dedication to crafting believable, multidimensional characters is much more evident than any limitations her age might put upon her story.

Rachel Coker is a budding wordsmith – and this coming-of-age romance has an almost literary quality to its stylization. Giving attention to the sensory atmosphere of her setting and the physical and emotional nuances of her characters, this young author displays the insight of a writing talent well beyond her years.

Hard-hearted Alcyone Everly would be a difficult character to like if not for the love and care she shows her mother. But the reader sees, through Sam and other characters, the beauty-from-ashes qualities that Allie is capable of developing. And, as the story progresses, it is quite easy to cheer for Allie’s star to remember how to shine.

To read or not to read: An unpredictable and engrossing tale of how grief, faith and romance collide within the heart of a girl, Interrupted: Life Beyond Words is quite an achievement – and teen novelist Rachel Coker is an author to watch.”

I think it’s pretty cool. But I love reading anything nice about my book, obviously. Vanity, thy name is author! 😉

I’m off to Philly this week for my first book signing! I’ll be sure to post photos and all the juicy details later…

-Rachel

 


Giveaway Winner

I so wish that I could give a copy of my book to every single person who commented on my giveaway post. Unfortunately, I can’t do that, but I did decide to give away two copies of my book, instead of the one I originally mentioned. So, the two randomly selected winners of a free copy of Interrupted are…(drumroll please)…lilacandivy and Tiffanie! Girls, I will email you both with more details soon. Thanks again to everyone who entered. I was greatly encouraged by the number of people interested in my book! Once again, Interrupted: Life Beyond Words, is available both online and in stores now, at just about everywhere books are sold. So even if you didn’t win a free copy, buy one today!

Have a great weekend!

-Rachel