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Interview with Raquel Byrnes

Q.1 Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
A. I’m a huge detective noir fan. I love the hardboiled protagonists and the femme fatales, all of it. Police procedurals are one of my favorite genres to read though I do not write them.

Q.2 How many unpublished and half-finished book do you have?
A. I often have multiple books going at the same time. It is how I deal with writer’s block. So, there are as many as three or four half-finished stories floating around my head. As for unpublished books, I have an entire 3 book series that was the first trilogy that I ever wrote. It was such a learning experience, and I love the stories. Someday maybe I’ll work on them again.

Q.3 Where do you get your ideas?
A. There’s no telling what can spark a story. For example, my daughter’s senior formal, which happened to be steampunk themed, was the inspiration for my YA series.

Q.4 What advice do you have for writers?
A. It is important to hone your craft with workshops and critique groups. Another great way to grow as an author is to read books on writing. My favorites are Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass and Super Structure by James Scott Bell. I’d also like to forward some advice by Stephen King which is to read widely. Finally, there is nothing magical or lucky about getting published. It is just hard work and perseverance. You can absolutely do it.

Q.5 Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
A. I was truly struggling with that as a new writer, and my husband told me to write the stories I would love to read. I’ve kept to that idea and feel it served me well. I look forward to writing every day because of it.

Q.6 If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
A. Dreams don’t have to be practical. That doesn’t mean they aren’t achievable. Write and don’t let anyone make you feel like being a dreamer is a bad thing.

Q.7 What are the most important magazines or websites for writers to subscribe to?
A. Definitely Writer’s Digest, Realm Makers, and Guilds which offer specific support to authors writing in your genre. One of the most helpful for my heart has been the writing community on Twitter. It's supportive, interactive, and keeps me up on what’s going on in the writing world.

Q.8 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A. I think to make myself see a given emotional situation as my husband would. He is less reactive than I am and he always has opinions on my male characters. Well on all my characters, actually.

Q.9 How do you select the names of your characters?
A. That’s often one of the first things that materialize about my characters, especially the main ones. I don’t quite know how it happens but they start to ‘feel’ like a certain person as I layer them during the outline phase.

Q.10 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
A. I do read them. It is often part of the promotional aspect of being an author. The good ones are obviously nice to hear. The bad ones are not great to see, but I do try to understand where the reviewer is coming from, and then I move on. 

Q.11 Does your family support your career as a writer?
A. My husband is an amazing supporter of my career. He is a sounding board, beta reader, cheerleader, and shoulder to cry on. My kids understand that writing time is important, and they respect that.

Q.12 What do your fans mean to you?
A. They are fellow book dragons, word nerds, and co-adventurers on my wild ride. I could not do it without them. I love hearing what they think, and how the story affected them.

Q.13 How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
A. I have 8 full-length novels published. A three-volume romantic suspense series entitle the Shades of Hope, a Gothic mystery duology called The Noble Island mysteries, and The Blackburn Chronicles which is a YA steampunk series. I also have three novellas that were published to accompany the YA series.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. I don’t know how unique it is, but I write in strange chunks instead of every day. I tend to binge write for 10 or so hours one day, and then do nothing, but edit and tweak those chapters for a few days. Then I start again. It’s kind of a leapfrog approach to writing, but it works for me.

Q.15 What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
A. My marriage and children. None of this would mean anything if I didn’t have my family.

Q.16 What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
A. Hmm…I can’t think of anything that I’ve come across thus far. The authors, agents, and publishers I’ve interacted with were professional and even encouraging. I guess I’ve been blessed.

Q.17 Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
A. My publisher has in-house editors so I didn’t get to choose at all. However, since I’ve been with the same publisher for all of my books, I have been able to work with the same lovely lady for over a decade. I really love her insights.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. I would love to meet Mary Shelly. I think she is so hardcore on so many levels. Mother of the macabre, inspiration to young authors, and just an overall incredible mind. I’d like to chat with her over some tea.

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
A. I don’t really have a favorite book so much as a favorite genre. I truly enjoyed Philip K. Dick’s stories as a teen. They affected how I saw the world. Bradbury too. Matheson and his strange stories truly tickled my brain as a young author. So science fiction and fantasy, I guess.

Q.20 How can readers discover more about you and your work?

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