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Rachel Jordan is about to release her debut novel, The Haunting of Dove Cote House, a paranormal mystery (launching February 16!). She agreed to talk to BookLikes and tell us about her lifelong passion for writing, the path that led her to self-publishing, and her writing plans for the future.
Tell us a few words about yourself - whatever you want to share about your personal and professional life, but also why you decided to become a writer.
I live in the UK, the West Midlands to be exact. I was born in Kent and lived in various parts of the county until moving here nearly six years ago to be with my late partner. I have loved writing for as long as I can remember, and from an early age I loved writing short stories. I did some freelance journalism for a while but when my personal circumstances changed I had to quit. Writing is something I loved and I guess I always knew I had at least one book inside me.
How did you start writing?
As I said previously, writing seems to be part of my life since I was small. I began writing short stories when I was in primary school, and I always excelled at both English Language and Literature. I'm one of those people who believe that if you have a book inside you, then you need a way to get it out there so others can read it. Admittedly in my case it's taken me to the age of 50, but I have finally achieved my lifelong dream.
What are you writing habits? How often do you write, and how long at one time?
My writing habits have varied while l writing The Haunting of Dove Cote House. When I began work on it I made sure I wrote at least one chapter a day to keep up the momentum. Then, as I progressed with the story, I was working on it from early morning to late afternoon. In the end I was working on it pretty much all day. I was determined that not a day went by unless I spent some time working on it. I'm currently taking a short break from writing, but I must admit I have already made a start of my second book, and I will be throwing myself into writing that shortly.
Do you have plans as to how often you will write and publish new books, in a given time frame (like per year)?
I would like to try to write and publish at least one book a year. If I can do two a year I'll be pleased, but I don't want to put myself under any undue pressure and stop enjoying the writing process. If all goes well with this new book I'm working on I'm hoping to release it later this year, early next at the latest.
Why did you decide to self-publish? Did you approach publishers first, or did you start off with the idea of self-publishing from the very beginning?
I knew that if I went to an established publisher the chances of getting the book out would be remote. I looked at some of the "vanity publishers", but to me they were asking for way too much money. Eventually, I spoke to a friend who is an editor and she suggested looking into self-publishing, as she knew someone who had taken that route. I looked around and found a self-publishing company that resonated with me and I went for it.
Tell us about the road a self-published author needs to embark upon. Is it a difficult road to travel?
I personally think self-publishing is as hard or as easy as the writer concerned makes it to be. If you have enough money to pay for "vanity publishing”, then all means take that route.
I would suggest if you really want to get your book(s) out there look around and see if a company catches your eye, as I did. If you can find someone who publishes for free and then takes their fee from your book sales then that is probably your best option, if money is a problem. What you also need to remember is that you need to pay for a book cover, and the prices vary from company to company. I've used a company recommended by my self-publishing company, and I'm thrilled with the cover for The Haunting of Dove Cote House. You also need to consider getting your book into as many retail channels as possible. Some companies only give you three or four places to distribute, while others will place them widely.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a writer - so, to someone like you the person you were, maybe a year ago?
I would say to aspiring writers: make sure you get your book written, and while you are doing that look around to see which publishing option is right with you. Bear in mind what I said about how you can make it as easy or as hard, and this I guess this depends on your financial circumstances. Look for people who will help promote you and your work. Always remember that social media is important and one of the best ways to create a buzz about your book. But most of all never give up on your dream of seeing your book in print, because I believe that right now it's easier to get your book out there then it ever was previously.
Your first book is a paranormal mystery if I am correct - is this your favorite genre? What do you like to read?
I do enjoy reading paranormal books, but I'm the sort of person that will just find a book and if it grabs me I'll read it. When I'm not writing you'll find me sitting down with my Kindle, my nose stuck in a book. I think the only exception to my reading rule is full-on romance novels. No disrespect to those who write or read them but it's a genre I've never liked reading.
Who are your favorite authors and have they inspired you in any way?
Where do I start with favourite authors? Amy Cross, Neil Spring, Shani Struthers to name just a few. I also have a book blog and through that I'm getting to find out about some great authors I would never have heard of otherwise. I think that each author has inspired me in their own way to write my stories and just write them as me. I don't try and create a specific writing style, I just write naturally I guess.
Please tell us about your first book - I think you plan to write a whole series?
The Haunting of Dove Cote House is the first book to feature Caitlin Fletcher. She returns to her family home following the death of her father, but in doing so her whole life is turned upside down. Slowly she remembers her past living at Dove Cote and the spirit that was so attached to her. With the spirit suddenly reappearing on her return, Cat knows she has to get rid of this ghost for once and for all if she possibly can. Joining her on her quest is her husband that she has separated from, her best friend from childhood, a priest, and an excommunicated exorcist. Slowly Cat pieces together Dove Cote's past, and realises that a second spirit who haunts the property is in fact related to her, but as the story of the house's occupants unravels Cat is faced with something far more evil than she could have imagined
Is the series already planned and “written” in your mind?
I currently have another Cat Fletcher ParaInvestigations books planned. As I said, I have already begun work on the second and have the cover for the third ready. Some of the books are locked in my brain if you like, and I have a good idea of their plots. Others are at the moment just brief outlines, which I am sure I will fill in over time.
What would you like to say to your readers? What do they need to know about you and your first book?
What isn't widely known right now is that parts of The Haunting of Dove Cote House are based on truth, although the majority of it is fiction. Dove Cote is based on a much smaller house with a different name that I lived in until we moved to be closer to my secondary school.
If you like paranormal mysteries, horror and occult novels, then please give the book a try. I know it may not be to everyone's taste, but I have finally achieved my lifelong dream of being a published author, and I truly hope that people will enjoy it and carry on reading the series over time.
Follow Rachel Jordan on BookLikes: http://racheljordan.booklikes.com/