Author Interview – Rachel Stanley

Author of the paranormal A Grim series.

Today, I am chatting with Rachel Stanley about her paranormal fantasy A Grim series. Rachel is revealing her cover for the third installment A Grim Ending today!!! I’m so excited to be part of her cover reveal!! Isn’t it gorgeous?? Can’t wait to dig into her thoughts behind the cover!

Helen: Welcome Rachel! I’m so excited to be sharing the cover reveal for your next book! A Grim Ending. Why don’t you start us off by introducing yourself?

Rachel: Hi! My name is Rachel Stanley, it’s lovely to meet you all. I’m a UK based author living in the Northwest of England. I live with my husband and our two cats – Cooper and Watson, who actually feature in my first series of books. I’ve always been an avid reader; I fell in love with fantasy when I was a child and my best friend’s brother lent my The Belgariad by David Eddings. I never returned his books because I loved them so much! I actually wore them out because I re-read them so often. Don’t worry, I now have them on my kindle so that I can re-read them whenever I want. I have tried most other genres but nowadays I tend to stick with fantasy – if there isn’t a vampire or werewolf, witch or wizard in it, it probably isn’t for me. Ironically, my books have none of the those in them! What else do you want to know? I love to travel, and I love animals. I aspire to see as much of the world as possible before I die and there are still some animals that I want to see in the wild. I’ve been lucky enough to tick off some major ones though – bears, whales and even otters! 

Helen: Oh I’m a fan of David Eddings, espacially his Belgarion/Mallorean series, I just love his characters. Definitely a character driven series entwined with a quest! and they are all so relatable! I think Emperor Kal’zakath is my favourite, or maybe Silk, or no maybe…! But enough of that, tell us a little about your current work in progress!

Rachel: I’m currently editing A Grim Ending. It’s the final part of a trilogy that focusses on Emma and Blake. Emma is so normal that even her own mother has been known to accuse her of being boring and Blake is… well, Blake is her soulmate. He’s also the Grim Reaper! Although he would be furious if he knew that I’d described him as such because his title is the Keeper of Souls. It’s difficult to tell you too much about A Grim Ending without giving away snippets of the two books that precede it – A Grim Affair and A Grim Haunt. Suffice it to say that poor Emma suffers some more in A Grim Ending! But I hope that even though all three books have dark undertones, I’ve kept the storytelling quite light. 

Helen: I loved the first book, you can find my book review here! Must get around to reading the second before The Grim Ending releases! Tell us about your covers, they are so vibrant and to the point!

Rachel: The cover of all three of my books is dominated by a scythe, as you would expect, right? A Grim Affair has ice crystals on the cover. This was done purposely because Blake is cold throughout the book. He’s been on his own for nearly a thousand years and he’s bored and lonely. That’s made him… ah… shall we say a little bit disconnected. In comparison  A Grim Haunt has rising water on the front. This is representative of one of the scenes in the book. You’ll need to read it to find out exactly what happens though! And A Grim Ending has flames on it. Again it’s representative of one of the key elements of the story. I think A Grim Haunt it my favourite though. 

Helen: I love to hear the thoughts behind the designs! What made you start writing this series?

Rachel: I get asked this question all the time! I started writing A Grim Affair because of a dream. In the dream a man – Blake – is stood watching a second man who has a 50:50 chance of dying. I couldn’t get the dream out of my head. I kept wondering who Blake was, what he was doing, how he knew that the second man had a 50:50 chance of dying etc, etc. I started writing the story down just so that the ideas would get out of my head. At the time I was really busy in my day job and A Grim Affair served as a way to switch off. In the end I got so far into the story that I figured I might as well finish it and that I might as well publish it. I didn’t spend years searching for an agent or a publisher. One Sunday afternoon, when I’d finished, I simply uploaded it to Amazon. And then I realised what I’d done and went back and had it properly edited and I bought an actual cover. Lol. I did everything wrong!

Helen: They look so pretty together! Such a beautiful blue! And you write fantasy because…?

Rachel: I’m a fantasy writer because it’s what I love to read. Also, you get to make up stuff and no one can tell you that it’s wrong! 

Helen: Tell us a little about your protagonist and why you wrote about her.

Rachel: As I said before, my protagonist is Emma, someone who’s so normal that even her own mother has been known to accuse her of being boring. I wrote Emma that way on purpose because I wanted to read about someone like me whose world was turned upside down by abnormal events. Emma is tall, a traditional British pear with long, red hair, hazel coloured eyes and a smattering of freckles across a nose. She works as a vet nurse and has a little house that she shares with her fur babies (Cooper and Watson). She’s fiercely loyal to those she loves but a little aloof with everyone else, and she likes nothing better than being in her own home baking or gardening. She’s not entirely like me (my mother-in-law, who’s a keen gardener like Emma, cringes when I say that I’m going to do some gardening!), but she’s a lot like me.

Helen: If I asked Emma why we should read your books, what would she say?

Rachel: Emma would probably tell you to read all of the books in A Grim Series because she’d hope that by doing so you’d start to understand Blake a little better.

Helen: And she would be right. Your series is amazing! Who is your favourite character to write?

Rachel: My favourite character in A Grim Series is Abaddon. Well, she’s not the one that I love the most because that would be Emma and Blake, but she’s such fun to write. She’s an angel who is connected to Emma and Blake’s back story. You’ll have to read the series find out exactly how she’s connected, and whether she’s a hero or a villain, but she’s such fun to write because she’s so outrageous. She’s extremely liberal and is always coming out with the most outlandish remarks. Also, because she’s an angel, she can look like whoever she wants to look like and it’s good fun coming up with new bodies for Abaddon to ‘wear’.

Helen: Characters that give you flexibility and freedom are the best to write, because you never know where you might end up! Do you plan your books or do you let them take you where they will?

Rachel: I’m a pantser. I wish I was a planner because I often write myself into holes that my husband has to dig me out of, but I just can’t do it. When I started A Grim Affair, I literally had one scene in my mind. Some way into the book, I worked out the ending of the series but I had no idea how I would get there. I’m often surprised by my own characters. They go rogue on me all the time! 

Helen: Mine do as well! I always seem to end up places I wasn’t expecting! Do you find yourself doing a lot of research for your books?

Rachel: I refer you to one of my previous answers, lol! The great thing about writing fantasy is that you get to make stuff up and no one can tell you that it’s wrong! Before writing A Grim Series though, I did do quite a bit of research into grim reaper mythology, and that influenced several aspects of the story. I intend to write an article that will be at the back of A Grim Ending to share some of what I learned. It’s fascinating stuff! I always liked mythology as a child. It’s no wonder really that I became a fantasy writer. I also make sure snippets of information are correct. As an example, the prologue of each book in A Grim Series is set on a specific day in the World War One. I did several google searches to make sure that what I was describing was as authentic as I could make it. 

Helen: It is surprising as a fantasy author how much research does come into it, and you find yourself researching the strangest things!! How do you fit your writing into everyday life?

Rachel: So, this is one of the hardest things about being a writer, finding the time. Personally, I work long hours during the week so I never try and write on a weekday. That leaves me with the weekend. I’m an early bird so I always write on a Saturday and Sunday morning before my hubby gets up. It doesn’t give me much time each week, but it’s enough.

Helen: I know the feeling! We’re almost at the end, it has been lovely learning more about your books. Tell us something random about yourself.

Rachel: Hmmm, something random about me. Well, I used this with my day job team the other day and they were surprised so perhaps you’ll be surprised to know that I have two tattoos. Neither of them see the light of day all that often because being a UK based author I tend to be covered up. It’s no joke that it rains A LOT in the UK. 

Helen: Now we want to know what those tattoos are!! You can’t leave it there!! But we are at the end of time together and I have so enjoyed chatting with you. Good luck with the release of your final installment The Grim Ending. I love the cover, even more so now you pointed out the elements! Just to finish, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Rachel: Just do it. If you want to be a writer, be a writer. It’s that easy. It’s also quite hard. It’s hard finding the time and it’s hard being disciplined enough, but it’s worth it. Even though I’ve not yet made it to giddy heights that JK Rowling has, there’s nothing quite like knowing that someone is reading your work. And when – if – they leave a positive review… well, that’s an amazing feeling. 

About the Author:

Rachel Stanley

Rachel Stanley lives in the Northwest of England. She has always wanted to write stories but only found the time to put pen to paper after a dream about a Grim Reaper. True story!

She’s spent most of her adult life working as a project manager, despite her degree being in psychology. Her degree comes in handy though, helping her to understand people and their different motivations. Rachel loves people watching!

Rachel lives with her husband, David, and their two cats, Cooper and Watson, who feature in her “A Grim” series. She loves to travel and intends on seeing as much of the world as possible in her lifetime. Much of her writing is actually done when she is on one of her trips (at home or abroad). She can often be found at the side of a lake, or sat on a rock in the middle of nowhere, adding to her latest work of fiction.

Family is very important to Rachel. She firmly believes that without them she wouldn’t be where she is now.

For all the latest news:

Instagram

Amazon Author page

You can preorder A Grim Affair from Amazon:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

and Book Two: A Grim Haunt:

UK: eBook | Paperback

USA: eBook | Paperback

As an Amazon Associate I may earn commission from purchases made using these links.

If you enjoy fantasy books then you will love my books which are available in eBook, paperback or hardcover: Book One: Sentinals Awaken. Book Two: Sentinals Rising. Book Three: Sentinals Justice. Book 3.5: Sentinals Recovery. Sign up to my newsletter and download a free novella called Sentinals Stirring and get notified when my next book releases.

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