Friday, May 20, 2016

Interview with Alice Rachel, UNDER GROUND

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
My series "Under Ground" takes place in dystopian New York State, where the protagonist Thia is forced into marriage with William Fox, a young man she can hardly stand. One day, Thia meets Chi, a boy born illegally, who is also part of the Underground—a rebellious group seeking to overthrow the established government of New York. If caught in their forbidden relationship, Thia and Chi could face a death sentence. Soon devastating secrets surface from Chi's past, forcing Thia to make a choice that could save her or destroy her forever. 

"Under Ground" is part of a series that contains three major novels from Thia's POV, two novellas from Stephen's POV, and other novellas and short stories developing the side characters. So far, only one novel and one novella are out. Two sequels are coming out in October.

Do you have a favorite character?
Yes, I do. My favorite character is my antagonist Stephen. He is also the twin brother of my main male protagonist Chi, born in a family that was only allowed to have one child.
Stephen is the easiest character for me to write because he has a really strong, imposing personality. He usually writes himself, whereas Thia requires a lot more work on my part. But Stephen is also the most complex of all my characters and the most heartbreaking. Writing his story often brings me to tears.

My favorite characters go in this order:
Stephen Richards (antagonist)
Chi Richards (main male protagonist)
Taylor Jones (one of the leaders of the rebellion)
Chase Martinez (third in command to Taylor)

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Yes, that has actually happened with many of my secondary characters. Most of them were supposed to only be side characters, but they are growing to have their own novellas or short stories. All my characters matter. They have different stories to tell, and it's really interesting for me as a writer to develop as many of them as possible.

Also, in the series, the rebels work as a team, which means that all the characters work as a united force. They each have their own role to play in the evolution and outcome of the series.
It makes writing a lot more complicated though, because I have to make sure all their time lines fit together and that all their experiences and interactions make sense.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
If an aspiring author wants an agent, they should browse through books similar to those that author is writing. Authors always thank their agents in the acknowledgments, so one can look them up online and contact them.
An author can't contact a publisher directly unless that publisher is targeting indie authors. The agent will be contacting the publishing houses for the writer.

Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will self-publish? Are you doing both?

I am self-publishing all my books. I like it that way and don't plan on changing that. When I want input on how to better my writing, I ask my readers for their opinions. They are the best help I could receive since they are the ones I want to please. :-)

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
As mentioned above, I didn't feel comfortable working with someone else. I don't think I could have let them take so much control over my story.

I usually say that my biggest reason for self-publishing is my antagonist Stephen.
I'm not sure a regular publisher would have approved of Stephen's actions, or of the things done to him in the series, and I simply couldn't take the risk of seeing his story changed in any way.

Stephen is really important to me, just the way he is, and I wanted his story to be told as it came to me, without any polishing or sugar-coating. The things that happen to Stephen are important things to put out there and talk about. He's not a character I am willing to compromise or change in any way.
So, I would say that I self-published for Stephen.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
I have designed and created my own book covers. The covers I really want to work on this summer are the ones for my short stories. I didn't have time to make individual covers for them yet, and I really need to.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I listen to music when I write my first draft. It helps me connect with the characters. When I edit, I need to focus, so I do that in complete silence.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I couldn't outline a story to save my life. I write my chapters out of order. Usually, I write the romantic and emotional scenes first. I finish with the action scenes because those are my least favorite to write. Then I piece it all together.

What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
Listen to the advice you are given. Your readers know best. You can't follow all advice, but take criticism kindly. Most advice is wise and in your best interest. I think I've always been quite open to advice and criticism in general. :-)

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Not necessarily. I find it hard to juggle my time between writing and working my full-time job. Drawing has been nearly impossible for me this year, but I'm going to have to get back to it if I want to create book covers for my short stories. :-)

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Make sure your book is carefully edited and ready to be published. Once it's out, there is no turning back.

Be close to your readers, always. Communicate with them because their attention is the best reward you can possibly get. Their time is as precious as yours.
Do a blog tour as soon as possible. Contact as many bloggers as possible.
Take criticism kindly. Most criticism is in your best interest. It will help you better your writing.
Be yourself, always.

Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?
Chocolate or Vanilla? Mmm, it depends. Chocolate for cakes, drinks, and in bars. Vanilla for ice cream.
Coffee... a LOT of it!
Text. I have a phone phobia. It takes me forever to gather the courage to return a phone call. I will text and email people before I call them. I will avoid talking on the phone as much as possible unless it's with someone I personally know.
Day. I have a daytime job, so I have to be awake during the day. When I take time off, I tend to write deep into the night though.

What’s next for you?                                                                                                                            I am currently editing my two sequels, "Standing Ground" and "Holding Ground," which I am hoping to publish this fall. I cannot wait! The secrets and spoilers are killing me. I can't wait to discuss the sequels with my readers. :-) Thank you so much for having me on your blog today. :-)

Book & Author Details:
Under Ground by Alice Rachel
(Under Ground, #1)
Publication date: October 30th 2015
Genres: Dystopia, Romance, Young Adult

Love is a taboo, a mere fantasy— foreign, unreachable, and dangerous.
Raised in a society where women have no rights, seventeen-year-old Thia Clay holds little hope for a bright future. When her parents sell her into marriage to elite member William Fox, Thia slowly gives in to despair. William is nothing but a cruel, selfish young man with no other interest than to serve his own.

Born illegally and forced to hide from the authorities his entire life, nineteen-year-old Chi Richards is an active member of the Underground—a rebellious group seeking to overthrow the government.

Chi only has one goal—to rescue his parents from the work camp they were forced into.
Meeting Thia was never part of the plan, and neither was falling in love with her.
If caught in their forbidden relationship, Thia and Chi could face a death sentence, and when devastating secrets surface from Chi’s past, Thia has to rely on her instincts to make a choice that could save her or destroy her forever.


Alice Rachel is the author of the YA Dystopian ROMANCE SERIES “Under Ground.” Originally from France, Alice Rachel moved to the United States ten years ago to live with her husband, and she now also shares her home with two really old foster guinea pigs.

Alice enjoys books of all kinds and more specifically those introducing well-written antagonists and complex protagonists. Alice also loves to draw her own book characters.

The first book of her series “Under Ground” came out in October 2015, and the sequel will be out later this year.

Alice loves to interact with all readers, so feel free to send her a Tweet.

Author links:

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