Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
My book, The French Impressionist, is a standalone YA novel about a girl named Rosemary who goes to France for the summer, supposedly to study art. Her real goal, though, is to stay in France forever, never returning home to the U.S. To achieve this, she’s devised a plan to convince her host family to keep her. Rosemary is trying to hide a number of things about herself, including the fact that she has a communication disorder and that she isn’t really interested in art.
Do you have a favorite character?
I love Rosemary despite her flaws and quirks. However, I can’t help having a soft spot for a very minor character named Fat Cat, the large feline friend who lives in Rosemary’s apartment. He’s based on a real cat I once met in Paris. That cat had soft gray fur, yellow staring eyes, and was the heaviest cat I’d ever met. I don’t think anyone could have lifted him off the floor. He was practically the size of Rhode Island. (Only a slight exaggeration).
Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
My character, Gavin, was initially a very minor character. I wanted Rosemary to attempt to flirt for the first time in her life and have it go all wrong, and Gavin was really no more than the guy who served that purpose and turned out to be a jerk. After a while, though, I felt like he was too one-dimensional and wanted him to be more sympathetic and play a bigger role. Gavin evolved into someone who teased Rosemary at first and then instantly regretted it. He tried to apologize but Rosemary didn’t believe in his sincerity. Gavin was persistent, though, and became a friend at the end when Rosemary learned to accept herself, flaws and all, and realized that Gavin actually cared.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I did go the traditional route to publishing. I spent several years sending queries to literary agents and any editors or publishers who would accept queries directly from writers. I’d had some agents interested enough to request the full manuscript, but in the end none of them chose to represent me, although several of them said nice things about the writing or the plot. Their encouragement kept me going, but after more than seventy rejections, I got to the point with this particular novel that I was ready to shelve the project and move on. Luckily for me, I decided to send one final query. This happened to be my submission to Amberjack Publishing, and they liked my novel and offered to publish!
How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
The French Impressionist was not my first novel, but the third that I’d written. I think the first two were great learning experiences for me, and they helped me develop my writing voice and see what genres worked best for me. As I said answering the last question, it took several years of querying before I got my first contract to publish. During those years, I took to heart comments I received from agents who rejected my book and used their advice as I reviewed and revised my manuscript, with the goal improving the writing, the characters and the plot. I also spent my time working on other novels, so I wasn’t just anxiously waiting for responses from agents. That would have been a lot of wasted time staring at the computer!
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I do belong to a small critique group, and their help is invaluable! One writer friend is great at catching things that make no sense, or that aren’t scientifically accurate. I’ve gotten some great advice from critiques that has helped me create more fully-fleshed, realistic characters, or helped me to see when my plot is meandering or that a sub-plot is unnecessary or needs to be re-worked. Critique groups are the best!
What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I tend to like quiet. I get distracted easily by background noise, so I prefer no music or TV on in the house when I write. I’m happy in my quiet house, typing away and living in the world I’m creating inside my head.
What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I have an author page on Facebook and am trying to post every day and get the word out about my book. I’m just learning about how to effectively use social media and am excited to try some new things!
Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
I love to read mysteries, historical fiction, contemporary, and really a variety of genres. I also love movies but hate watching TV. I like trying to learn other languages, and I go back and forth between Italian, French and Spanish lessons on my DuoLingo app. (I also recently learned how to say “I am a banana” in German. I’m sure I’ll need that phrase one day).
Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?
Dogs, since I’m allergic to cats. Chocolate, not vanilla! Peppermint tea with sugar and milk. Text, don’t call me! Night, when I’m with my husband or my kids, cuddling on the couch and watching a funny movie. And eating chocolate, of course.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on two historical novels and a contemporary middle grade novel. I love history and wanted to try my hand at writing about the past.
The French Impressionist
Publication date: December 6th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rosemary is fifteen and gloriously free, on her own for the very first time. Part of an exchange program for aspiring artists, she arrives in sunny southern France with a single goal: she doesn’t plan to leave, ever. She wants a new life, a new family, and a new identity. But her situation, crafted from lies big and small, is precarious.
Desperate to escape haunting images from her past and a stage one helicopter parent, Rosemary struggles to hide her lack of artistic talent and a communication disorder that has tormented her all her life. She believes her dream of a new start will come true, until she unwittingly finds herself enveloped in a decades-old mystery that threatens to ruin her only chance for success. Determined to stay, Rosemary must choose whether or not she’ll tell the biggest lie of all, even if it means destroying the life of someone she cares about.
Dramatic, heartwarming, and full of teenage angst, The French Impressionist perfectly captures the struggle of those who feel they have no voice, and also shows the courage it takes to speak up and show the world who we really are.
Rebecca Bischoff currently resides in Idaho with her family and works as a speech-language pathologist. She loves helping others, especially kids and teenagers, discover their own unique voices and learn to share who they are with the world. When she isn’t writing, she loves to read, spend time with her kids, and make awkward attempts to learn foreign languages. She is drawn to all things both French and Italian, used bookstores, and anything made out of chocolate.
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