As you all know, Inion & I have been busy these past few months promoting our books. Part of this process included traveling to schools in three different states and speaking to some amazing young people, who like us have chosen the field of writing for better or worse. But of all the students we’ve talked too one stood out among the sea of young artists. A young girl whose passion for the craft and love for books was more than admirable. It was downright inspirational.
To give you a little background, Rachel Harrell is a fourteen year old student at Enka Middle School in Asheville. A picturesque city nestled in the Smoky Mountains in the state of North Carolina…our neck of the woods.
What makes Rachel very special other than the fact that she has a heart of gold, is that she has written her first book and is readying it for publication. Incredible as it may seem, Rachel will soon be a published Author and she’s only 14.
Rachel was seven years old when she realized she wanted to be a writer. Of course it helped that her foundation was solid. She found her strongest support from her parents and grandmother, who were always encouraging her to read books and write. It’s the perfect ground for the seed of a young artist to flourish and a supportive home is something Inion and I accredit as the building blocks for our own careers.
We’ve been dying to host Rachel on Two Voices One Thought and introduce her to all of you, our closest friends and allow you to get to know this extraordinary young writer. So, without further ado…we would like to introduce, Rachel Harrell.
(INM) Hi Rachel. Thank you for allowing us to host you here at, Two Voices One Thought.
(RH) Well thank you for having me on here and doing an interview on me. It really means a lot.
(INM) We know you have a deeply rooted love for books in general, but what is your favorite genre to read from?
(RH) Fiction; I love fiction, any fiction but especially dystopian books. I love reading just to see what writers can create and what could come to the future ahead of us.
(INM) Great choice! That’s a favorite of ours as well and a great time for that particular genre. You told us you were seven years old when you began writing stories.
(RH) That’s when I was able to come up with stories of my own and write them down.
(INM) Was there a book that inspired you or helped to influence your decision to become a writer? And if it was more than one, please list them all.
(RH) No, there wasn’t a book that influenced me to be a writer, but many books have helped improve the way I write. Books like: “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins and “Divergent” by Veronica Roth.
(INM) Those are some pretty amazing titles Rachel & incredible Authors. Let’s talk a little bit about your book you’re working on right now. What’s the title of the book and tell us a little bit about it.
(RH) The name of my book is, “The Dagger” here is a synopsis.
The world has been taken over by shape shifters, creatures that can take the form of any other creature’s soul. The only way to save the world is to find the cyrosphere; a blue-sphere that will release all of the taken souls back to their owners and kill all of the shape shifters. But when Ally Forges, 17, and her brother Thomas Forges, 10, find the cyrosphere, it breaks and Ally is taken captive while Thomas escapes. Ally is taken to the Mississippi Laboratory and all her possessions are taken, including her father’s dagger. When she escapes with the help of Liam Rhiders (18) and Christina Rhiders (15) they take her back to their tree house where she is reunited with her brother Thomas. After being in the safety of the Rhiders, Ally starts having strange dreams involving her father’s dagger. In these dreams she learns that there is a second cyrosphere and the map that will lead her to it is engraved on the handle of her father’s dagger. At first she just thinks that she’s going crazy but then she has to consider that there may be another cyrosphere?
(INM) Wow, that sounds amazing, Rachel! We can’t wait to pick up our copy. How long have you been working on “The Dagger” and what gave you the idea for the story?
(RH) I have been working on “The Dagger” for about a year now and what inspired me to write it was dystopian books.
(INM) Again, can’t wait to read your book as I’m sure all our visitors feel the same. So tell us, is this your first book you’ve completed or the first one you’ve decided to publish? Are there any more books on the back-burner awaiting publication?
(RH) I don’t have any books on the back burner but I do have many ideas for possible future books.
(INM) Sounds like you’ve got a busy future ahead of you with a lot of great books still to come! So, do you dabble in any other form of writing or want to try your hand at something else; possibly Poetry, school newspaper, Short Stories or another genre?
(RH) I’ve done illustrations before writing. At one point I loved drawing and painting so much that I wanted to be an artist.
(INM) Ah yes, your illustrations. That’s something Inion’s been dying to take a peek at! Will there be any of your illustrations in “The Dagger” or are you saving those for another book? Perhaps a picture book?
(RH) There will be no illustrations in “The Dagger” since it is a chapter book, but I do want the cover of my book to be one of my drawings. A picture book I can see myself doing in the future maybe… but for now, I’m just concentrating on writing short stories and chapter books.
(INM) We’d love to have you return to Two Voices One Thought and allow us to display some of your illustrations. So Rachel, you’ve told us your favorite Genre and the books that helped influence your writing. But can you recommend what books you’ve read more recently that we’re page turners?
(RH) The books that I highly recommend or have stayed up until the break of dawn reading are:
- “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green
- “The Selection” by Kiera Cass
- “The Host” by Stephanie Meyer.
- “Divergent” by Veronica Roth
- “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
(INM) We’ve read The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins and just to let you all know a few months ago Rachel recommended Divergent by Veronica Roth to Inion, who bought it the same day and finished it the same day. So if you haven’t read it yet, most definitely check this one out. ;)
Speaking of great stories, let’s get back to “The Dagger” Without giving away any spoilers, Rachel, can you please tell us a little bit about your main character, Ally Forges and her journey.
(RH) Ally Forges is a 17 year old girl who has lived through the invasion for 2 years with the job of taking care of her 10 year old brother Thomas. She is out going, brave, and strong willed throughout the story; which is told through her point of view giving the readers an inside look into her thoughts and memories of her past as she takes the readers with her on her journey.
(INM) A strong teenage protagonist with some flavor to her…sounds to me like Ally’s journey is going to be a great read; can’t wait Rachel! Now onto a question Inion’s been dying to ask you.
(Inion) Rachel, like you I knew I wanted to be a writer at an early age. But it took years of working in different aspects of the field as well as dabbling in different types of writing before I knew how my gift would evolve. Still, I love to look at where my dream started to where it winded up bringing me. Can you tell us what your plans for the future are? Where do you see yourself in ten years?
(RH) In the future I want to go to college in the United Kingdom and become a writer and publisher. I hope to be living in London in ten years.
(INM) Now that’s a dream worth dreaming and a dream worth pursuing! This next question can be challenging for some writers to figure out while others say it comes easy and is their favorite part. Have you thought about the cover for “The Dagger” And if you’ve already decided on it, would you mind sharing it with our friends?
(RH) I do have a cover! At least what I want for a cover. ( I hope) it is going to be a dagger with the blade pointing up and a ring of fire surrounding it. I have the drawing in my writer’s notebook (a notebook I keep with me to write all of my ideas for new books and pictures in).
(INM) That sounds incredible and will most definitely catch the eye of potential readers! Can’t wait to see it Rachel. Our next question is rather mature but most definitely important; important in the sense that we need to hear from young writers like yourself, how you feel about it.
Our economy is clearly having problems and like most, the literary world is feeling the impact; not only the literary world but the Art world in general. Whether it’s photography, singing (chorus), musician (band), journalism (school paper) creative writing, poetry, drama (acting) or painting/sketching every day more and more programs/classes are being cut out of the curriculum or suffering from a lack of funds.
When we visited Enka Middle School, we learned that many of the classes that make up the Art Department are suffering due to budget cuts, lack of funds and like many of the schools across this great nation causing a decrease in the amount of time and money that can be afforded these projects and classes. It’s not just your school, Rachel. Our local school Franklin High, Home of the Panthers has recently made some pretty serious cut-backs to several of their art classes and even had to cut one completely out of the curriculum. The school in Florida we visited said the teacher was all but donating her time to the class and it’s the same with the one in New York. How do you feel about this Rachel and how does this impact you as an artist?
(RH) I think the art world is what makes teenagers like me, creative. I also think that no matter what happens, you have to continue working on what you love doing. I do think that it is bad that money is being taken away from the art programs and some even being cut is…just terrible. The art world is what I am involved with in a lot of things. I write, play guitar and draw and all of those are in the art world and those kind of programs are disappearing because they don’t have enough money to continue. And that hits home for me. And to hear about teachers dedicating their time to keep these programs running, I find amazing and am very thankful. My creative writing class after school, the teacher who does it volunteers their time to work the club. But I truly do think that no matter what happens, you have got to continue working on what you love.
(INM) Thank you Rachel that was beautifully said and you’ve brought out a very important point. No matter what an artist goes through or what road blocks they meet, they must always find a way to continue to pursue their dreams and practice their craft. Let’s hope that very soon some of these courses can be restored and we can work together to keep these programs alive and available for young artists like yourself.
As you know Rachel, most of our blogging friends are writers like yourself. With marketing in the forefront and “platform” being the word of the day, every day, what selection process determines your choice of book/author? How do you find the books you & your friends are reading. (T.V., bookstores, library, internet, word of mouth, what movies are hot at the theater?)
(RH) A catchy title or interesting summary. My friends and I- usually the books we love come from recommendations or for me also I go online and look up the top 100 Young Adult. I don’t think television really has a big factor in it because the books advertised on T.V. are usually books that I have already read or are about to become books. I always love to take recommendations for books and like Inion, I am usually in the library every morning reading or looking for a new book. Or if I am at the mall I always have to go into the book store and look in the Young Adult section. After I am done in the bookstore I usually come out with at least one book or more. But your book doesn’t have to be in a bookstore, you just have to get it out there and tell people about it and it will spread like wild fire.
Thank you for your honest answers. I don’t know about all of you but we can’t wait to read Rachel’s Book: “The Dagger”.
Rachel, it’s been fun having you here on Two Voices One Thought and we’re quite sure that we speak for all our friends & blogging community when we say how proud we are of you for being able to finish your book. An accomplishment that’s amazing at any age but more so incredible at yours.
We’re quite certain that we will be hearing great things from this young lady in the future & look forward to the day, when she’ll be signing her books for all of us.
Below this post you’ll find an excerpt from Rachel’s book “The Dagger” This is the rough-draft and is about to go to editing. I’m sure Rachel would appreciate any comments, advice or questions you might have for her.