It certainly wasn't a topic I'd had terribly much to do with, or indeed thought a hell of a lot about, but Rachel McGrath opened my eyes to the true trauma this creates in many couples and the journey so many people have to endure before receiving the blessing of their very own "Rainbow Child."
I've mentioned often enough in this blog that one of the things I love about "indie" authors is their sense of camaraderie. It's almost like we're all together in this incredibly tough struggle to overcome the biggest problem facing "indie" authors - obscurity. Rachel is one of these people who go out of their way to help fellow "indie" authors - Moi included.
So, without further ado please allow me to introduce you to one of the new breed of "indie" writers - a woman with heart, soul and a whole bunch of stories to tell. Drum roll please - Rachel McGrath!
I have always wanted to write. In fact, I have short stories I had written at the age of fourteen (and they are quite funny now to read). I remember I loved the classics, but even more so I loved Virginia Andrews (don’t judge!). I have a lot of short stories from my teenage years which are very ‘Virginia Andrews-esqe’ style. For a naïve, young, girl, I certainly knew how to elaborate on sexuality. Unfortunately, however, life and ambition got in the way of my creativity, and whilst I always felt I had a book in me (and I started many over the years), ‘Finding the Rainbow’ was my inspiration for me to come back to writing! I am however glad that I have started now, as I am a very different writer to what I was in those teenage years!
2/ Your first book; 'Finding the Rainbow', was clearly a very personal story. What prompted you to write this?
At first it wasn’t a book, it was my solace and a way of capturing my turmoil. I had never imagined that I would deal with the fertility struggles that I faced; let alone how many losses we did experience. Before long, it was a longer piece of work, and something I felt passionate about capturing. I had wanted to keep my experiences recorded, so that when we did finally have a successful pregnancy I would never forget what made us parents and the journey we had travelled to get there. Unfortunately we are not yet parents, but now this book is something that reminds me of the strength you need to overcome adversity; that love and partnership are fundamental to achieving your dreams; and that sometimes your dreams are not always what you had thought they would be and happiness can be found in different paths.
3/ Finding the Rainbow, opened up a big part of your life to a group of total strangers. How did you deal with exposing your feelings, so openly, in this memoir?
That one is certainly still an interesting question that I ponder on. Firstly I did change my name, as I thought at first I could have two personas. Well, I don’t, and the McGrath persona has become more me than my real name. Secondly, I realised that people buy books because of the person not the book title, so I had to get comfortable talking openly about my fertility. It is strange when someone you do not know starts to talk about your experiences in the book and naturally asks what is next on our journey. By writing my book, I have invited the world to comment on our family plans, so I certainly can no longer be shy about it!
Had you asked me over a year ago, I was quite a conservative reader, sticking to similar genres. Now I have written my own book and connected with so many great independent authors, I’ve truly widened my reading appreciation. Now I get excited about new books; ones I may not have picked up in a book store, but those that really surprise me. I can name several books recently that have taken my breath away, and most recently (and this is not a biased comment) by the very talented Grant Leishman, ‘Just A Drop in the Ocean’! There are other great independent authors out there that I have truly enjoyed (Bill Ward, Jana Pekten, Jalpa Williby, Colin Griffiths, to name a few).
5/ You have followed up Finding the Rainbow, with two children’s books; Mud on Your Face and The Wonderful World of Willow. What prompted you to write those two books?
Mud on your Face was actually something I wrote just over three years ago. However, it needed work, and I lost my mojo at the time and continued on my corporate path. After Finding the Rainbow and the appreciation I was receiving for this book, I decided to revisit the story. So I rewrote it in the way I had first intended and contacted a very talented illustrator. To be honest, it was something I always wanted to publish but I just needed the guts to do it.
The Wonderful World of Willow is a younger children’s book series, and will become a series (hopefully). It will tell the stories of my own cat, Willow; and my dog, CocoPops in a way that children will hopefully enjoy and connect to. I love the children’s market it is so much fun and there is so much room for fantasy!
6/ What do you enjoy the most about being an Author?
I love that I can put my crazy imaginations down onto paper and create a story that will hopefully resonate or connect with someone I have never met. I love to write, I have always loved stories, and this is my own personal way of expressing myself! It is absolutely liberating.
At the moment, it is balancing my writing with my ‘day job’ which is quite a busy day job. I work in a global corporate company in quite a senior role. I have been incredibly ambitious about my career, and my job involves long hours and lots of travel. Lately, however, I am trying to fit my writing around my career, and that has been difficult (particularly when you are on a fast creative train of thought). Sometimes it has involved little sleep and no rest on my weekends – but it is worth it! In many ways, it has helped me switch off from the pressures of my day job, but I’m not sure how sustainable both will be!
8/ Who are your favorite authors and what authors if any, influence your style?
Again this has truly changed over the past twelve months. I used to love Stephen King, Nora Roberts and even classics like Jane Austen and Margaret Mitchell. Now I have to say I’m more inclined to look up a new and independent author, as they truly are hidden gems who constantly surprise me.
9/ What is the favourite book you’ve read in 2015?
Okay this one is an even tie for sure. I absolutely loved Jalpa Williby’s ‘My Perfect Imperfections’ and I’m not just saying this because of the interviewer, but I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Just A Drop in the Ocean.’
'My Perfect Imperfections' was a story that shook me. I guess I have been somewhat fortunate in many ways to not have had to face a family member with a disability, but also in many ways I was also naïve. This story of a young girl living with cerebral palsy was just heartbreaking and at times brutal. I loved every page.
'Just A Drop in the Ocean', also a brilliant read for many different reasons. It shows how human nature wants to love and be loved; how life plans can get in the way of reality; how we can think we are taking one short cut and suddenly we land in deep, hot, water with no escape. It was about love, hope and finding yourself through adversity. I was smitten with the characters and enthralled with every page.
Oddball? Okay so my first job was as a party clown at Burger King! I am generally shy but dress me up and suddenly I become someone else entirely – it's like I’m Batman versus Bruce Wayne! Well, not exactly but you get the gist!
Mundane? I am so very frugal I am a planner. I like spreadsheets, to do lists and to know what is happening when and where. I like to be on time and I get frustrated when things don’t go to plan…. Obsessive compulsive? No not me?!!
11/ What makes Rachel McGrath laugh?
Really dumb jokes. Like what do you call a three legged donkey . . . . . a wonkey! Yep, I love it, in fact, I’m giggling to myself now!
12/ If you could have six people (living or dead) around for dinner, who would they be and why?
Okay, I love this stuff.
1. Anne Boleyn (with the head) – I want to know what really happened
2. Steve Irwin – and he needs to bring a big croc!
3. Alf Stewart (from Home and Away for those who watch Australian soap operas… ‘flamin' galahs’)
4. Shakespeare – I love my Shakespeare and can recite several of the monologues!
5. Elizabeth I – because I think Anne B should meet her very successful and revered daughter
6. Dick Van Dyke – because I just love him!
13/ Print or EBook and why?
Until recently I would have definitely said print. I love taking 4-5 books on holidays but they are a pain to pack and then sometimes they do get all tatty and I leave them behind. So now I’m starting to find the love for the eBook. I just bought myself a Kindle and I’m getting used to it….not there yet but I’m sure I will be soon!
My day job is a Human Resources Leader – so I actually deal with criticism, conflict every day, so I am quite used to it on a professional level.
Criticism of my writing I think is different. I guess it depends on whether it is constructive and objective versus personal. It’s a tough one as you put your heart and soul into the book you write and you hope that people would be sensitive with their feedback. In a way, the criticism can feel like someone is telling you that your baby is ugly. It hurts.
15/ Finding the Rainbow was beautifully written, did you edit it yourself? How do you handle quality control?
My mother was my primary editor and then the publisher did some edits too. I must have also read it a dozen times – to the point where I really struggled to re-read my own story over and over. Because it is my story it was like living every moment over, again and again.
16/ Final Question: What does 2016 hold for Rachel McGrath – Author? What can we look forward to coming from your laptop next year?
I have a few projects on the go, and I guess it is about timing.
I have a sequel to my children’s book, called ‘CocoPops the Crazy Pup’, due in January.
I also have an anthology of short stories that will hopefully be published early in the new year. This will be a piece of work that will be dedicated to my father, and all proceeds will go to cancer research. The main challenge I am finding right now is a charity that will partner with me!
Then, I have lots of ideas, it's just getting time to put them on paper. Truly I’m excited about this great world of writing and the ability to be heard. I love every moment and this is only the beginning!
Thank you so much for your time Rachel and your open and frank responses. I'm sure we all know a lot more about you than we did before.
Please do check out Rachel's work.
You can find it all on Amazon, here: http://tinyurl.com/o7w7vf5
or visit her on her website, here: http://rachelmcgrath.net/
You can connect with Rachel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RJG27
Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/racheljrainbow
Till next week; thanks for reading and have a wonderful peace-filled day!
EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES LIFE PRESENTS TO YOU AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!
Have a great life and spread the love!
Changing the world – one reader at a time!