Today I’m chatting with the lovely Rachel Davidson, the author of a wonderfully uplifting spiritual book. Read on to see what she had to say:
Me: Firstly, welcome Rachel, it’s lovely to have you featured here and I have several questions for you, the first being how long have you been writing and what made you decide to write this particular book?
Rachel: In truth I have been writing my whole life, but I have only been taking it ‘seriously’ – by which I mean pursuing particular story-ideas and crafting them into novel-sized adventures – since September 2014. I am the typical cliché of a newbie author! Hearing that well-worn phrase of ‘everyone has at least one book in them’ and thinking ‘oh yes that is me!’ but not actually settling down to write it and test that postulation. I guess I just got diverted by everyday life, like many people do. The lure of a ‘safer’ life working in business was strong and none of the careers officers at school were promoting author as an option.
But like I say, that changed in September 2014. I know the exact point at which I made the decision to get on with it and indeed why I wrote this particular book ‘The Point of Me’.
I know this because I was having a Soul-Purpose Reading – and during the meditations that this involved, I was told that I would write a story about a unicorn. Well I was rather irked about that. I didn’t want to write about rainbows and fairy sparkle unicorns! But my husband challenged me to think about what my unicorn would look and feel like. Five minutes later I had sketched out the story of the book that was published last summer. It took me 3 years to write and it felt like a return to home.
Perhaps it would be useful at this point to explain a little about what the book is about. The main character in ‘The Point of Me’, James, is a young man who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. As well as facing his own mortality, he also has to cope with his family, who are falling apart under the strain. When James meets Marcham, a mystical beast who takes him on a series of powerful spiritual journeys, he begins to understand the meaning of life, death and family.
So, on the face of it, the book is about a teenager coming to terms with death. But don’t let that put you off! It is actually a very uplifting story! The point of it is not the fact that death is inevitable, but that the manner in which we choose to live our lives, and especially so when the prospect of death looms closer (and in James’ case abnormally early on in his young life) is the most important point of being alive.
The book is heavily influenced and inspired by the worlds of Shamanism and Spiritual Healing. I’ve tried to weave elements of these belief structures into what I hope is a compelling message of how a life full of empathy, love and acceptance will be a good life and provide a meaningful death. The story also features some fantastically magical trips into wonderful spiritual planes – I promise it is not a depressing story!
I wanted it to be full of both light and shade. I wanted to explore how in the midst of the most terrible, darkest moments of a person’s life they might find the greatest light and peace, together with an acceptance of why, as spiritual splinters of the creator’s light we are sent to experience a human existence upon a giant rock spinning through the cosmos!
Me: I think you managed to send that message beautifully. How long did it take to write ‘The Point of Me’, were there any setbacks or did it flow?
Rachel: It took me 3 years, practically to the day, to go from the first word being written to being published and available to buy. But the vast majority of the writing took place in the last 9 months or so (the symbolism of that particular last phase being equal to a pregnancy was not lost on me! Writing a book is a bit similar to giving birth!).
In the beginning I wrote the story in a relatively piecemeal fashion – having got the preface and chapter one written first I didn’t necessarily follow the chronological timeline that the final book has. I wrote passages and chapters as and when ideas grabbed me, when I felt able to explore particular emotions and themes. I suppose it came together like a quilt does – each piece of writing being stitched together with the next to form the overall. I feel I suffered very few setbacks and ‘dry’ periods because I took exactly this approach. I followed my instincts, went with the flow and trusted that the detail of the story would arrive and that in the end, the full pathway of the tale would be clear and obvious. I always knew the big picture of the story’s emotional arc and everything was guided and controlled by that – like a sailor navigating by the north-star I suppose, I always had that as my reference point from which every writing ‘journey’ would lead from and back to.
Me: As you’ve already said, and I concur, this is a rather wonderful and spiritual tale – did you set out to write it this way, or did it evolve as you wrote?
Rachel: Thank you for the compliment. I’m thrilled that you liked it.
Well, as I mentioned previously, the start of the book began with the spiritual activity of a Soul-Purpose reading and contains many themes and tokens of shamanic and spiritual healing practices. So, I cannot deny that the whole piece has the general theme of spirituality woven through it. Although I don’t remember consciously thinking “I will write a spiritual fantasy story”, I am really interested in this area and exploring the human condition.
In my writing, and through my writing, I want to explore the big issues and questions. I want to investigate my own emotions and purposes – I try to face my own fears. Actually, I think potentially all writers are exploring their inner-workings in this manner to a greater or lesser degree.
If I look into the face of my own fears and terrors and find responses to them through the trials and adversities that I make my characters live through, then I have a good chance of writing an interesting story that will hopefully resonate with other people.
Me: What was your inspiration?
Rachel: Inspiration for my writing comes from lots of places. My husband Steve is a particularly good ‘resource’ as he is a powerful Spiritual Healer and Shaman. His work with Spirit and energy is particularly inspiring. But I also gain a lot of inspiration from the natural world (animals, plants, weather) and by generally observing the human-condition and wondering about people’s hidden, internal dialogues.
For this particular story, knowing that I absolutely did not want to write about a ‘typical’ rainbow and sparkle unicorn was also a good inspiration point. I felt sure that unicorns are much darker, earthier and deeply elemental creatures, and it is true to say that my version is very different to the more usual depiction of these magical beasts.
Ideas or feelings about things such as this arrive in my mind, the trick is to hear them, definitely before they head off to find somebody else who might hear them quicker than you! Ideas are given to you. I believe that is ‘inspiration’ – being ‘in spirit’. To be inspired you simply need to be looking and listening.
Me: How has it been received?
Rachel: Firstly, I want to just acknowledge what a massive leap of faith it is for any artist to put their creativity out into the world. It is a big thing to have strangers reading and reviewing something that one has poured one’s heart into. It’s scary and risky. But the thought of writing the story and then putting it into a dusty drawer to eventually forget about it was definitely the much more horrifying prospect.
My gamble seems to have paid off, in that I have had some very lovely comments and compliments. The book has been described by one reviewer as a “tender fantasy about learning to love yourself despite the tragedy surrounding you”. Another reviewer said that I had painted “… an iridescent portrait filled with sorrow and hope, … [detailing] one boy’s struggles in learning to live in a life of cruelties”. A third review described me as a “talented, exceptional writer who knows how to make her reader feel a host of different emotions, her words are eloquent and beautifully descriptive” – a comment that I still have to pinch myself about when I read it!
A couple of other readers’ comments have focused upon the shamanic and spiritual-healing aspects that have inspired much of the story’s basis and how the characters’ various afflictions are carried energetically before manifesting physically (a lesson to us all, perhaps). Others have remarked upon the powerful messages about the purpose of life – the book is called ‘The Point of Me’ because the main character is searching for the answer to that question. Happily, despite the potentially weighty subject of the book, most readers have observed that they felt peaceful and uplifted by the end of it! And all the Amazon reviews so far have been 5-star. Phew!
Me: That’s fantastic! Most people don’t realise just how much work is involved in marketing your work once it’s completed. Writing a book is hard in and of itself – how have you got on with the marketing side of things? Do you have any tips for others?
Rachel: I couldn’t agree with you more! The writing is definitely the fun bit! It doesn’t feel a jot like hard work, despite it taking a lot of time and thought and struggle. The marketing of the book afterwards is most definitely a mission! But if you want your book to be read then you absolutely have to work at making it visible.
As a self-published author, I’m responsible for all the publishing, distribution, marketing and promotion of the book. I am just one voice in a massive market of thousands, nay millions, of other authors and stories. It is a daunting prospect, to be honest. My main ‘tip’ is to do some promotional work every day, hunting down every opportunity to talk about the book and to make contact with as many potential readers as possible. It’s why I’m very grateful for this opportunity Jill.
I think I read about a marketing theory that goes something along the lines of purchasers needing to be made aware of a ‘product’ at least seven times, on average, before they will finally make the purchase. I try to bear this idea in mind when I am working on promotional content. People need to get intrigued and also comfortable with the idea of what your book is and who you, as the author, are.
Finally, I would just like to say that in the face of this problem I reassure myself with my belief and faith that if I remain authentic to the truth of the story I feel called to write, then the readership will find it no matter what. It might take a long time of course, but ultimately the story will find its own way (me working like a mad whirling dervish in the background also helps!)
Me: Are you writing anything else at present?
Rachel: I am indeed! I am beginning to write a new story – one that I hope will take a number of characters featured in ‘The Point of Me’ forward so that I can explore how they react to the outcome of the first book. A few readers of the book asked me such interesting questions about these characters and what I thought their lives would be like after the conclusion of ‘The Point of Me’, frankly it got me feeling curious about them too.
So, if ‘The Point of Me’ was mainly about exploring how someone may face death, I plan to make the next book an exploration of how someone may face life. I hope it is going to be another tale full of magical experiences and spiritual symbolism – I have been researching the magical meaning of crows for instance!
Q8: Ooh, now that’s piqued my interest! When do you envisage publication of this?
Rachel: Well I hope that it isn’t going to take me another 3 years to write the next book. If I could have it published by this time next year then I would be very, very pleased with myself. I have to juggle full-time work and family life around my writing so there can be many pressures on my time! It is a case of me being very disciplined and sitting down every day to write something. If I can achieve that, then I hope the next book will be ‘birthed’ much quicker than the first!
Me: Lastly, what words of advice do you have for new writers? Is there anything you wish you’d known at the start of the process that would have helped you?
I was lucky to be introduced to you Jill, and you had some great tips and pointers (such as using the online graphic design package Canva to assist in cover design). So that would be my first advice – connect with other authors and writers and pick their brains. My second tip would be to find a great proof-reader (that’s where you come into the picture again Jill, as your work on my manuscript was invaluable to me).
The first thing about the writing process is that you do need to write! Well, the solution to this is firstly about having the discipline to sit my butt down on the chair daily and write! There’s a quote by Louis L’ Amour which goes, “Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on”. So, I get my writing environment set up (inspirational music on, comfy seat, my little dog snuggled next to me if she’s in the mood and the incense burning) and I simply write. I don’t worry too much about crafting the ‘perfect’ sentence or do too much self-editing or reading back over what I’m doing as I type along. I try to just concentrate on the emotion that I’m taking the character(s) through and keep pushing towards that emotion. There’s another quote (this one by the great and esteemed Ernest Hemingway) which is “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” That’s what I try to aim for – finding the detail of the emotion’s ‘truth’ and writing in as much ‘colour’ and light as I can to illuminate it.
Oh, and lastly; never, ever worry about the ‘reader’ as you’re writing your story. Write it for yourself. Once you are very happy with it and feel you can improve it no further, publish it and then, and only then, start to worry about the ‘reader’. It sounds counterintuitive to most of the business advice of working out who your target market is for products first. But writing is art, and art isn’t about writing for a demographic! Writing is about putting a truth into words. And that truth can only be the one that is in your, the writer’s, heart. Write that 😊
Me: Thank you so much for agreeing to be featured on here, and I hope that my followers have enjoyed learning about you and your book. It was a pleasure to proofread it for you, by the way.
If you’d like to find out more about ‘The Point of Me’ or Rachel’s writing then please register your email on her website www.racheldavidsonauthor.com, follow her on Twitter @Rachel_Author, or like and follow her Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/RachelDavidsonAuthor
‘The Point of Me’ is for sale on Amazon in both e-book and paperback formats: tinyurl.com/thepointofme
Her Amazon Author Profile is: tinyurl.com/RachelDavidsonAuthor.
The book is also available on Smashwords (tinyurl.com/y7zrjqgu) and with Apple iBooks.