I want to introduce you to the latest edition to the Emerging Writer Series. Her name is Rachael Wright and I met her first over instagram! She is a hard working lady who has taken the lessons learnt in her life and transformed them into a wonderful work of fiction. I truly believe that the story her book tells is one that everyone should learn from and take through their lives. I hope you will download her sample chapter and support this truly wonderful lady in her quest to get her story told.
Sacrifice is not only the central theme of the book, but also one of life’s overriding themes. For parents, I won’t say only mothers, sacrifice is paramount to raising a healthy child. Its something I’ve come to realize in my own life. I wanted to write a story that wasn’t “the movies.” The Clouds Aren’t White is a work of reality. There’s no handsome man that sweeps Emmeline off her feet and makes her grief dissipate into the wind. Emmeline wants what all parents want, to be able to do the least amount of damage to their children so they can be sent into the world as functioning adults.
How did you go about writing your book? What is your planning process (if you have one).
I surprise myself with my own process. I spent two months writing the first draft. My husband would play with our daughter while I wrote for hours on end. Feverishly. Like a mad woman. So if anyone is to be thanked for my success, its him. So after two months the first draft was finished, I took a month off, and then started working on the edits. I had a rough outline of the book before I started but it wasn’t until I finished that I realized the book had taken a lot of turns I didn’t plan for. I rewrote the first chapter from scratch so that it fell in line with the ending. I am equal parts organic writer and mathematical editor. When I’m writing I don’t want to be hampered by a strict outline, because the characters are people, they make decisions and do things you, as the writer, don’t expect. I believe in letting them do just that.
Your main character Emmeline goes to Scotland for her work soon after her husband passed away. What kind of research did you do for this and why Scotland?
Scotland has a very special place in my heart. I actually borrowed a family name, MacArthur, for Emmeline and Sophie. My husband and I have also had the enormous fortune to explore Scotland, its a wonderful country. Scotland was chosen for a couple reasons. Firstly, I needed Emmeline to move out of the country and it had to be an English speaking country with a museum. Secondly, Scotland is home to so much magic. The Loch Ness monster, Kelpies, fairies, the highland culture, the land seems to hum with possibility. So Emmeline goes to Scotland believing that the land will calm her, will feed peace into her soul, but she’s such a wreck of a person that nothing penetrates her armor.
Your character has to make some hard choices. How do you evoke the feeling of struggle within Emmeline and how did you chose the trials to put her through?
The Clouds Aren’t White is told in first person present tense which puts the reader on the same level with Emmeline. You experience her heartbreak, her grief, her guilt as if it were your own. Another book with the same narration is the Hunger Games. The idea is to have the reader question whether the main character will even survive until the next chapter. The trials Emmeline goes through are very organic. I chose them all as the likely issues that anyone dealing with a murdered spouse would go through. The climax of the book was a little rough…but I wanted Emmeline to come to this crossroads and be forced to chose between herself and her daughter.
Why don’t you first tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you so much for having me, Shelly it is an honour. I’m an American, from Colorado, and am a wife and mother. My daughter and husband are my number one priority and they fill my life with such happiness. I’m also a librarian with degrees in Political Science and History.
Did you always possess a passion for writing? When did you have the epiphany that you actually wanted to write a book?
I have been writing as far back as I can remember and have always been a voracious reader. My love of stories and writing grew, very organically, out of that. From a very early age books were an escape from a world I considered very banal. At age 11 my father put me onto Lord of the Rings and my passion for stories and world-creating took off. Writing a book and seeing its hard-covered self sitting on my bookshelf has always been a goal. I did struggle with what to write, feeling that there was always too much of myself in the books. I can still remember my husband’s reply when I told him this, he said that every writer puts pieces of themselves in their books no matter how they try to hide it. It was like the flood gates opened and I gave myself permission to start my book.
What is it about the Women’s Fiction genre that appeals to you so much?
You know, I’ve never heard of the genre ‘men’s fiction.’ I wonder where those books are hiding. Women’s fiction is based on the premise that the themes can really only be of interest to women, as if only men can write broad sweeping narratives full of commentary on society. For me, I want to tell stories from a different perspective. I grew up in a family of girls and felt that I could do anything a boy/man could do-intellectually I was no different. So the stories I tell, and especially The Clouds Aren’t White, probe the minds of women to address fundamental questions of life and love and death.
The Clouds Aren’t White is very dear to me. The story begins with Emmeline MacArthur on the day that her husband, a politician, is assassinated on the steps of the State Capitol. The novel follows Emmeline’s progress through the first year which is potholed with insecurities, namely her parenting abilities, as well as her feeling of captivity in her new life. Emmeline takes a job in Scotland as both a last resort and an escape. In Scotland, though she hopes for peace and fulfillment, she ultimately feels more alone. She is forced to address single parenting, working again, and new relationships. At the book’s climax Emmeline is forced to chose between her grief and the well being of her daughter. The Clouds Aren’t White probes the idea of sacrifice and the hard choice we all make about priorities.
Where did the title The Clouds Aren't White come from?
The title for The Cloud’s Aren’t White came about very early on in the process. Its actually a line of dialogue spoked by the main character's (Emmeline) daughter, Sophie. I wanted Sophie to be the one who speaks this truth to her mother, though she’s speaking literally, Emmeline is struck by how obvious this piece of child wisdom is. The title represents so much of the grief process but also life in general. Life isn’t black and white and nor is it a drab shad of grey. It represents the shades of Emmeline’s life, the roller coaster of her grief, and the path of her relationship with Sophie. I want readers to take their own ideas about the title away after they read the book, what isn’t a flat white in their own life? Where is the color that they need to look for?
Where did you the inspiration for this come from?
The book was built out of fear. 100%. My husband was a police officer for six years and there were many nights when I would pace my kitchen. My husband would be 3-4 hours late, no texts, no calls, and my imagination went down some dark paths. I think every single Police Wife understands how that feels. So I took that fear, the fear of losing my husband, and harnessed it into a treatise, of sorts, on loss. I wanted to answer the questions of what that grief looks like, but also how it plays out when a young child is in the picture.
I want both men and women to take away from the book that there are things more important than ourselves. So often our culture tells us to put ourselves first, that we are the ones that matter the most. The ‘take care of yourself first,’ notion. But that’s not reality. We create our lives by what we do for others, that’s what our legacy is built upon. I don’t want The Clouds Aren’t White to be confined to the genre of women’s fiction, but rather enter mainstream fiction and raise questions about parenting and sacrifice. I want my readers to question what they themselves would do in Emmeline’s situation, to begin a discussion of what sacrifice means.
You are currently querying at the moment for publishers to take on your work. I wish you the best of luck and I know someone will jump onto your work soon! What made you go down this path rather than self-publishing?
I began the road to publication a month ago. I chose traditional publication because I feel that my story is compelling and that representation by a literary agent would help my novel reach a broader audience. I haven’t written off self publishing, its something I would consider if a traditional book deal does not come through.
Thank you Rachael, this has been a great interview! I really think that this is a special book that you have written and especially as it is all about the love a mother has for a daughter. It is a topic that is so significant and impactful. I think the premise you have presented in your book is something very realistic and is a choice that many women will have to go through in their lives. I feel like your book may give these women strength to push through the hard times they will face in their lives. I truly wish you the best of luck in finding a publisher. I hope that you will let me know the day it does and I will gladly have your book sitting on my shelf!
Thank you so much Shelly for this opportunity, you’ll be one of the first to know!
If you want to hear more from Rachael and watch her dominate the publishing world you can follow her on her other accounts:
Facebook page AuthorRachaelWright