I have the great pleasure of welcoming contemporary romance author; Rachael Stewart to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals for an exclusive chat…
Born in Wales, I am a valleys girl at heart, and as a child I wrote stories, lots of stories. If I didn’t have my head in a book, I was creating some fantastical world or other, taking ideas from everything around me, the news, my favourite books, the tv, the people in the street…not so good when they recognise themselves in them. Children can have such a special way with words!
I still have the evidence of my creations in a box in the loft, reams of A4 sheets with scarcely legible handwriting telling stories ranging from murder mystery and adventure, to thrillers and romance. One was actually typed on my father’s business laptop (it was a hefty, only-portable-if-you-could-weight-lift kind of a box) which he then took into work, printed it off and bound it up using his company’s facilities – how proud he must have been of that particular one. Mr Friendly & Willow I think I called it and it bears a significant resemblance to Enid Blyton’s Mr Pink-Whistle. Oops!
Pushing my hobby aside, I tried to be sensible on the job-front, I struck out for the big city career, getting a First Class Degree in Business and securing a professional career as a Business Analyst. I left Wales in the process and moved to Leeds, Yorkshire. All good. Although I really left Wales for love, not for the work. See that’s the romantic heart in me, always having the final say.
But as any writer knows, the bug never leaves you. I wrote in my spare time, whenever the mood took me, but never had enough minutes to make a proper go of it. Or to build up my courage and get the confidence to put myself out there, open myself up to the inevitable rejection(s) and critical reviews.
So lucky for me when I married my very own hero, had children and settled down, and those children all went to school, I was finally gifted the time to put into my writing (thanks to aforementioned hero) and built up the confidence to put my works out there (again thanks to aforementioned hero, family and friends).
I have written romance in various forms, from historical to contemporary, heartwarming to the downright erotic (still romance!!). The market has changed a lot since I was young and as it has become more open to erotica, indeed actually encouraging it – check out the new Mills & Boon Dare line – it has been fun to dabble at both ends of the scale.
I love writing erotic romance. I love writing soft romance. I just love being true to the book and the characters within it. If they demand naughtiness, they get naughtiness. In today’s market the handcuffs are off so to speak. And I feel incredibly lucky that I get to play a part in it and create worlds for others to lose themselves (as well as myself) in.
Here’s to romance and escapism at it’s best!
Spotlight on the Book
A rich girl sick of doing her stepdad’s bidding. A young woman submitting to the same man for financial security. Can they escape his sadistic clutches and finally find true love?
22-year-old Abi Taylor is sick of being used as a puppet by her overbearing, money-hungry stepfather. Wealthy life or not, she wants out—the only question is how? But then her stepfather’s latest fiancée Emma shows up and Abi’s life is turned on its head.
She is inexplicably drawn to Emma. Their fierce attraction leaves her confused and vulnerable, but she soon realizes it’s the least of her problems as she is pulled into her stepfather’s corrupt and sadistic world where betrayal is rife, family means nothing, and sex is everything. Abi knows she needs to escape the man who controls her every move, but can she break free and keep it all—the money, her freedom and the girl?
You can find Unshackled at Amazon.
Frankie Hi Rachael, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.
Firstly, what five words would you use to describe yourself?
Rachael Nuts. Bubbly. Loyal. Perfectionist. Nuts (or did I mention that one already?).
Frankie If you could live in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?
Rachael That is so hard. I love the beauty of so many historical eras, but I know I’m viewing it through rose-tinted spectacles.
Take the Roman era, those gorgeous gladiators milling around, women in beautiful tunics and hair all lavishly arranged…but then we have to remember the puking between meals to make space for more food, the gory battles, the poverty and then I’m like “err, no, thank you.”
And then there’s all the beautiful gowns from the Medieval, Tudor, Stuart, Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian eras…I mean seriously, just how gorgeous were those gowns… But then we have to remember that most of those outfits felt like a restraint of some sort. They made daily tasks like eating, walking, sitting, toileting and so on, a nightmare. Then there would have been the delightful smells, the horse manure, the general human waste, the various plagues, the poverty again and the fact it would take forever to travel anywhere. Oh yes, and then there’s the poisonous makeup, the things that would crawl about in your clothes and hair (granted, we still have a bit of this if we have children that are school age!) and I’m back to where I started. This era. This country.
I feel very, very lucky to have been born in this century (actually I’m approaching 40 so that’ll be last century) and in the UK. Yes, I want to see the world and travel loads, there are so many wondrous places to take in, but the UK is definitely where my heart is.
(But if we take away all the grotty stuff and the discomfort, then stick me in a Tudor dress and prance me around court and I’d be in my element! So long as I could have a real man, none of the fancy-schmancy, high-neck ruffle wearing dandy’s! I think I’d have to go back in time and get me a Gladiator or Viking to go around with – Ooo, the gossip in the Tudor court would be rife!).
Frankie Oooh, I love it all. Who was your childhood hero?
Rachael Christian Slater and my dad! In no particular order (Honest dad, if you’re reading this!)
Frankie Awww, that’s really sweet. What is your favourite time of the year?
Rachael Ooo, toughie. I’d have to say Christmas. I love the whole build up, decorating, buying presies, getting together with friends, supping mulled wine, eating CONSTANTLY! But then I also love Summer, the long holiday rammed with family time, the better (at least we hope) weather, being outdoors in the sunshine, nothing can really beat that feeling of relaxing next to a lapping pool, book in one hand, chilled drink in the other, pure bliss!
Rachael Now this is really hard as I love all of my characters for a variety of reasons so I’m going to go with my most controversial, Abi. She’s in my current release UNSHACKLED, and in all honesty, she can be very hard to like because her biggest driver at the outset is money. She is trapped in a life of luxury and knows it’s wrong to stay for that alone, that her stepfather is all shades of wrong, that the role she plays for him is wrong. But getting out means risking her financial security and that is a terrifying prospect to her. It may seem selfish, but for a twenty-two-year old that knows no different, it is understandable that she would be scared of the unknown. So, when she falls in love and gets the courage to risk everything, going up against the man who has controlled her every move her entire life, it makes for a pretty awesome woman in my book.
Frankie Where does your inspiration for your books come from?
Rachael Anywhere and Everywhere! Real life. Dreams. TV. Film. Books. Music. Locations. Vehicles. Scents. Even someone’s dog could look at me a certain way and I’ll think: “yup, totally get what you’re saying, I can use that”. Seriously, inspiration is in the very air we breathe, you just have to keep your mind open to it.
Frankie What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?
Rachael NEVER give up. Writing is so subjective and what may not work for one publisher, may well work for another. And if it doesn’t, you can always self-publish. It is so easy to do these days.
Make sure your voice is the best it can be and make it your own. Read lots. Look at what you like, what you don’t like and why. Use that to hone your craft.
And lastly, writing can be lonely so try to find fellow writers and form a group, help one another, bounce ideas around and open yourself up to feedback. It doesn’t have to be lonely if you reach out and, in my experience, it’s that reaching out that makes it such a wonderful hobby and career.
Frankie Those are wonderful tips, Thank you! If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)
Rachael Meghan Markle because I think she is so real, gorgeous and I would like to get to know her.
Harvey from Suits because, well do I really need to explain that one.
And lastly, it would have to be Catherine of Aragon, because that woman could’ve seriously done with a chinwag and it would be utterly fascinating to hear her tale from her very own lips. Plus, I’d like to give her a medal for all she achieved and for having put up with a certain somebody for so long!
Frankie Now that would be a great dinner party!! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, Rachael. I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?
Rachael I LOVE cinnamon swirls and welsh cakes. When I bake them, I have to make sure there are people around else I’ll gobble them all as my full switch seems to go on strike.
Yuuummm!! Thank you Rachael.
Personal Note From Racheal
Thank you for having me on your blog today, I so enjoyed doing this interview and I loved these questions. And thank you for Spotlighting, Unshackled.