Name: Rachel Neumeier
Who is Rachel? Fantasy author that turned her hobby into her full time occupation.
Books: Black Dog, The City in the Lake, House of Shadows, The Floating Islands, Griffin Mage Books 1-3
You have to respect the authors that write and write and then write some more and are able to deliver not just quantity but quality as well.
Meet author Rachel Neumeier, a woman whom started writing as hobby and decided to craft it into her life.
Enjoy her Quick Five©
Your style of writing focuses on YA and Fantasy . . . what drew you toward those genres? Do you have a favorite author or book? Or do you feel these genres are lacking something you feel you can add?
I’m sure I started writing fantasy simply because I’ve always read a lot of fantasy. I was just playing when I started writing, and it was natural to play in the genre I like best. My reading tastes have broadened in the past few years as I’ve followed the recommendations of bloggers I trust into genres that are outside my typical range, but I still can’t really imagine wanting to write, say, contemporary romance. I expect I’ll always fall naturally into fantasy.
To me, YA isn’t a genre so much as a marketing device. I don’t really distinguish between YA and adult fantasy when I’m reading – I mean, when I was a teenager, the YA category didn’t really exist, at least not as it does today. So I just read everything.
Today, I still barely distinguish between YA and adult fantasy when I write, which sometimes creates a challenge when I actually need to slant a particular book one way or the other. When I needed to write the second book of the Griffin Mage trilogy, for example, all that would occur to me were YA plots and protagonists. Finally I just said, Fine, the protagonist is 42 years old. You can bet that decision gave that novel a hard shove toward the adult end of the spectrum, which was very helpful.
I’m sure I have too many favorite authors to even begin to list them. I think Patricia McKillip writes the most beautiful, lyrical fantasy – I think she’s the single best writer in fantasy today. I think Martha Wells does the most fantastic, visual, panoramic worldbuilding. I just read The Bones of the Fair by Andrea Höst, an author who is one of my favorite discoveries from 2013.
I wouldn’t say that anything is lacking in today’s genre fiction; there’s so much out there, it’s hard to see how anything could be lacking, though of course it can be hard just to discover the titles that you would most love. I’m not really trying to achieve something – I’m more just trying to tell the kind of stories I most love as a reader.
Your latest book, BLACK DOG, has just been released. How were you inspired to write this book?
BLACK DOG is a departure for me, because it’s much more paranormal-ish than anything else I’ve written, and set in world that looks almost like ours, at least to a first glance. This is very different from my secondary world fantasy, and presented new challenges and pleasures.
I was drawn to write BLACK DOG because I fell in love with Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, and then with several other paranormal and urban fantasy series. I really wanted to write something like those series, only of course not too similar. BLACK DOG was the result. I do think my black dogs present a somewhat different spin on the “werewolf” tropes, though.
Do you feel that diversity or lack thereof in YA Fantasy is a concern, or do you feel that it is already where it should be?
My impression is that there are a lot of authors thinking about diversity issues right now, so I expect to see an increase in diversity of protagonists and important secondary characters in the next few years. I think many white, straight authors are probably nervous about trying to write diverse protagonists in case they get it wrong, but I also think it’s important for authors to take that risk, and I think more are.
Something that annoys me more than a non-diverse cast of characters is “tokenism”, where an author sticks one or two diverse characters in a book in order to “make a statement.” I think that it’s usually very obvious when an author does that; it comes across to the reader as manipulative and artificial. I don’t think there’s any excuse for substituting A Statement for a real story.
I think it’s very important to have great characters who also happen to be diverse, not a token secondary character who is The Black Character or The Gay Character. One great example – this is contemporary YA – is offered by FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB by Antony John, in which the protagonist is a beautifully-drawn, complex, realistic girl who also happens to be deaf.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
Finishing my first book. Or maybe finishing my second book. Or, at the moment, I would be pretty thrilled to finish my current work-in-progress. Actually finishing a complete draft is always reason to celebrate.
I will say, writing both the second and third Griffin Mage books in six months total was quite an accomplishment. I would prefer not to have quite such a tight deadline again, though!
When someone reads your books, what feeling do you want them to be left with?
What an interesting question.
I don’t write (or read) grimdark, which I think is unrealistically nihilistic and bleak. That kind of
hopeless despair about the world and the people in it is the exact opposite of what I want to infuse into my stories.
Grim things can happen to good people in my stories. Certainly that’s true of BLACK DOG. But, not to provide a spoiler or anything, in my books, the good guys are going to triumph in the end.
I want to leave my readers with the feeling that in the end, good guys do win. That in the end, striving to overcome evil and make the world a better place is worthwhile, both because of what the effort means to the world and what it means to you