Today we have the privilege of interviewing speculative writer Rachel Starr Thomson. Rachel is a writer, indie publisher, and editor. She’s the author of the Seventh World Trilogy, The Oneness Cycle, and other books published by Little Dozen Press. Without further ado, please welcome Rachel!
1) When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
I have this memory of being maybe seven or eight years old—maybe younger—drawing pictures on scrap pieces of paper and writing stories to go with them. And then I would imagine I was on TV giving interviews about this or that book. I didn’t start really writing until I was thirteen (when I wrote Theodore Pharris Saves the Universe, which I still like and which you can buy from Amazon or anywhere), but I think the roots go back to that little kid and her interviews.
I quit drawing, by the way, but kept the habit of writing on scrap paper and telling stories. The interview thing eventually turned into a knack for public speaking, which I love to do too.
2) Tell us a little about your books.
I read and write in multiple genres, but mostly it breaks down into nonfiction having to do with God and fiction that also usually has to do with God but is always speculative in some way. All of my favorite books growing up were spec fic—C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, Madeleine L’Engle, Astrid Lindgren, Stephen Lawhead. Eventually that’s what I started writing. My Seventh World Trilogy is fairly classic fantasy, though with a quasi-Victorian, quasi-Reformation setting. The Oneness Cycle, which I just finished writing early this year, is paranormal along the lines of Frank Peretti, but quite different too. You could call it “spiritual warfare” fiction, maybe, but it’s highly speculative. Right now I’m working on another trilogy that’s also fantasy, but set in a milieu like ancient Israel in the days of the prophets. The first book in that series is already out; it’s called Abaddon’s Eve.
In between all that I’ve done some one-off books as well. One of my favorites is Lady Moon, which is humor/fantasy/romance. I guess I like to mix genres.
3) What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?
I named a lot of them in the last answer. I like to think George MacDonald was an influence as well—he taught me you could actually write about God without being trite or superficial. But I think my writing is influenced by the combined forces of all the hundreds—I mean hundreds—of books I read as a kid. I was homeschooled and had a personal library with maybe thousands of books in it. I read a lot of them. That all sort of meshed together.
In a more “what inspires particular stories” vein, I’m strongly influenced by the Bible, by my own musings on spiritual realities, by the sound of words and paragraphs, and most likely by Marvel movies and TV shows. I’m definitely a geek!
4) How do you write? What’s a normal writing day like for you?
Haha, well, I wish I had a straightforward answer to this. I edit full-time, plus travel and speak for ministry, so it’s not easy to find time to write. I tend to get the most done when I shoehorn writing sessions in between editing. So I’ll edit a set amount of pages, then take a break and write 500 to 1000 words on my Neo (a nifty little machine that I love). Go back to editing another set of pages, then more words. I outline or not depending on the project, so I don’t really have a routine that way.
5) What are your hopes for your future as an author?
I’d like to reach a lot more readers. I would love to combine writing with speaking to a greater degree, and I’d love it if my stories could have a real impact in people’s lives. Get them thinking or encourage them or bring them into some kind of God-encounter.
6) What can you tell us about any future releases you have planned?
Well, I mentioned I’m working on a trilogy set in a world like ancient Israel—or more accurately, the whole biblical world. There are nations roughly analogous to Israel, Babylon, Moab, Egypt, Rome (yes, I know that’s mixing eras, but it’s inspired by, not historical fiction) and a few more. The series is called The Prophet Trilogy, and it follows four characters as they come to grips with the terrible prophetic message being proclaimed against their nation and what it means to them, and what they can possibly do to change the tide. In our time, when a lot of people are seeing a need for national revival and concerned about what’s happening in the nation around us, I hope the trilogy will inspire some deep thought and inspire people to seek God.
7) Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars all the way.
8) Soft shell or Hard Shell tacos?
Soft. I don’t like messy food, and it’s hard to eat a hard-shell taco without it splitting and making a mess all over the place.
Q: Favorite place to vacation?
Disney World! My family has a history with DW—my parents honeymooned there, and some of us siblings have gone back a couple of times. We do the resorts and hit all the parks, the whole nine yards. I really need a cheaper hobby, but it’s a lot of fun. I love the imagination that goes into the parks and their emphasis on storytelling, even on the roller coasters.
9) Favorite season?
Spring and Fall. I like the transitions.
10) Does anyone else in your family have musical/writing/artistic skills?
I have a tremendously gifted family. My dad, Jay Thomson, aka Jael, is a singer-songwriter. My sister Deborah is the artist behind Figgie Shoes, which is something of a phenomenon—google it if you’re curious. She’s also a photographer, as is my sister Naomi—who is also a cake decorator. My brothers, Jimmy and Jonathan, play a million instruments. I’m actually the oldest of twelve kids, and most of us have something creative going on.
11) What is one thing you’ve read that you wish you had written, and why?
I could never do the grit Lars Walker does, but I kind of wish I had written The Year of the Warrior. Wolf Time is amazing too. Actually, I love all of Lars’s books.
12) How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who loved Jesus, loved people, and helped open eyes to who Jesus really is and who they are because of him.
Thank you, Rachel, for joining us today. Here is where you can find Rachel Starr Thomson online: