Rachel Linden is a contemporary women’s fiction author who resides in Washington State. We had the honour of working with her to hide copies of her first novel, ‘Ascension of Larks’, along the west coast last Autumn. She has just released her second book, ‘Becoming The Talbot Sisters’ and we are looking forward to hiding copies at the end of this June! This new book deals with issues including trafficking and sexual exploitation, along with a complicated relationship between two sisters. We are excited to bring you this interview our Seattle Book Fairy did with Rachel. You can find out even more about her and her work at rachellinden.com.
The Book Fairies meet author Rachel Linden
What inspired you to write about the subject matters broached in ‘Becoming The Talbot Sisters’?
My real life experiences influence every story I write. The main themes of this story – women courageously facing infertility, miscarriage, trafficking and sexual exploitation – are all quite personal for me. While living in Budapest, my husband and I lost our first baby through miscarriage, so I really connected on an emotional level with my protagonist Waverly’s struggle to have a baby and her loss of multiple pregnancies. And I’ve been living and working in Central Europe with an NGO for the past 5 years, focusing quite a lot with women in trauma. Some of these women endured trafficking and many were sexually exploited.
I love creating stories about hope, courage and connection, and I wanted to write a hope-filled, women-centered story about women choosing to have courage in the face of incredibly difficult challenges! I set the story mainly in Budapest and Central Europe. It’s a beautiful, somewhat undiscovered region of the world, very dear to my heart, and rich with history, culture and delicious food!
We heard you are going to donate 10% of your author proceeds to stopping sexual exploitation and trafficking in Europe. What drove you to make this decision?
My work with women caught in trafficking made me passionate about helping women escape exploitation. For years I wanted to write a story about women who have been trafficked, but from a relational, women-focused angle. I really sought to not re-exploit or sensationalize their stories, but to focus on these women (who are just normal women like me and often they are mothers as I am now) who are often caught in terrible situations but who are incredibly courageous and resilient. They are part of a sisterhood of brave women around the world facing tremendous challenges. I wanted to tell their story in an empathetic, real way.
I also wanted to use the book to practically help women who are being trafficked and exploited. I am absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Hope Dies Last, an amazing Budapest-based organization that works to stop the trafficking and exploitation of women in Europe. My hope is that this book honors these women’s stories and also helps them in a very tangible way!
What is your writing process?
I usually get a glimmer of an idea from the real world. It could be reading an article on BBC news or overhearing a snippet of conversation. Then I’ll roll that idea around in my head for a year or so, letting it simmer. After awhile I start asking questions – who are these people, what is their story, what’s the point, and most importantly, am I passionate enough about this story to want to write it?
If the answer is yes, I write a first draft, the skeleton of the story, that’s just the basic plot points, the action, the bones. That’s my least favorite part! And then I get to move on to the really fun stuff – fleshing it out, making it pretty. I work on deepening emotion, strengthening character arcs and heightening tension, and enriching the imagery and language. That’s my favorite part of the writing process, making the language beautiful and the story emotionally resonant! I want to read the words I wrote and FEEL the story, not just intellectually understand it!
How would you say your writing has progressed from your first novel, ‘Ascension of Larks’, to this second one?
With this story I focused on quicker plot pacing and heightening tensions. I wanted it to be a faster-paced read, a little lighter and less introspective while still addressing some big issues for women. People keep telling me they couldn’t put the story down, so I think I was successful in my goals! J
Do you have any lucky charms?
No lucky charms. This is so mundane and functional, but I love my earplugs! I have 2 very young children and so I covet silence spaces to write. And good quality chocolate which I really am convinced helps in my creative writing process! Maybe the chocolate is a lucky charm! 🙂
What do you think of what the Book Fairies do?
I love The Book Fairies! Our current social climate can feel so polarized and harsh. We need people like the Book Fairies to be counter-cultural in the best way possible. To share the gift of a beautiful story is a lovely act of generosity and kindness. Keep up the good work!
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