Hi Rachel, Can you tell
us a little about yourself...
there! Thanks for having me today! I'm Rachel and I'm a Young Adult sci-fi
author. I'm 24 years old and I'm an English girl, born and raised. I love tea,
cake, Lord of the Rings, bread and butter, and rain. You have to learn to love
the rain if you grow up in the north of England.
did you start writing?
don't remember a time when I wasn't writing. Even in primary school, I remember
folding up coloured pieces of A4 paper to make a book, scribbling a story in
the first few pages and then abandoning it (that habit hasn't actually changed
that much – only, I now use a computer rather than random bits of paper).
Making up stories has been the only thing that's been constant throughout my
life – I've never doubted I'd become a writer one day, but it's only in the
past few years that I've decided to take that ambition seriously. I first
started writing novels three years ago, when I was about to graduate from
university. It was while I was waiting to hear back from the hundreds of job
applications I'd sent out that I decided to write my first novel and see what
became of it. I've stopped and started a lost of books over the last few years,
but I finally feel like I'm ready to take my writing career seriously.
made you decide to write Young Adult science fiction?
got to be honest with you – it's a genre I kind of accidentally fell into. All
my previous attempts at writing have been YA dystopian/apocalyptic novels. I
never set out thinking that I'd end up writing science fiction. Don't get me
wrong, I love science fiction films and I love reading other YA sci-fi books –
learning about new technology/civilisations and the way in which these things
impact on society have always fascinated me. But it wasn't until I was a good
halfway through writing Synthetica that I even realised I was writing
sci-fi. I just thought I was writing a 'futuristic' YA novel...it wasn't until
I had to define it in a category for my query letters that I realised it was,
in fact, sci-fi. And now, I can't seem to stop thinking of other science
fiction stories to write...
us a little bit about your book, Synthetica...
Anais Finch lives in a world where everyone is born beautiful, where every
dream is a possibility - and where their every move and every piece of personal
information is recorded by an ID picochip inserted behind their right ear. When
technology giant, Civitas, finally announces the launch of their highly
anticipated Scholarly Learning Programs, which allow people to download and
learn any subject instantly, Anais can hardly wait.
not everyone is pleased with society's progress, and not everyone wants to fit
in. When Anais witnesses a brutal murder on an innocent citizen and is
implicated in the crime, she becomes determined to uncover the truth,
especially when others like it begin to occur all over the city. But it may
already be too late for Anais to stop the man who calls himself 'the Hacker'
before he commits his most appalling crime yet.
idea for Synthetica came about while I was watching The Matrix with my
better half. It was the scene where Neo downloads the ability to learn martial
arts and for some reason, this sparked a thought in my mind – what if programs
like this were available for everyone to download? What if you could download
knowledge about any subject you liked directly to your brain? And then, what if
someone hacked into these programs and used for their own means? It took a
couple of months for me to get all the details of this plot worked out, but
once I had, I knew this was a book I simply had to write.
did you come up with the title Synthetica?
title simply came to me while I was outlining the book. I don't know what
inspired it or why, but to me, it just felt right. This book is set in a world
which only cares about physical and material possessions – your DNA can be
changed so you can have the exact look you want, everyone keeps up to date with
the latest fashions and looks (which change almost daily), everyday objects
must be bought new and changed regularly –
and to me, the title embodies the traits of this world perfectly.
was your favourite character to write about?
is a hard one to answer! Although I love all the characters in Synthetica,
there are two in particular that I couldn't wait to write: Clay Winterbourne
and the Hacker. I loved writing Clay's chapters because he's such a misery guts
and he's got such an intriguing background, that I could have a lot of fun
exploring his reactions to certain situations. He's not used to being around
people and suddenly he's thrown into this situation where he not only has to
interact with people, but he also has to go back to the Imperial City and try
to face his personal demons head on. He's turned his back on the city that
framed him for murder, but he has to decide whether he's stubborn enough to
refuse help to someone who genuinely needs him.
the Hacker – well, who doesn't love writing about villains? I always knew I
wanted the Hacker's POV dispersed throughout the novel, so we could get a sense
of his motivations and why he was committing the crimes he did. It was a
challenge to get across his personality in such short scenes, while also making
him a bit of an enigma. The Hacker continued to surprise me throughout the book
– I always knew he was going to be a sociopath, but I found myself constantly
wondering exactly how far he'd go to achieve his goals. He's a man who
genuinely has no regard for human life, which makes the stakes all the higher
when Anais encounters him.
Synthetica part of a series?
It's part of a trilogy.
can we expect from the rest of the series?
second book in the series is mainly about dealing with the fallout of Synthetica.
The Imperial City is in chaos, and the second book is not only exploring the
consequences of both the Hacker's and Anais' actions; it'll also bring in other
characters from the first book, so we can see firsthand what their reactions to
the Hacker are. Anais now has to process
everything that happened to her, but she doesn't end up doing such a
good job of handling her emotions, unfortunately. The Hacker is still
determined to claim the city as his own, and now that he knows who Anais is,
he's going to make sure they meet face to face. It's a lot darker than Synthetica
- there are parts of the book that have broken my heart already.
still outlining the third book, but it's going to bring everything to a head.
Anais and the Hacker are both determined to bring each other down and now,
they're set to collide in a big way. But with the future of the entire Imperial
City at stake, neither of them can afford to lose. I can't wait to write this
book – it's going to bigger and darker than anything I've done before.
you ever consider writing in any other genres?
the moment I'm happy writing YA sci-fi. I love writing for the YA market, but I
wouldn't say no to writing in a different genre, perhaps a dystopian or a
fantasy. I've got a couple of ideas for a fantasy series, but I don't know if
it'll come to anything yet. I don't see myself moving away from writing for
young adults any time soon, but never say never!
are your current writing projects?
the moment, I'm currently having a lot of fun writing the sequel to Synthetica,
which I hope will be published before the end of the year. Just a word of
warning - if you thought Synthetica was dark, it's nothing compared to what's
in store for book two *evil cackle*.
also currently outlining an idea for a standalone novel, which I'm working on
during my breaks from the world of Synthetica. Nowadays, people seem to
put a lot of emphasis on the amount of 'likes' or attention they get on social
media (myself included), and this got me thinking – what if you took this
concept and applied it to a situation where it actually mattered how many
'likes' you received? For example what if in this world, the amount of 'likes'
you had decided whether you lived or died...? I'm super excited to explore this
idea, although at the moment I'm having a hard time getting the characters of Synthetica
out of my head!
advice would you offer an aspiring author?
give up. I'm not going to lie - writing a book is hard. It takes a lot of
perseverance. There are times when you're halfway through writing your first
draft and you suddenly realise everything you've written is awful, or you've
written in a character that doesn't work with your plot anymore, or you've just
spotted a gaping plot hole. It can be disheartening, but remember, no first
draft is perfect. Just keep going, and eventually it all comes together. First
drafts (and second, and third , and fourth drafts...) can always be rewritten
and restructured, so just remember to keep writing. You can change the words
you've written, but you can't change anything on a blank page.
if you could invite any three book characters to dinner, who would they be and
without a doubt. He'd be top of my list. He was pretty much my first book crush
(and remains one to this day) and I'd love to the chance to get to interrogate
him about Middle Earth in person. Secondly, I'd have to say Jaime Lannister. I
started off absolutely hating him in GOT, but he's now one of my favourite
characters. I'd love to get inside his head and ask him whether or not he'd
ever get together with Brienne (and if he's going to do everyone a favour and
get rid of Cersei). I was going to choose a different book for my third
character, but there's so much I want to know about GOT, that I'd have to
invite Sandor Clegane as well – another one of my favourite characters. He's
got such a messed up sense of loyalty, and I want to know why he stuck with
Joffrey for so long, and yet. Why he wanted to save the Stark girls. Hm, I've
just noticed that all these characters are flawed in some way...I guess that
just goes to show how much I love my messed up characters!
for having me today! It's been great!
You're welcome, Rachel, I wish you every success with your writing.