Author Interviews

4 Questions With Author Rachel Coker

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Y’all, she’s 17. And she’s published two novels.

Say wha??

What was I doing at 17? Oh you know, That and counting down the days till I graduated and peaced out! But not Rachel Coker! She’s been writing novels since she was 14. Please don’t even ask about my Jr. High years. But it’s safe to say mine didn’t include publishing books. Plenty of horrendous fashion choices and braces though. So yeah, awesome.

I’m incredibly impressed to say the least. It’s encouraging and awesome to see someone so young create something to share with the world. And something with depth too. I love it! It reminds me of the verse one of my good friend’s mom shared with me after a frustrating time in college with a professor: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

Rachel Coker resides in Lanexa, Virginia with her parents, who’ve homeschooled her since she was a child, and two sisters. She is the author of 2012’s Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words. Coker has a passion for great books and has been surrounded by them all her life. Her gift for writing became apparent at the age of eleven, at which time her parents, who owned a Christian bookstore, signed her up for a year of lessons with a professional writing coach.

I look forward to reading her newest novel (review coming soon) and am so glad she’s here on the blog! I switched it up a bit with 4 Questions and added a few more about her latest novel!

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
Wow. Everything! What twelve-year-old honestly imagines that in five short years, her books will be on shelves of young people all over the world, and that she’ll be flying all over the country to do book signings and events? In all honesty, I never expected to be a published author, especially not at fifteen, so everything that happens to me in life is a total surprise and joy.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Sometimes I wish I had never read all of the reviews for “Interrupted”. On the one hand, it’s totally amazing to read so many sweet people making wonderful comments about my book. 🙂 But, on the other hand, I exposed myself to a lot of negativism that, while it was helpful to me in a constructive way, was also hard to cope with as a sixteen-year-old.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Gosh, there are so many! The first time I saw my book “Interrupted” in a bookstore—my sister and I totally nerded out and took a million pictures. The morning my dad told me that mine was the best fiction book he’d ever read—which was a big deal since my dad never reads fiction. And all the beautiful moments I’ve spent with my family and closest friends, whether we’re dancing around the living room, laughing uncontrollably at a joke that’s not even funny, or suffering from one of the sugar highs we are all too prone to. 😉 Life is full of so many beautiful, happy moments—It’s hard to pick just one!

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
That they don’t have to be anyone but themselves. There’s so much pressure in this day and age to conform to a certain mold—get the right grades, go to the right schools, and sit at the right office desks. We get so caught up in meeting everyone else’s expectations that we forget to just do what we love.

5. Where did the inspiration for this novel come from?
There was this really sweet autistic boy who used to go to my church that I absolutely loved. I was his helper in Sunday School one morning, and he showed me a list that he had made. It was just like Cliff’s in “Chasing Jupiter”. Right down to the “sixteen rockets to Jupiter”. That boy had always been made fun of by some of the other kids, and for some reason that list just stuck out to me. He had so many big dreams that no one seemed to care about, just because he was different. And that’s when the story for “Chasing Jupiter” was born. Of course, no one knew what autism was in the 1960’s, but Scarlett is just so protective of her younger brother Cliff, and won’t let him feel weird or ostracized. She just wants to help him chase his dreams, whatever that takes.

6. In what ways, if any, do you connect with Scarlett Blaine?
Scarlett is seventeen, just like me. And she’s facing so much pressure to grow up and take on all these responsibilities, but she’s scared to do that because she doesn’t know what the future might hold. When I started writing “Chasing Jupiter”, I was on the edge of a cliff, metaphorically speaking. My whole future lay in front of me, big and scary and unlike anything I had ever imagined. I was afraid of what might come next. But as I continued to write that book and grow Scarlett’s character, I felt myself letting go of my fears and just trusting God. Everything that happens to us is for a reason, and life’s all about growing through our good and bad times. It was a growing experience for me.

7. How has this writing and experience been different from your first novel?
“Chasing Jupiter” is definitely very different from “Interrupted”. I think it’s funnier; lighter. But it also has very mature undertones about family, growing, and accepting change. I almost think it’s sadder than “Interrupted” in many ways, even if you might not realize it at first. There’s an underlying sadness in all the joy and laughter, because as the reader you know that things won’t always stay the same they are right now. We have to enjoy every moment, because we never know when things might change.

8. Do you have a favorite between the two?
I always like whatever I’m working on at the moment the best. 😉 I will always have an amazing emotional connection to “Interrupted” as my first novel, but I do think I like “Chasing Jupiter” better. But then when Book #3 comes out, I know I’ll like that one best! I hope my answer will always be changing!

9. What’s one thing you haven’t expected from writing Chasing Jupiter?
The emotional response from readers always shocks and thrills me. I was hoping that some of the fans of “Interrupted” would enjoy my second book, but I definitely wasn’t expecting all the “I loved it even more!” letters that I received. That just made me feel so blessed and happy.