I had the amazing opportunity to have Rachelle Rea as a guest on my blog! Below is the Question & Answer panel that she was kind enough to join me for. I hope you have as much fun learning about Rachelle and the fascinating world of her debut novel The Sound of Diamonds as I did.
RACHELLE REA Q & A
KS: Hello Rachelle! So excited to get to do this interview! I hope you’re doing well.
To get us started, I will just give a bit of a background for our readers. Rachelle is publishing her debut novel called The Sound of Diamonds with WhiteFire Publishing. The riveting story details the events that follow Gwyn, a glasses-wearing, spirited young lady, who is desperately trying to find her way home to England after spending several months hiding in a monastery in Holland. Returning home after the death of her parents is the least of her worries, however. The mysterious man who rescued her from Holland and stubbornly refuses to let her journey alone is the last person in the world Gwyn wishes to trust. Dirk Godfrey is the very man whom she witnessed murder her parents. But, to make it to safety, Gwyn will be forced to put both her life and trust in Dirk’s calloused hands.
Now, I was able to gain an advanced copy of the novel, and enjoyed it immensely. Before I get into questions relating to the characters themselves, I have a few personal inquiries for you, Rachelle. What past experiences have you had in terms of writing? What inspired you to write this tale? Have you always had a love for historical fiction?
RR: Thank you so much for having me, Kara! I’m excited. ☺ I love that recap, by the way. You sum up the story quite well!
I started writing short stories in middle school. During my freshman year of college, I decided to go for a full-length novel. That book turned out terribly. It was this weird fantasy thing that shall never see the light of day. But…then I decided to try writing in my favorite genre, Historical Romance—why didn’t I think of that earlier? And The Sound of Diamonds was born.
KS: This next question is far less professional, but I’m going to ask anyway ☺ Which kind of ice-cream do you enjoy best? Are you a more extravagant girl, aiming for the flavors mixed with cookie bites and candy? Or a simpler maiden happy with just smooth chocolate, vanilla or perhaps strawberry? I love cookies and cream, personally.
RR: I adore ice cream! Okay, so if I’m at home, I like cookies and cream (we’re twins, Kara!) or birthday cake with that blue icing stuff swirled in. You know, the sickeningly sweet stuff. ☺ If I’m at an ice cream shop where I don’t trust the flavors or I’m the least bit hesitant, I go for chocolate. My absolute favorite is Cheesecake with oreos. Uh, yum. ☺ And now the world knows I can write a paragraph about ice cream…
KS: Alright, on to the more story-related questions. Can you tell me just a bit about your heroine’s personality? What makes her float in the clouds with elation? What makes her spew fiery words of anger?
RR: Ah, Gwyn. So complicated. We’ve spent three books together now and still I feel like she can surprise me sometimes with the things she says or her reactions to things Dirk says. ☺ What makes her happiest is either 1) when she is in charge, 2) her people are happy—she’s fiercely loyal, or 3) Dirk is around. What can make her the angriest? That last one again, most likely, LOL. Those two are hilarious.
KS: In reading Diamonds, one of the things I thought was very interesting about Gwyn was the fact that she had glasses. You don’t read about many female characters—particularly in that era—who wore spectacles. As a girl who depends on contacts and glasses for life, I certainly understand Gwyn’s plight when she loses her glasses. Why did you decide to give her spectacles? How does that reshape and reflect her character?
RR: I depend on contacts for life, too! I think that’s why I decided to give her spectacles—I don’t remember a precise moment when I said, ah, yes, let’s plop these on her nose. I do remember researching whether that would actually be feasible back then, and voila it was. I think it fits her character well in that she is very independent—but struggles to see without her glasses. They keep her humble.
KS: Gwyneth’s Catholic background is another main theme of the book. What led you to incorporate religion and her search for God in the way you did? I really loved how you gave us a different view of Luther and the Reformation.
RR: My father was raised Catholic and my mother, Protestant. I think that played into how I decided to approach this volatile time period: where people were not only fighting for their faith or religion, but just what that would mean for their country. A lot was at stake. I wanted to show that from both sides, from the perspective of a Protestant man with a troubled past and Catholic girl with everything to lose.
KS: Now, on to Dirk—the conflicted villain, love interest and almost hero all wrapped up into one. How did you develop his interesting character? Did you have any qualms about painting his colorful background? After all, Gwyn believes that he murdered her parents.
RR: I think he would agree with your “almost-hero” description, LOL. He certainly doesn’t see himself as worthy of her heart (I’ll stop lest I spoil anything!). I did, actually, wonder if such a riotous beginning could indeed work—if either of them could ever get over the circumstances of the night they met. But then I wrote the rest of the book…and Book Two…and Book Three. I think they overcome their rocky beginning beautifully, but you’ll have to tell me when you’ve read the series. ☺
KS: Sometimes I think its fun to take characters and personify them more in our time. If Dirk had been born into the 20th century, what kind of person do you think he would have been? The leather-clad troublemaker? Or the smooth-talking college student listening to his music loud in his corvette? Or something different all together?
RR: What a fun question! That’s a hard one! Let’s see, I envision Dirk more as a farm boy. (Now before you start thinking, As You Wish…) Small-town. Hard-working. Not overly ambitious in the world’s eyes, but a real family man. And while I’m at it, I think Gwyn would have been a wealthy Southern belle… ☺
KS: Diamonds has some pretty fantastic supporting characters, too! A duo of nuns—one staunch in her faith, and the other young and questioning. Two mischievous young men with fascinating pasts, who would follow Dirk to the ends of the earth. What can you tell us about them? Were these four young people who would provide the pillars on which Dirk and Gwyn could lean easy enough to decide on? Or did they sort of grow as the story developed?
RR: Definitely the latter. Agnes was always tough as nails, and Margried, sweet and kind. But Agnes became more staunch in her ways, less motherly, in later drafts, while Margried sort of came into her own and became stronger. Cade, such a quiet, secretive guy, has remained constant. At one point Ian was much older… Fun facts. ☺
KS: Now, I would like to wrap it all up with one last question. Often times, when we write we draw on the struggles and glories we ourselves have endured. In what ways does Diamonds tell your own story of redemption?
RR: My favorite question, by far. In Diamonds, Gwyneth is several years removed from losing her grandfather. When I began writing the novel, it had been a few short months since we lost my grandpa, to whom the book is dedicated. I think the tragedy and loss and grief she cycles through—that I got to walk through with her—proved therapeutic to me in many ways. I hope it just might touch others’ hearts, as well. ☺
KS: Thank you so much, Rachelle, for taking the time to do this interview! I really enjoyed learning more about you and your amazing story. I have no doubt The Sound of Diamonds will do wonderfully! Have a great day.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful care in asking such great questions and having me on today, Kara! I had fun!
Bio: Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote the Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.