Meghan: Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books, Rachel. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Rachel Aukes: I’m a science fiction/apocalyptic fiction writer who loves telling stories! When I’m not writing, I’m either chasing after my very spoiled 50-pound dog or flying old airplanes across the Midwest US countryside.
Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?
Rachel Aukes: Here goes… 1) Nearly all my clothes are black or gray, because I’m horrible at coordinating colors. 2) I love video games, mostly old school RPGs since I feel like an old lady playing alongside the young whippersnappers on some of the new ones. 3) I’m a big fan of the KonMari method of tidying up. My life and home are so much more peaceful since I cut out everything that didn’t bring joy. 4) I collected comic books as a kid, and I still love them as much as ever. 5) I love cheesy sci-fi movies. The crappier the special effects, the more fun.
Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?
Rachel Aukes: Hmm… One of the first books I remember reading is The Haunted House, which was a children’s book (with pictures) on kids going into a scary haunted house, which turned out to be not quite so scary after all. I wish I remembered the author’s name!
Meghan: What are you reading now?
Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?
Rachel Aukes: I like all types of books, so I can’t think of one that stands out that would surprise others.
Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?
Rachel Aukes: I love writing as a child. Then life and the need to pay bills got in the way until one day I realized I needed to write again, if even just for fun. I’ve never looked back.
Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?
Rachel Aukes: I have a home office, where I write. It’s cozy and perfect for me!
Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
Rachel Aukes:I have pictures of my characters sitting along the edge of my computer screen as I write. For each character, I find an actor or movie character who most represents one of my characters.
Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Rachel Aukes: The actual writing part. When I begin a new story, I love jumping in, but the words sometimes get so hard to pull about midway through!
Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?
Rachel Aukes: So far, it’s always the book I’ve just finished. With every book, I feel like I grow as a storyteller.
Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?
Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?
Rachel Aukes: A complete story arc with a fulfilling ending. None of that cliffhanger crap (by cliffhanger, I mean a book that ends without wrapping up its story arc; I’m not referring to series arcs). Beyond that, all stories depend on its characters to drive it.
Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?
Rachel Aukes: I have to be able to connect with a character. They must have human traits—both strengths and weaknesses—or else they feel like Gary Stus or Mary Sues. I spend a ton of time on my character biographies before I begin writing a story, so they are real people to me by page 1.
Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
Rachel Aukes: All my characters share certain traits with me, though Cash, the protagonist of the Deadland Saga seems to share the most. We’re both nerds on the introverted side but want to do the right thing.
Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?
Rachel Aukes: Yes. We’re human. We all judge a book by its cover. I’ve bought books purely by their covers, and I’ve skipped books with horrible covers. For my traditional published books, I had minimal to some involvement, depending on the house. For my self-published books, I have complete control, but I always try to trust my designer’s expertise and advice whenever possible.
Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?
Rachel Aukes: I used to create detailed outlines, or storyboards, for each book. Then I’d begin writing and everything would change. Now, I spend less time on creating high-level outlines, which gives me more time creating characters with full, 3D backgrounds.
Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?
Rachel Aukes: Writing the death of a loved character. There was one supporting character in the Deadland Saga that I absolutely hated to see killed but saving his life would’ve gone against the personalities of other characters, and I had to stay true to the story.
Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
Rachel Aukes: My books tend to be on the shorter side since I write tight and straightforward. Even so, the most common feedback I get across my books is on how well my characters resonate with readers.
Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?
Rachel Aukes: I spent too much time up front thinking of a cool title, and it seems like at least half the time, the title changes! For example, my working title for my upcoming novel was The Black Sheep of Starbus Route 128b. My editor guided me into a simpler, catchier title: Black Sheep, and there you have it!
Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?
Rachel Aukes: Writing a novel is a deeply fulfilling exercise. During the time I write a novel, I am fully immersed in that world day and night.
Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.
Rachel Aukes: I try to keep my stories PG-13 rated, so that they are accessible to a wide audience. I’ve written in multiple genres, so my audiences are quite different. My romance targeted adult females while my science fiction targets adult males. My apocalyptic fiction is most popular with teenagers (both male and female). The only commonality you’ll see across my stories is a sense of hope against all odds.
Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?
Rachel Aukes: I wish I could say my deleted scenes are gold nuggets that sit in my drawer, but they’re really crap. Mostly, they’re “day in the life” stuff that doesn’t move the story forward. As I mentioned above, I write shorter than many writers, which means I like to keep my stories as tight as possible.
Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?
Rachel Aukes: I have a OneNote section dedicated to my trunk of ideas! There are so many stories I want to write that I don’t have time or now’s simply not the right time.
Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?
Rachel Aukes: I have a new series called Flight of the Javelin coming out soon from Aethon Books. This series stars Throttle, the paraplegic pilot in the Fringe series. She’s leading a colonization mission and lots of crazy happens!
Meghan: Where can we find you?
Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?
Rachel Aukes: Thanks for staying with us through the whole interview. Happy reading!
Rachel Aukes is a science fiction writer with over twenty books in print, including 100 Days in Deadland, which made Suspense Magazine’s Best of the Year list. She is also a Wattpad Star, her stories having over six million reads. Her popular Tidy Guides series covers tips on writing, editing, and publishing your first novel. When not writing, Rachel can be found flying old airplanes with her husband and an incredibly spoiled 50-pound lap dog over central Iowa.
It’s an age of heroes and sacrifices.
The colonies won their independence.
But they are not at peace.
New enemies come at the fragile Alliance of Free Colonies. Assassination attempts. Kidnappings. Murder.
When Aramis Reyne is nearly killed, he turns the tables and hunts the hunters. He learns things are not as they seem. When Critch disappears, he must make an impossible rescue.
If Reyne fails, the Alliance will fall. War will claim the colonies once again.
The race is on and time is running out.
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