Friday, August 16, 2013

Featured Debut Novelist: Rachel Coker

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Rachel Coker resides in Virginia with her parents and two sisters. She has a passion for great books, and has been surrounded by them all her life. In fact, as a young child, Rachel helped her parents in a family-run Christian book business.

Her gift for writing became apparent at the age of eleven at which time her parents signed her up for a year of lessons with a professional writing coach. She signed with Zondervan in 2010, resulting in the publication of her YA fiction novel, Interrupted, in March 2012, when she was sixteen. Chasing Jupiter is her second book.

When she is not writing or playing the piano, Rachel enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

The following is an August 2013 interview with Rachel.

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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY 
AT THE END OF THE INTERVIEW


Be in to win a copy of either Interrupted or Chasing Jupiter - one copy of each to be won

Contest open to entrants in the USA only.

Contest runs from 16-31 August NZDT


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Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Rachel Coker, I'm seventeen years old, and I'm a published author with Zondervan! I just graduated high school this spring, but I wrote and published two books, "Interrupted: Life Beyond Words" and "Chasing Jupiter" while I was only fourteen and sixteen. I live in the country, with my parents and two sisters, and I was homeschooled almost all my life!


What inspired you to become a novelist, and did you always want to write?

I didn't always want to write. In fact, I never wrote at all until I was in sixth grade. My mom made me write a short story as a school assignment and it all just kinda clicked. Writing became a huge passion of mine. My parents hired a fiction writing tutor to help me develop my gifts, and I kept reading lots of amazing books that made me want to create stories of my own.


What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?

It's amazing how many truths you can convey to people about God, life, and faith through fiction! Because of the emotional power of fiction writing, it's easy to feel personally connected to character's spiritual journeys, and to transfer those truths to your own personal life. I know that I have grown in my spiritual walk through the truths that have been shown to me through great Christian fiction books, and I always hope that my books do the same for others!

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How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write?

I hope that readers are inspired, entertained, and moved by my stories! I always want to create stories that will touch the hearts of readers, and share things that I've learned in my own personal life. Because I am a teenage girl writing about teenage girls, I get a really fun perspective when writing these stories. I know what I have learned through the years, and hopefully I'm able to convey those truths to other teenage girls reading my books.


What has been the most surprising aspect to becoming a published novelist?
I think the most surprising and the most pleasant part of being an author is definitely the amazing amount of support I have received. I love getting emails, Facebook messages, and letters from young people all over the country (and world!) who have been encouraged and inspired by my story. It really motivates me to be constantly growing and doing my best. It's hard to give up when you have so many people encouraging you!


How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

I'm constantly depending on Him to help me in every area of my life! As I brainstorm and write these books, my biggest question is always, "How is this story going to point others to Christ?" What truths about Him can I bring out through these funny, sweet, beautiful stories? The pressure of being in the public eye, as well as being sort of forced to share personal details and thoughts about myself on my blog has also pushed me to a greater dependence on His wisdom. I want to be constantly pointing others toward Him in the way I live my life, and I'm always being given opportunities to do that! Hopefully, I take them all!

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Other than being a novelist, what other goals do you have for your life?
I want to one day get married and settle down with a family. I'd love to travel some more, and meet even more people. (I'd love to meet some of my fans in New Zealand, Australia, and other foreign countries!) I just constantly want to be doing what I love and serving Christ with my life!


What do you like to do in your spare time?

I teach piano, which a lot of people find interesting. I'm also a HUGE reader, and a photographer! I spend a lot of time with my two sisters, watching old classic movies, going shopping, eating icecream, baking pies... And of course I have a social life and try to make time for my amazing friends. ;)


What can you tell us about your debut novel?

I wrote "Interrupted" when I was fourteen. I'd been going through a hard time in life and it was a great way for me to express everything I was feeling and learning. It's a story about Allie Everly, a girl growing up in the 1940's, who loses her mother due to brain cancer and is forced to move in with an adopted mother. At first, she's so bitter and angry at God and everyone around her because of what happened. But as she grows older, God begins to melt her heart and she opens up herself to love, family, and faith! It's a really beautiful, inspirational story.


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Interrupted: Life Beyond Words

Can love really heal all things? If Sam Carroll hadn't shown up, she might have been able to get to her mother in time. Instead, Allie Everly finds herself at a funeral, mourning the loss of her beloved mother. She is dealt another blow when, a few hours later, she is sent from Tennessee to Maine to become the daughter of Miss Beatrice Lovell, a prim woman with a faith Allie cannot accept. 

Poetry and letters written to her mother become the only things keeping Allie's heart from hardening completely. But then Sam arrives for the summer, and with him comes many confusing emotions, both toward him and the people around her. 

As World War II looms, Allie will be forced to decide whether hanging on to the past is worth losing her chance to be loved.


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Chasing Jupiter

Scarlett Blaine's life in 1960s Georgia isn't always easy, especially given her parents' financial struggles and the fights surrounding her sister Juli's hippie lifestyle. Then there's her brother, Cliff. While Scarlett loves him more than anything, there's no denying his unique behavior leaves Cliff misunderstood and left out. So when he wishes for a rocket to Jupiter, Scarlett agrees to make it happen, no matter how crazy the idea might be. 

Raising the rocket money means baking pies, and the farmer's son, Frank, agrees to provide the peaches if Scarlett will help him talk to Juli. The problem is, Scarlett really enjoys her time with Frank, and finds herself wondering if, someday, they could be more than friends. 

Just as she thinks everything might be going her way, Cliff suffers an accident that not only affects the rocket plans, but shakes Scarlett's view of God. As the summer comes to an end, Scarlett must find a way to regain what she's lost, but also fulfill a promise to launch her brother's dream.


Interrupted: Life Beyond Words
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle The Book Depository]


Chasing Jupiter
[Purchase:  Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | The Book Depository]



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What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead?

I will probably continue writing historical fiction for the most part, although I do have a couple unusual ideas in store...


What would you like to say to your upcoming fans in New Zealand and around the world?
Thank you so much for supporting me and spreading the word about me and my books! It's always amazing for me to be able to tell my fans here in the US that I have supporters from all over the world--you should see the way their eyes light up. :)


Do you have any parting words?

Thanks for taking the time to read this interview! I would encourage you to check out my blog at www.rachelcoker.com if you want to hear more of my (usually entertaining) ramblings. You can also like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.


Buy Rachel's Books at The Book Depository

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

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Be in to win a copy of either Interrupted or Chasing Jupiter - one copy of each to be won

Contest open to entrants in the USA only.

Contest runs from 16-31 August NZDT


Please comment about the interview or leave a message for Rachel when making a blog post comment - simply commenting about entering the draw or wanting to win the book do not qualify as valid entries in the draw.




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