Debut Author Series: Rachel Griffin
Welcome to Scribbler’s new blog series, where we interview debut indie- and traditionally-published authors regarding their novel and writing processes.
We’re very excited to feature Rachel Griffin, the New York Times bestselling author of “The Nature of Witches,” as our first debut author. If you haven’t heard about Rachel’s YA fantasy from Sourcebooks Fire, we’ve included the description below:
In a world where witches control the climate and are losing control as the weather grows more erratic, a once-in-a-generation witch with the magic of all seasons is the only one who can save earth from destruction. But as her power grows, it targets and kills those closest to her, and when she falls in love with her training partner, she’s forced to choose between her power, her love, and saving the earth.Amazon
Thank you for participating, Rachel! So, how did the story of “The Nature of Witches” come to you?
“The Nature of Witches” arrived in the form of a question: “What if there was a girl who changed with the seasons?” I’ve always wanted to write about the theme of change—I’m someone who goes through phases, and I’ve heard my whole life that I “change too much,” and it has always been said as a bad thing. But I believe our ability to change and grow is one of the best parts of being human, and I wanted to write a book that showed change as an absolutely beautiful thing.
What was a moment during the writing or publishing process for “The Nature of Witches” you’ll never forget?
Definitely when my agent texted me to tell me an editor was interested in my book. It was the first time I’d ever received a text from my agent, and I was out grocery shopping. When it came through my phone, I literally sunk to the floor and started sobbing in the store! I had been pursuing publication for eight years at that point, had received hundreds of rejections, and had already been on sub (the process of your literary agent sending your manuscript out to editors at publishing houses in hopes someone will want to acquire it) once before with a book that didn’t sell. Hearing that an editor loved my book was incredible and a moment I will never forget.
When did you decide traditional publishing was right for you?
I always knew traditional publishing was the route I wanted to take, primarily because I wanted the distribution of a traditional publisher—I wanted to be able to walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelf. I also wanted a team behind me to handle marketing and publicity; there is so much that goes into publishing a book, and I wanted help with all of those aspects.
Can you share three tools you feel are essential to your writing process?
Absolutely! The first is the Save the Cat! beat sheet—plot is not something that comes naturally to me. I can write about feelings and emotions all day long, but plot is something that I have to work at, and this beat sheet helps me tremendously. Every outline I do starts here, and it’s a huge part of my process.
The next is Freedom. Freedom is productivity software that allows you to block specific websites or the entire internet for set amounts of time. It’s super customizable, and I use it every day when I’m working. It keeps me focused on my work and free from distractions.
Finally, I use Scrivener and couldn’t imagine going back to Word for my first drafts. Scrivener lets you keep all your notes, research, outlines, character sheets, setting sheets, and more in a binder along the left side of your draft. It keeps me incredibly organized, and I love it so much that I actually outline in it (I have a video tutorial on how I use Scrivener here!). There’s definitely a learning curve to it, but once you figure it out, it’s an incredibly powerful tool.
Is there any writing or publishing advice you wish you knew five years ago?
I think the best advice I can give is that you’re allowed to take your writing seriously right now, exactly where you are. I treated my writing like a job before I ever had an agent or a book deal, and that mindset allowed me to prioritize my writing time and my ultimate dream of getting published. It pushed me to write when I wasn’t inspired and make the act of writing a consistent part of my life. And it wasn’t until I started taking it seriously that I met other writers and started to feel forward progress in my journey.
I also wish I would have known early on that there is no right way to write a book. The best process is the process that works for you, and it’s absolutely okay if your process looks different from the writer’s you admire and respect.
Has there been an author or piece of work that inspired you to write this book — or become an author yourself?
There are so many authors that inspire me. I have long been inspired by Veronica Roth and Leigh Bardugo—I have loved their books and followed their careers for years, which served as a great source of motivation for me to keep going. Mary Oliver’s poetry is a huge source of inspiration for me; the way she writes about nature speaks to my soul. And Madeline Miller and Naomi Novik write such gorgeous, layered stories that inspire me to challenge myself and my writing.
Lightning Round: This or That?
Would you rather read fiction or nonfiction? This is so tough! I love both, but if I have to choose, I choose fiction.
Coffee, tea, or water? Coffee!
Has a book ever made you cry? Haha YES, so many!
Writing to music or silence? Music, as long as it’s instrumental—I can’t write to anything with lyrics!
“Pantser” or “plotter?” Plotter 100%.
Would you rather handwrite or type your books? Type!
A bit about Rachel
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Rachel has a deep love of nature, from the mountains to the ocean and all the towering evergreens in between. She adores moody skies and thunderstorms, and hopes more vampires settle down in her beloved state of Washington. You can find “The Nature of Witches” for purchase here and find Rachel on Instagram or her website.
Written by Katarina Betterton
vKatarina Betterton is an aspiring adult fiction author. She works for an editorial content agency and specializes in SEO outlining writing and editing. She's also a part of Scribbler's editorial team. When not reading or writing her hobbies include cooking learning new languages and crafting. Follow her writing journey at @iamgirlofwords on Instagram.