Pen Friends ~ Meet Rachel Griffin, YA Writer and 2016 Pitch Wars Winner & Mentee, as she shares her writing journey and dreams. And don’t miss her blurb of the novel that won Pitch Wars!
SP: Hi Rachel! Will you tell us a little about yourself and how you started on your writing journey?
Thank you for having me! I’ve been writing ever since I was a little girl. By the time I graduated high school, I had binders stuffed full of poetry, songs, and short stories. I even had a poem published in a collection of poetry when I was thirteen. When I got to college, it was hard for me to find time to write, and before I knew it, years had gone by without creating anything new.
Several years after graduating college, I found myself dissatisfied in my work. I asked myself if I could do anything in the world, what it would be. Writing popped into my head instantly, and from that day forward I’ve taken my writing seriously.
SP: The Spinning Pen has been abuzz with #PitchWars lately, and we know that you were chosen as a mentee this year! Congrats! What has that process been like so far? Would you recommend contests like it to other writers?
Thank you! This has been an incredible experience so far. I’ve done some pretty intense revisions (starting with a POV change!), but my mentor, Heather, has been cheering me on every step of the way. She’s wonderful. Pitch Wars is a lot of work in a short period of time, but the reward is amazing. Not only is my manuscript much stronger, but my writing has improved, and I get to be part of the incredible Pitch Wars community. I’m coming out of this experience with a better manuscript and some wonderful friends; I already feel like I’ve won. So YES, I would 100% recommend this contest to other writers. This is the first contest I’ve ever entered, and I was so scared to put myself out there, but I’m so thankful I did.
(*Read Rachel’s Pitch Wars interview here.)
SP: We’re dying to hear about your WIP. Can you give us a blurb?
Of course! I’ll give you the long version since I have yet to perfect the short one. 🙂
In three days, eighteen-year-old Rain Singer will have a benign tumor removed from her brain and get on with her life. But when she locks eyes with the passenger in a red pick-up truck just moments before it plows into her family’s Camry, everything changes. Her parents are pronounced dead at the scene, and Rain is rushed to the hospital where she has an intensely vivid dream of a city built solely on her own memories, a place where her fears come to life and her childhood is on full display.
But the entire city isn’t hers. It is split in half, and the other side belongs to Zaiah, the passenger Rain locked eyes with just before the crash. His side is darker, colder, and surrounded by alleyways and demons designed to keep Rain out. With each night that passes, she builds a deeper relationship with Zaiah, but his past haunts him, and the experiences he’d give anything to forget are a living, breathing thing that won’t stay quiet.
The closer Rain gets to discovering Zaiah’s secrets, the more terrifying her dreams become, and she struggles to find balance as the lines blur between her dreams and reality. Rain suspects the tumor is the gateway to her dreams, and with the previously delayed surgery now fast-approaching, it’s a race against time as she fights to stay with Zaiah at the expense of her sanity, her healing, and her life.
SP: How did you come up with the story idea?
I was pulling into the parking garage at work and was struck with this image of two people who fell in love in a dream. It was so vivid and clear. I ran into work and had the basic outline of the novel written in less than ten minutes.
SP:What’s something people wouldn’t know about you just by looking? i.e., tattoos, secret obsessions, a dream, etc?
(If blood makes you queasy, don’t read this!)
I once saw a doctor’s hand buried up to his wrist in my own leg. He was removing a benign tumor in my leg that turned out to be much bigger than originally thought; by the time he realized how big it was, it was almost out so he kept going. I was completely awake and only had topical lidocaine as an anesthetic that quickly wore off since he didn’t have a needle long enough to reach the depth of the tumor. I watched him pull it out, and he was covered in blood up to his wrist.
Fun fact: I was a sonographer in my first career (diagnostic ultrasound), and I found the tumor myself.
SP: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?
Don’t self-reject! I was once told that I have to be the one to advocate for my work, and that changed everything. I started putting myself out there (like entering #PitchWars!) and believing in my book. I used to be so shy and worried about what people might say, and I still have those worries, but now I know that I owe it to myself and my book to give myself a chance.
SP: Where can we go to connect with you online and learn more about your writing? (website, twitter, instagram, etc)
I’m all over! Come say hi!
SP: Thanks so much, Rachel! And best of luck in the agent round of Pitch Wars!!