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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Author Interview with #1 UK Author Rachel Abbott

I'd like to thank Rachel Abbott for doing an interview with us today. Her book, Only the Innocent is the #1 book on Amazon UK currently. A link to the review of her book: ONLY THE INNOCENT Review Of course, I gave it 5/5 stars--and I'm not alone. It has excellent reviews!

As a debut author, Rachel has shown how it should be done. ONLY THE INNOCENT is a psychological thrill that will keep you turning pages from the first page to the dramatic conclusion.

Your book is #1 in the UK Kindle Store. What did you think when you woke up and saw that ranking?

Actually, it got to number 1 at about 9 o’clock on a Saturday evening. It had been rising up the charts all day, and so I was checking rather a lot! I was delirious with excitement when I saw that it was at number one, so went to tell my husband - who had fallen asleep on the sofa! I tried to wake him, but failed. So I was not in the best of moods. To be fair to him, he had spent his day shoveling through six foot snow drifts, and was pretty exhausted! So I had another glass of wine and a piece of chocolate, and just sat there feeling pleased with myself (if not slightly shocked).

Did you do something special to promote it?

I don’t know what I did. I have completely ignored all of the special deals to promote it - such as the KDP Select with free days, and the Kindle Daily Deal - which almost every day takes a book to number one from right outside the charts, simply because it’s being promoted. I don’t think I would personally have got much satisfaction from that, but I fully understand why people do it. So I just plugged away. I am going to be talking on my blog about the things that I did in the hope that they help somebody else, but I’m not sure that there is any magic ingredient. Just a lot of hard work.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Manchester, England - but now I live in central Italy - the Le Marche region. My husband and I bought an old derelict monastery about eleven years ago and had it renovated. It’s not as huge as it sounds - but it is twice as big as we wanted. We just fell in love with it so that was it. Heart ruling head, I’m afraid. But it’s lovely living here - even if we usually only use about a third of the house until we get inundated with guests during the summer months!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I didn’t actually consider myself a writer until after I had finished Only the Innocent. I wanted to write, but I didn’t know if I could do it. So I just sat down, planned with great care, and then started to write. It all flowed from there. When I had finished, I thought - yes. I’m a writer.

What inspired you to write your this book?

I heard about a woman who was being tried for murder, and I wondered what it would take to make a normal, rational woman into a cold blooded murderer. What set of circumstances would be so severe that there was no other way? I didn’t want my murderer to be somebody wicked. I wanted her to be somebody like you and me - but the circumstances gave her no choice. It took me a long time to work out what those circumstances might be.

How did you come up with the title?

A very interesting question. It was originally called “The Only Option” - but then I thought that this sounded a bit uninspired. So I changed it to “Screaming in the Wind”. When it came time to publish, I decided that this wasn’t the right title. It doesn’t give the right impression of the book. So I went back to “The Only Option” only to find that in the intervening couple of years (yes - that’s how long it sat on a shelf) the name had been taken. I had this feeling that the title should be unique. So I sat down and put three headings at the top of a piece of paper. One was Victims (because one way or another, there are many victims in this book), one was Motivation, and one was Emotion. I then thought of all the words that could be used under each of those headings in relation to the story. Innocence stood out, based on the very ending of the book, and it went from there. Unfortunately about a week before I published, another book was published with the same name - but it’s in a completely different genre and it’s more of a novella - so I relaxed a bit. I’ve been in touch with the author to apologize for stealing her great title, and she was really good about it - she even helped promote my book!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I think Only the Innocent raises a number of questions - but I don’t know that I have the answers. I have posted discussion points for reader groups on my website, because there has been quite a bit of controversy about the ending. All the blurb says “should the guilty be punished, or the innocent protected” and some people disagree with the ending I’ve chosen (even downgrading their reviews in a couple of cases because they thought it was the wrong choice!). And one lady actually had a far more extreme outcome than I had chosen. So I think it gives plenty to talk about and think about. If there is a message, though, it would be that things are rarely how they seem on the surface.

How much of the book is realistic?

I think it’s all realistic, and perfectly plausible. When I write, I put myself into the position of the characters and think about how I would behave. Then I add in their own personality traits. The only person that I can’t relate to is the victim. He is killed for a very good reason, and I suppose I am basing his character on just about the lowest that a person can sink to.

Are there any other new authors that have grasped your interest?

I read a book called “A Real Piece of Work” by Chris Orcutt which I gave a 5 star rating too. It’s a good book, and I know he’s already written the next one so I’m looking forward to that. I also had to review a book called “Faith Creation - all Lies Revealed”. I thought this was going to be a religious novel, but it wasn’t at all. This was by Christine Dougherty, and some of the best writing I have seen in a long time. I couldn’t actually give her five stars (which I partially regret) because I thought she left information out of the first book that will be revealed in the second. For me, the book has to be complete in itself, unless it is clear that it’s a trilogy or whatever beforehand. But her writing is superb.

Are you working on a new project?

Yes, my second novel is well under way. Not the writing, but the planning. I find the writing the quickest part of the process. The planning, however, takes me ages because I need to really understand in detail the characters that I am involving in the story. And then the editing takes a long time too, because I write long and have to strip out all the irrelevancies.

Do you see writing as a career?

I do. It will be my second career, because I ran a business in England for about twenty years, and when I sold that I effectively stopped working. One of the advantages of that was that it gave me time to write. So I now see writing as my new career.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The most challenging thing for me is thinking in a sufficiently devious way for my villains! I have no problem getting inside the heads of the other characters, and each of them feels like somebody I know well. But the villain is where I have a problem. I come up with a plausible storyline for them, and then think “no - surely nobody is that bad?” - so I have to force myself to think the worst.

Who designed the covers?

My cover was designed by Alan Carpenter - who used to work with me in my old company. He came to work for me straight from university, and he’s now the Design Director of a huge UK company - so he’s done really well and I’m very proud of him. He gets really mad at me if I try to design things myself, and insists that he will do the work without being paid. But I make sure he gets plenty wine to compensate.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Lots of writers have asked me what I did specifically to get to #1 on Amazon. I have said many times that I don’t think that I have a specific response to that, because I did lots of things. But I am going to be sharing everything that I did in the hope that it helps others. I’m not going to produce a “how to” book and sell it, which has been suggested. I’m going to put it all on my blog. I don’t believe that I have a magic formula, you see, and to try to sell a book based on a few things that I tried that seemed to work doesn’t seem quite ethical. So it’s going on the blog. The address, for anybody who is interested, is HERE

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you! I love the fact that you have taken the time to read my book when there is so much choice out there, and I absolutely love it when people take even more time to write a review. I have had quite a few emails from readers, and chat with several of them on the Goodreads and Amazon forums, but I am thinking about starting a forum on my own HEREto start discussions on some of the aspects of the book - just as you would in a “real” book club. I would love to know if people think this is a good idea. But basically - I just want to say thank you!

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Rachel's Website
Rachel's Blog

Be sure to comment below with your email--one lucky winner will get a copy of ONLY THE INNOCENT from Rachel Abbott (epub or kindle) Just answer these questions:

2. Who does this blog belong to?
3. Does Rachel consider writing a career?
4. Who designed her cover for ONLY THE INNOCENT
5. Extra entry for following this blog and Rachel's blog (so a possible 5 entries)

Each question, 1-4 is worth one entry. #5 is worth two. Just post in your comments that you're going to follow the blogs :) We work on the honor system.

All entrants will be entered in -- commenter one will have 1-5, 2 will have 6-10, etc. Lots of chances to win.

Contest ends on 3/29 11:59 PM EST

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