Today I’d like you to meet author Rachel Leigh Smith. She told me she’d drop by tonight for a chat, and of course some refreshments, on the proviso I had a warm fire going. Rachel, please help yourself to anything you want.
As this is your first time here, please tell us a little bit about yourself; who you are, what makes you tick, that sort of thing.
Rachel: Who I am is easy. First and foremost, daughter of the King. Everything else I am flows out of that. I’m the oldest of four, a Southern Belle to the core, very opinionated, and I embrace technology while holding onto my love of history.
I’m a writer, a daughter, a sister, and someone who hates being shoved in a box. The best way to get me to do something is to tell me it can’t be done a certain way. I take great delight in proving you wrong.
LOL! I’ll bear that in mind, Rachel :-)
To get straight to the bone, so to speak, I invited you over because you’ve got a book launch coming up on the 20th. Can you tell us a bit about the book?
Rachel: The King’s Mistress is a continuation of my first novel, My Name Is A’yen. It opens a month after the first one ends, and is the story of A’yen coming to terms with the change in who he is and figuring out how to understand and relate to the rest of his species. He’s an alien, you see, and his people have been slaves for 2,000 years. He’s fighting to free them so they can return to their homeworld.
Before he can do that, he has to learn who they are. His background and childhood is very different from what of the Lokmane know. A’yen has been deeply loved by many people, something most Lokmane don’t experience.
A’yen gets kidnapped and taken to the largest breeding farm in the galaxy. Without his wife. And he learns his task is harder than he expected. The Lokmane there don’t like or trust him. He has to prove himself to them, and earn their trust.
While he’s trying not to get himself killed by mouthing off to the wrong person, Fae, his wife, heads back to the Lokmane homeworld to continue the next phase of archaeological excavation and prove once and for all Rim One is Lok’ma.
Oh. I really do hope A’yen doesn’t get himself killed! That sounds awful – not to mention I hate seeing heroes killed off by authors…
As this is a sequel, could you tell us something about the first book, and perhaps some of the inspiration behind the story?
Rachel: I’m going to start with the inspiration. Because that’s key to understanding how important the book is to me.
I’m divorced, which is not something I ever imagined happening to me. No one does. The eleven months my marriage lasted put me through an emotional wringer and left me despondent. I lost my words for a year while I figured out who I am now. I had been in the habit of writing every day, and it was torture to be without them.
Once divorce proceedings actually started in 2012, it’s like I was free again. On what would have been my 3rd anniversary, I had a dream. It was a humanoid alien walking through a forest, saying what I thought was one word over and over. The word became two, Loks Mé. The alien was A’yen. I started writing it the afternoon of May 17th, 2012, because it was easy and coming out 3,000 and 4,000 words at a time. That’s a LOT of words in one day.
A’yen was grieving the loss of his dreams and the person he loved. While writing him out of his grief and watching him learn to live again, I came fully out of my grief and learned to live again.
And then the book turned into this massive thing with 3,000 years of human and Lokmane history, a hidden royal line, a conspiracy, an empire on the verge of catastrophic change, and more layers than I’d thought my brain capable of managing. Four of the first five are written, as of this chat, with another almost done, and three more brewing in my head.
Did I mention yet these are all big-ass books? They’re over 100,000 words each. And I’ve written them all since May of 2012.
To sum up, My Name Is A’yen is my heart and soul out there for the world to see. It’s a book born of tragedy, and infused with hope. It’s also a romance and A’yen’s journey to being able to trust and love again. And along the way he and his heroine, Fae, find A’yen’s lost homeworld and prove the Lokmane were once free. The next step is getting it back.
This definitely sounds like a series to watch.
What themes are you trying to convey to your readers?
Rachel: The importance of being who you are, no matter what. There’s only one you, and what you have to contribute is important.
I also want everyone who reads it to realize and accept that every life has value, simply because it exists. No matter how insignificant or unimportant a life appears to be, to someone else out there, that one life is their whole world.
You matter because you exist.
Wow. Powerful stuff there. Definitely sounds like my kind of book.
I know you’ve already had a few reviews in for The King’s Mistress. Has anything your readers said surprised you? Perhaps they spotted something you hadn’t noticed?
Rachel: The first reviews coming in have been a huge relief, actually. I have a bad case of what I’m calling second book fear. I’m afraid it won’t live up to the expectations I set with the first one and readers won’t be as invested. Early reviews are assuring me my fear is largely unfounded.
Glad to hear that. Nothing like calming those fears.
It’s been great to have you over. Don’t forget to put on a few layers before you head outside.
Rachel: Right now I need a rain coat and rubber boots! My yard’s a lake at the moment. Winter in Louisiana is also known as Deluge. The other three seasons are Almost Summer, Summer, and Still Summer.