Lisa: We’re so pleased to have author Rachel Davidson Leigh joining us at The Novel Approach today, on the tour for her new novel, Hold.
Welcome, Rachel. Why don’t we start by having you tell us a bit about yourself and the novel?
Rachel: Hi! Thank you so much for having me on your blog! I’m Rachel, and my hobbies include overanalyzing television shows and pairing readers with their perfect books. My debut novel, Hold, is a story about grief, identity, and transformation. After his sister’s death, Lucas Aday can hardly drag himself back to school. He couldn’t possibly prepare himself to stop time or to fall for the only other boy who doesn’t stop moving.
Lisa: Do you buy a book because of the cover, the blurb, or something else?
Rachel: I tend to go for a combination of the first two, plus, if possible, a sample of the prose. In most of my favorite books, there’s a kind of unity between the three elements that suggests the book (and its people) know what it’s doing in the world. Gabby Rivera’s recent novel, Juliet Takes a Breath, is a perfect example of that kind of coherent vision. The cover, just like the novel, is vibrant, surprising, in-your-face, and all about Juliet. When you get right down to it, a lot of book buying is about trust, because it means spending quality time in someone else’s imagination. I like to skim the first few pages of a book to get a sense of whether I want to spend time with the prose and if there’s something surprising or exciting about this particular book that I haven’t seen before.
Lisa: What does ‘romance’ mean to you?
Rachel: Coincidentally, that also comes down to trust! Maybe that’s because reading a really great book is a lot like falling in love, but with a whole cast of characters at the same time. Romance, for me, means finding a best friend to take on the world, someone who loves you even when you aren’t terribly fond of yourself. In fiction, it means being given the chance to experience that spark of a connection and to choose to fall over and over and over again. I never understand when authors suggest that romance novels have nothing in common with the “scary” genres, like thrillers and mysteries, because I think all of the best romance fiction is terrifying. What could be scarier than trusting another person enough to let them in?
Lisa: What are your current projects?
Rachel: I’m currently working on more LGBTQ YA. The next novel centers on two former best friends and current rivals, Natalie and Noelle, forced to vie for the same math scholarship. The situation would be workable if they didn’t have to travel together, or room together, or face with the fact that Noelle’s had a soul-killing crush on Natalie since, roughly, forever.
Lisa: What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
Rachel: I have a really hard time with rough drafts. Once I have a disgustingly bad full draft, I love revising and rewriting. I could rearrange a scene forever, just playing with new ideas, but until I have something tangible to work with I have a hard time relaxing and just getting to know the characters. At one point, I told some writer-friends how much I was enjoying my novel revisions and I think they wanted to hit me with sticks.
Lisa: Thanks so much for being here with us, Rachel. It’s been great getting to know you a bit better. Let’s end things with having you tell us something about yourself that would surprise people.
Rachel: This is random, but when I was a kid I had a face painting business. I started when I was about nine; I set up a table at craft fairs and outdoor concerts like that was a normal thing to do in third grade. It was fun, and I actually got pretty good. By the time I entered middle school, and lost interest, I could do some elaborate designs and had started getting hired to do the makeup design for children’s theater companies. Recently, I actually picked it up again for a few charity events and, apparently, face painting is like riding a bicycle; once you know how to turn someone into a leopard, you get to keep that knowledge for life.
About the Book
Publisher: Duet Books (an imprint of Interlude Press)
Release Date: 20 October 2016
Length: 270 Pages
Genre: LGBT Fiction, YA, Romance, Magical Realism
Blurb: Luke Aday knew that his sister’s death was imminent—she had been under hospice care for months—but that didn’t make her death any easier on him or their family. He returns to school three days after the funeral to a changed world; his best friends welcome him back with open arms, but it isn’t the same. When a charismatic new student, Eddie Sankawulo, tries to welcome Luke to his own school, something life-changing happens: In a moment of frustration, Luke runs into an empty classroom, hurls his backpack against the wall—and the backpack never lands. Luke Aday has just discovered that he can stop time.
About the Author
Rachel Davidson Leigh is a teacher, a writer and an avid fan of young adult LGBTQ fiction. Her hobbies include overanalyzing television shows and playing matchmaker with book recommendations. Currently, she lives in Wisconsin with her family and two neurotic little dogs. Hold is her debut novel. Her short story “Beautiful Monsters” was featured in Summer Love, a collection of short stories published by Duet Books, the young adult imprint of Interlude Press.
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