To kick off our celebrations about books by teens and for teens — meet Rachel Coker.
Published at 16 (totally cool, right?), Rachel’s first book is Interrupted. Her second novel, Chasing Jupiter, is hot off the press. I won a copy and could not wait until it came. Did I like it? Yes. Amazing. (Cliff is my favourite!)
Enjoy the interview!
Hmmm… I’m not sure if you could say there was any particular book that made it just completely evident to me that I was meant to be a writer. I’ve always loved to read and there are way too many books that have inspired me along my journey! That being said, “Bridge to Terabithia” and “Jacob, Have I Loved”, both by Katherine Paterson had profound impacts on me as a child. Those were probably the first two books I read that really stuck to me and made me want to tell powerful stories to others.
No, actually I started writing as a school assignment! I never wrote any fiction at all until I was in sixth grade and was made to write a short story for my writing assignment. It just clicked for me and suddenly writing was a huge part of who I was. But even then, I never dreamed I’d actually be a published author, much less at sixteen years old!
No, actually it was so much easier. Chasing Jupiter was the easiest book I’ve ever written, because everything just worked. It was such a God thing! However, my third book (and current project) is proving itself much more difficult. The older I get, the harder it is to find time to write and really develop a powerful story.
Oh, yes, definitely! Even if it wasn’t hard to write, it was really hard to watch it get published. I was so nervous about it living up to the hype of the first book. And my editors were saying things like, “This needs to be better than the first book. We need to constantly be growing,” which obviously freaked me out! But it was good in the end because it really pushed me and made me work really hard at promoting it and being honest about my struggles. And then it ended up being accepted really well, so God made it all work out in the end!
I could no longer choose a favorite star in the heavens… Haha, just kidding. Um, I’m not one for favorites, but I do like Katherine Paterson, Margaret Mitchell, Shannon Hale, Cynthia Kadohata (author of “Kira-Kira”) and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I think they should follow their gut. If they feel like they have written something that is their absolute best and they really, really love it and all their friends and family members are encouraging them, then they should try to get it published! Why not at least try? What’s the worst thing that could happen—it’s definitely not going to get published if you never show it to anyone! Plus, agents have short memory spans. So you could send them something new and improved two years down the road and they’d probably never remember you contacted them when you were fifteen.
Always be honest. About your age, your experience, your dreams. Don’t overshare—make them want to read your book and see what it’s about on their own. And do your best to be as funny and personable as possible, while still being respectful—agents are real people, after all!
Don’t get discouraged. It’s so easy to feel terrible about yourself after the eighth or ninth rejection letter or email—trust me, I know. Just remember that if writing is something you’re passionate about, it’s worth pursuing!
Oh, definitely the middle. Because that’s where you come across those boring, “stage-setting”, everyday ho-hum kind of scenes. If I can get a story idea that is so powerful, sweet, and funny that I can make it through those kind of scenes, it’s a story worth writing. So many seemingly great ideas of mine have died at about page 80, because it was then that I realized the story wasn’t worth it.
No, but I did overplay quite a few sickeningly sweet bubble-gum pop songs of the 60’s.
Rachel Coker is a seventeen-year-old homeschool student who lives in Virginia with her parents and two sisters. She has a passion for great books and has been surrounded by them all her life. In fact, as a young child, Rachel helped her parents in a family-run Christian book business. Her gift for writing became apparent at the age of eleven, at which time her parents signed her up for a year of lessons with a professional writing coach. At sixteen, Rachel published her debut YA novel with Zondervan. When she is not writing or playing the piano, Rachel enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
Thanks for stopping by, Rachel! This was such an awesome interview!
Tuesday kicks off our first party game! Trust me, you want to join in. When our giveaways roll round, there are extra points if you’ve played our games.
Not sure what this party thing is? Find out here.