Rachel Pudsey - High Fantasy Romance Adventure
International Bestselling Author Rachel Pudsey was born and raised in Scotland. A graduate of psychology, she now resides in South Korea teaching English to adults in Seoul. She is the author of The Aronia Series, a light, clean, adventurous YA fantasy-romance series that follows a girl through a journey into realizing one must be careful what they wish for. The Watcher of the Night Sky, book one in the series, was a finalist in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards Finalist (2018), TopShelf Indie Book Awards Nominee (2019), and winner of the IHIBRP five-star recommended read award. As our Author of the day, Pudsey tells us all about this book.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Watcher of the Night Sky is about.
The Watcher of the Night Sky puts a twist on wishing on the stars. Our main character, Abigail, didn't realize when she wished on the stars that she would bring a curse upon her life. Suddenly, a group of unusual men turns up at her door all professing their love for her. So she spends the book trying to rectify her mistake. But it's only just the beginning of her adventure. Abigail discovers so much about herself and her land as her quest progresses.
What inspired you to write this book?
The idea had been in my head for a while, and I took some notes and saved them into a writer's program I have on my computer. But I didn't actually get into writing it until I was recovering from a bad illness and couldn't work. At that time, I reopened the files and started to write. The story was left aside again until I moved to Korea, at which point I started to work hard on it after meeting a good friend and fellow writer. He inspired me to keep at it. So, I did. That friend is now a big part of my writing process and is the first to see my manuscripts and critique them.
Did you plan from the start to make this into a series? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
Absolutely not. Once I reached about 70k I realized the story was nowhere near finished. So I decided to continue into a second book. Which hit over 80k and still wasn't finished. So suddenly I had to get on with a 3rd. Three seemed like a nice, regular number to stop at. So I am determined for this next title to be the final in the series. This is tough because fresh ideas come often and I have to ignore them. I might add some short stories later—I already have one out in an anthology related to the series. Each book picks up exactly where the last one finished.
Tell us more about Abigail Crumble. What makes her so special?
Abigail defines herself as plain and normal. She doesn't see what others see in her. She is intelligent and ambitious but she can also be stubborn. She wants to be the first female teacher in her village--since in her society men are usually teachers. She realizes that female teachers usually live a single life, but she is so passionate about learning and teaching that she doesn't care whether she gets married. As Abigail's story progresses, she goes through a series of changes--maturity, self-sacrifice, and learning that she is more capable that she realized. By the end of the series, Abigail is a very different woman to the girl she started her quest as.
Why High Fantasy? What drew you to the genre?
I love fantasy. I used to read other genres but now I rarely read anything other than fantasy. Fantasy allows us to escape our world. I dislike stories about real life or real-life struggles because I find them quite depressing. But fantasy allows us to imagine what we want. To live without the hurdles that pop up in real life. I once read a reader comment: why would I read something that reminds of how terrible life is? And I agree with her. I prefer to read and write fantasy. I am happy to add other themes and mix genres such as romance or mystery. I've contemplated writing in other genres, I have written one short story that is not fantasy related to South Korean culture and initially written for an anthology. I might consider writing literary stories again but for me, fantasy is just far more thrilling.
Why did you pick a simple village as a backdrop for the start of your story?
I grew up in Scotland—a country filled with tiny villages. When I first started writing this story, I had moved into a small village where everyone knew everyone. Where strangers were greeted on the street and known to be strangers. A lot of that town is in Gracehill. The greenery, the granite houses, the feel of community, even the woods near the house lived in. Moving to that village was a big step in my life so it seemed right to incorporate it into the book.
Have changes in your own life affected any of your characters?
Yes. When I wrote the first book, I was going through a break up with the man that influenced the main love interest of Abigail. In the second book, they are mostly apart from each other. At the time of writing, I was also apart from my partner. Looking back it seems too similar to not be a reflection of my own experience. Ironically, in book three they are reunited. As am I and that man--as friends anyway.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
In life, we can't always get what we want. We need to realize that we have to at times do the things we do not want or the things that we fear. Life is a journey from which we learn and grow. I think these are two of the biggest themes running through the book.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I am a pantser. I just write down scenes and stories and ideas that pop up. I write in notebooks, on post-its, on random pieces of paper. Then, I piece them all together and try to work around holes and issues to make it into one coherent story. These days I am trying to be more of a plotter, but I find that tough because I often don't know where the story will go until a random idea pops into my head that is different but better than what I had previously conducted. So now, I wake up every morning, write for 1-2 hours depending on how alert I feel, then go to my day job. If the opportunity arises in the afternoon I try to write while at work. And if I get stuck halfway through a manuscript I go back to the beginning and do a deep edit. That helps me work out the plot holes and get the story on track.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am working on the final book of the Aronia series. It is called Aaravale. I am deep in the editing stages and hope for it to be in the hands of my editor by mid-December. The release date is estimated as of March 2020. After that, I will be working on more stories for some anthology projects and some novel ideas connected to my Scottish heritage and my experience in Korean culture.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Readers can find me on Goodreads, Instagram, Facebook, Bookbub or on my website. All of the links to which can be found here: https://linktr.ee/rachelpudsey