Alice Rachel, a native French writer now based in the United States, is the author of the Under Ground series, a YA Dystopian Romance/YA Forbidden Romance series. When complete, the series will comprise three main novels and over ten novellas and short stories developing the backgrounds of the different characters in the series.
What made you want to be a writer?
I had this need to create my male character, Chi. Originally, I started writing the story for him. I didn't really choose to be a writer, it just happened, and now I can't stop.
What inspires you to write?
Reality. The horrible things humans do to one another. Things I wish would finally change. I also draw inspiration from personal pain, grief, and depression.
Is there any particular incident that has happened along your writing journey that you’d like to share?
When Under Ground first came out, I was worried it might not be popular because my main female character, Thia, suffers from depression and anxiety, and she might be perceived as "weak." It was important for me to expose those issues in my series, and I wanted a character who would slowly grow. So obviously, she couldn't be perfect from the start. But I was really surprised to see many readers relate to her and appreciate the fact that Thia is not the perfectly strong woman we now want all heroines to be.
I firmly believe women carry a lot of judgment and obligations on their shoulders. We need to be beautiful, fit, forever young, educated, smart, powerful, but not so smart or powerful that we might scare men away. We need to be sweet and joyful, and the list never ends. Now on top of that, we want women to be strong. But we are insidiously teaching our young girls that to be strong, a woman must be manly. She needs manly traits: to be willing to fight in a war and never show emotional pain. I find it insulting that we would be teaching our young girls that women can't be strong unless they show masculine traits. Especially stereotypical masculine traits that have been forced on men to begin with.
How about we just let our young girls be themselves? How about we teach them they are worthy of love no matter what, and they don't need to be perfect every day? How about we teach them it's okay to feel pain and sorrow and be human?
I was surprised to see that many readers like Thia and how imperfect she is. It makes me really happy.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write for yourself. Be yourself! If you are self-published, do be careful and wary of those who will try to take advantage of you, be it bad editors, authors organising fake book-signings that are nothing more than scams, people who might harass you, people who have no consideration for your hard-work and your hard-earned money. Do your research before you spend your money. There are groups of fellow authors on Facebook who can help you.
Any advice for approaching publishers?
I'm not interested in having my books published other than self-publishing. But I know a sure way to scare me away is to imply that my stories need changing. I've worked on this series for four years now. I am well aware of the flaws that still exist in each book. I am aware of my writing ticks and flaws. Like all authors, I'm still improving. But I will not change the personalities of my characters or their storylines.
What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?
Competition and making a name for yourself when there are so many authors out there. Marketing is expensive too, and it's every author's least favorite part. It's hard to find the marketing company that will be the key to your success. Just keep on being yourself, though. That's essential.
What methods of book marketing do you find the most effective?
Instagram is the most effective for me. And blog tours.
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
When it comes to rejection, as in bad reviews, it stings for a few minutes and I just move on. There are a few characters I really love and it is essential to me that my readers love these few characters, too. But if they hate the other characters, even if it's a character I like, I usually don't mind.
You can't please everyone. Everyone has different tastes; that's what makes the world an interesting place.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
Don't write for money and don't follow trends. Don't write for fame. Those are all wrong reasons to write, and if your writing isn't authentic, the readers will know.