Publishing is a long, painful road to walk alone. We all started somewhere, even big names like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King, and the more connected you are to other writers, the easier your journey will be. With that in mind, each month the ATK team will feature an author spotlight to bring you the stories, insight and challenges universal to all of us. You can learn more about your favorite authors, pick up writing tips, and empathize with names you know because they’ve been there. This month, we’re interviewing author Rebecca Yarros.
Introducing Rebecca Yarros
Author of the highly-praised contemporary romance series Flight & Glory and The Renegades series, Rebecca Yarros also hosts the acclaimed blog for military spouses, The Only Girl Among Boys. She married her own hero—an Apache helicopter pilot—she’s a super-mom of six and an advocate for special needs adoption.
In Rebel, Rebecca’s latest release and last of The Renegades trilogy, Pena, a kick-ass heroine who is also an extreme sports athlete, falls into a forbidden relationship while she navigates the turbulent waters of healing from a sports injury as she circumnavigates the globe during a semester at sea.
Welcome, Rebecca, and thank you for being the focus of our inaugural spotlight. I’m in love with your latest book, Rebel. What inspired you to write The Renegades extreme sports series?
Thank you so very much for having me! Rebel is honestly one of my favorite books that I’ve ever written. The Renegades were inspired by my best friend. She went on Semester at Sea when she was in college, and sent me postcards from all over the world when they pulled into another port. It was incredible to see her going to college on a cruise ship and having these simply amazing experiences. She’s still just that adventurous, too! In the past month, she’s gone skydiving and gone diving with sharks. Seriously.
I also love the X Games and Nitro Circus, and when I saw the opportunity to combine them, I went for it, and The Renegades were born. We live in such a social media-hungry society, that fuels YouTube stars just like The Renegades, and my editor went along with me for the ride!
I’m so glad she did because The Renegades are yummy. Did you find this series easier or more difficult to write than the Flight & Glory series and why?
This series was infinitely harder. Flight & Glory was very personal to me as a military wife, especially since I’m married to an Apache pilot. I’m intimately acquainted with that world. The Renegades were harder because I had to research every port, every sport, and that meant hours spent reading and watching stunt videos on YouTube. Plus, the entire Renegades series happens over a short period of time, so everything had to be structured that fast.
Wow, that’s A LOT to take on. Immersing in extreme sports culture is a challenge with so many different sports to research, but you did it beautifully with The Renegades. How long have you been writing and when did you decide to seek publishing?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and wrote my first novella in high school as a project, but my serious writing started right after I graduated college during my husband’s third deployment. I wrote a page at night around 2 a.m., and when he came home from Afghanistan, I’d completed my first book. Then I went to Borders (yes, Borders) and bought Publishing for Dummies because I had NO idea what to do with that book.
I spent about a year polishing that book and querying, and 30 query letters later, was lucky to sign with my first agent.
Though that first book wasn’t picked up, my second book published as my debut about seven months after I finished writing it!
I think a lot of new writers can relate to, “I wrote a book. Now what?” I know I can. And figuring out the business of writing is a craft in itself. In the beginning of your publishing journey, did you struggle with any craft or process issues as a fledgling writer?
For me, it was structure. My first book was a super fun story, and to this day it’s my favorite, but the structure was awful. It took a while for me to grasp how to bring the reader along on the emotional roller coaster without taking them too low or too high, how to walk that edge while driving my plot. Good thing, structure is super easy to understand once you have someone explain it!
What’s the hardest thing about the writing process for you today and why?
Finding the time to write, honestly. We have six kids who take turns bringing the drama home. I do have my days relatively free while my kids are in school, since our youngest daughter is in full time ABA therapy for Autism, but even those hours are eaten up by school events, doctors, dentists, you name it, the kids can come up with it, lol! I write best at night when everyone is sleeping, but it tends to really mess with my sleep schedule, so for now, the hardest part is finding the time to dedicate to a closed office door.
Making writing a priority is hard enough without kids, I don’t know how you do it. Are there particular resources you use regularly or that make the process quicker for you?
I’m a huge fan of YouTube. Maybe it seems silly, but if I’m writing a book set in another location, it gives me a hands-on feel for the environment and the people.
YouTube is fabulous for getting your visual ducks in a row. What other advice would you give to the burgeoning romance writer about writing and/or the industry?
Hmmm….so many things!
In writing, I would say that there’s really no “want to.” There’s only “do.” Basically, get your butt in the seat and write, because you can’t edit or publish a blank page.
When it comes to the industry, the hardest part is to live your art, but be able to separate it from the business side.
That book might be your baby, but if you want to be successful, then it’s simply another work in a long line of works. You have to be able to look at your own projects with objectivity while still pouring your soul into them. Simple, right? Sometimes it is, and others, it’s not. But that ability separates the debuts from the veterans.
Publishing is a business first and foremost. Also, the notion that if I’m going to be a writer, I have to sit down and write is hitting home at the moment. Speaking of, can you tell us a little about what you’re working on next?
Sure! I’m working on my very first mass-market deal that we just announced a few weeks ago. It’s not publishing until 2019, which feels so far away! It’s a military romance about a soldier who falls in love with his battle buddy’s sister through their letters and returns after deployment to help her through her daughter’s cancer diagnosis. That’s just one of five books I’m writing this year, so it’s definitely a tight calendar!
Geez, woman, five books? That’s a huge amount to take on, and I thought NaNo was hard! Still, the premise sounds fascinating, and I’m always game for studs in uniform. Thank you again for joining us and sharing insight into your journey.
Thank you so very much for having me!
If you’d like to know more about The Renegades, the Flight & Glory series or her upcoming releases, you can find Rebecca at www.rebeccayarros.com, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Make sure you check out The Renegades series, or click on the cover to purchase Rebel, the final installment of The Renegades trilogy, today!
Feature image provided by Rebecca Yarros