Interview with Rachel Rossano
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
It isn’t really a pilgrimage, but while my husband and I were visiting Frankemuth, Michigan for our anniversary, I asked to visit the local brewing museum. To fully understand how strange a request this is, one would need to know that my husband and I don’t consume alcohol. However, one of my characters in an upcoming book runs a tavern and brews her own mead. I had been researching medieval brewing techniques and was curious if I could glean any interesting information from it for my book. It was an interesting and unique experience. I enjoyed it and learned a bit more about the brewing process than I knew before going. In the end, we purchased a book on beer brewing for my uncle since he makes his own beer.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
My characters usually start out with a moment of inspiration like thinking about what it was like being a single mother in the medieval period. Or they come by wondering things like how would a moneylender’s son who didn’t know a trade survive if he didn’t want to go into the family business.
Many of my male leads in the Novels of Rhynan series tend to appear in the previous books of the series. Dentin from Honor first shows up in Duty. Wilard first appears in Honor before he started his own adventures in Mercy. The hero for my next novel in the series started out as a nameless stranger in Mercy.
Once I have a name or an inspiration, I start building a backstory, family of relationships, and begin piecing together their personality. However, nothing is set in stone until the book is written because I have had characters surprise me with strange things like a son or a history with another character.
On rare occasions, characters come alive before they have a name or backstory. Those are sometimes the most fun to write because they develop as they appear on the page. However, they are also the hardest to write because I am constantly having to reference back to what I have already written to keep the characters consistent.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
While in the character development stage, I tend to research my characters’ jobs and lives more than anything else. As I plot, if I come across a situation that I don’t think I know enough about how things were done in the medieval period, I will spend time researching what I need to write the scene.
I have enjoyed researching a wide variety of subjects for my books like, medieval painting, bookbinding, illumination, beer making, apothecaries, paint ingredients that could be poisonous, medieval taverns, travel, horses, and much more. Not everything ends up in the book, but I can build a richer world with all the details in my head and notes.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I keep multiple book projects going at the same time. While I am writing one, I am editing another, and brainstorming/plotting a third and fourth. However, I rarely spend time writing two books at a time. It gets too hard to keep everything straight and the characters consistent if I do that. I also lose writing time if I have to switch between projects in the writing stage. Each switch would require back reading and getting my head in the current project.
Pen or type writer or computer?
I am definitely a computer writer. I tried handwriting early on and quickly grew frustrated because I couldn’t keep up with the ideas as they went through my head. Computers also offer the advantage of being able to edit as you go without erasing or crossing out and making the page messy. However, if an idea is good and I don’t have my laptop nearby, pen and paper is definitely a solid standby.
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