Meet Rachel Griffin.
Rachel Griffin is the author of the upcoming The Nature of Witches, releasing from Sourcebooks Fire in 2021, with a second standalone novel to follow in 2022. When she isn’t writing, you can find her wandering the Pacific Northwest, reading by the fire, or drinking copious amounts of coffee and tea. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband, dog, and growing collection of houseplants.
Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi Rae! Thank you so much for having me. I’m the author of the upcoming The Nature of Witches, releasing from Sourcebooks Fire on June 1, 2021, with a second standalone novel to follow in 2022. I love to write stories inspired by the magic of the world around me.
I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and have a deep love of nature, from the mountains to the ocean and all the towering evergreens in between. I adore moody skies and thunderstorms and hope that more vampires settle down in my beloved state of Washington.
On my path to writing novels, I graduated from Seattle University with a Bachelor of Science in diagnostic ultrasound. I worked in healthcare for five years and taught ultrasound at my alma mater before making the switch to a small startup. I’ve been mentoring in Pitch Wars since 2017 and now write full-time from my home in the Seattle area.
When I’m not writing, you can find me wandering the PNW, reading by the fire, or drinking copious amounts of coffee and tea. I live with my husband, small dog, and growing collection of houseplants.
From sonographer to PR and social media to full-time writer. How has your background and the experiences you’ve gotten to have influenced you as a writer? Has it helped with goal keeping? Time management? Networking?
Absolutely! Practicing ultrasound meant I was with patients during some of their happiest moments, as well as some of their worst. And being with people when they receive either wonderful or devastating news certainly impacts how I tell stories and write those kinds of moments. It was a tough job, but I’m thankful for the connections I made during that time.
I thought I’d be amazing at time management when I started writing full-time because I was so used to cramming my writing in on evenings and weekends, but it was actually the reverse! It was so easy to procrastinate and not get any work done when I knew I had a full eight hours to write, so I had to develop a strict routine in order to get words on the page. I’m very dependent upon my planner, and I schedule my days out consistently to make sure I’m being as productive as I need to be.
How many drafts did your debut, The Nature of Witches, go through before being seen by an outside reader that wasn’t a family member, significant other, or close friend?
I drafted the book on my own, then did one revision before sharing it with critique partners. And even then, I only shared it with people I have a ton of trust in. I’m very private with my early work, and it’s important to me that I share it with people who I know will give me constructive feedback and try to see the story for what I want it to be.
After that, I did another round of revision, then I sent out it more broadly. For me, I know it’s imperative to my creative process to protect my early work, so that’s how I do it!
Magic and nature – how closely do you believe they are linked and how has that viewpoint/belief shaped your debut?
In many ways, I think nature is almost indistinguishable from magic, and that informed by debut a ton. Nature, weather, the Earth, so much of it feels like magic already, so it was easy for me to turn that up and imagine it as an expressly magical thing. I absolutely loved coming up with the magic system and imagining what kind of power and temperament each season would have—it was one of my favorite parts of writing this book!
If you and your main character Clara were sitting drinking tea and watching a thunderstorm, what would be a secret she might share with you? Or perhaps you with her?
I love this question! I think she’d share her fears about being “too much”; too sensitive, too emotional, too in her head. I share those same fears, so I think we’d really relate to one another and be able to curl up and assure the other that they aren’t too much of anything. We’d feel seen and understood, and hopefully we’d both walk away from that conversation reevaluating if the things we see as weaknesses are actually strengths instead.
From the first draft till now, what was the biggest bump on your publishing road so far?
It was definitely my querying journey with this book. For those of you who don’t know, querying is when you send your manuscript to literary agents in hopes of finding someone to represent your work. Then your agent is the one to submit your book to publishers. (This is how it works for traditional publishing, anyway! Self-publishing follows a different process.)
I parted ways with my first agent a couple months before I finished this book, so I had to query again. My first time querying only took me about a month to find representation (even though that book didn’t sell), but it took me almost a year to find representation for The Nature of Witches. I did two large revisions in that time and received a lot of rejections before signing with my current agent. It was so hard at the time, but the revisions I did made the book so much stronger, and I’m really thankful for how it worked out; I love my agent and she’s an incredible champion for my career. It just took a while to find her!
If you could go back and change anything that you had done from starting that first draft to now, what would you change? What would be something you tell yourself?
The book changed so much from the first draft to the final product! In the first draft, there weren’t witches; there were people called “seasonaries” who had a special connection to the weather, but no real magic. After I made the change to witches, there were several things I avoided doing in the manuscript because they were a lot of work and I was sick of revising, so I just didn’t do them and hoped no one would notice. 😂 But they were changes that made the book so much stronger, and when I finally did them, they took the manuscript to the next level. So I’d tell myself to just sit down and put in the work, because the book will be so much better for it.
Real life vs. Writing: What is your daily writing routine? Do you write all day? Only when inspiration strikes?
I rely very heavily upon my routine to keep me productive! I write Monday through Friday and tend to do administrative tasks in the mornings; then I write in the afternoons because that’s when I’m most productive. I’m a firm believer that most books get written not in bouts of intense inspiration but in the routine of sitting down and doing the work, even when we aren’t feeling inspired. If I only wrote when I felt inspired, I’d never finish a book!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
The Nature of Witches holds so much of my heart, and I’m so excited to share it with you! It’s a love letter to the Earth, and it contains so much of my awe for the natural world. But it also shows how change can be a beautiful thing, follows a girl learning to love herself, and includes a romance that explores what it feels like to fall in love with someone who sees you exactly as you want to be seen, all themes that are deeply important to me. It releases on June 1st, and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world!