Author Interview: Cheryl Rainfield
Hello, my lovely readers. Today I have the honor of introducing the amazing Cheryl Rainfield, author of the Young Adult Dystopian Paranormal Fantasy book Hunted. If you would like to check out my review of Hunted or enter a giveaway to win both Hunted and Scars, which is also written by Rainfield, just click here. I had the opportunity to ask Rainfiled some probing questions about her books and her life. And I have to say, she is one interesting woman.
Jennifer: For those who have yet to read your book, can you tell us a little about Hunted?
Cheryl: In HUNTED, Caitlyn is a telepath in a world where having any Paranormal power is illegal, so she’s on the run from government troopers. The troopers can torture her, enslave her, even kill her if they catch her, or force her to hunt down other people with Paranormal powers. When Caitlyn and her mom settle down in a city, Caitlyn falls for Alex, a Normal (someone without any Paranormal powers), which is dangerous because if he figures out she has powers he can turn her in. She also stumbles over a group of renegade Paranormals who want to kill all the Normals–including Alex. This forces Caitlyn to have to decide–is she going to stay in hiding to protect herself, or is she going to take a stand to save everyone around her?
Jennifer: I have just started reading dystopian novels, and I have to say, I am really enjoying the many different takes on dystopain worlds. How did you come up with the concept and world of Hunted?
Cheryl: For me, the world in HUNTED isn’t that far off from the world we live in; there is a lot of oppression around us. So many people hate or fear others who are different than them, and that is what I show in HUNTED. The world in HUNTED is also very close to the world I grew up in (though not as bad). I’m a ritual abuse survivor; my parents were part of interconnected cults, and they tortured me for years. For me, HUNTED is like an analogy of cults or cult-like groups who oppress. I also deal with homophobia and racism in the book, though I don’t do it in a slam-you-over-the-head way; I wrote HUNTED to be an entertaining read, an adrenalin rush.
Jennifer: Can you share with us three surprising facts about yourself?
Cheryl: My parents murdered other children and tortured me–yet I still believe in the good in many people. Books are part of what helped me believe in the good in people.
I write and edit all my novels by hand, even though I love computers, tech gadgets, and am on the computer a lot. I find that writing by hand is, for me, more connected to my creativity and inner voice.
I didn’t know or experience real happiness until only a few years ago. Getting my first book, SCARS, published was one of the happiest and most healing experiences of my life.
Jennifer: Can you tell us a little about your experience in getting published? Any advice for those who are currently trying to get published?
Cheryl: It took me a long time to get published–more than ten years of editing and rewriting and submitting my first book SCARS to editors and agents before it was accepted for publication. The last few years of rejections, when I was close to being published but wasn’t yet published, I felt despairing and hopeless and sometimes wanted to give up. I’m glad I didn’t. I’m so happy now to be published and to have my books reaching people!
If getting published is your dream, don’t give up. Keep polishing your work; studying writing technique (I read a lot of books on writing technique, and still do); get feedback from a good critique group (if you don’t have one in your area, you can find one online); and keep submitting your work. Try to really research who you send your work to, too; you are so much more likely to get published if you send your work to someone who likes the kind of writing you do. Believe in yourself, trust yourself, and don’t give up.
Jennifer: I really enjoyed your wide array of characters in Hunted. How do you come up with your character’s personalities and traits? Do you base any of them off yourself or people you know or are they purely from scratch?
Cheryl: I always put a lot of myself into the main characters in my books; this is especially true of Caitlyn in HUNTED (and Kendra in SCARS). I’ve always had a strong sense of justice and a need to help others, like Caitlyn, and I often got tortured as a child and teen for being who I really was and for trying to help others, again a bit like Caitlyn. I draw on many of the things I care about most when I write my main characters and the novel itself.
For the other characters, I often drawn on people who’ve had an impact on me, and mix them with creativity and fiction. So there are bits of some people who’ve hurt me or helped me in other characters. Netta, the Normal who is Caitlyn’s Underground contact, who tries to help Caitlyn and other Paranormals get safe at risk to herself, was in part drawn from a librarian I had in middle school who was an incredible support for me. I used her differently colored eyes, enhances her Scottish accent, and drew on her kindness and compassion.
Jennifer: What were the best and most challenging parts of writing Hunted?
Cheryl: I loved writing about a character with Paranormal powers. I used to want telepathy (to know when my abusers were going to hurt me so I could escape it), and I read many books I loved with characters who had paranormal powers, especially books by Lois Duncan. So it was fun and satisfying to write my own. But at times it was hard to write, because I drew on my abuse and trauma experience and deep emotions to bring a deeper level to the book.
Jennifer: If Hunted were being made into a movie, who do you imagine playing your main characters?
Cheryl: I don’t know a lot of actors–I wasn’t allowed to watch much TV or see many movies growing up, and I still read a lot more than I watch movies or shows–but I did research actors for the way my characters look, and I found some that were visual inspirations:
Caitlyn: Melanie Diaz as she looks here:
BUT with the character Shane’s hair from the L Word, played by Katherine Moennig:
Alex (Caitlyn’s love interest): Percy Daggs III as he looks here:
or Corbin Bleu as he looks here:
Rachel (Caitlyn’s best friend): Alice Braga as she looks here:
Caitlyn’s Mom: Lauren Graham and I could picture her in the role:
Daniel, Caitlyn’s brother: Jamie Bell as he looks here:
Mrs. Vespa, the librarian: Tyne Daly was my visual inspiration AND I could picture her in the role:
Jennifer: What kind of books do you like to read and who are your favorite authors?
Cheryl: I love to read both realistic YA and children’s fiction (for validation and to know I’m not alone) and YA and children’s fantasy and magic (to dream, and hope). I also enjoy some adult suspense (it feels like what I know, what I lived), and picture books (they help me dream and feel more positive). Some of my favorite authors are: YA fantasy: Lois Duncan; Beth Revis; Tamora Pierce
YA realistic: Ellen Hopkins; Cynthia Voigt; Laurie Halse Anderson
Picture Books: David Wiesner; John Himmelman; Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin; Crockett Johnson
Adult suspense: Dick Francis, Harlan Corben
Jennifer: The ending of Hunted made me want to cry and scream out in joy. But I have to ask, is this the end of the story or can we expect a series of books to follow?
Cheryl: I’m glad to hear it! I’ve had a lot of people ask me that. I have a sequel planned, and possibly another one after that, and I’m about 2/3 of the way through a first draft of the sequel–but then I’ll need to edit it a number of times before it’s ready to send out to my literary agent for a look. I’m also working on another edgy YA that comes out in 2013 from Harcourt–STAINED–about a girl with a port wine stain who gets abducted and who must find a way to rescue herself–as well as another edgy YA I’m still in the editing-before-I-let-my-agent-see-it stage. I’d like to get another HUNTED-related book out! I love that world and the characters.
Jennifer: I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. I hope you had as much fun answering the questions as I did making them up. Is there anything else you would like to mention to my readers before we part ways?
Cheryl: Thank you! I really appreciate the questions you asked and your being a part of this tour for HUNTED. I have a lot of freebies for HUNTED (click for freebies) that I hope readers will check out, including a free short story ebook that ties into HUNTED, a teacher’s guide, a book trailer, bonus materials, and much more.
I also hope that if readers like HUNTED, they’ll consider “liking” it on Amazon, or writing a short review. It helps to get the word out about the book even more. But most of all, I hope they’ll be entertained and find themselves pulled into Caitlyn’s world!
Books saved me. I’m an incest survivor and a ritual abuse survivor–my parents were part of cults. I really don’t think I could have survived the abuse and torture if I hadn’t had books. Fantasy books to help me escape the world I lived in, and realistic novels to know that I wasn’t alone. And all books to help me dream and hope. I love books so much! They nurtured me, become friends, helped me believe in the good of people.
So it gives me great joy to write my own books now. My abusers told me repeatedly that I’d never succeed at anything, and that on one would ever listen to me or believe me. But now, with my books being published and reaching people, their lies have been proven wrong. And that feels good! It also feels so good to hear from readers. I love hearing that once a reader picks up one of my books they can’t put it down. I think that means that something is resonating with them.
Some writers and book people say that there shouldn’t be a message in a book. But I don’t think you can write anything without it reflecting, in some way, your world view. It’s really important to me to make a positive, healing difference, and books are my way to do that. But I don’t slam people over the head with the messages; I weave what I want and need to say into the story, making it an integral part. And I make sure that my books are entertaining, full of tension and suspense, so that my books will reach people.
I draw on my abuse and trauma experience when I write my books, as well as my emotional truths and some of my values. I feel like I pour bits of my soul into the pages. I did that with SCARS, and I did that again with HUNTED. For me, HUNTED is an analogy of cults or cult-like groups who oppress, though not every reader will get that. I also deal with homophobia and racism and bullying. What I hope readers will get is that it’s important to be yourself, to take a stand against oppression when you can, and to do what feels right and good for you. And I hope that readers will find themselves entertained and moved, just the way I have been by so many good books.
I want to thank Cheryl for taking the time to provide me with such a great interview and touching guest post that really opened my eyes. I wish her all the success and happeness in the future. Don’t forget to check out my review/giveaway I posted yesterday for the Hunted Blog Tour and the review/giveaway tomorrow by Synchronized Reading.
Caitlyn is a telepath in a world where having any Paranormal power is illegal. Caitlyn is on the run from government troopers, who can enslave, torture, or even kill her, or make her hunt other Paranormals. When Caitlyn settles down in a city, she falls for Alex, a Normal (someone without Paranormal powers), which is dangerous because he can turn her in. And she discovers renegade Paranormals who want to destroy all Normals. Caitlyn must decide whether she’s going to stay in hiding to protect herself, or take a stand to save the world.