I’m really excited for you to meet Rebecca Reid! She wrote the psychological thriller, The Coop, and it is hands down one of the BEST books I read in 2012. If you’ve never read a thriller or are thinking of trying a new genre, do look into The Coop. I reviewed it here.
Q. Many of our readers are not familiar with you and your work, so tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a wife, a mum, and a writer. Wife, some of the time. Mum, all of the time and writer for twelve hours a week. Not to mention, housemaid, chef and dog walker.
Q. What’s your writing process? Some authors like to write dialogue first then go back to stage it, while others do a combination of both.
My process is simple; I get an idea or a vision, let it brood a little until the urge to write hits me and then I sit down and see what happens. I know very little of the story before the words hit the page.
Q. What part of the writing process is the hardest for you, whether it’s first draft, rewriting, or editing?
Oh it has to be rewriting. I am not sure if all authors are the same, but I seem to find it impossible to throw any bits away or even change them. Once they’re written, they are part of something bigger and I think they need to stay there. I can be quite stubborn when I want to be.
Q. Initially, The Coop was conceived as one book. What made you decide to make into a trilogy?
I felt there was more. I could feel it as The Coop progressed. It became very clear to me that the character greeting you at the beginning of every chapter, whom I refer to as ‘the girl in the room’, had a story that needed to be told.
Q. Where did you get the inspiration for The Coop? What was it like writing it?
I always find that a difficult question. To me, any inspiration was entirely subconscious, it just grew, became alive as the words appeared on the page. I had a feeling inside that I projected onto paper, as it was captured, it became The Coop and of course the rest of the Thickets Wood Trilogy.
Writing it was utterly fantastic, frustrating, scary, emotional. I think it hit every nerve and sense as it churned itself into a manuscript. It can be difficult though. I think the hardest part of being a writer and also a parent is dealing with the explosions in my head, I could be knee deep in nappies and whole paragraphs or chapters would just pop into my mind. I would find myself scrawling on anything I could get my hands on, although I am yet to make notes on my baby’s bare bottom.
Q. Can you tell us a little about book 2? When can we expect its release?
Book 2 is ‘Thickets Wood’. I must say, I get very excited talking about it, I can’t say why of course but I can tell you this…….
There are two parallel storylines; one follows ’the girl in the room’ as she works through her past, while the other sees Howard and Lilly take you deeper into Thatchbury village. Is it true what they say about Thickets Wood? Tommy Tinkit is about to find out……..
I am hoping to release it around March/April 2013, I think it is important to have them staggered, give The Coop some time to gain a little interest
Q. A tree stands out in Thicket’s Wood and it’s what I call the life/death tree because a lot of what happens in the lives of the villagers is commemorated there. What inspired you to include such a tree?
I wanted there to be something symbolic in the village, something that the villagers used to visually project their emotions onto. It seemed beautiful to me, the concept of such outward expression. Beautiful and sad.
Q. Which character in the first book has been the most challenging to write and why? Did it change for the remaining two books?
Probably ‘the girl in the room’, because the more I wrote her the more of her personality and past I saw, however I had to fight the temptation to put any of it on paper. She had to remain hidden. Almost mute. It was difficult to not let her develop. This was entirely different of course for Book 2, it was as though I had been suffocated and could finally breath; she simply exploded onto the page.
Q. Was it difficult to write two running POVs in The Coop? We have the girl in the room (which later we find out who she is) and then we have the POV of Thatchbury villagers. Were you worried it may confuse some readers?
I didn’t find it difficult at all because during the process of writing, you become your characters, so in writing the openings, I was in one character and in writing the rest I became them; therefore I slipped in and out quite easily. From a readers perspective I didn’t worry at all, not at first. At first it just felt right – I think it is difficult to judge anything during a moment of creation, I simply went with what I felt I had to do. It was later when I went back for a re-read that it occurred to me it may be difficult to adjust to. But as I said, I can be stubborn and I thought it was an important part of the novel to have two very differing perspectives and atmospheres.
Q. Howard becomes a character that will resonate with readers because he’s there for Jodie and helps save her. Can you tell us a little more about him? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Will we see more of him in the remaining two books?
You will certainly see more of him in book 2. Howard, for me, symbolizes all the qualities a woman would want from a male in her life. He is protective, yet caring. He is considerate yet entirely realistic. For most women there is something familiar and loving about a man of few words. Although his tendency to portray his emotions through actions rather than voice them can be somewhat irritating at times. At this point, I do not see his weaknesses; he is a good man.
Q. What can you can tell us about Lilly? Can you tell us more about her without giving spoilers?
Like all of us, she has her strengths and weaknesses, some brought on by past, some by present. She utilizes these in ways she herself does not realize. She is everything you want her to be and more.
Q. Let’s talk for a moment about the ending and what a cliffhanger you gave us! I, myself, reread that chapter a few times. While writing did you anticipate the ending? Especially after you decided to make it into a trilogy?
About half way through the writing process, I knew what the ending had to be. There was a point when I had to make a serious decision about what I could and could not portray to the readers; it was then that it really hit home where the story was leading me. However it wasn’t until I reached that final point myself that it all unraveled. It was with writing those very final passages that I knew the story had to progress, that I truly decided on book 2.
Q. Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to walk away with? If so, what is it?
Nothing is ever quite as it seems.
Q. I know the elements of weather / land can be quite spooky and yet breathtaking especially in Northern Ireland. How much did the elements influence The Coop?
Oh, massively. It is strange you ask that, because I find I write much better in the autumn, winter months and I know that is entirely due to the weather. The colder, wetter, windier it is, the deeper I go.
Q. Village life is very important and central to Thatchbury. Did you base Thatchbury on a real place?
No, not particularly. I simply thought of village/country life and drew on what I felt.
Q. You write using such vivid imagery. When Mattie was being emotionally abused by his grandparents, I could feel it, Jodie’s withdrawal I felt deep inside myself. Was it difficult writing particular scenes? At any moment did you have distance yourself from some of the emotional elements?
Yes, very much. There are some scenes that even now, I myself get goose bumps when I read over them, like the chase in the woods but perhaps the hardest part for me to both write and read is that of Jodie. I think as a mother it hits very hard.
Q. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in The Coop?
Is it terrible if I say no? No.
Q. Do you have a favorite chapter or part in The Coop?
That is such a difficult question. If I really had to pick? One of the chapters with Mathew. He was such a beautiful character to form.
Q. Is there a question you’d love someone to ask you, but they haven’t? If so, what is it, and how would you answer it?
After this interview, I would have to say no. You have done a fantastic job of reaching into the heart of The Coop (without giving anything away, which is difficult.)
Q. You mentioned you tried going the traditional route, but publishers weren’t willing to take a chance on an unknown when the publishing market was changing. What’s been the most challenging aspect of going in the indie route? What’s been the most rewarding?
I think perhaps the hardest aspect of self-publishing is the promotional side of things. You are constantly fighting against a tidal wave of other authors and publishers to get your book noticed. I really had no idea just how difficult or time consuming it would be.
The most rewarding thing has to be the one on one interaction with your readers. It is so fantastic to speak to people who have read you novel and adored it. To get their feedback, their opinions and theories. Nothing could replace that.
1. Late night or early morning?
2. Favorite TV show?
The Wonder Years.
3. Favorite Superhero?
It has to be Batman.
4. Book or movie?
I have to say movie because it is a welcome inspiration.
5. Favorite drink (alcohol counts)?
A southside – a must have every Saturday night.
6. Favorite season and why?
Autumn because of the beautiful colours and the promise of winter ahead.
7. Superpower you wish you had?
Rebecca Reid was withdrawn from school due to illness at fourteen. Being limited in the things she was able to do, she wrote all the time − poetry, stories, feelings, thoughts. At 16 she had her own page in the local weekly newspaper, the Bangor Spectator, in which she covered anything and everything: fashion, beauty, film, teen issues etc. At 17 she became a model, doing catwalk, photographic work, and TV. In 2008 she graduated in English from Queens University, Belfast, and she was awarded an Arts Council writing grant in 2009. Married in 2007, she lives in N. Ireland with her husband and their three daughters. The Coop is her first novel, and part of the Thickets Wood Trilogy.