Exclusive Interview with
Rae Elliott Williams
When did you start writing?
I empty nested unexpectedly when my 15 year old left home early to move to Boston to play Hockey. With all my free time and anxiety I started an expressive arts project. When I stopped writing 7 years later I had a series of 8 stories about the excitement of the individuation process from my children's point of view.
What makes writing your passion?
I love that I can write anything, anything that I want to happen I can make happen. I can adopt a million dogs, rescue injured birds or plant an amazing weed free garden that fairies would love to live in.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing in 2010. I have 8 stories in this series and a second series with 5 stories. I only have the one published.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
I was very excited, not yet aware of the struggles of selling.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
They are based on my children and the new friends they made when one went off to college and the other to a hockey school. I then sprinkled in my magical thinking and manifesting powers. I made them confront their personal power and take responsibility for their lives.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Selling your books. If you have no social media following, which lets admit most 60 year old average women do not, it is near impossible to sell books. Your publisher is not a sales expert.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
I just stop writing and get myself busy with gardening, painting or baking. I ride or ski or play a game. Then when I find my motivation again I go back to the beginning and re-read what I have written with the hopes that when I hit that last work I'll know where the next scene starts.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
At this point I have just let go of the story. They are fun and exciting but I don't have the knowledge to market it they way that I'd like to. So I just keep my eyes open for opportunities to promote it, things like this that I am capable of and keep plugging away. Plus what if tomorrow is the day, that big long awaited I Did It Moment and I quit today?
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Write it all down, every thought, every process that your life evolves through, you never know when you might want to go back and use some fine memory from your life.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
I don't get many and so far they are all good. My opinion is that not everyone can be pleased and you do what you're proud of and those that like your efforts will benefit and those that don't can search out something else.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
Again I don't have many but I guess it's motivating and makes you want to keep writing.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Absolutely. My stories are my way of processing the events of my life that were too anxiety producing to manage without some creative expression. I emote on paper, or at the key board these days.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
In my second series there is a wise old women who adopts pets, helps lost children and bakes like a dream.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
It is what draws the reader in. They see that cover and pick it up because it looks interesting. I told my illustrator that I wanted her to paint a picture that made children want to dive into the art work, peek into the little hole in the tree and turn over that really cool rock.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I like talking to them, getting ideas, bouncing ideas off them. Like what powers should fairies have? Do you think that they could use a string of Christmas lights to warm up their tea?
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
It feels nice when others recognize your work but I'm not recognized for my work at this point.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
I have so many. I love writers who write series because I can always look forward to the next one. (Louise Penny) I like authors that challenge my vocabulary. (Elizabeth Peters) I like authors that can write interesting stories without making me feel anxious. (Jan Karon)
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
I'd like this story, Matilda Blows Into Town to sell well enough that the whole series of 8 gets published. I'd like the older sibs of all those readers to look and find my second series which is longer a bit more edgy and for that to sell well enough for my publisher to want to publish those as well. So any author who sells enough that they can keep publishing.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
I rewrite them often. Each time I go into write after a hiatus I will start at the beginning and read through and edit as I go. I live in New England so summer is short, I tend to stop writing in the summer and start up again in the fall. I look for opportunities to tie in story lines, or to add snippets of places my characters could learn lessons. I try to keep my stories free of anxiety because I really believe that children today have way too much anxiety to manage. So I'm always looking to find ways to increase the excitement and fun but not adding anxiety.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
I'm pretty happy being me. I have a great life and even though my book isn't selling I wouldn't trade the rest of my life for better sales. I'm pretty trusting that my life will be what I make of it and I intend to make it successful.
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
Creating havoc, hating, judging, all these things create negative feelings for the person. If you judge another you feel angry, frustrated, fear, disgust, confusion, disappointment. These are not feelings that any of us should want to cultivate. So find things to do that cultivate feelings of joy, love, peace, fun and relaxation.
What would you say to your readers?
I hope you love reading these stories as much as I love writing them. And Thank you in advance!
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I live in Vermont. I have 2 children, chickens, horses, cats, dogs, sometimes turkeys. I married my college sweat heart. I spent 20 years as a therapist working with people with mental health issues. All that history lead me to writing stories about the process of individuation and taking responsibility for ones life.
What is your day job if you have one?
I'm still working as a Recreational Therapist but now at a Senior Residence where I plan activities to help keep seniors active and well rounded.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I love art, sometimes I do expressive art but other time art for beauty. I garden, cook, bake and read. I love to play field hockey, pickle ball and most games. I ride horses, boat, hike, scuba dive and love to entertain.
Did you have a happy childhood?
Yes I was lucky, I grew up in a solid middle class family where I never wanted for anything. We were loved and cared for and had many opportunities. My mom's primary language is Spanish and I got to visit Mexico each summer from age 12-18. Which was an amazing experience.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
The year my son left for college I had done everything I could do to ensure that both he and I were ready for this step. We did all of his college visits with him. He spent a summer in Mexico teaching English to orphans and navigating his way around a major foreign city on his own. I was ready for him to go. But one month after he left for college his 15 year old sister was offered the opportunity to move to Boston to play Junior level hockey. We didn't every want to hear her say, "I wonder how far I could have gone if my parents had let me go to Boston." So we let her go and I was all of a sudden empty nesting. I had so much anxiety. So being an expressive arts therapist I knew I needed to create while I emoted. These stories are the result.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
Of this first series only the first book is published. There are 7 more about how the fairies come to learn how to accept responsibility for their decisions and futures. As they become adept at that they start to learn that they can help humanity turn things around, both with the environment and human rights. The second series is a bit grittier. It is about a magic book that tells you what it is you need to hear. It finds it's way into the hands of struggling young adults who need some help and support with their current life challenges.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
How to take responsibility for themselves. We blame so much in our culture. How to believe that they can create the life they want. How to cope with difficult feelings and life events. Developing cope skills is a huge deficit. I like to use vocabulary that is a bit of a reach because a good handle on our language is vital to clear expression. And ways to build self esteem and self acceptance I think is vitally important.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
For everyone to find the value in the saying Live and Let Live. Acceptance of others would cure so much of what I see wrong in our world.
I'd wish to be comfortable in all areas of my life, spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially, socially.
And I'd love my book to start selling so that I can pursue the whole series being published.
What is your favorite music?
I like music that have lyrics that mean something and that I can belt out when I'm alone in my car. Adele, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Train, Five for Fighting and Dixie Chix comes to mind, but I love the oldies to. Cat Stevens, Hootie, Hoyt Axton, The Stones
Share a secret with us 🙂
I believe that I can be a successful author. When I first started writing it was an exercise in self expression. I didn't intend to publish it, I just wanted an outlet for my feelings. But once I decided to try to get published I decided that I had to start thinking about myself as a author. I'm working on it and when I finally comfortably say, I'm an author, I'll soon be saying I'm a best selling, award winning author.