Last month I picked Emily Williams‘ wonderful young adult book, Rafferty Lincoln Loves… as my Indie Book of The Month. Emily kindly agreed to an interview, so here she is answering questions about the inspiration behind the book, how it was researched and what to expect next from her!
1. Can you tell us where the idea for Rafferty Lincoln Loves…came from?
The idea for the novel came from wanting to write a novel about horses but one that appealed to an older audience. The main plotline involved the missing racehorse Profits Red Ridge, however, the character of Rafferty took over. I let the story lead me along as I was writing but had the overarching plotline drawn out beforehand. The character subplots led in all sorts of exciting directions!
The themes developed as I was writing. I knew high-school-years were always going to be difficult to write about and Rafferty Lincoln Loves… delves into some sensitive topics. I wanted to capture high school from the perspective of one student, Rafferty, but then him discovering what it would be like to experience high school from other circles.
2- Did you enjoy reading books about horses when you were a teenager?
I loved them! Although, I found it difficult to find many aimed at the older teen and so I read books for younger children. I wanted to fill that gap in the market by writing my own horsey novel aimed at older teens.
3-Did you have to do much research for this book and if so how did you do it?
There were parts of the novel that needed research and other parts that I used my own knowledge.
I had some input from a police officer friend and from a friend working in social services. I used quite a lot of my own horsey knowledge but had limited knowledge of racing, so these parts were researched. School life in the novel was based on my own experiences coupled with more modern day experiences with the invention of social media etc and how that affects children. I asked teenagers for their opinions on these aspects!
4- What do you hope young readers get from this book?
I hope they get a more modern day feel to the traditional horsey novel; more current and relevant to their lives. I hope the ending of the novel leaves them empowered about issues at school and how to resolve them and not let them fester.
5- Can you tell us what you are working on next?
I started a psychological thriller last year. It follows a high school girl revising for her exams and watching the house opposite whilst she studies, as new neighbours move in. It’s more an adult book than young adult despite the age of the characters. There are more mature and dark themes running through the novel. I am still trying to add my lighter element of humour too to break it up.
I am really enjoying writing the novel, but put it aside for a couple of months whilst I concentrated on the publication of Rafferty Lincoln Loves… I hope it’ll be released next year, along with another I have developing in the pipeline!
6- Were there any particular challenges in writing a YA book?
I hadn’t written a Young Adult novel before and was worried I’d find it very challenging. However, once the character of Rafferty was established, he took over and the book pretty much wrote itself. There were some tricky themes covered and I worried about covering these sensitively but with the frank openness of a teenager. I hope I managed that! I loved writing a novel involving horses and was very excited about the whole novel from start to finish.
7- What has been your approach to marketing Rafferty Lincoln Loves…?
Marketing is always tricky. I planned the marketing for the novel well in advance and gave out advance review copies early to get reader opinions. The novel has appeared in a couple of magazines and local papers. I hope to spread the message about the novel far and wide to support the charity.
All proceeds from the novel are being donated to, The British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre. The charities ambassador, Frankie Dettori MBE, has supported the book by writing the foreword and the charity themselves have been supportive in sharing the novel
8- What is your favourite YA book and why?
There are several that I love but my favourite is, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. It captures adolescence in a lighthearted manner but with gritty underlying themes.
9- Did you always know the ending for the book or did it change as you wrote it?
I had the ending in mind, however, one of the characters really came alive as I was writing so he had a larger part in the ending than I planned. It came together even better than I hoped it would and more emotional.
10-How did you write this book? What was the process like?
I start with a plot and then find suitable characters. The plot is always easier than finding unique characters that fit the story. The characters do lead the plot totally astray from what I originally planned but I’m okay with that. I sometimes gently bring them back to the main plot but let them have their own time. Often other themes I hadn’t anticipated arrive and make the novel better, deeper and more interesting. Themes of high school bullying and rumour spreading surfaces in Rafferty Lincoln Loves… which I hadn’t originally planned for.
I love the writing process and once I’m fully into a story, I whizz along really enjoying the writing. The early stages I find difficult like I am with the novel I am currently writing, but with Rafferty Lincoln Loves… I was submerged in the storyline very quickly.
Thank you so much for agreeing to an interview, Emily! Good luck with Rafferty Lincoln Loves… and I’m very much looking forward to your next novel!