Today I warmly welcome Rachel Nightingale, author of the Tales of Tarya series, to Behind the Pen with a few of her favourites. Over to you Rachel!
What is your favourite…and why…
Character from one of your books?
My favourite character has to be Luka. One of the reasons I wrote this series of books is that I fell in love with Pierrot when I was very young. He is the sad clown of the Commedia dell’Arte, the travelling players. He longs for the love of Columbine and that longing is at the heart of who he is. I think longing is such a sad, beautiful emotion and I really wanted to create a real person based on the Pierrot persona. At the same time I wanted to create a very different kind of a male hero – sensitive, quiet, someone who uses his heart and his intelligence to make a difference. Of course I was going to fall in love with him in the process!
Scene from one of your books?
I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you! The problem with talking about any particular scene is that it will involve spoilers, since I’m writing the third book at the moment. What I can say is that I’m a very visual writer – I can picture things very clearly in my head as I get them on the page, and I’ve had readers tell me they get really clear pictures when they’re reading the scenes, so hopefully my visions become theirs! Related to that, writing a series of books where masks play a crucial role in the storytelling means I get to come up with some pretty intense imagery around wearing and using masks, so they’re the scenes I really enjoy. Masks can be deceptive, they can change identity and there is something fascinating about them. It’s a lot of fun to create scenes using them.
Movie of all time?
It has to be The Princess Bride. Perfectly scripted, beautifully acted, a fantasy story that doesn’t take it seriously. So, so funny. When it first came out I saw it at the cinema with my brother. The rest of the cinema was all families with children, and they were enjoying it, but my brother and I were laughing our heads off because it was so witty. The sword fight scene has to be the best one ever made for a movie. They trained for months to be able to do it, and watching it again you can see it’s really them – their faces are evident throughout. And of course Princess Buttercup’s costumes are gorgeous. I’m not surprised she grew up to become a kick-butt general in Wonder Woman. I hope my heroine, Mina, is in the Princess Buttercup mould. She definitely speaks out in the same way for what is right.
Book that you always keep a copy of and recommend to others?
Sorry, I’m going to get serious for a moment here. That would have to be The Chalice and the Blade, by Riane Eisler. I don’t understand why it’s not required reading for everyone. It talks about the difference between dominator cultures and partnership cultures, and re-examines what we know about history. Our culture is very much about certain people being at the top and imposing their will on others, through patriarchy, colonialism, racism and a bunch of other isms, but Eisler shows that this hasn’t always been the case and that there are other ways society can work. It’s a very positive, hopeful perspective to take. I wish it was better known.
Fashion accessory that despite having plenty of, you still keep collecting?
Just recently my scarves seem to be breeding. I taught in Hanoi (Vietnam) six times, and one of the best things to buy there is silk, so I ended up being gifted several, and buying several more. But I’m a bit of a fabricaholic too, so when I see a scarf in beautiful colours at an op shop I can’t help myself. Luckily they don’t take up much room. Now I need to find an artistic way to display them because they’re so pretty!
Drink that you enjoy everyday?
I’ve given up coffee, which I never, ever thought I’d be able to do. I don’t know if that means I can’t call myself a real writer now, because I know traditionally writers are fueled by coffee. But I have found some of Tea Too’s super-indulgent teas like Crème Brulee and Terrific Toffee, and they definitely hit the spot.
Treat you indulge in?
Once a fortnight I take myself off to the café for a unicorn cupcake, or at least cake with rainbow icing. I love buttercream icing, and I love rainbows, so it’s the perfect combination really. And I figure as a fantasy writer I can’t just eat ordinary biscuits or cakes. I post a regular rainbow cake picture on Instagram, and then force myself to eat the cake. It’s a burden, but I’m willing to suffer for my art.
Place to be?
Sitting in a café with a cuppa and a cupcake, preferably with a beautiful view out the window, while I work on my novel. My idea of total heaven. I know some people are seaside people and others love forests. I love both, so I don’t care what the view is as long as it gives me the chance to write with nature just a short glance away.
Person you admire?
That would be Tudor author Wendy J. Dunn. She is the most amazing mentor to other writers. She has such a generous heart. So much of what she does is about uplifting others. She has encouraged me so often when I have felt like giving up, sent me links to opportunities and competitions, read my work… She taught me the importance of being part of a community as a writer. On top of that Wendy writes wonderful books that let me lose myself in Tudor times for a while.
Season of the year?
I love autumn because it’s such a cool relief after the heat of the Australian summer, but I also love spring, when everything starts to come to life again. Summer and winter seem so long where I live, but those seasons of transition, which remind you that the world keeps turning and that change will come, they’re special to me.
More About Rachel:
Rachel Nightingale was a highly imaginative child who used to pretend she was a gypsy wandering the woods on her way home from school. Once she realised creating stories gave her magical powers she decided to become a writer. Some years, and many diversions later, she is the author of Harlequin’s Riddle, published by Odyssey Books, and also, rather unexpectedly, an award winning playwright. Columbine’s Tale, the sequel to Harlequin, will be released in September 2018 and she is currently writing the final book of trilogy, which by complete coincidence is about the power of creativity to shape the world, whilst desperately trying to ignore all the other stories clamouring for her attention. She lives in regional Victoria with a very bossy cat, her family, and the cutest dog in the world.
The Tarya Trilogy is about the power of creativity and where it can take you. It was inspired by a quote by Broadway actor Alan Cumming about that in-between place you discover just before you step onstage and enter a different world – a place where anything is possible…
Connect with Rachel:
Harlequin’s Riddle (released 17 June 2017)
Columbine’s Tale (released 15 September 2018)