Friday, September 18, 2009

I Need Friends Friday: Rachel Rossano

It's that time of the week:

(Every Friday I interview a different person and share that interview with you. Perhaps they will be a fellow author. Perhaps one of my neighbors. Maybe the bagger at the grocery store. A member of my family. A follower of this blog. Maybe it will be you! Hey, it could happen.)

Today's friend is author Rachel Rossano. Rachel can be found at Her books are available at And, I get bonus points for today's interview because, for the first time since beginning I Need Friends Friday, I am interviewing someone I have never met before. Suh-weet!!

Time to make a friend!

SME: Welcome to INFF!

Rachel: Thank you

SME: I thought, since you're an author, I'd ask you a few questions that delve deep into the life of a writer.

Rachel: Sounds good. So, what do you want to know?

SME: I, personally, require empty calories when I write. Do you have a favorite "writing food"?

Rachel: I like fries, Subway sandwiches, or chips best. Chocolate is always good.

SME: Okay, gotta ask: dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

Rachel: Milk! I love my sugar.

SME: While there are no "correct" answers on INFF, milk chocolate is the correct answer.
Okay, next insightful authorifying question: I once wrote an entire chapter of a book at the post office while waiting for my husband to bring me the spare keys because I'd locked myself out of my car. Where is the strangest place you've written?

Rachel: Hmm . . . I guess the tablecloth at a resturant would be the winner. The tablecloth was paper.

SME: Okay. I essentially had a heartattack until you said the tablecloth was paper. Hahaha!!! I'm picturing you trying to convince the restaurant to let you keep their linens!!

Rachel: I wrote the beginnings of a chapter before the first course.

SME: I once rewrote a scene in the margins of a bus schedule. That was hard to transcribe after the fact. I now carry a notepad everywhere I go.

Rachel: I have planned out a whole novel over lunch with a friend.

SME: Did the friend know you were doing this, or was it done in your mind while you nodded and gave vague answers?

Rachel: She helped. Actually, it was her novel.

SME: Author question #3: What kind of responses do you get from people they find out your an author?

Rachel: "What do you write? Are you published? I have this novel idea . . ."

SME: So people pitch you ideas? That's awesome in a really funny way. What kind of ideas have you heard?

Rachel: Most of them are vague ideas. I haven't heard anything concrete yet.

SME: They essentially say, "I have this idea for a book. This guys meets this girl, but it doesn't work out at first. Then after awhile they get together." And you're thinking "Genius!"

Rachel: Something like that.

SME: Wow. If only I'd thought of that idea sooner . . . Oh, wait. That's pretty much every book I've ever written.
Okay. I have a question I am actually dying to ask you. Maybe not "actually" dying.

Rachel: No dying allowed.

SME: Your book "The Mercenary's Marriage" is about a mercenary who rescues a woman who is a slave after the end of a seige and then must work to earn her trust and love---great plot premise, by the way. I have absolutely no idea what a mercenary is.

Rachel: A mercenary is a soldier who is being paid to fight for someone. In Darius' case, he is Ratharian, yet he is fighting in the service of a Braulian king for spoils of war.

SME: So a mercenary is like a soldier-for-hire?

Rachel: Yup, exactly.

SME: Were mercenary's looked down on or were they kind of respected? 'Cause I would think the soldiers who were fighting for their country out of duty would think the mercenaries were kind of losers, or greedy or something. Then, again, if the mercenaries were good enough soldiers to get paid to do it, they probably could womp on the other soldiers.

Rachel: They were looked down on. This is especially true in my book, because of their ethinicity. Ratharians are seen as outsiders, barbarians.

SME: Did they kind of have to watch their backs, then?

Rachel: Yeah.

SME: Yikes. Talk about occupational hazards.

Rachel: Definitely.

SME: Your books are fantasy, I know that. They take place in a fantasy setting that is a lot like medieval Europe, would that be a good description?

Rachel: Yup

SME: Do you base the people, customs, etc. on medieval times---have you researched that time period and adapted it---or have you invented it entirely?

Rachel: Almost all the cultures are a mishmash. Braulyn is a bit of a rough early Britain. Anavrea is like a later more cultured Britain or France. Ratharia is like India or Persia. Sardmara is barbaric and harsh.

SME: Cool.
In true INFF fashion, I have a game for you to play. You wanna give it a go?

Rachel: Sure.

SME: In this game, which I invented myself, I am going to cast myself in the role of a generic person in your fantasy world and I want you to tell me what my life would be like. At the end of the game, I'll decide which job I would like to have. Who knows, maybe you'll have a marvelous plot idea while you're playing!
(*Note from SME: I have essentially just asked Rachel to invent characters off the top of her head without any time to think about it. Yes, that was extremely mean of me. I wasn't sure how this would go because that isn't an easy task. Read on and prepare to be impressed.)

Rachel: Sounds like fun.

SME: Okay, first "job." If I were royalty, what would my life be like?

Rachel: You look like a princess, the second daughter of a great king. You are interested in books and not in marrying some young man your father picked out.

SME: Hmmm. Arranged marriages. Hadn't thought of that. Definitely a point against this job.

If I were a soldier, what would my life be like? (Assuming I were a guy, of course.)

Rachel: A warrior to be feared, skillful and honorable, you would be destined for greater things than a life on the battlefield. However, you wouldn't actively seek those rewards. Instead you would concentrate on giving your best for king and country at risk of life and limb.

SME: I sound very noble!!

Rachel: I am a bit hard on my character's, though. Expect plenty of blood and pain.

SME: Ah, yes, the "occupational hazards." Although my hair looks GREAT in that picture, so that's a point in favor.

What would life be like for me as a court jester?

Rachel: Ah, the faithful jester. Your life hangs on the thread of your entertainment value. Make the king laugh and you live. Make him sad and you die.

SME: Which would make me sad. So, as much as I enjoy being nutty and off-beat, I'm thinking I've found another occupation with too many hazards.

Lastly, what would my life be like if I were a scribe? (Seemed like a good fit.)

Rachel: Male or female?

SME: Ooh, good question. Which option has fewer "occupational hazards?"

Rachel: Hard to tell.

SME: Then perhaps I should go with girl, just for kicks.

Rachel: A female scribe in a world of males, you struggle to hide your identity. Your skill with the pen, excellent memory, and beautiful handwriting make you valuable, but only as long as they see you as a boy.

SME: What happens to me if a fellow scribe taps me on the shoulder and says "I know what you are." Am I in trouble if he tells someone else?

Rachel: Yeah, you would get thrown out of the vargar to starve or worse.

SME: Sheesh! Well, I've officially decided that, while I think I would enjoy reading about your characters, I don't particularly want to be one of your characters.

Rachel: Same here.

SME: But, since this game requires that I choose something . . . If I chose the princess and you wrote in an arranged marriage, would the guy turn out be a good guy in the end and we'd live happily ever after and all that??

Rachel: Yup. They just have to go through a few trials first.

SME: Then I pick that. Whew!! That game turned out to be stressful---for me!

Rachel: Sorry.

SME: Back to the modern world, and not a moment too soon.
A couple hard-hitting questions still remain: #1-- what is your favorite kind of cake?

Rachel: Angel food.

SME: Delicious!!
What is your favorite continent?

Rachel: Europe. So much culture in such a small spaces.

SME: Alright! So far 2 of my INFF friends have voted for Europe. Excellent.

And now that we've tackled the deep, probing issues, I believe it is time for a highlight of INFF: the portion of the interview where I draw a portrait of my new friend.

Rachel: Cool!

*The smell of markers fills the air while I create my latest masterpiece.*

Rachel: It looks great. I look so thin, and I love the boots.

SME: I know you live in the eastern US, so I thought rain boots would be handy this time of year. They're orange, 'cause orange pretty much rocks.

Rachel: I love boots. I don't have enough of them.

SME: And I need to confess that I experienced a bout of very real jealousy over your curly hair. I'm better now, but it took a great deal of sugar-therapy.

Rachel: Sorry, I came by it naturally. At least you never cried over huge snarls when your mother brushed your hair as a kid.

SME: True. There are benefits to pencil-straight locks.
Well, it's time for the traditional Final Question. Top 5 reasons this is the best blog interview you've ever done. Ready. Go.

Rachel: 1) I got to chat with Sarah M. Eden, one of my favorite authors.
2) I got to make up characters on the spot.
3) I had a ton of fun.
4) I got to talk about my book and writing, always a favorite topic.
5) I got a portrait that makes me look thin.

SME: Those are 5 excellent answers. I love my stick figure portrait for that exact same reason. And, by the way, great job on the impromptu characterization---I know that isn't easy and you were fantastic.

Rachel: Thank you. I was sweating it a bit there, but it was fun.

SME: Maybe something in there will actually be useful for you someday, who knows!
Thanks a ton for stopping by for INFF, it was great to finally meet you.

Rachel: Thank you. It has been wonderful getting to meet you, too.

SME: *cue exit music* Well, this has been "I Need Friends" Friday. Come back next week when I will make another friend!!

If you'd like to be interviewed for "I Need Friends" Friday, shoot me off an email: friends at sarahmeden dot com!
I am looking for anyone and everyone, whether or not you think you are interesting. You'll get a fantastic stick figure portrait of yourself, a little promotion (if you're looking for that sort of thing) and the opportunity to tell your friends and family that you've been interviewed by SME, er... by ME!


teritoo4u said...

This was a great interview, I'm intrigued to read some of Rachel's works now......

Miss Mae said...

This is one of the freshest, more creative interviews it's been my pleasure to come to! I never skimmed over anything, just read it all. I already know I'm in love with Rachel's books, and I'm dying to get hold of them, but this is the first time I've been to this blog.

What fun!

Heather Justesen said...

Great interview, sounds like you had fun! The more times I hear about Rachel's book, the more I want to read it! i guess that's the point, though, isn't it?

cherylcory11 said...

Awesome interview! I'm impressed by Rachel's quick-thinking characterizations. And, of course, I love milk chocolate too. :)

Joyce DiPastena said...

Loved this interview, Sarah and Rachel! I especially enjoyed learning about Rachel's "medieval" world. I knew what mercenaries are because I write medievals too, of course, though mine are based in (my version) of the "real" medieval Europe. In that world, mercenaries were actually preferred by kings for their armies, because there was a rule that regular ol' knights only had to fight for the king for 40 days, and then they got to go home, and they were often grouchy about being asked to go off and fight wars anyway, because they didn't get paid and in reverse, actually had to pay for their own armor, horse, etc, to go into battle. Whereas mercenaries got paid to fight as long as the king wanted them to, so they were happy campers. (As long as the king actually paid them.) I've always thought it would be fun to write a book about a medieval mercenary, but Rachel beat me to it. ;-)

Danielle Thorne said...

SUPER interview. I LOVE the photos. Great interview and great answers! What an uplifting few minutes. Thanks for sharing!

Melanie J said...

All right, I would like you to pull back the curtains on the behind-the-scenes action at INFF: how do you do your interviews? Via phone, IMs, Skype? Inquiring minds want to know.

Sarah M Eden said...

Hmmm, Melanie. I believe you have just given me an idea for a future post--"INFF Secrets Revealed!"


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