Thursday, September 8, 2011

YA Indie Carnival Event: Q & A and Giveaway!

Welcome to The Shootin' Gallery and the ninth post in the YA Indie Carnival. The carnival is designed for authors, readers and reviewers of YA Indie books. Each Friday this team of YA Indies will post on a common theme.

This week’s post theme features Q & A’s from each host of the YA Carnival. Today I feel very fortunate to be hosting Rachel Coles, author of Diary of a Duct Tape Zombie, Bees of St. John, Mushrooms, Whistles, and Beergarden. So, without further adieu, please welcome Rachel to the blog!

Amy: What inspired you to become a writer?

Rachel: I like writing a world I can just make up, and getting lost in it. When you can make stuff up in your head, you are never bored, no matter where you are. I forgot about that for a while, while I got sucked into the adult habit of 'getting stuff done' all the time, and completing my 'list of tasks for the day', which often meant stuff that was dreary and tedious. But having a little girl who wanted me to tell her stories, and wanted to make up her own, reminded me not to let imagination die, buried under stacks of grown up 'to do' lists. I may have lost the ability to simply drop everything and run around with friends and just make up play, but I can still play on the pages in front of a computer. If I keep doing that, I'll never completely grow up or get old. When it comes to imagination, old is not the same as wise. My creative kid, Rosa, reminded me of that.

Amy: I know exactly what you mean Rachel. Sadly, I fear most adults lose their inner child forever. We’re a few of the lucky ones. Now, I simply must know what inspired you to write Author of Diary of a Duct Tape Zombie?

Rachel: I wrote Diary of a Duct Tape Zombie because both vampires and zombies have been mined for writing material extensively for the last few years, though it seems that zombies are still picking up momentum. It was never meant to be a serious story. I just felt the desire to throw in my two cents on zombies and have fun writing a parody, and I just wondered what it might be like to be a zombie. They're always the villains or the victims, shambling through the scenes, mindlessly hunting for brains, with the exception of the protagonist in The Serpent and the Rainbow, and Terry Pratchett's Night Watch character Reg Foote. I suppose that subconsciously, I was influenced by Terry Pratchett in this story. But mostly, I just wanted to hear the zombie's point of view before all the zombie stories are told.

Amy: It sounds like a really fun and unique story. I look forward to reading it. Please tell us what you find you are most passionate about in life? Do you bring your passions into your writing?

Rachel: I'm passionate about people being different, I guess. I'm passionate about people being able to have different perspectives and finding common ground to work together. I'm not sure I could define it as passion, but I'm extremely drawn to archetypes and mythology, and the experiences that people had in real life that became myth. I'm an anthropologist by training. So all the things that are happening in the world now, shaped by events of the past, the economic downturn, the various revolutions in the Middle East, the breakthroughs in science, the individual stories of murder, or conversely stories in which the victim of an earthquake finds that a neighbor found and returned a family heirloom to him after months or years apart, are at once fascinating, exciting, depressing, and hopeful. I think that writing, at least when it isn't forced, is at its most basic level, all about emotion and passion, structured loosely by reason and argument, thesis and interplay between characters, and realized in their decisions. And set around those characters are worlds we want to visit...or don't want to visit ever, in the case of horror stories, but feel compelled to explore from a safe place. Writing compartmentalizes what is too close or too overwhelming, and helps sort things out, brings order out of chaos. But basically, passion for anything is why I write.

Amy: I took an anthropology class in college and found it fascinating. I’ve always found different groups of people and their historical origins fascinating as well. I wonder if this is a common interest among writers. It would make a lot of sense. OK, so here is a random question for you… If you could be an animal what type of animal would you like to be and why?

Rachel: I am far too wishy washy to pick a single animal. As someone who sometimes feels compelled to act on too much emotion, I like the cold unquestioning logic for survival of snakes. They are survival machines. They do what they need to do and don't second guess themselves. They move on to the next spot in the sun, or fall asleep, or catch another mouse, whatever. They sure don't over - think anything. I love the dexterity and physical prowess of the big cats, lions, tigers. Who wouldn't! I love the idea of flying, like a bird of prey, the feeling of the wind, and being mostly on top of the food chain, of being solitary and not having to gather in a flock to stay alive. But I have to say that as irritated as I get with humans, especially in packs, I love being a person, with technology, intelligence capable of extreme innovation, the flexibility to act as part of a community or alone depending on the circumstance. I love how smart we are as a species, even when we are being stupid. We have a lot of potential, and this makes us one of the most competitive for survival. So I guess if I had to pick an animal, I would make one up, like in the medieval bestiaries. What's the use of being a writer if you can't make stuff up? I would have wings to fly that I could fold up into my back when I wasn't using them, and then I wouldn't have to pay for airline tickets. I would be superhuman in my physical abilities, like a cat, because that's just plain cool. I'd be like Spock in my logic, and not worry about things, like a snake. And I'd be a super - genius who could invent whatever I needed. With all that power, I'd just have to make sure that my switch wasn't flipped to Evil.

Amy: LOL! You sound like me. I always find it difficult when posed with the question… What is your favorite_______? It’s just too darn unfair to have to choose just ONE of anything! Having said that I’m going to contradict myself and do just that. What single person in your life has inspired you to become the person you are today more than anyone else?

Rachel: I didn't recognize it when I was growing up, and certainly not as a teenager trying to distance myself from my parents, but I'd have to say that my parents were the biggest influence on who I became, whether to become similar, or different than them. My dad has Asperger's Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. When we were kids, there was no diagnosis to explain why he was the way he was. All we knew was that he didn't seem interested in us. We didn't know that he felt love that he just couldn't communicate, that it was like looking at someone through a locked glass door. You can see each other but you can't touch, or sometimes even hear. But despite those interpersonal deficits, we could tell that he was good-natured. He gave to others without a second thought or agenda, he followed what he believed was right, sometimes to a fault and to the exclusion of any other points of view, and at the cost of more than one job. He was single-minded and dedicated, like no one else could be.

And he didn't grandstand about things that he did that were right. He simply did them. When I was six, we lived in Alabama, one of only a small number of Jewish families in the town at the time. It was still an oppressive and bigoted time in that area. And a family moved next door to us who were African American. I was unaware of what transpired around this, until after we moved away a year later, but a petition had apparently been sent around the neighborhood to keep this new family out, because they were Black. And my father, a be-spectacled, very awkward Jewish man basically told whoever brought that petition to our house exactly what they could do with it, and that he would not sign it, and to take it off of our porch.

This incident and numerous others slowly had the effect of shaping how my sister and I thought and how we acted. When I get a bee in my bonnet about something, anything, when I get drawn into a task or an idea, I'm like a pit bull. I delve into writing or whatever I'm working on, to the exclusion of everything else in the room, including my husband and daughter. In conversation, I'll return, like Rain Man, to a conversation that ended ten minutes previously because my brain isn't done with the thought yet. I can be single-minded and determined. Sometimes that's good and sometimes bad. I'm not good at expressing emotion in person, and so I write. In many ways, my life has been affected both positively and negatively by growing up with someone like my Dad. I see the things that he did well, his basic unwavering conviction that people should people should be treated with decency, the way we want to be treated, and that people are all different. I see the way he was with us and with other people, giving without thought, and I want to do the same with my own kid and the people around me in my community. And I see the things that he didn't do so well, the details of the interpersonal relationships. I try to set timers to remind myself to call my parents and sister on their birthdays, to say Hello to my husband, and ask how his day was before launching into whatever weird string of thought is on my mind at the time, to put down whatever I'm doing and play with Rosa because she's only going to be six once, and whatever I'm doing is still going to be there when we're done playing.

And quietly behind everything, except when we were getting in shouting matches that I instigated, and usually it was me doing all the yelling, was my Mom. In those days, you dealt with whatever came along without running to a lawyer or a counselor, or the state. You married, happily or unhappily, when you were at least in your twenties, preferably early twenties or younger, and started having kids. There were 'Expectations' of young women for how their lives should look, and many, including my mother, internalized those 'Expectations' to a certain degree, if subconsciously. My mother is a very smart, well-educated woman. But despite her independence compared to many women at that time, I still think she had some ideas of what her life should look like at different points that didn't always match up with her reality. Living with all of us, two girls, one of them very angry and reactive, and also a husband who was brilliant but impaired in ways that couldn't be defined yet, couldn't have been easy. It was, in fact, extremely difficult. She tempered my Dad, and me, in our sometimes black-and-white single minded perspectives and reminded us with perpetual 'moderation' conversations, that the world is not at all black and white, good or evil, and that where you end up and how you see things often depends on where you start. She added empathy to the kid-raising equation that turned out to be us.

There is no such thing as an ideal childhood, or life. And neither kids nor life come with a manual, and if it did, it would constantly be in revision. This is what I'm finding, in raising my own, in being part of a family, a community, and further discovering as I write about experiences I have or see, whether distorted through fiction, or straight. All you can do is your best, and especially given the challenges, they both did really well. I just hope that I'm smart enough to keep getting 'the lessons'.

Amy: The beauty of adulthood is the wealth of knowledge you gain from living each day. As you mentioned, no one is perfect and we all make mistakes. We ARE human but we can learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. When we do this change occurs and beautiful things happen! Thank you so much Rachel for sharing your thoughts and feelings about your writing and personal life with us here at Amy Jones Young Adult Fantasy Fiction. It has been a pleasure to host you.

Stories currently available by Rachel Coles:

'Diary of a Duct Tape Zombie' is available on Amazon

'Mushrooms' is available on Amazon, and Smashwords

'Bees of St. John' is available on Amazon and Smashwords.

'Whistles' is available on Amazon and Smashwords

is available on Amazon

'Plagues' is available on Amazon

Free stories available in e-zines:

'Orphans of Lethe' in The Horror Zine
Orphans of Lethe has also been included in a fantastic new anthology called What Fears Become, available on Amazon and Smashwords. The anthology has been reviewed by Fangoria and Midnight Street.

'The Lonely Miner'
in Death Head Grin e-zine
'Enkidu' in The Horror Zine
'Tribulations of a Jewish Vampire' in Death Head Grin e-zine

You can contact Rachel Coles via:
Rachel Coles' Blog

Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for… TODAY'S GIVEAWAY (for people over 13, internationally): Winners announced Sept. 16 at the next YA Indie Carnival. Just comment (include your email address) on any Q & A post ALL DAY TODAY and tweet the carnival (#yaindiecarnival) to win ebooks from the carnival authors:

Kindle copy of The Understorey by Fisher Amelie

Kindle digitally-signed edition of Winnemucca by Laura A. H. Elliott and a Winnemucca signed Coffee Mug.

Kindle copy of Breathe by Abbi Glines along with an autographed canvas Breathe tote.

Kindle copy of Solstice by PJ Hoover

Kindle copy of Between by Cyndi Tefft

Kindle copy of PineLight by Jillian Peery

Kindle copy of Filter by Gwenn Wright.

Kindle copy of Eternal Eden by Nicole Williams

Kindle copy of Fallen Eden by Nicole Williams

Kindle copy of Soul Quest by Amy Maurer Jones

Kindle copy of Run and Hide by Patti Larsen (YA thrillers, 1 and 2 in a series of 4)

Kindle copy of Fractured by Cheri Schmidt

Kindle copy of Warriors of the Cross by T.R. Graves

Kindle copy of Diary of a Duct Tape Zombie, Bees of St. John, Mushrooms, Whistles, and Beergarden by Rachel Coles

Before you head off to the next booth in the carnival please don't forget about...

Soulless is a novella and will be available for free download @ on October 31, 2011!

The Guardians of Souls, Book Two in The Soul Quest Trilogy. It is available on Amazon NOW!

Carnival of fun!

The Ferris Wheel

Dani Snell: An awesome reviewer.

The Rockin' Roller Coaster

Patti Larsen: Author of The Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House, and The Diamond City Trilogy.

The Kissing Booth

Courtney Cole: Author of Every Last Kiss, Fated, Princess, and Guardian. Also a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.

Cotton Candy Corner

Wren Emerson: Author of I Wish and a contributing author in the upcoming anthology that I am participating in (The Glassheart Chronicles).

The Fun House

Nicole Williams: An indie author of paranormal fiction. Her titles include: Eternal Eden and Fallen Eden. She is also participating in the Glassheart Chronicles. Here is the link to my review on Goodreads.

The Dunking Booth

Fisher Amelie: Author of The Understorey, as well as a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.

The Carousel
Laura Elliott: Author of the recently released Winnemucca!

The Haunted Castle

Rachel Coles: Author of Diary of a Duct Tape Zombie, Whistles, Beergarden, Plagues, Bees of St. John, and Mushrooms.


T.R. Graves: Author of Warriors of the Cross.

The Face Painting Booth

Cydni Tefft: Author of Between

The Fortune Teller
P.J. Hoover: Author of Solstice
Congrats to P. J. for her recent
book trailer award for Solstice!

Popcorn and Caramel Apples!
Alicia McCalla: Author of Breaking

Pony Rides!
Heather Cashman: Author of Perception

The Petting Zoo!
Cheri Schmidt: Author of Fateful and Fractured

Don't forget to make a comment and join my followers! I love hearing from from my old friends as much as I love making new friends!


  1. I actually changed the book I'm giving away, but it looks like it didn't make it into the revised list. I'm giving away Into The Ruins. It's an anthology of those stories. Sorry for the confusion. I finally did an anthology

  2. Wow, fabulous and deep interview. Rachel, your father sounds amazing, no matter his condition. We are who our families shape us to be until we are able to realize why we turned out the way we did.

  3. "When it comes to imagination, old is not the same as wise. My creative kid, Rosa, reminded me of that." Rosa sounds like an old soul:) Great interview. Great questions, Amy:)

  4. Rachel,
    I love the part about your father and how he stood up for what was right. That takes a very strong person. You are as inspiring as your father.

    Great job.

  5. Wow, fabulous and deep interview