With her book, The Most Special Chosen, out this weekend, I got a chance to chat with Rachel De La Fuente about books, writing, and our addictions-in-common. Make sure to check out her release party on Facebook as well!
Tell us a little bit about your new book, The Most Special Chosen.
The Most Special Chosen is about a seemingly normal, though somewhat vampire obsessed, college student, Elysabeth Vance; her best friend of 8 years, Shawn Dooley; and her sexy new boyfriend, Damien. Damien draws Elysabeth like a moth to a flame, but practically repulses Shawn, literally making his hair stand on end.
Shawn is concerned about their relationship, but Elysabeth’s intuition, the little voice that has been guiding her throughout her life, convinces her that all is well. With a little help from Damien and his family, Elysabeth will uncover her powerful bloodline and unlock her destiny. After all, fate happens, even if you don’t believe in it.
What more do you have planned for the Exalted Bloodline series?
The currently planned story arc includes 6 books. That could increase if any of the books get too long. For example, when I started writing the second book, it included book 3, but the manuscript got too long, so I separated them.
Book 2 is currently about 1/2 – 2/3 done. I have to go back and make some changes after the editing I’ve done on The Most Special Chosen, and then I can work on finishing it.
I also have an ongoing commission with artist Kyle McGill, a friend of mine from college. He’s creating portraits of all of my main characters. I’ve featured his work in each of my character interviews.
The best way to keep up on future Exalted Bloodlines Series news is to subscribe to my blog or newsletter.
I see that you’re a fountain pen enthusiast (something I’m guilty of myself). Do you prefer a certain brand of pens or ink?
Yay! Another person afflicted (or blessed, depending on your point of view) with the fountain pen virus. 😀 Fountain pens are so much fun, and write so smoothly.
I have a particular affinity for visually arresting pens, especially brightly colored ones. New pens are always coming on the market, so it’s nearly impossible to say that any one brand has the prettiest pens.
As far as ease, my favorites are Lamy Safari and Pilot Metropolitan. No matter how long I leave those pens without writing, I can come back, pick one up, and it will just start writing again. It’s fabulous.
For writing quality, of the pens I own, the smoothest pen is my Pineider Key of Heaven. But it’s an EXPENSIVE pen, so I would expect it to be fabulous. I wouldn’t have picked it up if I wasn’t offered a fabulous deal. And the store let me try writing with it, which completely sold me on the pen.
Favorite ink brand…that’s even harder. I’m going to go with the easiest metric. Of my currently inked pens, the most utilized brand is Diamine. But Pilot Iroshizuku and Organics Studio are high on my list as well. And my fiancé loves Robert Oster.
Sorry for the long response. I get a little carried away with fountain pens and ink. I don’t have a problem…really…
I’m thrilled to see that you love to cross stitch! (Are we related or something??) What’s your favorite piece that you’ve done?
My family tree is spread so wide, we could be. J I’ve only finished a few pieces, and I have one massive one in the works.
My favorite finished work is one featuring two sleeping kittens in a windowsill. I stitched it as a thank you gift to my cousin for paying for some life-saving vet care for my male cat. I couldn’t afford it at the time. The kittens happened to match the coloring of my two cats almost exactly. To finish the piece, I framed it with a mat where I added my cats’ paw prints. My cousin still has it up on a bookshelf in her living room.
My in-progress piece is an enormous Harry Potter piece based on the Giant sampler available through CloudsFactory. I made a bunch of edits and separated the characters and objects by books. But now it’s around 3′ x 4′. Who know when I’ll actually get a chance to finish it.
What’s your writing process like?
That’s a little hard to say. The Most Special Chosen is my first novel, but it’s been a nearly 8-year journey to get it to this publication, and that’s only in this iteration.
Recently, I’ve noticed that my writing has been changing. I have an outline of sorts for book 2, whereas I didn’t for book one. I feel like I’m more aware of my writing, too. I’m more careful in my word choices and how I present my characters. I also do a better job of maintaining my characters’ individual voices. I’m hoping this means less editing for book 2, because I really don’t want to take another 8 years.
But there are also things that have stayed the same. I still write in a non-linear fashion. Sometimes things come to me, and I have to jot them down. Then I can go back and work them into the story. I also still write, then read over what I’ve written repeatedly, revising as I go.
One thing I wish I could get a hang of is writing to a daily quota. I don’t know how people do it. I write when I feel inspired, because otherwise, whatever I write is complete crap. More often than not, when I force myself to write, I end up simply deleting everything.
But, on the up side, when I write while inspired, it typically flows very easily, to the point where I can write several thousand words in a sitting.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just keep writing. It sounds silly, I suppose, but if you really enjoy writing, if you really want your writing to go somewhere. Just keep at it. Some of my friends read The Most Special Chosen when it was self-published, and then went on to read the beginning of book two several years later. They noticed a significant improvement in my writing, and I wasn’t even “trying” to improve. It just happens with practice.
Also, read as much as you can. Really study the books you like. Pay attention to the details. Take note of the way characters interact, how settings are described. And don’t disregard the bad books either. You can learn a lot from them as well. As you learn what does and doesn’t work, you can refine your own writing style.
Scroll down for an excerpt for The Most Special Chosen, or you can find the entire first chapter on her website. You can also visit Rachel on Facebook or order her book on Amazon.
* * *
It takes every ounce of my self-control to not slam my books down on the table as I reach Shawn. To avoid getting thrown out of the library, I plonk them down lightly and drop into a chair with a sigh.
“Bad day?” whispers Shawn, my best friend of eight years. “I thought it was supposed to be great.”
I schlump forward and rest my chin on my hand. “It was supposed to be, according to my intuition. That’s why I dressed nicely.” I gesture vaguely to my outfit with my free hand. I have on a pair of black, knee-high, leather boots; black leggings; and a lightweight, crimson sweater dress that accentuates my curvy figure. I only wear a little makeup to set off my brown, almond-shaped eyes. I’ve left my copper-colored hair long and wavy, hanging to my hips.
“The only thing special about today is that I’ve been rather hot.” I pull my hair up and shake it as I speak, coaxing some air to my neck. “Southern California isn’t particularly cold in November.”
“I thought you said your intuition is never wrong.”
“It’s not, I just…” I shrug, unsure how to finish that sentence. My intuition hasn’t been wrong once in my entire life, and ignoring it has always been to my detriment. I can’t understand how it’s suddenly wrong.
Shawn leans forward to touch my hand. “Maybe your something special is still to come. The day isn’t over yet.”
I shrug again and watch as he goes back to his studying. He hasn’t changed much since high school. His soft, dirty-blonde hair hangs to his ears; huge, horn-rimmed glasses hide his startling green eyes; and his nose is a little too big for his face. He’s not ugly, but he’s no model, either.
My intuition, the same strange whisper I’ve heard at various points in my life, speaks again. I obey instantly. Perhaps this is the something special I’ve been waiting for. I catch sight of the most gorgeous guy I’ve ever seen around the many bookcases and quickly sit up straight. He’s perfect! Imagine if he’s — No, Lys. My movement catches Shawn’s eye. He peers over his shoulder, following my line of sight, then turns back, rolling his eyes.
“What is it with you and guys in black?” he says, “Especially ones that look like —”
My sharp look shuts him up. He knows better than to discuss that in public. But I have to admit he has a point. I glance back at Mr. Gorgeous. He does look like — Dammit Lys! They don’t exist. I try not to stare and fail miserably. He has shoulder-length, jet-black hair that looks almost blue in the light; large, ice-blue eyes; full and sensual yet masculine lips; a square jaw that somehow doesn’t look chiseled; a mustache that grows into a short goatee; and lovely, olive skin.
He rounds the last bookcase and I can see he’s wearing a black, form-fitting shirt that hints at washboard abs; black leather pants; a floor-length, black, leather, trench coat that accentuates his broad shoulders; and combat boots. He must be at least six feet tall and he walks with a deadly purpose. He’s exactly what I’ve always imagined. Everything about him screams dangerous; and the effect is mesmerizing.
He’s obviously looking for something — or someone. Probably a girlfriend. I’m still ogling him when his gaze suddenly meets mine. I see a brief flash of recognition, but I know I’ve never seen him before. His eyes dart down and back up, and I have an irrational desire to pull my neckline down a bit. His grin is sinful. It promises wicked things, and I want to find out exactly what they are. I drop my gaze to Shawn who’s making kissy faces at me. My glare could freeze fire. Shawn stops.
The guy walks up and stops next to me. “Hello.”
Oh, holy mother! His voice is deep and sensual and envelops me, sending shivers down my spine. I look up at him and become enraptured by his smile. It takes a moment, but I finally manage to speak. “Hi, can I help you?”
“Not exactly. I merely wondered if I may sit with you.” I can’t quite place his accent. It’s French, but there’s something else there, too, and it runs right through me like fire, pooling low in my belly. What the hell, Lys? This is not a normal reaction for me.
I glance at Shawn who nods reluctantly, knowing I’ll say yes either way. “Yes, of course. Are you new? I don’t believe I’ve seen you before.” Idiot! I mentally kick myself. It’s a huge campus, and I don’t know everyone.
He fluidly takes a seat, and I take in his perfect posture. It certainly doesn’t go with the way he looks.
“Actually, I have been taking classes online. I decided that since I will be graduating soon, I should get to know some of the other students and start networking.”
I nod. “Yeah, definitely a good idea. What’s your major?”
“International Relations and Diplomacy, and International Business.” Wow, double major. Must be smart, and obviously ambitious. “And yourself?”
“Architecture and Interior Design. My mom’s always said I have an eye for detail, and I like doing it. The money’s not bad either…” I don’t know why I feel the need to explain myself, but my major suddenly seems frivolous.
He smiles. “It is good you chose to do something you are passionate about,” he then looks to Shawn. “And what are you studying?”
“Advanced mathematics. I’d like to be a college professor.” I grin at the defiant way Shawn speaks. His father wanted, still wants, him to go into business and follow in his footsteps. Shawn, however, has other ideas.
“That is admirable. I do not have patience for such mathematics,” he looks down as though embarrassed, then glances back up at Shawn. “But I have a great respect for those who do.”
His response, spoken without any hint of sarcasm or derision, disarms Shawn. “Oh, uh, thanks…”
“Forgive me, where are my manners? I am Damien Delanciennes,” he says, dipping his head like he’s bowing. How odd.
“Interesting name,” grumbles Shawn. I shoot him a dirty look. “I’m Shawn, Shawn Dooley.” He offers Damien his hand, and they shake.
“It is nice to meet you, Shawn. And you, Chérie? I am certain your name is as beautiful as you.” Perhaps it’s because I’m hit by the full force of his blue eyes, but despite having just met, his endearment doesn’t sound odd, nor does the line sound cheesy.
“I’m Elysabeth Vance.” I hold out my hand to shake his, but instead, he takes it lightly and raises it to his lips. He brushes a soft kiss against my knuckles, staring straight into my eyes as he does so and my stomach flips over. Holy crap! I feel all fluttery. His actions don’t match his appearance in the least, and I love it.
“I am very pleased to meet you. You have a lovely name. It references beauty and greatness.”
My face heats. “Thanks. Your name is… elegant.”
He nods his thanks. Damien turns suddenly to face Shawn and sees his frown. “Forgive me, have I given offense? Are you… together?”
Before Shawn can answer, I make sure to set the record straight. “No! No, we’re friends. Shawn has been my best friend since freshman year in high school.”
His look of concern vanishes. “Friendships like that are special.”
I grin at Shawn. “They are.”
It’s quickly becoming apparent I won’t be getting any schoolwork done tonight. Good thing I know the material well. I take a quick glance at the clock and confirm what I’d already suspected.
Damien follows my glance. “I am sorry, am I detaining you?”
“No, not at all, but the library will only be open another ten minutes. I won’t get much done in that time.”
“My apologies, I have kept you from your studies.”
“Oh, no, it’s okay. I don’t have much homework.” I reluctantly gather my things and stand. I don’t really want to go. I want stay and talk to this gorgeous guy. “It was really nice to meet you, Damien.”
He places a hand on my arm to keep me from leaving. “Perhaps, if you are not too busy, you would allow me to buy you a coffee?” Yes! I do a little victory dance in my head.
I see doubt and even worry in Shawn’s eyes when I glance at him, and it makes me pause. I don’t know this guy. It probably isn’t smart to go anywhere with him no matter how gorgeous he is. Maybe I should give it a pass.
Well, my intuition knows best. I’m certainly not going to argue this suggestion. “If we can go somewhere with hot chocolate, I’m in.” Damien looks almost relieved at my answer. “But I have to be up early in the morning, so it will have to be quick.”
“That is acceptable.” There’s a hint of disappointment in his eyes. “Thank you for joining me. Shawn,” he turns to my best friend. “Would you care to join us as well?”
With Damien’s attention elsewhere, I shake my head emphatically with a pleading expression. It’s easy to tell that Shawn isn’t happy about it, but he gives in. “No, thanks. I actually do need to study. Lys, I’ll see you when you get home.”
I sigh. He just HAD to get in a parting shot. Damien is looking between us, obviously confused. I do my best to set him at ease. “We’re roommates. We share a townhouse. But we’re only friends, really.”
He relaxes. “I see. Shall we go then, Elysabeth?”
“Yeah. I’ll follow you to your car. Shawn drove this morning.”
* * *
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