Rachelle Storm is the author of Absolution. Absolution is a whirlwind of adventure for Chris and his brothers as they explore a world more vast, and more dangerous, than any of which they’d dreamed. But now, the nightmare comes. The book explores a story that is contemporary, modern fantasy-romance. YEM was able to speak with Rachell about where the idea for her book came from, her favorite author of all time, and advice she would give to others who want to write as well.
Young Entertainment Mag: When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?
Rachelle Storm: After completing my undergraduate degree, I found myself doing a lot of soul-searching about what I wanted to do with my life. During that time, I wrote so many short stories and played out scenes with characters in my head. One of my friends asked me if I won the lottery, didn’t have to work, but still wanted to, what would be my profession. I immediately thought of writing and realized that my dream job was to be a successful author, but that didn’t need to be a dream. It could be a reality.
YEM: What can you tell us about your book Absolution?
Rachelle: Absolution is the first novel in a romance fantasy series about three immortal brothers who are the physical embodiments of water, earth, and fire. They are on a journey to save the world from itself and complete their destinies. Along the way, they meet the McNamara Sisters, and everything gets very complicated and derailed. When Chris Harris meets Joanie McNamara, everything he thinks he knows about the world, his destiny, and the humans he is meant to protect is turned upside down. For Chris, meeting Joanie means calling into question every answer he has ever accepted about his destiny and what he is meant to do because love is supposed to be off-limits for him. For Joanie, it should be simple. Girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, and they live happily ever after. However, girl meets boy, boy is an immortal on a collision course with a looming, sinister evil trying to end humankind, and girl and her sisters are now on that same collision course because of her love for boy. The series is about love, destiny, and the epic, but complicated battle of good versus evil.
YEM: Where did the idea for this book come from?
Rachelle: The characters had been in my mind for years, just playing around with different scenarios, settings, and plots. One night, the story just finally clicked. I was listening to “Map of the Problematique” by Muse, and the first scene in Chapter One played out in my head like a movie. Everything just fell into place after that. By the end of the night, I knew I wanted to write a series of books about the Harris Brothers and McNamara Sisters and what it means to embrace love in the face of great darkness. It was just a matter of figuring out the smaller details once that was done.
YEM: What was your favorite part of making this book?
Rachelle: I loved developing each character and exploring the world-building aspects of the book. The Harris Brothers are raised by a secret brotherhood that keeps them hidden and sheltered from human contact for most of their lives. So, when they meet the McNamara Sisters, it is this massive culture shock and clashing of what they have been told and what the sisters have experienced as humans. It was really fun slowly developing that and allowing it to evolve over time.
YEM: Who is your favorite author of all time?
Rachelle: It changes with age. When I was a kid, I read a lot of William Shakespeare because I loved the concept of tragic love and conflicts rooted in a lack of communication. As a young adult, I loved Stephenie Meyer because I was obsessed with the Twilight Saga and the fandom it created. Now, I am more interested in authors exploring philosophical and ontological questions about the world and the humans in it. So, Frantz Fanon, bell hooks, Maya Angelou, and authors looking at contemporary issues interest me the most because they wonder how we got here and how we move beyond this space and time.
YEM: What do you hope your readers take away or learn from reading your book?
Rachelle: In a time when the world is a bit dark and stressful, I hope readers can immerse themselves in a fantasy world that seems familiar and yet different. These characters are diverse, multiracial, and meant to break free from the status quo in similar mainstream paranormal romances. At the same time, I am a Black author who is just a fandom geek at heart and creates worlds that other readers like me can connect with on a deeper level. Ultimately, I hope the reader sees that the hero and love interest of mainstream fantasy romances do not have to be predominantly white. These are multiracial characters making space in mainstream genres that tend to be filled with predominantly white characters and heroes. Overall, it is an epic fantasy romance that plays out like a movie. It will remind readers of the YA fandoms they once belonged to years ago and encourage them to embrace these characters and this world as adults.
YEM: What advice do you have for someone who wants to become a writer?
Rachelle: When in doubt, just write. There will always be an excuse or reason to not write. Writing is a complicated process because it is a personal one. When in doubt, remember what you fell in love with in your story and write about that.
YEM: What is a book that you love so much you wish you had written it?
Rachelle: Twilight because while I love it, I wish there was more representation of underrepresented voices in the saga and a deeper reflection on the power dynamics and relationships between all of the characters involved.
YEM: Are any of your characters inspired by people you know in your real life?
Rachelle: The McNamara Sisters are inspired by my mother and her sisters. I took bits and pieces of their personality traits that I love and essentially jumbled them up to create the sisters. Each sister is a mix of my mother and her sisters in complicated, nuanced ways that evolve and unfold as the story continues. Not one sister represents a complete version of my mother or her sisters, and that was intentional because it leaves a lot of room to work.
YEM: How long does your writing process take?
Rachelle: It depends on what I am writing, but I had such an urge to write this story that I just had to get it out as soon as possible. I started writing immediately because I was afraid I would lose the ideas if I didn’t. I tend to write pretty quickly, so stories take two to three weeks to develop a working draft, and I revisit the drafts from there.
YEM: Is there someone that you always have read your work before anyone else?
Rachelle: My mom because if I can keep her guessing, I am doing something right. She is someone who can guess the ending of a film before it happens, so if I can keep her on her toes, I am on the right track.
YEM: What is the favorite scene that you wrote in your book?
Rachelle: My favorite scene is the inevitable confrontation that happens toward the end of the book. It is a mix of everything I love: romance, action, drama, and bits of comic relief. It is also one of the most complicated scenes I wrote, but I loved the challenge.