Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fantasy Author Rachael Pruitt Visits

Today is a great day, because I bring to you fantasy author, Rachael Pruitt.  Ms. Pruitt is currently in a series of historical fantasy novels based on the Arthurian legend, specifically following the life of Guinevere.

I say a great day because even though I write mostly thriller and suspense, my first love for reading is the fantasy genre.  I look forward to reading Ms. Pruitt's current novel, THE DRAGON'S HARP.  For the historical fantasy lovers in our audience, I think you will also when we are done.  So without further audieu, please welcome Ms. Rachael Pruitt!

DAB:  Tell us about the time when you first realized you wanted to be a published author.

RP:     D.A. I believe I've wanted to be a writer ever since I was a little girl & wrote my first short story in 5th grade.  The story, as I recall, was composed in a rather boring geography class, and was all about a girl who had to save her family from a vicious tribe of cannibals.  She didn't succeed, I'm afraid.  But this whetted my appetite for tragedy & I immediately saw myself being interviewed by thousands of reporters & being allowed to cast Natalie Wood (then very much alive & beautiful) in the title role.

It was only recently, that I realized reporters would not be beating my door down just because I've published a novel!  It's been a real shock - but I'm coping :)

DAB:  Do you have a daily writing regimen, and if so, please tell us about it.

RP:     My traditional writing regime, when I'm working weekdays, is to wake up at least 2 mornings a week at the ungodly hour of 4 am, set a hidden alarm, & write for 2 hours.  This way, I feel as if I'm staying on track as a writer--but not totally killing myself by rising every morning before the roosters.  I then commit one segment of time every weekend (a morning or an afternoon) to do some more writing--without having to worry about a hidden alarm going off and ruining my train of thought!

I do want to add to your readers, D A, that, in my opinion, a writing schedule is a very individualized choice.  Some of us are night owls, some are morning larks.  The point is to 1) create a schedule or framework that works for you 2) experiment until it really works & is comfortable & realistic for you and 3) stick with it.  The third point is probably the most important of all--aspiring writers must have some commitment to setting consistent time aside to write--even if it's only a few hours a week to start.  Otherwise you'll never get past the starting line.

DAB:  Great advice!  So where do you come up with ideas for your novels?

RP:     One of my characters in "Dragon's Breath" (my next novel) says, "Stories are carried 'beneath the wind'".  And I agree.  To me, the world is filled with a never ending flow of ideas, characters, & situations that just beg to be put into novels, poems, & short stories.  As novelists, and as artists, we simply need to know how to reach for them & mold them in our own voice.

To be a little more specific:  My Arthurian novels, (5 in all, beginning with "Dragon's Harp"), represent my lifelong passion for all things Arthurian--most especially Gwenhwyfar & Merlin.  I also have several more epic fantasy books in mind, and one historical set in the Biblical Era.  These novels have all sprung from my childhood fascination with myths, legends & ancient history.

My additional writings tend to be memoir-based--I love being funny too--so chick lit's another genre I plan to explore!

So what do all these ideas & genres have in common?  I love people & have great admiration for women & men who consistently surmount all kinds of obstacles.  I'm also a keen observer of people & love to laugh and have fun, at the same time honoring our very human struggle to survive, to love, & to stand up & protect what we cherish.  These themes and this admiration find their way into all of my writing.

If you're ever stuck looking for ideas--just visit a grocery store on Saturday morning--or sit in a coffee shop or restaurant.  Take a local bus, eavesdrop on the get the idea.  Bring a notebook with you at all me, you'll have plenty of ideas!  Just listen & observe...

DAB:  Have you ever experienced writer's block?

RP:     Only when I allow myself to!  To me the best & most effective way to beat writer's block is to sit down & write--even if what you come up with initially is total crap.

D A, I truly believe writers' block happens when writers become afraid that what they produce won't be "good enough"--so they talk themselves out of writing one way or another.  This can take the form of procrastination, distraction, the "I'm too busy" excuse, and so on.  Bottom line is we--as writers--become afraid we're not "good enough"--and so we don't try.  Just keep writing when this happens--don't give in.  Also, for a good "pick-me-up" go to inspirational books such as Julia Cameron's wonderful THE ARTIST'S WAY, indulge yourself in a subscription to a publication like "The Writer", and invest in good books on the craft of writing.  Read these types of resources--or speak with a good friend (preferably another writer that you trust) if you find yourself "blocked".

I've been there & for me, the one thing that helps, above all, is to continue to write--and shut off any negative "self-talk" while you're at it!

DAB:  So true, Rachael!  So the next question is the eternal debate - outline or no outline when writing?

RP:     I believe this is another strictly individual choice that every writer decides for her or himself.  I am not an outliner--however I do write overall summaries of where I think my novel will go--I'm constantly surprised, of course!  I do, however, like to have an "organic plan".

I believe the only thing to watch out for, if you do choose to outline, is to make sure you don't make the mistake of forcing the characters to stick to your "outline" rather than adjusting your preconceived ideas to characters & plot twists that develop as a natural part of the magic you are creating on the page.

DAB:  Do you have a favorite character in THE DRAGON'S HARP?

RP:     Shh!  Merlin is certainly in the running :-) But this question is like asking me to pick a favorite kid--sorry D A, I just can't bring myself to choose!

DAB:  LOL!  Well then, do you have favorite authors you like to read and who have inspired you in your own writing?

RP:     Probably my all-time favorite author is Anya Seton (now deceased).  Her novel, GREEN DARKNESS, about star-crossed Tudor lovers reincarnated in the present (the 1968 present that is), may sound "old hat" now--but it was the first novel of its kind when it was first published in the early 70's.  GREEN DARKNESS remains one of the most haunting & powerfully written love stories I've ever read.  Other writers who have inspired me are fantasy author Charles de Lint, the early works of Stephen King, and historical novelists Sharon Kay Penman, Jules Watson, Pauline Gedge, & Donna Gillespie.

All these authors share three things in common that I've attempted to emulate in my own work:  fantastic characters, gripping plots, & a fantastic instinct for pacing.

DAB:  When I write, I have particular composers and music that gets me in the mood for certain scenes and characters.  Have you ever written to music?

RP:     Great question!  Sometimes I do like to listen to soft Celtic harp music as I write--nothing too distracting.  And, like you, D A, I often listen to music to get myself in the mood.  While writing "Harp", I discovered that when I was approaching a particularly tough scene, listening to the music of Loreena McKennitt, and the musical themes from Braveheart, Rob Roy, Lord of the Rings, &--of course--King Arthur :-) beforehand really helped.  Those themes & Loreena's beautiful voice & instrumentals really conjured the "Celtic grandeur" necessary for me to approach the toughest scenes in my novel.

DAB:  I saw on your blog the story about how THE DRAGON'S HARP first came into being on a beach twenty-five years ago.  Once you sat down to write, how long did it take to complete?

RP:  Once I really "got serious" about "Harp", D A, it still took me about 7 years, including research, to complete.  I don't anticipate taking so long with my upcoming novels!  For one thing, the original research I did for "Harp" regarding Arthurian lore and ancient Celtic & Welsh history and culture should hold me in good stead for its sequels.  I also feel a lot more confident as an author regarding plot and character development.

DAB:  So on that note, now's your chance - give us your fabulous plug for THE DRAGON'S HARP.

RP:     Thank you, D A:  Readers:  Here goes :-) :

"Before Gwenhwyfar became Queen--before Arthur met Merlin--a tribal Welsh princess met a young Heatherlands Mage.  Together, they will create a legend.

Inside a mist of beauty and brutality waits the Arthurian legend as you've never heard it before.  Enter the world of The Dragon's Harp, a realm of blood lust and vengeance, of spellbinding magic from the beginning of time.  The realm of Princess Gwenhwyfar:  a young girl torn between magic and desire, born with magical powers she can either wield to save her people from destruction--or deny to save her soul. 

First in a five book series of historical fantasy, Rachael Pruitt's unique take on a beloved legend reintroduces the mythic characters of Gwenhwyfar, Merlin, and Vortigern against the gritty backdrop of sixth century Wales, where scenes of shape-shifting and heartbreaking romance vie with torture, murder, and battle in a dragon-haunted land."

"From the first page I was drawn deep into Pruitt's beautifully-realized Celtic realm, so vivid I felt as if I'd stepped right into the tale and could not only see but smell, taste, and touch her creation. With shades of The Mists of Avalon, the story is a magical blend of Welsh and Arthurian myth, thrilling adventure, romance, and otherworldly enchantments - while also managing to be funny, earthy and believable. All the characters are so vividly rendered they soon lay siege to your heart, and you find yourself loving them, rooting for them, terrified for them, and utterly captivated by them.

The child Gwenhwyfar is brave and spirited, sensitive to the mysterious otherworld of goddess rituals, druids and dragons that lie just beyond the more brutal reality of her father's warriors and their bloody swords. The story leaves her as a teen coming into her powers - and under the spell of first love. I can't wait to see the woman she will become in future books. Bravo!"     
-----Jules Watson, bestselling author of The White Mare Trilogy, The Swan Maiden, and The Raven Queen

     Rachael Pruitt is a gifted storyteller, able to create vivid, three-dimensional characters in prose that is, by turns, lyrical and powerful.  Readers who enjoyed the novels of Parke Godwin, Persia Woolley, Rosemary Sutcliff, and Marion Zimmer Bradley will love The Dragon’s Harp, in which Gwenhwyfar comes of age; best of all there are four more books to come…     
  ---Sharon K. Penman, New York Times Bestselling author of Lionheart, Here Be Dragons, & Time and Chance

"Rachael Pruitt is a natural story teller, and her love of the Guinevere character shines through every page of The Dragon’s Harp. It's a pleasure to discover her take on this very old story."
                   --Persia Woolley, author of The Guinevere Trilogy.

The Goddess is most definitely afoot in this engrossing novel by author Rachael Pruitt. The Dragon's Harp courageously depicts the roles of mothers, daughters, queens, and priestesses in a time when men fought battles while women abided by a far more ancient law. The tale is woven with lyrical language that resounds with the hills, trees and rocks of a land where the mist between worlds falls easily away--one small step beyond a fairy stone.  
       Ms. Pruitt masterfully guides her reader through not only a mystical retelling of the Arthurian legend, but educates us with her historical expertise of the time.  Her attention to detail drowns our senses into this world where kings rule the land, but the land and all who live on her ultimately answer only to the Goddess.  I cannot recommend this novel highly enough.  Ms. Pruitt is a gifted storyteller with a powerful story to tell.
                                                              - Molly Padulo, writer and shamanic healer

And there we have it, dear readers!  Thanks again to Rachael for visiting the blog and for the great advice to our fellow writers out there.  I particularly could relate to the section where she mentioned the writer's block, as I too recently procrastinated writing a particular scene because I was sending a character to a place of which I'd only read and never visited.  The possibility of screwing it up had my confidence in the proverbial toilet and made wanting to write it daunting indeed.

For our historical fantasy readers in the audience, be sure and pick up a copy of THE DRAGON'S HARP and also contact Rachael Pruitt via her website, Facebook, and Twitter pages below.  Enjoy!

Rachael Pruitt is a writer, storyteller, and teacher with a lifelong fascination for Celtic mythology and the Arthurian legend.  Her Arthurian poetry has been published in Paradox magazine (2008 and 2009) and her article “To Dream a Dragon” appeared in the award-winning 2011 writing anthology, Many Genres, One Craft.  She has also published nonfiction articles detailing, “Myths for Our Time”©, a personal mythology process she developed while an Artist in Residence in the Pacific Northwest.  The Dragon’s Harp is her first novel, and the first in a projected series of five books following the life of Gwenhwyfar, King Arthur’s famous Queen.  You can also visit her on her blog tour below:


  1. Rachael,

    I enjoyed your interview. Your conscientious approach to your writing day is impressive. Setting a schedule and sticking to it is key to consist and quality writing. Great advice, also, for battling writer's block. Best of luck with Dragon's Harp.

  2. Thanks very much, Gary :) Glad you enjoyed my thoughts & suggestions! "Been there, done that" as the saying goes & if I can support other authors--that's what it's all about, right?!

    Sounds like you are a writer yourself. What are you working on?

    Re "Harp": If historical fantasy is your cup of tea: Do feel free to check out my sample chapters on my website (

  3. Thank you Rachael and DA for a fantastic interview! I appreciate the advice regarding 'writer's block' and to just keep showing up at the page. Love your novel!