1. How did you come up with the title?
I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit that I didn’t come up with the title! My original title was “Peaches for Sale”, but after some discussion with the creative team at Zondervan, we decided the title was a bit too “summery” for a book coming out in December! So the Zondervan team brainstormed title ideas for a while and then suggested “Chasing Jupiter” and of course I loved it! It just fits the book so well—the story is all about showing selfless love to others, while still pursuing your own dreams and discovering yourself. And of course Jupiter is a huge theme in the book.
2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I would love it if readers came away with a new sense of appreciation for their families. No one is perfect and families are basically just a group of a whole bunch of non-perfect people living under one roof, but you have to really love and look out for one another. Also I hope readers will realize that it’s okay to grow up and take responsibility and figure out what to do with your life, without having to sacrifice those wonderful little moments that make you so glad to be young and free.
3. How much of the book is realistic?
It’s a very realistic book. In fact, a lot of my friends have been telling me that it’s too realistic and that I need to be a bit more romantic with my ending, haha… But I did do a lot of research writing “Chasing Jupiter”, which takes place in 1969, and while I’m sure I may have made a few less-obvious historical mistakes, I think it still rings true as the story of a girl growing up in Georgia in the late 60’s. All the characters are crazy, but raw and honest and they seem like the kind of people you would know from your hometown.
4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Hmmm… That’s tricky. I think I would have developed the character of Scarlett’s sister, Juli, a bit more. She’s talked about a lot in the book, but we don’t really get much more than a glimpse into who she really is as a person. But it’s hard to fit so much into a short novel!
5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finishing the first draft. That’s always the hardest part of any book. As long as I can just finish the first draft, the editing process is so much easier. I’m always so thankful when I get to the end of the 50,000 words.
6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think this book was the first time that I really learned how I can combine humor with sincerity and create a funny, heartbreakingly honest story. Up until “Chasing Jupiter”, I had mostly been creating poetical, sad stories. This is the first time I played around with humor and sarcasm, and I think it really helped make the story that much more realistic and powerful.
7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Sure do! I wrote my first fiction story when I was eleven or twelve years old, as a writing assignment in sixth grade. My mom was so blown away by it that she decided she couldn’t teach me creative writing (I was homeschooled) and so she found an ad online for a fiction writing coach and signed me up for a few months of lessons with him. I knew absolutely nothing about creative writing before that, so it was a whirlwind time in my life of learning how to create characters, cut adverbs, describe scenes, and all the other basic things that writers have to learn! I was only twelve or so at the time, but I remember thinking, “This is what I was born to do.”
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Katherine Paterson. She is just amazing. “Bridge to Terabithia” was the first book I ever read where I closed it and thought, “I want to write like this. This is who I want to be.” I actually fan-girled out last year and sent her a copy of my first book, “Interrupted”, along with a long letter explaining what an inspiration she had been to me and how much I loved her work. She sent me back a postcard thanking me and encouraging me, which I still have!
I also love, love, love Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind”. That book made me laugh and cry and spend several days walking around in a daze, my eyes opened anew to the amazing power of literature. I can’t begin to describe the influence that book had on me.
9. Tell us your latest news.
Well, I’m hard at work on Book #3, which I hope to share with you all soon! I’ve also decided to start my own writing tutoring business, and help other young writers to develop their creative voice, just like I did so many years ago! I’m so excited to start working with writers from all over the country and world via email, and really help them hone their writing skills. It’s what I love doing, so the thought that I can do that for others is almost overwhelming! But I’m still taking students right now, so if anyone is interested in getting more information, they can find my contact info on my blog, www.rachelcoker.wordpress.com.
10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Mostly, just thank you. Thank you so much for even taking the time to pick up one of my books and start reading it, much less follow my blog and ask me questions and send me letters and make me feel so loved and inspired. I pray the absolute best for all of you, and I hope that you will continue to follow your dreams and write and share your passions with the whole world.
About the Book
Rachel Coker follows up her debut novel Interrupted with a dramatic tale about faith and friendship that unfolds within a late 1960’s rural Georgia family. Sixteen-year-old Scarlett Blaine wants nothing more than to fulfill her autistic brother Cliff’s wish to launch a rocket to Jupiter. But tensions at home---thanks to her hippie sister, Juli---and money troubles make Scarlett’s life far from sparkling. Especially when the neighbor, Frank, has eyes only for Juli, even though Scarlett spends every day picking peaches with the boy. In the end, Scarlett must find a way to care for her brother and herself in a world that seems as hard as a peach pit.
Prices/Formats: $15.99 paperback, 15.99 ebook
Genre: Young Adult / Historical
Release Date: December 2012
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Zondervan
About the Author
Rachel Coker resides near Williamsburg, Virginia, with her parents, who’ve homeschooled her since she was a child, and two sisters. She is the author of 2012’s Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words. Coker has a passion for great books and has been surrounded by them all her life. Her gift for writing became apparent at the age of eleven, at which time her parents, who owned a Christian bookstore, signed her up for a year of lessons with a professional writing coach.
Links to Connect with Rachel:
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