Hello, bookwyrms! As we head further into the summer months, there is plenty to look forward to when it comes to books. This week, I have the pleasure of inviting up and coming romance author, Rebecca J. Caffery, here to tell us more about herself and her debut novel, Cherrington Academy.
Welcome, Rebecca! And congratulations on your upcoming publication. I’m curious about your writing process?
Anybody who knows me knows that I’m a straight-up, obsessed plotter. I will spend months and months before I even start writing my novel doing endless research, writing in-depth character profiles and outlining the crap out of my novel to the point I have several drafts of the outline. From there I can spend anything between three weeks to five months actually writing the first draft, if I’m writing it during NaNoWriMo month I can write around 70-80k words in that month! After the first draft, I abandon it completely for at least a month so that I can come back to it ready to edit the mass of word vomit that I’ve made.
After several rounds of editing, one on paper, and the typing all that back up into a new draft and then a further round of editing on my laptop it’s beta time! I generally try to have five to ten betas lined up ready to go, I send them the google doc, a list of things to look out for and I part ways with the story for another month (it’s always so hard saying goodbye).
After I receive all of my beta feedback back I sit and basically write a whole new draft based off of this, which then leads to another couple of rounds of editing until it is perfect. Depending on how I feel I sometimes send this new draft to a small number of betas other times I let it sit again and then come back and do any final editing and polishing. Then I put it out into the querying trenches.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?
My favorite part of the writing process has to be the writing that first draft, I love that first draft feeling of getting all of the words on to the page and putting every idea I’ve had for the story on to paper. It feels like such a rush to just put down all those thoughts and feelings on paper and turn them into action and dialogue for the characters and storylines that I’ve been planning for such a long time!
My least favorite part of the writing process is typing up paper edits on to my laptop. Who thought it was going to be a fun job to edit all 75,000 words on paper and then retype them up into a new draft in just ten days? I will never ever be making that mistake again as it’s been absolutely exhausting, but also completely rewarding as the second draft of Olympic Enemies is now shaping up amazingly.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I think taking a break for me is always key, stepping away from my document for at least a few days, sometimes even weeks, just really helps me gain a clearer head about what I’m writing. Normally during this time, I will work on another project or like right now I’ll be working on bits for publishing Cherrington Academy in August.
I’m not normally someone who would start work on a whole new novel though. I’ve found that I’m not very good at writing two novels side by side, but I do really like to have some editing or some querying to work on on the side just to give me something to do if I’m struggling for words on my current WIP.
Describe your book, Cherrington Academy. What’s it about?
Cherrington Academy is a book about running away from an awful previous life in the hopes of finding some kind of haven away from bullies and homophobia. It is a book full of hope, love, and friendship, but it also explores some morally grey issues like cheating and keeping secrets from your best friends.
When I write contemporary fiction I really like to explore actual real-life situations and themes that crop up in everyday life. I write love stories with all the real-life pain of things like mental health problems, being unsure about your sexuality, how your friends feel about your relationship, and cheating. I know it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but these issues need to be explored more in YA so teens don’t just think that love is boy meets girl, they fall in love and then happily ever after.
How did you become up with the idea for Cherrington Academy?
I think it’s been in the back of my mind for years, maybe even around seven or eight years. When I was in my early teens, I loved writing random little stories and I would always write the characters to be at some kind of boarding school (boarding schools are the best setting okay), then in 2017 I was living my best life on my study abroad year in Canada living in North American style dormitories and it seemed like the perfect place to start Cherrington. Logan, the MC, has always been there in my head as this anxious, but ready for a new life kind of character and he fit so perfectly into my idea for Cherrington Academy.
What was your favorite part about writing Cherrington Academy? Favorite characters?
My favorite part about writing Cherrington Academy has to be writing a big friendship group. In different ways, I love all eight of the lads and ladies that make up the Cherrington Academy squad. It was really fun for me to explore the dynamics of the group and how one person’s actions have the power to change the whole group dynamic.
My favorite character after Logan, my MC, has to be Noah who is actually the antagonist. In the first draft, he was the worst kind of person, and then I realized how he actually needed to be for his personality to work as an antagonist. This boy breaks my heart and has such a great story of his own going on behind the scenes – it’s one of the things I’m most excited for readers to uncover as they read Cherrington Academy.
Did you ever make yourself cry while writing a scene?
So many scenes. I am such a crier, so it was to be completely expected. There’s a particular scene between all the guys at Cherrington Academy that absolutely ruins me every time I reread it, there’s also a particular song I always listen to when I’m reading it which only makes it so much worse. It’s such a beautiful moment for all of the boys and a huge thing for the protagonist and antagonist’s relationship.
Describe your experience publishing Cherrington Academy?
Publishing Cherrington Academy has been the most incredible experience! Working with SRL Publishing, who are an up and coming Publishers located in the UK, has been the best experience I could have asked for. Working with them made me feel like an equal in publishing the book, as they were always up to hearing my thoughts and opinions on all the different areas of publishing. They let me keep my original name for the book, give all my suggestions for the cover as well as write my own blurb, and I had the most amazing time doing it!
What other writing projects are you working on?
I’m always working on something else in my spare time around publishing Cherrington Academy. During April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, I wrote a whole first draft for a novel called Olympic Enemies in May, and in June I edited it and revised the whole of the draft and at the end of June sent that draft to betas. In July, I will be starting a new story for Camp NaNoWriMo called 4000 Miles, which will be a study abroad year love story.
When Logan enrolls at Cherrington Academy, he sees it as an opportunity to leave the homophobic bullies and neglectful parents behind and start a new life. The last things he expects to find at his new boarding school are an outgoing group of friends who are dead-set on adopting him…and a handsome guy with a crush on him. But his new life goes awry when he uncovers tangled secrets in his friend group, his roommate has the tendency to blackmail, and the budding relationship with his crush turns out to be more complicated than it seemed. Logan must navigate this new world and choose what’s best for himself and his friends, but how is that possible when his heart could be the very reason his perfect new life might fade away?
If you’re interested in reading Cherrington Academy or you’d like to follow Rebecca’s writing ventures, make sure to check out the book and read it on August 25th, 2020! Also, check out Rebecca’s Twitter @Becakwrites and her website.