Everyday Lives, Everyday Values Interview With
Rachel Ann Nunes
Program originally aired on KSL Radio on
January 8, 2006.
Host: Doug Wright
Doug: And welcome to the program; it's
great to have you along today. We have a very
special book and a very special author to chat
with. The title of the book is Chasing
Yesterday, which is a novel, and Rachel Ann--and
I never would have gotten this correctly had you
not guided me hereit's Nunes.
Doug: I got that. That's Portuguese, you
were telling me.
Rachel: Yes, it's Portuguese.
Doug: Very interesting. I cannot believe
with all of these books to your credit, Rachel,
that--do you prefer Rachel Ann?
Doug: Rachel, I cannot believe that we
have not chatted before. How many books have you
Rachel: Yes, this is my twenty-third
Doug: Twenty-third book and the fourth
with Deseret Book.
Doug: That is just amazing. I'd like our
listeners to get to know you a little bit better
before we talk about the various books but
particularly this one, Chasing Yesterday. Take
us back. Where did this gift come from? Where
did this love of writing come from?
Rachel: You know what, I knew that I was
going to be a writer from the time I was in
fifth grade. I think maybe I was born knowing
it, but that was when it really centralized in
my mind that I wanted to be an author. I loved
reading. I still love reading; I read avidly.
And so that for me was just a natural thing for
me to want to do, is to read. And my parents are
both very literary people.
Rachel: And my mom taught me to read when
I was four; my father was continually correcting
my verbs. He was a French professor at BYU.
Rachel: So you can imagine how that went.
Doug: Oh, yeah.
Rachel: And so, it was a natural process
for me. I just knew. And as soon as I got old
enough I started writing. I was seventeen when I
wrote my first novel.
Doug: Oh, that, see that kind of thing,
for those of us who like to think that buried
somewhere deep down inside of us is something
wonderful, and then to find out you wrote your
first novel at seventeen. That is humbling to
say the least. Did you have a particular--above
and beyond parents--was there that golden
teacher in the fifth grade or somebody who went,
"Wow. You've got a gift."
Rachel: Well, you know what, I have
always written and read a lot, like I said
before, and I remember a teacher when I was in,
I believe it was the second grade, she would
have contests for who could read the most books.
Rachel: And I would win the contests, you
know, and then later on I had a teacher in fifth
grade who said, "This is a great story." But no
one really who was a, you know, a mentor or
anything like that. Mainly it was the books I
read, the authors I read who were my mentors.
Doug: Yeah. Who did you like to read?
Rachel: Oh, everything. And I have to
confess that I mainly grew up on fantasy. I
Rachel: I read it avidly, everything, and
to this day I still read fantasy. I read it to
my children; my children all love it; and we
have a lot of fun together reading, so.
Doug: Is there a favorite author?
Rachel: Right now I have a lot of
favorite authors in different genres. In fantasy
we love to read Tamora Pierce and Gail Carson
Rachel: And other books, we like Louis
Rachel: Those are the books I read with my
children. And for myself, for women's fiction, I
read Anna Quindlen, Alice Hoffman, Anita
Shreveand it's funny they're all A's.
(Rachel's later note: "After this interview, I
started to read a few more books by these women
and was shocked at the content of their later
books. I no longer feel I can buy them for my
Rachel: But I read a lot. So those are just some
of the authors I'm reading now, you know, that
have affected me.
Doug: Take us back to that first novel. What was
Rachel: It was a fantasy novel.
Rachel: It was, of course, that's what I was
reading. And, oh, it was just fun. I've created
a whole world with different rules and
characters and talents that they had, magic
talents, and I read it now and I laugh because
it's really funny.
Rachel: You know, I have progressed as a writer
to the point where that would be embarrassing to
have anybody read it at this point. But there
are some good ideas there.
Doug: So when were you first published?
Rachel: My first book came out in 1996, and that
was also the year I had my fourth child. So I
had a book and a baby in one year, and it was
very rewarding. And since then I've never looked
back. It's just, I love writing and I love my
children and I love my readers. I just, you
know, it's a good life.
Doug: Well, you've got six kids.
Doug: And, you know, your husband T.J. that
undoubtedly takes a little care and feeding.
Doug: How in the world do you find the time to
Rachel: You know, one of my books is dedicated
to my husband, and it says, "For all the pajama
evening gowns and corn dog dinners." You know,
he really is, my husband is the staple and the
reason I am able to write because he is my
support. For instance, he has spent three months
working on a wonderful new website for me, which
just debuted, and that's my name, RachelAnnNunes.com. And if I didn't have him I
don't think I could have done it because my kids
do take a lot of time, and he helps me in the
house with the children. It's not an easy thing
to do to be an author.
Doug: Oh, you know, I so admire those that can
write. I chatted with somebody once and I've
read people who have said something similar to
this that they, it goes something to this effect
that, "I hate to write but I am so glad to have
written." Do you enjoy the process?
Rachel: I love the process. I love it. I love
sitting at the computer and having the words
flow. And it's really odd when your characters
are more real to you than your new next door
Doug: Yeah, right.
Rachel: But that happens a lot, and so you just,
no, there's nothing that equals the process of
sitting there and having the inspiration come,
having your muse whisper in your ear. There's
nothing like it.
Doug: I was going to ask about that. I think it
was F. Scott Fitzgerald that said, "You almost
have to," you know, even as strange as his life
ended up being with Zelda and everything, he
said that, "You just have to sit down, whether
you're in the mood or not or whatever and just
Rachel: And write. Right.
Doug: Even if it ends up being junk and it ends
up being, you know, put in the round file.
Rachel: Right, because if you're not there then
the muse won't come. And so there are some days
when you're just sitting there and every word is
like slogging through mud, you know.
Rachel: But then there are the other days that
make it all worth it where it's coming so fast
you can barely type to keep up.
Doug: Yeah. Do you find that there is a certain
environment and a certain situation under which
that is more likely to occur? You know, I
envision this kind of beautiful library with a
great big window that is a pastoral scene
outside, it's lightly snowing, you know, it's
just that perfect day, a fire in the fireplace,
and then I will achieve brilliance.
Rachel: Well, see, and my dream is sitting on
top of a cliff with the flowing white dress and
the chocolates and the bonbons there.
Doug: That isn't really the way it happens?
Rachel: Oh, no. Usually, you know, you're
crawling to the computer because you're too sick
or whatever or your kids are on your lapmy
daughter's almost always on my lap.
Doug: While you're writing?
Rachel: Yes. And so you cannotshe's two,
you know, she's got no one else at home and I'm
her onlyso yes. And so my idea is there's no
perfect thing to write, you know, you'll go in
there, the desk will be a mess, but you can't
waste time cleaning it up, you've got to get to
the writing. You turn it on, ignore the email,
and just get those words out. And you can always
go back and fix it.
Doug: Oh, see, even when I have a, certainly not
a novel to write, but a task I need to do and
write, I sit down and I clean the desk and I
clean out the email and do all that stuff first,
empty the trash, you know. And then I get real
Doug: But you can't do that, huh?
Rachel: And you can whittle away all of your two
hours or whatever it is you have at the
computer. And I find if I focus I can get my
writing goal done in two hours, two to three
hours. Sometimes, though, if I have
interruptions it'll take me all day. But I just
set a goal and just do it. And, you know, my
children are always first, so.
Doug: I'm very anxious to talk about Chasing
Yesterday, the new novel that we are here to
discuss. When we come back from this brief break
we will do exactly that with our guest, Rachel
Doug: Now, twenty-some-odd books, what was the
exact number? Twenty-four?
Rachel: Twenty-three. This is the twenty-third.
Doug: This is the twenty-third. Is this, now we
Rachel: This is actually the twenty-first novel.
I did two picture books, so it's twenty-three
books. Does that make sense?
Doug: It makes sense. And I want to talk about
one of the picture books, too, in a moment.
Rachel: The Secret of the King, yeah.
Doug: Yeah, because I've heard some really good
things about that. But Chasing Yesterday, while
not a series but yet is kind of series.
Doug: Explain that to us.
Rachel: Okay. Chasing Yesterday is the third in
a series about the Huntington family. Now, I say
series loosely because a lot of times series
will follow the same characters all the time.
Rachel: In this series we have four different
siblings, so each book is about a different
sibling from their point of view. So if you are
a reader that picks up the fourth one or the
third one or whichever one first you're not
going to feel like, "Oh, I've missed something.
I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know where
Rachel: And so that's what I did this for, I
picked it out where you could just pick up
wherever and read it.
Rachel: But yet, if you're a reader who loves to
read and they're following all these novels it's
really neat to pick it up and say, "Oh, that's
the sister that was the main character in that
novel. That's happened since in her life."
Rachel: Because you see a little slice of that.
Doug: Let's talk about this book. Where does it
take us? Tell us, first of all tell us a little
bit about the family overall.
Rachel: Okay. Well, the family is, there are
four siblings: Kerrianne is the oldest, then we
have Amanda, Mitch, and Tyler. And Chasing
Yesterday is Tyler's book, who is the youngest.
But this is not just his book. There is a family
friend named Savvy Hergarter, and so she's in
it, too. And we know, because Savvy and Tyler
have dated before but they have separated. Their
relationship has gone awry.
Rachel: And he is here in Utah working as a
journalisthe's engagedwhile she's in
California pursuing her dream as an astronomer.
And you'll notice the book has stars and stuff
on the front cover.
Doug: I noticed on the front, sure.
Rachel: That is because that is really important
to her and to the story because that's her past.
And in the opening chapter Tyler loses his job
and he fights with his girlfriend and, of
course, his thoughts immediately go to Savvy
because she has been his friend, his constant
for so many years, but she's gone now. She's in
California. She opens her doorshe's getting
ready to go the airport to visit her family in
Utahand there's this wild-looking teenage girl
whom she's never seen before, and the girl's
claiming to be her half-sister. Now, since Savvy
was adopted at age two by her step-father she
knows it's very possible.
Rachel: And as this storythat's when things
begin to get difficult.
Doug: How much of you, or those around you, are
in your characters?
Rachel: You know, in some books there are more
similarities than others. For instance, in the
very first book in this series, Winter Fire, I
know a situation very similar to the children
who were adopted in that book and the life that
they led. And it was very similar and very sad,
you know, and I wanted them to have a happy
ending. And luckily, much later, after my book
was published, the other one had a happy ending,
too, so I was very happy about that.
Doug: Back to that doorstep scene, and again
without giving away too much . . .
Doug: . . .kind of, generally, where do we go?
That's an interesting premise to kind of launch
Rachel: Well, think of it. Someone appears on
your doorstep, "I'm your half-sister." And she's
never met her father before, since she was two,
she doesn't remember that. She only knows that
he's never tried to contact her, and so why
would he want to see her now? And so Tyler comes
and he's helping her and they're trying to find
out why this child has run away. What is in her
life that is so horrible that she can't face?
What is it about this father? And so they have
to find out not only where she's frombecause
she won't tell them because she doesn't want to
go backand she has to confront her father for
the first time in all these years.
Doug: Wow. Where do you tap into that? How do
you kind of get yourself in that place?
Rachel: Oh, you know, you have to kind of
imagine, what would it be if it were me, you
know, if this happened in my life?
Rachel: And one of the things I think are very
interesting is that, you know, you talk about
romance, and you have a lot of the national
romance and they're all, oh, beating hearts
Rachel: And I don't write that way. I mean,
you've got to have the romance, the romance is
wonderful, it's in almost everything, you know,
from Star Wars to you name it, it's in there.
But I also think you need to have a really good
plot, something that's going to be meaty and
give the readers something to read and something
to muse over, to think about long after the
book's over. So that's what I try and do, and I
just put myself in there.
Doug: Yeah. With this having the Deseret Book
imprint on it, is there a clear Mormon hook in
here or is it incidental?
Rachel: Do you know what, in this respect the
characters are LDS, and when she does meet her
father there is some very important LDS values
going on there, you know, as he has been a
member in the past but has fallen away and how
he's searching for his spirituality and
wondering as he faces a possibility of moving
onto the next life, what's going to be there?
And so there is a little bit of that, it is not
the focus. The focus of the story really is her
relationship with her father and learning to
trust Tyler again. He's finally said, "Maybe I
was wrong all this time. She is the woman for
me." And she's going, "What? I don't want to go
through this pain again."
Rachel: And, you know, "I've got to focus on my
sister now." There's a lot of different, I like
to have a lot of different subplots.
Doug: Yeah. Having never written a novel or
anything or kind of gone into this area, is it
difficult to kind of get yourself in the guys
Rachel: Yeah, you know, it's funny you would
mention that because when I read books that are
about women written by men generally I think,
"That's not right. A woman wouldn't think that
Rachel: There have been a few exceptions. I'm
reading one now that actually seems to be an
exception. I can't remember the name of it.
Rachel: I have to kind of think, and, you know,
I think in these romance novels, or women's
fiction that is romantic, we try and give the
idea of what we think the men are but also our
dream of what they should be.
Rachel: Does that make sense?
Doug: Oh, absolutely, absolutely.
Rachel: But yet we want it to be realistic, I
mean, a lot of times in some of my novels I've
had CEO presidents and that sort of thing of
companies, and my brother-in-law said to me one
day, "Why don't you have some ordinary men?" So
in this series I've made sure to have, you know,
men in ordinary jobs.
Rachel: You know, a journalist, a mail man, an
Rachel: A zoologist. And so I really try and
think, "How would my husband react to this?"
Doug: Do you use him as a sounding board, by the
Rachel: Oh, often.
Doug: So you go, "T.J. Does this work?"
Rachel: "T.J. would you do this?" But I have to
admit, my husband's a really good guy, and so he
would come home and start cleaning and doing
that sort of thing where other guys would turn
on the TV or get the newspaper so I lucked out
there. So I have to be careful.
Doug: Well, this is exciting. And for those who
are going to pick up Chasing Yesterday the cool
thing is that there are three books ahead of it,
Rachel: Yeah. Well, two books actually.
Doug: Two books, and this is the third.
Rachel: Yeah, and actually the one of the fourth
sibling will be released later on this year.
I've already finished it, so.
Doug: Oh, you've finished it?
Rachel: Yeah. I'm finished.
Doug: Wow. Now are you one of those authors who
believes it's bad luck to tell me what the title
is before it actually comes out?
Rachel: I don't. The next one's called
Doug: All right. Now, is that a for sure because
sometimes editors can override?
Rachel: You know, I think they're going to keep
Doug: All right.
Rachel: But you never know. You never know until
Rachel: This was the only one I couldn't come up
with a title, but it's perfect because
throughout the whole book Tyler's chasing what
they had, the relationship they had yesterday.
Doug: Yeah. The other books, I mean, so many to
your credit now, and many of them novels, there
are the picture books. And while we're on that
topic I was reading where the Governor's
Commission on Literacy, that they have, in their
"read with a child for twenty minutes a day"
program, your book was chosen. That is very
cool. And this is The Secret of the King.
Quickly tell us about that.
Rachel: Okay, The Secret of the King is a story
about Javan and Lia, and they want more than
anything to be knights in the king's army. And
so they, this is a, kind of an allegorical story
about how they go to try to be knights and then
they learn in the end that the service that they
can do in their individual talents is what the
king needs at that moment instead of them
fighting in the army. And there are a few
secrets, and I'm not going to tell you about the
secrets, but I will tell you that if you look at
the fifth illustration you're going to see my
face there holding up a lantern with my mouth
Doug: That's you.
Rachel: And so I'm actually, and the artist is
the doctor in the story, so there's a few little
cameos, but the story is so wonderful, with the
paintings they just work so well. And when I
read this aloud everybody always on the second
to last page goes, "Huh!" because they learn the
Doug: Oh, that's cool.
Rachel: And I'm not going to tell it to you, so.
Doug: I've got to go get it.
Rachel: You'll have to read it now.
Doug: That's right. The Secret of the King
what we just talked about. Again, chosen by the
Governor's Commission on Literacy. Very quickly,
we only have a couple of seconds left, tell us
about some of the other books, quickly, the
gamut from what to what?
Rachel: Well my first book was Ariana: The
Making of a Queen, and that became a whole
series and there's four books under that title
but seven books in the series. And that is
really a lot of times what people will know me
by, "Oh, she's the author of the Ariana series."
Rachel: And I also wrote Where I Belong, A
Greater Love, To Love and to Promise, and oh,
there's just a whole bunch of books. And they're
all contemporary with LDS characters.
Doug: Are most of them still in print and
Rachel: Most of them are still in print and
Doug: That is great. Now tell everybody what
your website is again.
Rachel: My website is just my name, you can get
to it by going to RachelAnnNunes.com or
RachelNunes.com, either way will get you there.
Just make sure you spell the name right.
Doug: That's right.
Rachel: N-U-N-E-S. And there you can read sample
chapters, I have a published author spotlight,
an aspiring author spotlight, motherhood tips,
pictures, a way to win free books. I mean,
there's just a lot of things that are available
Doug: Oh, that's great. Rachel, this has
been so much fun. I wish you the very, very best
with Chasing Yesterday. We're anxious to have
the next one, which is already done but not
Rachel: Not yet.
Doug: We wish you the very best.
Rachel: Thank you so much for having me
Doug: Thank you for joining us on
Everyday Lives, Everyday Values.