Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Interview Time with Rumer Haven!

It's a very important day for Rumer Haven--her very first novel, Seven for a Secret, has its book birthday today! *cheers* 

In honor of that, she's going to tell you a bit about herself and her writings.

Take it away, Rumer!

You and I have been friends for a while, but tell these lovely readers about yourself!

I’m a Chicago gal living in London with my husband. Professionally, I started out in finance, but after pulling a 180 about a decade ago, I went from instructing how to write and critically read fiction to writing and editing it myself. As a daughter, sister, and auntie, I am crazy-close with my family, which is the major drawback of living overseas, but I love London, too, and travel a lot. Beyond that, I’m a sentimental schmuck, part-time hermit, and binge-watcher who is easy to amuse and difficult to offend.

No wonder we get on so well. ;-) Yay, for part-time hermits!

I always like to ask, what are your favorite and least favorite parts about being a writer?

I love that I can lose myself in a story that I create. Drafting is probably the best part, when I can just vomit out ideas as they come (and not worry about sippin’ a little wine in the process), but I enjoy revising, too, because it’s like sending a manuscript to the gym to get lean and firm—then off to the spa for a nice buff-n-polish! So being a writer is the awesome part; I don’t really hate anything about it other than not always having enough time to be one. What I do dislike, honestly, comes with being an author—the querying before publication and the marketing after. But I’m of course very grateful to have published work out there.

I hear a lot of authors say that--they dislike the "businessy" bits, but love the creative parts to being an author. It's like any job with unpleasant parts. 

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other writers?

Just write. If you have an idea, write it down. If you don’t have an idea, write anything down until you find one. It’s the only way a story will ever happen and the only way you’ll get better at it.  

Do you prefer silence or to have music on when you’re writing?

Mm…both. I usually don’t listen to anything, but when I do, it might be classical without lyrics to distract me from the words I’m writing, or just something soft and mellow that filters into white noise after a while. To get in the headspace of a story, though, I also develop a little “soundtrack” for each manuscript that includes songs either directly mentioned in the story or that evoke the mood of what I’m writing. For instance, I listened to a lot of 1920s-40s jazz during Seven for a Secret, and for my latest manuscript, it’s largely British alternative rock, like The Cure and Joy Division. 

I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall listening to the jazz while you wrote! Definitely sets the feel of the book. 

And a very happy one-year book birthday! How’d you get the idea for Seven for a Secret?

Why, thank you! I can’t believe it’s already been a year. They just grow up so fast…*sniffs*

I lived in an apartment complex exactly like Camden Court in Chicago. Someone told me it might’ve been a hotel built around 1920, so that got my overactive imagination going on who used to live there over all those decades. One unit became available because an elderly woman had died there. My friend moved into it, in fact, and his cat hopped around by the doorway just like Agatha. It was seriously creepy, and we later learned from the next-door neighbor that the old woman used to always stand by that door, peeking out at whoever was coming or going in the stairwell—so we wondered if maybe she was still there, playing with the cat! The neighbor guy was young, but he did maintenance jobs around the place like Leo and actually helped ready this apartment for my friend’s move-in. He said how it was difficult to paint the walls because they’d yellowed so much, and how the lady had newspapers and crap piled everywhere. So there ya go. Meet Olive.

I think Leo was one of my favorite characters, but all of them were great! It's interesting to pull from real life experiences when writing--and truth is often stranger than fiction.

I know you're busy, but what are you working on right now?

I recently finished maybe the one-millionth revision on a manuscript that I started over six years ago and had shelved to work on Seven for a Secret. It’s another ghost story, mostly set in present-day London and with the occasional chapter in Victorian times. I’ve also started on a sort of Agatha Christie-meets-Ghosthunters rom-com that’s been stewin’ in me noggin for a while now.

I adore that format--the mix of modern-day and historical. I can't wait to get my hot little hands on them! *makes Mr. Burns hands*

What have your experiences been like writing in different genres?

I write contemporary women’s fiction, with romantic, historical, and paranormal elements. A mouthful, I know. My reading interests definitely inspire this mixed bag, and the ideas I’ve had so far keep leading me to this hybrid. So I don’t deliberately pursue one genre versus another; I write the story, and it is what it is.

And maybe because the different genres are so interwoven and interdependent in carrying out these ideas, I haven’t encountered much difficulty shifting from one to the next. As a woman, for instance, I naturally gravitate to the inner landscape and journeys of my gender through women’s fiction, writing mostly from what I know and feel. And a lot of that is based in relationships, so there’s inevitably some romance. I also love past-present stories because I’m fascinated by the idea of different generations walking the same streets and living in the same house. So that causes the historical and contemporary to collide, and since I’m a big fan of ghost stories as well, that supernatural element is an ideal (and my favorite!) way to connect past with present.

I’m probably most challenged by historical fiction, though, as there are obviously limitations to what extent you can write what you know. It requires a lot more research, but that’s fun, because it satisfies the curiosities that make me want to write a story in the first place. It also gives me a chance to play around with voice.

What has been your favorite scene to write so far (in any of your books)?

Ooh, that’s a really tough one…but off the top of my head is the scene where Lon and Eva meet on the staircase in Seven for a Secret. I modeled the Hughes home on a real house that I always gawked at, so writing this scene let me finally go inside and indulgently host a small-scale Gatsby party there! I enjoyed observing all the detail through Lon’s eyes—including Eva. She starts out like some Old Hollywood screen siren with her seductive cock-tease, but then right away those two find such an honest, humble place with each other. That’s what I love about them from that point forward; no matter what ultimately happens between them, they’re friends first and foremost.  

That is a great scene. Very vivid. (Readers, you NEED to read this book...for serious.)

What scene gave you the most trouble?

Gotta be the opening scene of the manuscript I mentioned before, the one set in London. For years, I have written and rewritten and hacked out and put back in so many different iterations of it, trying to figure out what the hell the true beginning of the story is. I’ve finally got it sorted, though. What is now the first chapter was probably chapter three or four in the first draft. It took a long time before I could bring myself to chop out that amount of content, and most of it really is just…gone. I only extracted the barest, most essential bit of it to parcel back into the current version as backstory.

Where can we find you on the interwebs?

I’m here! I’m here! Come visit me!

Where can we find your books?

Oh, twist my arm…

Thank you so much for stopping by, my dear! And, lovely readers, I can't stress this enough--this book is a gem. Go buy Seven for a Secret by Rumer Haven today! 

xoxo Sarah


  1. Thank you for this insightful interview with one of my favorite authors. Can't wait for more from her.