I’m really excited to share this conversation with islander, and soon to be published author, Rachel Greenlaw. Rachel lives on the main island of St. Mary’s, across a short stretch of sea from my home on St. Martin’s. I first got to know Rachel when we both had our first tiny new-born babies over nine years ago. After years of hard work, Rachel signed a book deal with HQ (Harper Collins) at the beginning of the year! Here I ask Rachel about her writing journey and love of island life.
1) How did you find yourself living on the Isles of Scilly?
I used to visit a lot when I was younger to stay with family, and always felt like Scilly was magical. So, when I finished my degree, it made total sense to work a season before I planned to go travelling. I very quickly met Joe, an islander, and never left! We are now married with two children, living on St Mary’s.
2) I know you have been writing for many years as a passion project. At what point did you decide to concentrate on this solely?
I spent most of my twenties after finishing my creative writing degree doodling ideas, and writing one or two chapters then quickly abandoning the idea of writing a whole book. Then after my second daughter turned one, I had a sudden rush of an idea. I stuck at it, writing an entire manuscript, then began researching how to find a literary agent and get published. That manuscript shall forever live in a dusty drawer (it was terrible!) but it gave me the confidence to pursue publication and write more manuscripts.
3) It’s been amazing watching your progression as an author from the side-lines. It seems to take a lot of patience and hard work, have you got any advice for aspiring authors out there?
Write what you love and get to the end. If you can sustain your passion for the story until you write those final words, that’s a huge achievement and will unlock the next steps in the process; revisions and finding a literary agent! But always, always focus on the writing as your main goal, creating what you love is what will continue to drive you when the inevitable rejections begin flying in. Build your resilience, learn from critique and give your time willingly to read and critique other people’s work.
4) So, we can expect to see your first book One Christmas Morning published in audio and ebook in August and paperback in October by HQ (Harper Collins) in the UK. That’s so exciting! Have you had time to celebrate your achievement or is your head already in your next book?!
I make a point of celebrating every milestone. Whether that’s a piece of my favourite cake, or a gin and tonic, or a spa night using P&P products! But honestly, my head is always several stories ahead. Right now, I’m writing what will be my second book for adults and jotting down ideas for the third.
5) Looking after your young daughters, running a holiday cottage, and keeping your writing career moving forward, how do you look after yourself and keep yourself rooted in the present?
This is where I love living on the islands- for me, taking a walk and listening to a podcast is my way of staying rooted and stopping whatever worries I’m turning over. As soon as I step outside, it all melts away and when I get back to my to-do list and children, I can focus.
6) What is your perfect way to spend a day off on the islands?
In the winter, a full home cooked roast dinner with family and a muddy walk! Then in the evening, lighting my favourite candles and reading a book, or watching a film with Joe. In the summer, a day out boating to look for dolphins and landing on a different island for a wander. There is nowhere quite like Scilly in the whole world.
7) Finally, do you have a favourite P & P product?
You can follow Rachel’s writing journey (and see her beautiful island photography) here on Instagram.