Rian: I’m dying to know: how much of your book is based on real-life happenings? I know you worked in the same industry that your book is placed in.
Rachel: I always tell people that this book is in thirds – one third of it is pretty close to events and people that actually happened/existed, one third is a blend – a few people adding up to one character, with some fictional traits in the mix as well and events mixed in that were similar to things that happened, but have a lot of other things going on, and one third of it is completely imagined.
Rian: How many, if any, of your characters are based (at all) on people you’ve come across in real life?
Rachel: It’s hard to say – some of the characters were a bit like people I know or have known, and others are based on people I’ve only heard of, or heard about. What’s funny is that the people I thought would recognize themselves, didn’t necessarily, and others who definitely knew the people that certain characters are based on missed it completely.
Rian: What did you find to be the most difficult thing about writing The Twins of Tribeca?
Rachel: The amount of pressure I put on myself was tremendous – nothing was ever “good enough.” Every time I woke up in the middle of the night with an idea, and said to myself, “I’ll remember it in the morning,” I got up instead and wrote it down then. Most difficult was the constant and unrelenting preoccupation I had with the story from the time I sold the book (November, 2003) to when I handed in the last version about a year later. I was pretty much stumbling around in a distracted state for a lot of the time.
Rian: Have you always known you wanted to be a writer? How old when you first started?
Rachel: I have wanted to write a book since I was four, but I never knew what I wanted to write about. I was an editor of my college newspaper, and then spent a summer writing for Hamptons Magazine. After that, I took jobs that were a bit more practical, and didn’t really write very much at all for quite a while. In early 2003, I took a course with MediaBistro called Humor Writing, and that really got me excited about writing again.
Rian: Do you have any other books in the works? If so, what are they about?
Rachel: I’m working on an idea and an outline for a new book called “You Could Go Blonde From That.” It’s about women who come to New York City to re-invent themselves, for all different reasons. It’s about people who keep secrets, people who are ashamed of who they really are, and how sometimes the city’s not nearly as big as you need it to be. There is a short story from it, tentatively titled “Divine Re-Invention” that is going to be in an anthology called “This Is Chick Lit.” There are many other writers contributing to it who you know, including Lauren Baratz-Logsted, who is editing it (and also dreamed it up), and alphabetically:
Andrea Schicke Hirsch
Harley Jane Kozak
Rian: What do you think about the chick lit genre?
Rachel: It’s hard for me to see it as a genre – my book’s been called everything from work lit to gossip lit to assistant revenge lit (that’s the funniest of all). I think what most of the books have in common is that they show young women in situations where they have to balance more things, whole lives – work, families, romance, a checkbook – in a way the “bodice ripper” heroines didn’t. They just had to wait for the guy on the horse to show up and steal their hearts. Most of the books that are part of the so-called chick lit genre have characters who readers can really relate to – they are often a lot like their friends, sisters or co-workers.
Rian: Why did you base most of your book around the character’s job, as opposed to romance or something else?
Rachel:Karen, the main character, has just broken up with her boyfriend, her best friend’s moved away and she’s realized that the job she’s had for years isn’t what she wants to keep doing. She starts her job at Glorious Pictures knowing that it’s going to be tough work and a lot of hours, but she’s really excited about working there. She does have an on-again, off-again flirtation with a gossip columnist, but she misses her ex-boyfriend, and she’s happy to just not think about being in a relationship for a while. I’ve always found that when I’m sad about something the best cure is to just put my head down for a while and work hard. Before you know it, you feel better, some time has passed, and you’ve gotten something done instead of just moping around.
Rian: If someone asked you for advice on how to publish their tell-all chick lit type memoir, what would you tell them?
Rachel: The best thing to do is listen to types of people that you encounter – because groups of people have their own languages and their own ways of doing things. I love Jilly Cooper novels because of the whole deliciously scandalous, upper-crust, horsey, British set that she writes about. I’ve never known anyone like the people in her books, but I was hooked on them from the first one that I read. If you can bring the reader into a world that they may not have experienced on their own and make them feel as if they know it, your reader will enjoy the story so much more. Especially when the characters, at their core, are people the reader can understand, and feel an emotion toward – be it love, hate, envy, derision or anything else. If you can stir an emotion in your reader, they’re going to keep turning the pages.