You’ve heard of her new YA novel that’s touched by a hint of magic; now let’s get to know this interesting author.
Welcome to Date with a Debut Author! A Bookstr series where we meet up with a new author to get to know them, their writing process, and their book.
This week we had the pleasure to meet Rachel Griffin, author of The Nature of Witches, to learn more about her, her debut novel, and her interests.
Date with a Debut Author gets you up close and personal with the debut authors you should be looking out for each week. So, are you ready to get to know Rachel Griffin? Let’s go!
Conversation Over Coffee
Since we’re just getting to know Rachel.
Serena Knudson (SK): In your bio on your website, it is mentioned that you have a Bachelor of Science in diagnostic ultrasound from Seattle University. You’ve worked in health care, taught at your alma mater, and spent time at a startup. Now you are a full-time writer, a mentor with Pitch Wars, and a co-founder of your own mentoring program for writers. How did you make the decision to become a mentor?
Rachel Griffin (RG): I have always loved teaching, and after I had such an incredible experience as a Pitch Wars mentee in 2016, it became a dream of mine to mentor. I’ve mentored for the past four years and have loved it, and while I couldn’t make it work with my schedule this year, I’m really hoping to get back to it in the future.
SK: Which of your characters from The Nature of Witches would you be best friends with?
RG: Probably Paige. My personality is much more similar to Clara’s, but many of the people closest to me are more like Paige—I appreciate people who say what they mean and tell it like it is, and Paige is very much that way. She is also extremely loyal and will always show up for the people she loves. And she’d make me laugh a lot!
SK: What or who has inspired your writing?
RG: Nature is probably the biggest inspiration for my writing. Every time I step out the door is an opportunity to see something in a new way or notice something I haven’t noticed before. Because of that, I tend to be really inspired by writings about nature, specifically Mary Oliver’s poetry, but really anything that talks about the natural world.
SK: If you had the time and resources to learn a new hobby, what would you learn?
RG: Probably dance. I love watching dancers, but I’ve never taken classes and don’t think I’d be very good at it! Still, I’d love to learn one day.
SK: What is something you would change in today’s world?
RG: The pressure we feel to be connected all the time.
Let’s Get Intimate!
Don’t you want to learn more about this talented author?
SK: What was the biggest obstacle you faced while writing The Nature of Witches?
RG: Probably continuing to believe in it for as long as I did. I wrote The Nature of Witches while my book before that was on submission. That book didn’t sell, and I ended up parting ways with my first agent after that. It took me a long time to find someone who believed in Nature the way I did—it was almost a year of querying, a year of rejection after rejection after rejection, before I signed with my next agent. There were many times I wondered if I was foolish for sticking with the story as long as I did, but I couldn’t quite let go of it. (And I’m so, so glad I couldn’t!)
SK: Before becoming a mentor with Pitch Wars, you were a mentee yourself. How did Pitch Wars affect your writing career and your book?
RG: Pitch Wars was the first big win in my writing journey. It was the first time I’d received external validation from someone in the industry, and I learned a ton. My mentor, Heather Ezell, was a wealth of knowledge, and I came out of the experience with a stronger manuscript and better understanding of craft. Not only that, but Pitch Wars helped me find a writing community I’d been sorely lacking before then. I made some incredible friends through that program, and we’re still friends today!
SK: What were you doing when you found out The Nature of Witches was going to be published? How did you celebrate?
RG: I was at the grocery store when I heard an editor was interested in my book, and I literally sunk to the floor and started sobbing! When I received the official offer, I had just landed in Sacramento to visit some friends, and they took me out to dinner and celebrated and cried with me. It was absolutely wonderful and one of my favorite memories.
SK: Has writing and publishing a book changed the way you view yourself?
RG: It has. When I finished writing my first book, I felt proud of myself in a way I hadn’t felt before. It took me over a year to draft, and I stuck with it even though I had a very demanding job that left me little time to write. In many ways, writing helped me find myself and the things that mattered to me. As for getting published, I don’t have the words to express what it feels like when a lifelong dream comes true. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a young child, and I spent nine years actively pursuing publication, and I’m just so thankful and proud of my past self for not giving up.
SK: You recently announced your sophomore novel, Wild is the Witch coming out Summer 2022, anything you can tell us about it?
RG: Yes! It’s another witchy contemporary fantasy about a girl who accidentally binds a powerful curse to an owl, and she has to traipse through the Pacific Northwest wilderness with the boy she loathes in search of the owl before the curse is unleashed. It’s an intimate story that features so many of the things I love, and I can’t wait to share more as we get closer to publication!
Fun And Games
Now that we’re well-acquainted with Rachel, here are some fun questions and what she had to say about them.
SK: With a growing collection of houseplants and your love for the outdoors, what is your favorite plant?
RG: My favorite outdoor plant is probably winter daphne, because it blooms early in the year and smells absolutely amazing. I associate the scent very strongly with winter, and I always look forward to it blooming. I have a winter daphne right outside my back door, and I get so excited when I finally smell it for the first time of the season.
SK: If you could write a spin-off about a side character, who would you choose?
SK: If you could know the absolute truth to one question, what would you ask?
RG: What would my older self tell my present-day self?
SK: What would your perfect day look like?
RG: Waking up late, making coffee, talking to my twin sister, taking a long walk with my husband and dog (either through the woods or on the beach!), talking for a long time over dinner, then curling up by the fire and reading with a cup of tea.
SK: What was your favorite childhood book?
RG: Wicked by Gregory Maguire! I absolutely loved that book.
SK: What are your favorite book recommendations?
RG: I love anything by Madeline Miller and Naomi Novik! I also love Mary Oliver’s poetry, and I’m a huge fan of Peter Wohlleben’s nature books—they’re amazing and inspiring.
Rachel Griffin’s The Nature of Witches follows the journey of one witch, Clara Densmore, and the weight of her power and fate.
For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara Densmore, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.
In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic―losing the ones she loves―is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather.
In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference.
In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses.
In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves . . . before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.
If you enjoyed getting to know Rachel, take a look at more new authors through Bookstr’s Date With a Debut Author series here!