I am very excited to be joined by the amazing R.A. Hutchins, author of cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, and historical fiction. Her works include the Baker’s Rise Mysteries Series, a heartfelt contemporary romance series set in Scotland called Found in Fife, the historical romance series Cobble Wynd and other works.
Eve: Rachel, please share where do you draw the inspiration from to write stories in different genres?
Rachel: Thank you so much for the opportunity to share with your readers, Eve. The inspiration for my contemporary romances came from stories that were on my heart to share – characters that wouldn’t give me peace until their stories were told! I wanted to portray mental ill health, grief and differing physical abilities in a realistic way, and to me this was just as important as the love stories themselves.
The Cobble Wynd books were born from my love of that era – and of history in general. They began with the idea of an Edwardian bookshop with a strong, independent woman owner and flowed from there until a whole town was born! Interestingly, I am coming back to my fictional town of Lillymouth where Cobble Wynd is located, but in contemporary times, in a new cozy mystery series I’m writing, which features a female vicar!
Cozy mysteries have always been a comfort read for me. They evoke memories of my childhood watching black and white Miss Marple films with my grandmother, and Poirot with my parents. Yes, I love Agatha Christie’s mysteries! When I was a new mother, the books of M.C. Beaton were easy to read between other tasks, and I found comfort in the familiar characters and settings as the series continued. It is this familiarity, this comfort factor that I’ve tried to achieve with my Baker’s Rise Mysteries series. I love the gentle humour that often accompanies books in this genre, and the promise that you are cushioned from the harsher realities of life that you see in thrillers.
So, I would say that I write in genres that have personal significance for me, my life and my interests.
Eve: I immensely enjoyed your contemporary romance novels – “To Catch a Feather”, “A Stroke of Luck”, “The Angel and The Wolf”. I am not ashamed to admit that not once I shed a tear over the hardships – so deeply relatable! – your characters have to go through. Tell us, do the books you read make you cry?
Rachel: Thank you so much! It is so lovely to hear that as a reader you were moved by my writing. Yes, I am an extremely emotional person, and my family often joke that I could cry at an advert on the TV! So, I often find myself moved to tears when reading others’ books, and also when writing my own! Your own book, “Tangle of Choices” had me sobbing several times – such a great, moving read.
Eve: Thank you for your praise. It means a lot that the book I cried over every time I went through editing evoked deep emotions in you. I never hide that “Tangle of Choices” is my favourite book in the Neglected Merge Trilogy.
Please tell us more about your experience writing historical novels. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Rachel: The Edwardian era has held my interest since I was at school. We have a large open air museum near us, called Beamish, which has a lot of buildings and information on this period in history. We have an annual pass and it is one of my favourite family days out! So, the years from 1900-1920, and the two World Wars are my favourites to read and learn about. I do a lot of reading around the subject – I particularly enjoy learning about the ordinary folk of the time, hence why they are the focus of my Cobble Wynd stories. It is really important to me that every historical detail in my books is correct, down to the furniture and foods available at the time etc. This research has been going on for my whole adult life, but I did several months of focused reading before I began writing the first Lillymouth book and then kept checking things as I went.
Eve: All authors know how vitally important reviews are. It can be both exhilarating and discouraging to receive them. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Rachel: So true, reviews are exceptionally important. I read every single one, and appreciate the time it took the reader to leave that feedback. Of course I’m thrilled to receive positive feedback, and to hear how my books have been enjoyed. I try to take any constructive criticism I can from negative feedback. I consider how I can use it to make future books even better. It can be easy to become disheartened, so I try to use those few reviews as a learning tool.
Eve: “Here Today, Scone Tomorrow”, book one in your cozy mystery series, is next on my reading list. I can’t wait to meet Flora Miller and her parrot. Besides, quaint English villages are among my favourite settings both in books and on screen. What do you hope your readers take away from this book/series?
Rachel: Thank you so much, Eve, I hope you enjoy Flora and her feisty feathered friend! I hope that my cozy mystery readers enjoy the quaint English village setting with Flora’s tearoom and later her bookshop, the quirky characters, the humour and familiarity. As well as trying to solve the mysteries, of course!
Over the course of the series, I’d like to think that people enjoy watching the relationships between the different characters develop, as well as seeing more of their individual personalities. I hope that people will find the comfort and entertainment that I’ve always found when reading this genre.
Eve: You are active on social media. It is the best way to connect with people these days. What is your favourite platform where you feel the most comfortable interacting with your readers?
Rachel: Yes, social media provides the perfect platform to interact with other book lovers from around the world, and I enjoy the friendships I have made there! I find that Facebook is the platform where I can best interact with my cozy mystery readers, as there are some fantastic genre-specific groups there. For romance, I find Instagram is best, and for general content also – I share most about my own life there.
Thank you so much, Eve, it has been a pleasure to share with you and your readers. Sending my love and best wishes, Rachel
Eve: Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. I hope that many readers around the world will appreciate your books. But for now, I’m off to continue reading “Here Today, Scone Tomorrow” – an absolutely delightful read.
You can buy books on Amazon. Check her author’s page
Follow Rachel also on Goodreads