🗣️ Come listen to — or watch — Episode 20 of my podcast, 12 Minutes (or less!) with the Author. In this episode, Rachel Stanley, the author of the fantasy trilogy A Grim Series, talks about the evolution of her series, flawed characters/real characters, and her current writing projects. A transcript and link to the Spotify podcast episode are below. The podcast is also on YouTube (video below).
Episode 20, on Spotify: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/lriDuU0kNGb
This podcast episode is also available on YouTube. Find it here: https://youtu.be/XYk64KDdGug
Find Rachel Stanley and Her Work:
- Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/author/B0873ZSPSB/about
- All Books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/author/B0873ZSPSB/allbooks
- Instagram — give her a follow: https://www.instagram.com/rachel21stanley/
About A Grim Series — a paranormal romantic thriller (the complete collection), by Rachel Stanley
Wait! What? The Grim Reaper’s real?
A Grim Series is a complete collection containing A Grim Affair, A Grim Haunt, and A Grim Ending. Also included is a bonus story not found anywhere else: Angel’s Secret.
The Grim Reaper starts haunting Emma’s dreams in A Grim Affair. Not only that, but during the day, a mysterious stranger follows her every move. Despite the obvious danger, Emma finds herself inexplicably drawn to the scythe-carrying reaper, Blake. Will her attraction to him be the death of her? Or will the stranger who lurks in the shadows cause her more harm?
Emma’s long-dead ancestors resurface in A Grim Haunt to share dire warnings. Despite Blake’s continued reassurance, Emma grows increasingly fearful. But is her fear unfounded? Can she solve the latest mystery before it’s too late?
And finally, in A Grim Ending, Emma faces an even greater threat, and this time it’s not just her life that’s at stake, it’s the fate of the whole world. To make matters worse, Emma is betrayed by someone close to her, and if she can’t trust her nearest and dearest, what hope is there?
Before scrolling to the transcript, enjoy this Rapid-fire Q&A with the Author!
Click the image to open the one-minute video short in your browser.
Welcome to 12 Minutes (or less!) with the Author. I’m your host, T.L. Brown, but you can call me Tracy. Let’s get started.
T.L. Brown: Hey everyone, I’m so excited because today we have one of my favorite authors, Rachel Stanley.
Rachel lives in the Northwest of England. She has always wanted to write stories but only found the time to put pen to paper after a dream about a Grim Reaper. True story! She’s spent most of her adult life working as a project manager, despite her degree being in psychology. Her degree comes in handy, though, helping her to understand people and their different motivations. Rachel lives with her husband, David, and their two cats, Cooper and Watson, who feature in her “A Grim” series. She loves to travel and intends on seeing as much of the world as possible in her lifetime. Much of her writing is actually done when she is on one of her trips (at home or abroad). She can often be found at the side of a lake, or sat on a rock in the middle of nowhere, adding to her latest work of fiction.
Rachel, thank you for joining me on this Sunday and making time. I’m so glad you’re here.
Rachel Stanley: You’re very welcome. It’s lovely to be here, Tracy. And thank you for having me.
T.L. Brown: Let’s get right to the meat of it because that’s what people want. First question: I came to know you through your popular trilogy, A Grim Series. Can you tell us a little about that series and how the story and the characters evolved over three books?
Rachel Stanley: Absolutely. As you said in my bio, A Grim Series came about because I had a dream about a Grim Reaper. I actually dreamt about the first chapter in which the Grim Reaper is in a restaurant, and he’s watching people. He’s watching one person in particular, and he’s weighing up their probability of death. In that scene, a woman, Emma — who is my main character — sees him. She’s the only one who can see him. She gets up to investigate, but never gets to him before he decides that the man he’s watching, his fates conclude. And so, the Grim Reaper disappears.
I had this dream, and I thought nothing of it at first other than it kept replaying in my brain.
I kept saying to my husband, “It’s really interesting, isn’t it? You know, what would happen if, what would happen if?” I think in the end, he got so fed up with me that he said, “Just write it down.”
I basically started writing it down — I had no sense of a plot, no idea where it was going. You might have guessed by now that I’m a bit of a pantser, even now to this day when I write, my husband asks, “Where’s the end of this book?” I’m like, “I have no idea!” I just write what comes to mind.
I started writing about Emma and Blake, the Grim Reaper. Emma can see him, and I started thinking, “What if? What would happen if?” I knew I wanted them to get together; I knew there was something about her being the only one who could see him. I wanted to understand that, and I wanted to understand what it would be like for somebody who basically had no interaction with anybody for the last thousand years. That was where book one came from.
Book one on its own just felt a little bit flat without something else in it, so I added a second kind of sub-story, which is a stalking sub-story. It required some research with the police to make sure that I didn’t mess up any of the British policing facts. That was where book one came from.
I wrote all sorts into book one that I had absolutely no idea where it was going, and then I thought: “Well, you know, I quite enjoyed doing this. It was a bit fun, wasn’t it?” And I started writing book two — again with a bit of a sense of no real idea of where it was going. I think I was halfway through book two when I had a dawning realization about some of the characters that I’d introduced in book one. It all came together.
I’m trying not to say too much about the later books because if I do, it really does give stuff away in the earlier books. But fundamentally, over the three books, there’s a story arc about Emma and Blake: Blake’s a Grim Reaper. He’s struggling to come to terms with the life that he’s had. Emma falls in love with him. I don’t don’t think that’s the secret — I don’t think that’s a big spoiler.
In each of the books, there’s a “something” that has to be solved. In the first one, it’s stalking. In the second one, it’s something a little bit different. And in the third, I will be honest, it gets a darker still and sets up a spin-off that I have planned but haven’t yet started writing.
That’s how A Grim Series came about and what they’re all about. But I don’t want to say too much more because it does get stuff.
T.L. Brown: Exactly. We’ve got to keep some secrets for our listeners.
Rachel Stanley: I do want people to buy the books.
T.L. Brown: And you know, I am such a fan, and this is perfect because Blake…this is perfect for my next question.
As authors, we will often hear readers describe a character, whether it’s in our book(s) or someone else’s, as a “book boyfriend.” And for me, your character, Blake, is right up there at the top as a book boyfriend. I know I’m not the only one. But Blake can be a little moody and challenging. Why do you think your readers gravitate toward him? Why is he so compelling?
Rachel Stanley: You’re absolutely right, I mean, to be perfectly frank, Blake has written to be a little bit of an arrogant…Ohh, I want to use an English swear word, and I really shouldn’t here. He’s written to be a bit of an arrogant sausage, let’s just say. That’s purposeful because I genuinely think if you spend all of your life — thousands of years, I think I say in the book it’s 976 or 964 — that’s a lot of time on your own. You can’t interact with anybody. You can hear people. You can see things that are going on, which is the crux of Blake’s character. But you can’t engage with them. You can’t talk to them. You can’t have a conversation. You can’t really get involved in the world, but the only thing you can do is watch from afar. And I genuinely think that if that was somebody’s life, it would sour your disposition, let’s say.
The reason I particularly wanted to write Blake in a certain way — which is a bit of an arrogant sausage, let’s be honest — is because I’m sick and tired of reading books where the main character is perfect. For me, Emma was perfect: absolutely positively written to be in her 30s. She’s not a youngster. She’s not blonde. She’s not thin. She doesn’t kick ass in high heels. And Blake is not this gorgeous — I mean, he’s gorgeous to me, obviously — but he’s not this “gorgeous, tall, dark, handsome, perfect, charitable, kind, giving person.” He’s perfectly flawed because he’s perfectly real.
Most people say, if they comment on the characters in my book, they tend to say that they like Blake better than they like Emma, which is a bit worrying as she’s a little bit based on me. But, hey ho!
I just think it’s the flaws. I think it’s real. I think that’s what people gravitate towards, but it’s the fact that they’re reading about somebody who they could know. Blake’s by no means a bad person, he’s not malicious or evil. He’s a good person who’s had bad things happen to him, and because of that, he behaves a certain way. I think that’s what people are drawn to, and it’s the difference, isn’t it? He’s a different character.
T.L. Brown: Absolutely. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m drawn to him — and Emma! — because neither one of them is perfect. I can sort of “see me” as Emma when I’m reading the book. I think that’s what readers love.
A Grim Series, that trilogy, has ended. I had to say goodbye to those characters, but I’m very excited because I know you’ve got more coming up in your new series. So, tell us a little bit about that.
Rachel Stanley: I have spin-off plans for those of you who love A Grim Series, which involves Ellie, who’s the “best friend character.” There is a short story that features in the box set of A Grim Series, which starts down the road of Ellie’s story. I haven’t actually put pen to paper on the rest of the story.
This is a secret from my family, so I won’t be sharing this podcast with them…I have a little niece and nephew. My niece is six, and my nephew is eight. When they came to stay with us last summer, they begged for a story. The adventures of Sir Ewan and Princess Esme were born. Naively, I thought children’s stories couldn’t be that hard to write — I’ll box this out over Christmas. It’s not going so well. I’ve only written 12,000 words so far, and I’m aiming for about 40,000.
So currently, I’m working on The Storm Witch, the first in their adventure tales. It’s designed for 8- to 11-year-olds, with adventures involving the Princess of the Isle of Eyre and one of the Grand Knights of the Isle of Eyre. I’ve got at least two books planned for that series.
I don’t know which order I’m going to write in, and what I feel like writing is what I write next. It’s not my day job. I do it because I like it. I like publishing, and let’s be honest — I like it when people say: I really like your stuff!
T.L. Brown: Absolutely! And actually, speaking of your covers, let’s show the readers and the listeners and the viewers this gorgeous series. (displays paperback copies)
Rachel Stanley: I love those covers, I have to say.
T.L. Brown: They’re beautiful covers. I know you had great input into them, and I just love the series, so readers, make sure you start with A Grim Affair. Fall in love with Emma. Fall in love with Blake. If you are on my newsletter list (sign up here), I am going to be giving away a free copy of A Grim Affair, so make sure you’re on my newsletter list for February!
We have come to the end of our podcast, so let me tell readers how they can find your books. You will find a full A Grim Series on Amazon. Make sure you look it up if you like paranormal romance, and I think people who like paranormal mysteries will really like this series, too — that’s just something I want to throw out there. Your socials…Instagram: @Rachel21Stanley. Please, please give Rachel a fellow. She’s such a class act, and we need more of that in our world. Thank you for joining me today.
Rachel Stanley: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you very much.
T.L. Brown: Alright, I will see you, readers and listeners, the next time. Take care!
This has been 12 Minutes (or less!) with the Author. Thanks for listening to today’s episode. Hope you can join me for the next one. Until then, this is Tracy, AKA author T.L. Brown, signing off.