Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachael Tamayo.
Rachael, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My dream was to write since I can remember. I have been writing since childhood. As a little girl, I used to write plays to put on with my friends at school. I grew into an adolescent and my parents bought me used typewriters and a word processor to encourage me. I used to sit for hours and write. By the time I was twenty, I had written two full-length manuscripts (still in my closet by the way) and tried to get published by sending my hand-typed manuscripts out in the mail, before the birth of email. Somewhere along the line, I stopped. I suppose life got in the way. Working, getting married, having kids. I gave up on the idea of being a real writer for many years. It seemed impossible.
When I was about thirty-seven, I decided to pick it up again. I was a 911 and police dispatcher at the time (twelve-year veteran, I left law enforcement right after the Santa Fe school shooting). I decided that I was going to pick up again, take it seriously. I spent the night shift at work writing, and I stumbled on a website called Critique Circle, where I could have other writers, strangers, give me honest opinions on my work. I used this site and it really helped me. Not only did I make friends, but I learned what I was doing wrong, and I spent about a year applying it. I wrote an entire book and ended up trashing it, using the characters that I birthed when I was a teenager in one of those novels that I wrote as a sixteen-year-old kid. Those characters became my first series, The Friend-Zone series. A trilogy romance set around a group of friends. I spent maybe a year bouncing between searching for agents and publishers, getting rejections that told me it was good, but not what they were looking for. Just when I thought that maybe I should give it up, I got my first contract with my first publisher.
I was over the moon. In the first two years, I put out my romances: The Friend-Zone books. I also cranked out my first thriller, Crazy Love. Frankly, I’ve always wanted to write thrillers, but I was afraid to even try. Crazy Love is a blend, my first step away from romance and into the darkness that is psychological thrillers. I was scared, but I was able to use my experience from years of 911 and the knowledge I gained of mental illness and work that into the story to create a very real tale. Over time, Crazy Love has won awards.
After Crazy Love came Lucifer’s Game. Also heavy in romance, but a supernatural thriller that was born when I heard the song, Sympathy for the Devil, one day when I was coming home from the grocery store.
Now, my most recent book, Break my Bones, was the hardest to write. A blend of domestic and psychological that was drawn from years of work in law enforcement. A raw, powerful and hard-hitting tale of domestic violence. It was my first straight-up thriller with almost no romance and has been so well received that I know that I have found my niche in the genre, finally. It is the first of a seven-book thriller series, The Deadly Sins Novels, to be put out by Tangled Tree Publishing. (Book two is due out sometime in 2020)
People often ask me when I write. I have a full-time job, I have two kids under seven years old. I have a husband of fourteen years. When do I do it? Any time I can? On breaks at work, on the weekends, at home in front of the tv. Writing is in my blood, and I can’t stop. I will write anywhere anytime. As a child, my mother used to write but lacked any confidence to go anywhere with it. Watching her and her encouragement was a huge part of what made me what I am today. I started over, reaching for my dream at thirty-seven years old. I had a baby at forty. I made it happen, and now I am an international bestseller and award-winning writer. My books are being read around the world. It took me three years to achieve it once I set my mind to it, a dream that I never could quite abandon. I wonder sometimes what might have happed had I not walked away from it for so many years. All I can say is, don’t give up. I sat down and knew that I was decent, but could be better. I learned. I threw away whole books. I re-wrote. I listened. I wanted it bad enough to work for it, and now at forty-three, I have my first book on the Amazon bestseller list.
It’s never too late, it’s never too hard–if you want it bad enough.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a smooth, easy ride to get here. Let’s forget the fact that I set this aside for seventeen years, and didn’t pick it up again until after my son was born. I remember my husband telling me, “I had no idea that you liked to write.” Of course, he didn’t, I never told anyone. It had been years since I put a story on paper. I was terrified to let anyone read it, but in the end, I knew that I had to. How can I expect to be published if I’m to scared to let anyone read what I write?
The first book I wrote when I started this venture again was good. I was told it was good, but it wasn’t the one. After spending six to eight months writing it, and another six sending it out and getting told no, I realized my mistake. As hard as it was, I hit delete and started over. I started to write a book that ended up being my romance, Chase Me. I kept at it and ended up cranking out two more, Reach for Me, and Chase Me before I found a publisher that said-yes, we love it.
I trashed whole books. I was rejected over and over. I struggled with the question of finding an agent or going straight to the publisher. I also had a baby at home and was working twelve-hour shifts in the dispatch/911 center at the police department. Writing was my escape from the stress of the hell I dealt with at work and the exhaustion of having a baby on top of it. It was a struggle to break through the barrier in my late thirties and be able to say, I am a traditionally published author. My only regret is not keeping up with it for so many years. I wish I had not walked away from it in my twenties the way I did.
Now, a few years later, I still have a full-time job, but my kids are six and two. The obstacles aren’t gone, they have just changed.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I think that many writers start in the romance genre because it’s formulated, it’s easy. It’s a safe place to start. While I started there, I knew that it wasn’t my home base. In my heart, I knew that I had to get better to do what I really wanted to do: psychological thrillers. I spent some years blending genres to back slowly away from where I began to get to where I am now. In Crazy love, it’s got a heavy romantic sub-plot. Each subsequent book got lighter and lighter until I ended up where I am now, a thriller author. In romance, we know what will happen. In thrillers, anything goes, and this is what I love. However, I really do try to make my books stand out. Break My Bones has been called “genre-defining” because it breaks the bounds of your average domestic thriller. It stands out, it’s different. I hope to achieve the same in each book I write. I want them to be different, twisted, and memorable. Haunting. I want them to stick with you long after you turn the last page.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
The only luck I could say would be finding the right agents that rejected me but told me how good it really was. Those were the ones that kept me going. Luck of finding that publisher, nestled among the millions out there that loved it enough to sign it. Other than that, I’d say it’s more learning what you are bad at and wanting to achieve your goal so bad that you can recognize your own fault and do what it takes to turn that around.
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