My sister Becky met Rachel through a common network of TV production friends from her casting days. A natural storyteller, Rachel had been creating content for Reality TV, news, and documentaries for National Geographic, A&E, the History Channel, and the Oprah Winfrey Network. So, it is not surprising that while working on the Obama campaign and trying to explain who POTUS was to her three-year-old daughter, she was inspired to write her first picture book, WHEN PENNY MET POTUS.
Your book, WHEN PENNY MET POTUS, was inspired by your daughter’s questions about President Obama. But in the book, the POTUS is a woman. Was that your idea, the publisher’s, or the illustrator’s?
It was my idea. Other than shortening the manuscript a bit, my publisher left the story intact. I wanted Penny’s journey to end on an inspirational note. I wanted Penny to realize she can be president one day, or anything else she dreams of being. And hopefully, that’s the takeaway for all readers and listeners.
WHEN HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON PLAYED ICE HOCKEY and WHEN ROSA PARKS WENT FISHING are about two important women. Who else would be on your wish list to write about?
Oh, so many! Michelle Obama, Katherine Johnson, Eliza Hamilton, and Sally Ride are just a few.
Do you know if Hillary Clinton read your book?
Yes, she read both WHEN PENNY MET POTUS and WHEN HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON PLAYED ICE HOCKEY because I sent them to her! She wrote back the most kind, supportive, and inspiring words.
As someone who has worked in entertainment for years, what surprised you most about the publishing industry?
In the world of television production, things move very fast and there is a lot of deadline pressure. So, I guess I was surprised at how much slower things move in the publishing world.
Is there a difference between how you approach your storytelling for TV versus for books? Any similarities?
There is. When I write for TV or the Internet, I have to be a lot more concise than when I’m writing books. I have to figure out the most interesting way to tell the whole story in 2-3 minutes, as opposed to 32 pages. This skill is helpful when writing children’s books because it helps me drill down to the heart of my story, and then expand on it.
What specific things did you do on your road to publication that were the most helpful to your success?
Doing lots (and lots) of research on children’s books! Learning what’s already been published on the topics and the stories I want to write about.
What are you working on next?
I’m writing a graphic novel about Martin Luther King Jr. for kids, and it will be available next year. I’m super excited about it because my daughter and I are very into graphic novels at the moment. I’m especially excited about the opportunity to tell a non-fiction story in a new and fun way.
Rachel also incorporates her film-making and storytelling skills to create promotional book trailers. Through her production company with her husband, Flash Rock Films, Rachel has produced trailers for her own books. She would love to help more authors with their own book trailer needs. If you are in the market for a book trailer, you can check out some of her projects here: http://www.flashrockfilms.com/
To learn more about Rachel visit https://www.rachelruizbooks.com/
Thank you, Rachel. Remember to support our mentors by buying their books, leaving on-line reviews, and telling your librarians.
To learn how to apply for a mentorship with Writing with the Stars http://beckytarabooks.com/wwts-contest/