Interview with Author of Guardian of the Underworld, Rachel Tetley.
Congratulations on your new book Rachel. It really was very good and I would like to say what a creative imagination you have. I have a few questions that I think yours and my readers would like to hear your answers for, so here goes.
Would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, even as a little girl, I was always someone who was ‘up for’ an adventure. My best friend was a boy called Billy Lang, who lived down the lane from me, and as a result, the adventures that we had, tended to be much more boysie than girlie. I think this fuelled my thirst for adventure even as an adult, leading me through a number of experiences as well as circumstances beyond my control, before eventually finding the space to be able to write an adventure for everyone to enjoy.
I started writing the story whilst I was pregnant with my first daughter Gaby, however I lost Gaby’s father in a car accident, followed shortly by my mother who had suffered with breast cancer in Gaby’s first couple of years. At that time, I didn’t really know what the story was going to be about. I had only written the first five pages and had set out to create a Blytonesque story for my daughter in a similar vain to The Magic Faraway Tree, but the five pages were filed away to allow me to concentrate on other things.
A couple of years later, I fell into the wrong relationship, having not given myself chance to truly get over the loss of Gaby’s dad and my mother, but decided to give it a chance despite my better judgement. I had always wanted to go to Oxford and study law, so I went back and studied some more a-levels, taking them in one year instead of two and was awarded my place at Oxford. In the meantime, I had my second daughter Charlotte.
Unfortunately, it became clear that Oxford wasn’t going to work for us at this time, so instead, I started my own catering business in Wiltshire whilst pursuing my second life-long ambition, to get to Badminton Horse Trials with my horse at the time ‘Pug’. The business became hugely successful over the five years that I ran it, however it was clear that my relationship with Charlottes dad was a destructive one, so I left with the girls and moved onto a Wiltshire farm. Shortly afterwards, I went to my father’s 50th birthday party and met the love of my life, Piers.
Piers already had two boys, Henry and William, who lived with him and were very similar ages to my two girls and as a result, got on with each other beautifully. We moved in together back down in Devon and Piers later proposed.
After running my catering business remotely for a year, I sold it on and at a similar time, Piers and I had our own little girl, Sophia. With Sophia sleeping for four hours a day, and the business sold, I came across the five pages of my story and decided it was time to finish it.
My daughter Charlotte, who is a very capable writer herself, had told me about a dream in which she had slipped into another world through a whirlpool. That alongside living in the most idyllic location in Devon surrounded by woodland with a river running through it, the rest of the story was born! I have now finished writing the next in the series, The Book of Light: Underworld Chronicles Book Two, which is currently going through the editing process, as well as working on a completely different type of story about a stowaway.
Apart from writing, I still enjoy eventing my horse, playing the piano by ear, Tennis, any extreme sports and of course baking. I like to try and make sure there is something homemade and yummy on the side every day, which little Sophia very much enjoys participating in! I have a website which I am in the process of putting together with some of my recipes called The Naughty Kitchen. I also enjoy baking our own bread.
Your storyline, characters and descriptions were so creative, how did you come up with the initial idea?
Well living with five children in the middle of a woods, as well as a dream which Charlotte had in which she had an adventure in another world having slipped into a whirlpool, were the perfect ingredients to put together the storyline for Guardian of the Underworld. Of course there are lots of elements of my childhood in the story and in particular, the characters are very much based on people in my life. For example, Grandpa was inspired by Piers parents, and Arianna-me!
What age range would you say your book is aimed at?
Did you design the cover and illustrations of the book yourself?
Yes, I love to draw and paint, so I really enjoyed the opportunity to try and bring the story alive with some of the images I had in my head whilst writing it.
Your book is aimed at a young audience, is there a message or moral of your story you were hoping the readers would get? (Without any spoilers of course).
I certainly wanted to get across the importance of family, but also in particular, forgiveness.
And finally (and hopefully), is there another book on its way?
There certainly is! It is called The Book of Light: Underworld Chronicles Book Two, which is almost entirely based in the Underworld and talks about The Knights Templar. I hope to have it back from the editors and ready by April this year (2015)
Thank you for sharing your answers with us Rachel, it was lovely to speak to you and so interesting to hear how your book came about. I certainly am looking forward to your next book.