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  • Writer's pictureVendela Ahlström

Interview with R. J. Joseph

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

In the beginning of August when I decided to participate in the #writingcommunitychallenge we were prompted to find a writing buddy. I didn't even think about the fact that the writing buddy had to be part of the challenge or that I had to get to know them through the challenge. I just grabbed my crit partner Rhee Stacks without even thinking.

Rhee Stacks, who writes under the pen name R.J. Joseph is working on the most amazing WIP. She has taught me so much on our journey on the WIP course on Faber Academy that it's simply impossible for me not to interview her!

First of all, tell us, very briefly about your WIP

Oh the dreaded question! In a nutshell, it’s about an orphaned girl persecuted all her life for her fey blood; but when demons invade, her feared fey heritage may be the only thing that can save them. (Thanks A.Y. Chao for the help with that one!)

(A.Y. Chao is an amazing fellow student on our Faber course and she is so full of knowledge and wisdom. She's a book full of answers to questions you didn't even know you had about the publishing industry. Sign up to her newsletter here and be sure to pre-order her debut Soul Affinity coming out 19th November 2020!)

How did this story come to you?

I’m going to sound so lame here, but I sleepwalk and dream a lot. I woke up in a start one night because I thought I set my lamp on fire ... with my hands.

(Girl, this is one hell of a "I got this idea from a dream" story.)

Where do you find inspiration?

Reading/watching/listening to other creative works. It’s the best way to jog inspo! Also living in a country steeped in myth, history and lore helps! Always down for a castle trip! Also my Salt Squad are true champions for whenever I have writers block. Looking at you Ven, and Alice and Venetia 😘

(The Salt Squad are our group of friends from out Faber course who are absolutely amazing when it comes to help, crits and general encouragement!)

Are you planning to trad publish or indie publish?

I’m hoping for trad — for that amazing thrill of finding an agent and editor — but friends have opened my eyes to the indie/self-pub world and I’m not so intimidated by it anymore. I guess when I finish my WIP I’ll know better.

(I'm with you girl. I was set on trad in the beginning as well and now I'm starting to think more and more about indie.)

Who’s your author role model (within your genre)?

Oh god, there’s loads. Firstly Sarah J Maas, my queen. She’s the one who made me believe I could write YA fantasy as a career. What she writes at the end of the Throne of Glass series in the acknowledgments makes me SOB! Also Holly Black (so lovely and honest about her writing), Cassandra Clare, Leigh Bardugo, Victoria Aveyard (her insta is dreamy) and recently Shelby Mahurin (Serpent and Dove is brilliant) and Roseanne A Brown (her story is incredible and she’s total inspo).

(Absolutely adore all of these authors! Have yet to get to Serpent and Dove though. I know, it's on my Kindle thanks to you. I have no excuses!)

What’s the working title of your WIP?

Right now, it’s A Crown In The Forge. I’m not holding my breath for that one because if I go trad I know I’ll have little say on what the final title will be. The Forge is the main tournament in the story so something with that word in the title would be rad.

(This is the first time I've heard the full title and I am loving it. Before it was always just the Forge. This is getting better and better.)

What's a comp title for your WIP?

I think my comparable titles would be Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo!

(Such amazing YA Fantasy books as well by hugely successful authors too. I'm definitely recommending this book for fans of Throne of Glass and Shadow and Bone.)

What would your ideal author life look like, in say 20 years?

I’ll be working on another series, be a full-time writer, living somewhere in the English countryside with my family. It would be amazing to have at least one book on the NYT Best Sellers list 😭🤞🏼

(Don't we all. Such an achievement to be able to tick off the bucket list.)

What’s your time frame on this book? When do you reckon to be finished?

First draft by the end of this year. Last redraft by June 2021. Ambitious, but I need to crack that whip!

(I feel you darling, we're working to the same deadlines!)

Are we talking a potential series and if so how long?

Yes! I’m hoping I can squeeze a quartet out of the series I’m currently working on — maybe more! There’s just too much to fit in one book.

(I'm so ready for this! The more the better!)

Finally, if you could describe your WIP in three words what would they be?

Oh damn, this is hard! Three words instead of 100k! Magic, Betrayal, Belonging!

(Having read part of this WIP, I can confirm that these words describe this book perfectly!)

I cannot recommend Rhee enough. She is incredibly passionate about YA Fantasy and her writing just gets better and better the longer I know her for. Check out her Instagram @rheestacks for updates. I happen to know she's got a website and newsletter in the making. And even perhaps some character art!

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