My nom de plume is Rae Hachton, but my real name is Desirae. I write novels for young adults. I am the author of the Pretty in Black series, which is a Gothic Romance. Some of my favorite things are moonflowers, ravens and crows, The Raveonettes music, black roses, railroad tracks, the Victorian era, and cemeteries. If I could be a time of day, I would be 5:55 p.m. or that magical hour during sunset. More things that I like: Violin music, spiders & cobwebs, 50s music, skeletons, Dracula, & Castles. Also, I love Jones Soda and Pocky, and wishes Halloween were everyday.
1. Where are you from?
I was born in The United States, so technically I would be an American, but my heritage is Filipino/French from my Father’s side and Italian/Caucasian on my Mom’s side.
Also, I would like to interject for just a moment to say: For anyone wondering how to pronounce my last name in my nom de plume, it is pronounced H-ton. The “H” in Hachton is actually silent, only the “ach” part is heard, making the “H” sound. You actually hear more of an “A” than you do an “H.”
2. What inspired you to become a writer?
Growing up, I devoured books. But then I had visions in my head, mini- movies, and decided I wanted to be a filmmaker. But somehow, I ended up transferring my visions to the pages in the medium of sentences. I believe this happened because I was itching to get the visions out of head, but I couldn’t make the films I wanted to—it would’ve been way too expensive, but writing down words was free.
3. Why Gothic Romance?
Goth is something I’ve always been pulled toward, even as a child. I grew up watching dark cinema. In Ninth and Tenth grade I’d daydream about meeting a vampire. I began writing dark poetry and listening to darker kinds of music. But, the thing I find the most odd, is that I never read any dark YA fiction .[ I didn’t even read Anne Rice.] I always read contemporary YA. I mean, yeah, I devoured tons of Edgar Allan Poe, but that was all. I didn’t pick up my first “vampire” book until I was nearly twenty, and even then, it was “Twilight” that I read.
But then I went on a literary binge, devouring every “dark” book in sight. And while some of them were really awesome, at the time, not many felt “Goth” in nature. I mean, Stephenie Meyer had taken vampires and put them in an everyday commonplace setting, making them “normal.”
I’m rambling, I know...probably because I can’t really give an exact answer to this question. What I know is, when the vision for Pretty in Black came to me, I wrote it...and it turned out to be a Gothic Romance. And it just felt right...and I thought it was really awesome. I have also realized, as time has progressed, that I have some really bizarre ideas. I’m gearing up for another “Goth” romance called Frankie’s Monster and it’s all about “Xombies” but not Zombies.
4. Who are some of the writers that influence your work?
Oddly enough, they would all be Contemporary YA writers. I believe my number one influence would definitely be David Levithan. I will read anything by him. I adore the way he writes. Also, more recently I’m digging some Jenny Han, and I love Hannah Moskowitz.
I know, some of you are probably going...what waaa? Don’t you write Gothic YA fiction. Yes, I do, but I read lots more contemporary than anything else. Why? The answer is quite simple from my perspective. I am a Goth at heart, and I believe the atmosphere of Goth will come across in my stories, should I choose for it to. But, guys, it’s really easy to put two people in a cemetery and have them talk. It’s a lot harder to make those damn teenage emotions feel real. If anyone knows anything about teenage emotions, it’s contemporary YA writers. I mean, All three of those writers I listed above...make me cry...their stories make me smile, laugh....and cry! I believe it’s a great balance, reading more contemporary, but writing Goth. It’s very easy to become so wrapped in the dark stuff, that you forget you’re writing about teenagers. Also, I don’t want to repeat what everyone else in the Paranormal Romance genre is doing. I’m trying to think outside the box so I can deliver something different. This is incredibly challenging, because I’m currently working with vampires and zombies. And both have a lot of history that I’m trying to toss out the window.
My heart was with YA contemporary first...also, I have tons of contemporary stories in the works. I’m not done with contemporary at all!
5. There are quite a few Gothic Romance writers who incorporate Edgar Allan Poe in their work. In what way would you say Pretty in Black differs from the rest?
Well, for starters, Pretty in Black is not based off one of his poems or one of his stories, and it’s not a modern remake, nor have I taken two characters and trapped them in a Dark Poe-Inspired world. Know who has though? Kelly Creagh and I freaking LOVE Nevermore!
In Pretty in Black Poe just happens to be one of Ellie’s favorite poets. And Marcus just happens to reside in the dark, magical world called Nevermore. And he is one of many raven shape-shifters, and they are called Evermores. The world of Pretty in Black is really dark and reminiscent of the way a Poe poem might make you feel, but other than that, there is nothing else.
6. How difficult was it to develop characters like Ellie and Marcus, making them relatable to readers?
If they are relatable to readers, then I am happy to know that. But Marcus and Ellie came naturally. I literally heard their voices in my head. Somehow, I just feel like I know them, almost as if they’re real people.
I was able to relate to both of them, while writing the story. I could feel exactly the way they felt. So, it really wasn't difficult at all.
7. Such a dark but electrifying story must have required research. How long did it take you to complete the first book?
I completed the first book in a month. Started writing it near the first of April 2011 and finished at the beginning of May. The total word count was about 65,000 words and it was only going to be the one book, until Marcus appeared to me again, and insisted I change some things. Then it ended up being a four book series. The first book was shortened to keep from giving away too much at once. So this means, I spent the rest of May and all of June, July, August, and September, rewriting the book. So, it took me a total of six months.
In the very beginning, the book didn’t have Raven shape-shifters, and Marcus wasn’t an immortal creature who wanted to take Ellie into eternity. This was something that evolved after he began talking to me. He was basically just a regular, boring dead guy. So I spent a lot of time reworking, not only the first book, but the entire 4 book series, so I would know what goes in each book and where it would fit.
He kept telling me that his species was sort-of like vampires, only they weren’t vampires because they didn’t have the need or the desire to drink blood, and a bunch of other things were different about them as well.
When I published the book, I didn’t want to go screaming vampire! vampire! all over the place, because I thought that would taint the book and give it the wrong image. Plus, nothing about vampires was even remotely mentioned in book one. So this wasn’t a great marketing angle to shoot from.
The overall concept for the series, was the day that Ellie met Marcus in the cemetery, he knew a lot more about the situation than he portrayed to know, and she would eventually begin to become enlightened through a series of events that she didn’t quite understand, but she would figure them out. However, while Marcus does know certain things, he is still very much left in the dark, just like Ellie. He’s been in the dark for a long time, 100 years to be exact. So he wasn’t able to just sit down and tell Ellie, “Okay, here is what I am and here is how I came to be and here are the rules,” because he doesn’t know everything. Actually, important information has been withheld from him by several people in Nevermore for important reasons, which will be revealed later on in the series.
It’s Marcus’s and Ellie’s journey to find out what is going on and why/how they were brought together.
Oh, and I didn’t have to do much research—Marcus provided tons of information. And besides Marcus and Ellie, there are about 5 other characters in my head, telling me things that neither Ellie or Marcus know yet.
One of these characters is named Walter, and you will be meeting him in Black Satin. Basically, everyone in Pretty in Black is hiding a secret, but they’re all about to be pulled out of the closet.
I think the most challenging aspect for me, while writing this book, has been the many different love stories taking place. While this is mainly a book about Marcus and Ellie, there are at least 7 other love stories that take place in the background. And every one of them tie into how Marcus and Ellie came together. The challenging part has been keeping that separated from the main storyline and not dropping them in as a sub-plot.
8. Pretty in Black received positive feedback last year. Do you feel pressured in any way to make the second book just as good or if not better than the first?
In a way, I do feel a certain drive to make the second book as good as the first one, if not better. However, each book in the series will have a completely different tone than the first, due to how things progress.
While Pretty in Black did receive positive feedback, a lot of people, if not everyone, has stated that they want to know more, they want answers, they want to know what in the world is really going on in this book. This brings me to question number Nine.
9. What can your fans expect to get from Black Satin?
Fans can expect this from Black Satin:
- You Will Learn what being an Evermore means, what they are,what they do, and how they originated.
- You will be introduced to a new cast of characters, and meet a new immortal being, who also Loves Ellie, and you will know exactly how this came to be.
- You will finally find out exactly what happened that day on the train tracks between Marcus and Declan.
- You will get more information about the Corvidae Hunters.
- Ellie’s history will be revealed, and you will learn something about her that changes everything you previously thought you knew.
- You will learn what happened prior to Marcus meeting Ellie in the cemetery.
Some of Marcus’s history will be unveiled, but not all of it, because his story continues in Raven in the Grave when he finally gets more room to narrate. And tons of other stuff that makes me want to jump up & down right this second!!
10. By the way, why do you call your fans Midnight Birdies?
Because I’m a Corvidophile and I love Ravens. And those who like my work are my Midnight Birds.
11. If you were lost in a world filled with books but was only allowed to take three, other than your own Pretty in Black series, which three books would you select and why?
Hey! That’s a really hard question to answer. But I think I can do this: I’m taking Twilight, Nevermore, and The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. Out of all the books I’ve read in the last year, those 3 are like my fav. If I could toss in a classic, I’d take Wuthering Heights :)
12. What do you do for fun when you’re not writing?
Graphic Design, learning to play drums, daydreaming.
13. Thank you Rae, any kind tips for aspiring writers?
You don’t need permission, but just in case you do: GO write a book!! :)