Interview With Rachel Thompson

Interview With Rachel Thompson

After reading Rachel’s book, Broken Pieces, I absolutely had to interview her, especially because her collection inspired a poetry book of mine that is still a work-in-progress. Even though I was not assaulted as a child, many of the feelings I experience(d) are still roughly the same.

1. After reading Broken Places, I would love to know if this book was emotionally taxing for you to write. Was is it therapeutic at times? Triggering at other times?

It was difficult to write for many reasons. My marriage had started to fall apart and I spent a good majority of the time writing late at night, alone in my bed, because we had separated already. Perhaps that lent to the sense of longing in some of the pieces. I do feel writing is always therapeutic for me…for anyone really. Just getting those thoughts out of our head but more, out of our heart, skin, soul, even our bones, sometimes, can lighten us up significantly.

As for triggering? Not really, though it’s interesting, when I wrote ‘Shame’ – I wrote that piece in about five minutes one afternoon and then slept for about three hours. Sleep is my go-to escape, so I know writing that piece definitely affected me deeply. I don’t usually feel triggered easily in general, so when I write, I’m almost in a dissociative state, which is protective to an extent, if that makes sense. When writing nonfiction, memoir especially, you have to be an observer of your own past, your memories, so reaching inside, pulling them out, and examining them makes a writer take a scientific point of view, rather than an emotional one.
2. What made you decide to make this book mixed media, with essays and poetry? Do you think mixed-media books can be successful?

Well, I had written Broken Pieces similarly, and I felt comfortable with the format. To me, it’s how I’ve always expressed my thoughts and so it was a natural progression to create books in this way.
3. Are you still in the process of healing from your trauma? If not, what are you doing to help yourself manage and cope?

It took me a long time to accept that ‘recovery’ was a term I was willing to use to refer to myself and what my process as a survivor is, but I do believe that ultimately, yes, I am still healing. I still have nightmares, flashes, and while I’m rarely triggered by an event or something I read or see, it does and can happen occasionally. I’m pretty tough, but once in awhile, something happens. What non-survivors don’t realize is that those memories/feelings are always right there, just below the surface of everything we do, and we can’t always keep it hidden. Nor should we. To manage and cope, I’m in therapy, I take medication, vitamins, and watch my diet and do yoga. Sleep is always very important for my equilibrium. If I don’t get enough, I grab a nap.
4. Do you plan to write other books similar to Broken Places and Broken Pieces? As a survivor of trauma myself, I feel like I can write collections and collections of poetry and flash fictional pieces revolving around my own trauma.

I am writing Broken People now. That will be the last book in the series about these subjects, and will focus more on the effects of abuse, which I started to discuss in Places, not only mine, but also on those around me. And you should write your stories! We all deserve to tell our stories.
5. As an advocate, what do you ultimately want to do for both survivors of trauma and those who have never been through trauma?

Compassion is always my first hope – that survivors can help and support one another with compassion, and that non-survivors will better understand that it’s not a simple ‘get over it’ kind of thing; that minimizing what others have been through only makes it so much worse. So educating others is another reason I share my story.
6. How long did it take you to write both Broken Pieces and Broken Places?

The writing itself probably takes about six months. If I could do nothing but write, the writing would take much less time! But having a business, being a single mom, and also the director of the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope (my publisher), bringing other people’s stories of trauma and recovery to life, takes up quite a large bit of time. But I love it all!
7. You have other books besides those two ones. Tell readers about them and what inspired you to write them.

I did release two primarily satirical essay books in 2011 – mostly about men, women, and relationships: A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed (both in eBook and print from Booktrope on Amazon). Mostly I just got tired of my then-husband (we were married for 22 years) not changing the damn toilet paper roll, because, really? It just steamrolled from there.
8. There is so much more to you than being an author. What else do you think are the most important aspects of yourself, be it your love for a certain hobby, your job, or anything else you can think of?

Besides writing, I’m a mom to two amazing kids (a girl, age 15 and a boy, age 9), a businessperson, an advocate for other survivors as well as for mental health issues in general for Stigma Fighters (as well as on their board and the director of Communications), an avid reader, sci-fi movie fan, piano plunker, and terrible cook. I’m pretty sure I’ve summoned demons at this point in the kitchen.
9. What is most important in your life right now?

Besides my children, my writing and my business, along with being the director of the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope – I’m honored they chose me to bring stories of trauma and recovery (fiction and nonfiction) to life, (we have about twenty authors with amazing stories. Our first three books release very soon and I cannot wait!) the advocacy work I do with and for childhood sexual abuse survivors is absolutely incredibly important and fulfilling.
10. What is your ultimate goal for the future?

Keep doing what I do. I love every single day. Maybe a little more sleep.

Rachel-Thompson2-768x1024About the Author

Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places (2015 Honorable Mention Winner, San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. For affordable group sessions check out Author Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors! Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…),,,, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish.

She is also now the director of the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope, bringing stories of trauma and recovery (fiction and nonfiction) to life.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Contact Information

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BadRedhead Media Site:
Twitter: @RachelintheOC
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The-Broken-Collection-663x1024Title: The Broken Collection
Genre/Keywords: Non-fiction
Length: 241 pages
Extras: Authorgraph
Publisher: ebook: Booktrope
Release date: ebook: March 24, 2015
Purchase: Amazon

Book Summary:
Award-winning author Rachel Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her nonfiction collection: Broken Pieces and Broken Places. In both titles, Rachel bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed. Rachel’s first book in this series, Broken Pieces, has been a #1 best seller on Amazon (eBooks) on Women’s Poetry and Abuse. Please note: this book discusses serious topics, and is intended for mature audiences only.

Broken-Places-644x1024Title: Broken Places
Genre/Keywords: Non-fiction
Length: 124 pages
Extras: Authorgraph
Publisher: ebook: Booktrope * print: Booktrope Editions
Release date: ebook: January 13, 2015 * print: January 12, 2015
ISBN-10: 162015689X
ISBN-13: 978-1620156896
Purchase: Amazon

Book Summary:
Award-winning author Rachel Thompson courageously confronts the topics of sexual abuse and suicide, love and healing, in her second nonfiction book of prose: Broken Places. The sequel to Rachel’s first nonfiction book, Broken Pieces, Rachel bares her soul in essays, poems and prose, addressing life’s most difficult topics with honesty. As you follow one woman’s journey through the dark and into the light, you will find yourself forever changed. Rachel’s first book in this series, Broken Pieces, has been a #1 best seller on Amazon (eBooks) on Women’s Poetry and Abuse. Please note: this book discusses serious topics, and is intended for mature audiences only.

Broken-Pieces-paperbackTitle: Broken Pieces
Genre/Keywords: Non-fiction
Length: 106 pages
Extras: Free Sample * Authorgraph
Publisher: 1st edition: Rachel Thompson
2nd editon: ebook: Booktrope * print: Booktrope Editions
Release date: 1st edition: ebook: December 19, 2012
2nd edition: ebook: September 23, 2014 * print: December 12, 2013
ISBN-10: 162015160X
ISBN-13: 978-1620151600
Purchase: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Book Summary:
Broken Pieces is an award winning book about relationships, a study of women, and a book with heart. Vastly different in tone from her previous essay collections A Walk In The Snark and The Mancode: Exposed, Broken Pieces is a collection of pieces inspired by life: love, loss, abuse, trust, grief, and ultimately, love again. While still non-fiction, best-selling Broken Pieces is not humor at all. In Thompson’s most intensive work to date, she opens her soul and invites the reader in for a visit. Thompson goes into those long buried rooms we lock up deep inside and shares a bit of her soul. Broken Pieces is vulnerable, raw honesty, and no-holds barred.

FINAL-MANCODE-EXPOSED-BOOKTROPE--200x300Title: The Mancode: Exposed
Genre/Keywords: Non-fiction
Length: ebook: 129 pages * print: 140 pages
Extras: Free Sample * Authorgraph
Publisher: 1st edition: Rachel Thompson
2nd editon: ebook: Booktrope * print: Booktrope Editions
Release date: 1st edition: November 29, 2011
2nd edition: ebook: January 8, 2015 * print: January 6, 2015
ISBN-10: 1620156768
ISBN-13: 978-1620156766
Purchase: Amazon

Book Summary:
If You Want Unicorns and Rainbows, Go Somewhere Else

The Mancode: Exposed is a satirical essay collection about men and women, the mancode and chickspeak, sex and chocolate. Author Rachel Thompson holds the mirror up to family relationships, love and romance with a sharp eye and a keen sense of humor. This newest companion book to A Walk in the Snark is an Amazon Top 100 bestseller.

FINAL-A-WALK-IN-THE-SNARK-BOOKTROPE--200x300Title: A Walk in the Snark
Genre/Keywords: Non-fiction
Length: ebook: 155 pages * print: 160
Extras: Authorgraph
Publisher: 1st edition: Rachel Thompson
2nd editon: ebook: Booktrope * print: Booktrope Editions
Release date: 1st edition: January 23, 2011
2nd edition: January 8, 2015
ISBN-10: 1620156482
ISBN-13: 978-1620156483
Purchase: Amazon

Book Summary:
A Walk in the Snark is author Rachel Thompson’s first satirical essay collection about relationships, marriage, chickspeak, sex and coffee. She dares to ask, “Why do men want to change the world but can’t change a roll of toilet paper?” After decades (dear god) of marriage, Rachel’s keen insights into male and female behavior will keep you laughing with her. Please note that this is a book of satire, and not to be taken literally.

Writer Thoughts Thursday: Poetry Chapbook

Writer Thoughts Thursday: Poetry Chapbook

This post isn’t advice on how to create a poetry chapbook. Heck, I just completed my first one with 36 poems, and I’m not a heavy writer of poetry, though I tend to write poetically in my novels in some cases; however, I will be submitting it after some serious revisions. Rather, this is me discussing what this poetry chapbook means to me and why I wrote it. In fact, the logo on this blog is the title of what I want to be the first poem in it.

My life has been a snowball effect. At times I have been deeply happy, and other times I have been deeply depressed because I think too much and sometimes too little. If you’ve ever read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, you’ll know what I’m talking about in relations to Charlie’s character, because his past is similar to what happened to me in September.These two binaries are so conflicting. I want to be deeply happy. My loving, incredible parents want that for me as well. I’ve never really praised my parents on my blog, just because what I write on here never warranted it. They do read it. Sometimes they express concern over what I’ve written, but oftentimes I am highly aware they will read it. Writing is the best way for me to speak about what I feel, so some of write I write IS a message to them so we can sit and talk.

I am aware of how other parents take care of their children, just from simple Facebook statuses. My best friend’s mother is incredible when caring for her two autistic sons. She doesn’t define them by their autism. My best Canadian friend is raising her children to love the world and everyone in it–or so I get from her. I couldn’t ask for more incredible parents. They arguably spoil me. I soak in their wisdom and aspire to be like the both of them–chill and satisfied–and they’re my everything. They still give me birthday and Christmas presents, but I don’t need those things from them, though I appreciate them. All I need is them in my life. I don’t know if they know these things, how deeply my appreciation and love for them goes. They can’t unless they are me. They’re wonderful parents, and I hope those reading this have parents as wonderful as mine. I’m tearing up just writing this.

I’ll speak about my fiance in another post, hopefully soon. He’s another, incredibly important person in my life whom I love with the very depths of my heart.

In any case, I want to talk about my chapbook. I do plan to write a preface for it. Mariah is writing a foreward. I also want to write an essay that will take place at the end of the chapbook. There are so many things I want to say that poetry alone won’t convey. I also want to see about writing a short story for it. I want to add stock photo pictures. Rachel Thompson’s book Broken Pieces was an enormous inspiration for this chapbook because she suffered sexual abuse as a child. Though I didn’t suffer as a child, I might as well been a child, as this man was old enough to be my father, even though I saw him as a brother I needed in my life. I have my real brother back, though. We may not talk much, but for the first time in my life, I can say I’ve truly connected with him in ways I am unable to express. To be honest, I’m just shy around him because he’s been out of my life for so long. But this doesn’t mean I won’t do things with him and his wife and son, who is a beautiful boy whom I can’t wait to see grow into an incredible young man. And he will because my brother is an excellent father. He makes mistakes, but what parent doesn’t?

I’ve titled this chapbook Pretty Girl, Unravel Me. There are poems speaking about beauty and how I often feel it is more of a hindrance than society realizes. There are poems speaking about sexual abuse. There are poems about suicide and self-harm. Then there are poems I’m not ready to mention, but poems I hope will be relevant when it comes time for me to cry out. I’m not ready for that. I don’t want to be rushed.

Oh, yes, Mariah says they need a lot of work, but they were drafts I sent her. I simply changed a few things before tossing it out there, but once she re-reads it and my best poet friend reads it and I make more changes, I plan to submit it to Gnome on Pig Productions. I hope they’ll enjoy it despite the dark material. There will be no hard feelings otherwise. They’re brand new, and I’ve been, *ahem,* essentially stalking them. I can tell they know what they are doing. In fact, they went to a convention to help sell an author’s book, and I think that’s great. I’ve always wanted a publisher that does this. It shows they know how to extend their reach. I’m impressed. They’re growing fast.

Yeah, yeah, you should sit back and wait to see how a publisher does, but a publisher ALWAYS needs a first book to take off. Poetry is a hard sell anyway, but I hope through them it will flourish. Even if it doesn’t for whatever reason, I think it’s easier to deal with a self-published poetry chapbook than a novel anyway.

When Stars Die is also with Pandamoon Publishing. I didn’t want to mention anything, but I was able to bypass the entire process and send the book straight to the publisher. That’s all I’m going to mention for now. They’ve been on my list for quite some time. They’ve had their skin in the game for slightly more than two years, and they don’t seem like they’ll be closing their doors any time soon. I’ve stalked them as well and LOVE what I see. I’ve bought two books from them.

I wrote this chapbook because I knew it was time for me to get my feelings out there that a memoir can’t express. I believe poetry is the most expressive, most hard-hitting form of writing out there. Because a poem is short, the feelings it evokes hit you a lot faster than something like a novel will. This isn’t putting down novels at all. After all, I will ALWAYS be a novelist first and foremost.

This chapbook is my first, true experience with delving into poetry. Oh, certainly I’ve written poetry before, but I never sought publication with them. I know with a lot of chapbooks the poetry contained within has been published with other places, which gives these writers a leg up, but I care not to wait ten million years for the 36 poems I’ve written to be published elsewhere, especially because a lot of journals want full rights for about three months. No, no, and no. All of these poems have a cohesive theme that can be divided up into three parts. The connecting theme is about women who have been abused in some way, whether by their own minds or some external forces. They are thoughts coming primarily from me.

I want men to read it. This chapbook may seem like an attack on them–at least I hope it isn’t. But I WANT them to think, “Not all men are like this.” I truly do. This is a valid thought. Their feelings are valid, and I want them to have that response so I can listen to them and why they feel that way. Heck, it could create a poetry chapbook celebrating men from a woman’s perspective! I think a lot of men would appreciate that, I hope. From what I’ve seen of feminism, SOME feminists tend to ignore men’s concerns. Men say that for a reason, and that reason ALWAYS goes unanswered. That thought is painted as selfish, as “this isn’t about you!” How can it be, though? We’re being selfish by brushing it off as a selfish thought. So this chapbook is written for them as well. It’s a stretch, but I want their responses in blog posts, in book reviews, and so on and so forth.

I’ll admit to being afraid of men I sense–maybe wrongly–don’t have good intentions. Unfortunately, this is a lot of them, but this doesn’t mean I’m going to avoid a well-intentioned, intellectual conversation with them. After all, I have an incredible man I am friends with at work. He’s a weekend warrior, always wandering the mall, and we have wonderful conversations. He’ll comment on how pretty I am, which I appreciate, but that isn’t the only thing about me he’s interested in–as a person, nothing beyond that. Same with my fiance and other men I personally know in my life. It’s just strangers I’m wary of, especially older men who don’t have filters when “complimenting” women they deem beautiful.

This chapbook expresses all of me, conveys that I can be deeply unhappy–but I’m not bitter. I’m grappling with this unhappiness I can’t even paint with words. It’s not bipolar depression. It’s situational depression about the direction my life has taken. Oftentimes I wonder if I’ll get that life back, the old me–and that is what is saddest. I feel I’ve been changed for the worst. Nighttime strikes me the hardest for unexplainable reasons. I may have to buy a nightlight. That might help.

The dream I’ve had for my job no longer exists, though I do plan to stay. My degree means little to me now, though I still try hard and want those A’s. This isn’t to say my classes are unfulfilling. They’re very fulfilling. I feel like I’ll never be able to hold down a normal, “adult” job anyway. My body, no matter what chemicals are being injected into me, simply can’t handle the stress of jobs my college-graduated friends have. This is why I’ve dropped being a teacher, working at a publishing house, even just working at a magazine or a newspaper.

I will tell you I’m not better. I’m really not as far as my existence goes, I guess. Yet, I’m not always depressed. I am simply easily triggered now. I’ve been beaten down. Sometimes I wonder if things will ever get better, or if things will just keep snowballing. Sometimes I wonder if I should just jump off this train called life and say, “Well, I’ve lived long enough. I’ve met my dreams. This life is just no longer for me.” It’s so sad to say this: unfortunately, I must keep plowing through, if not for myself, then for others. Yet, it is exhausting to live for others. Even so, if my existence changes people’s lives, then I’ll know my deep unhappiness isn’t a waste of space. I suppose it exists for a reason. Somebody has to live a sad existence, I guess. The chronically saddest people seem to create the most wonderful of things.

I hope people can grasp a sense of my true self from this chapbook, though a lot of the poems are very dark. It isn’t until you get to the last poem that there’s a little slice of hope and beauty when you’re not ready to turn on the light or see the sunrise.

The darkness isn’t innately frightening. It isn’t innately sad. One of the things I hate the most is when people think you can’t know the light without knowing the dark. Not everyone fights hard battles that follow them and warp them for the rest of their lives. We do lose loved ones to death, and that pain is incredibly real, but not everyone is burdened with a thing that can’t be fixed. To say so is a complete injustice for those who TRULY need help to get through life, people who can fully never be independent. Full independence frightens me, makes me sick to my stomach. But people know what happiness feels like. Our brain chemicals dictate so. We don’t need sadness to understand happiness. We will experience sadness, of course. It’s unavoidable. Yet, it’s silly to say, “I wouldn’t know true happiness without the sadness in my life.” I don’t like the sadness in my life. I don’t appreciate it at all. I’m not grateful for it. I’m grateful for all of my happy times, because I can fully give myself to the world. I can’t when I’m in pain. Again, I’m not bitter about my pain. I’m simply being real.

I do experiences happiness. Yet, I’ve lately experience more pain than anything else. In fact, while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I wish the worst thing I could complain about was horrendous cravings that kept me up all night, and that I went out and bought cake to sate them (true status).

I simply have no more control in my life. It seems it will never come back. No amount of soothing words will change this. And I love myself, but not life itself.