Today, we have the honour of an interview with author Rebecca Henry, who has written the No.1 Amazon bestseller, A Very Vegan Halloween; and who has just released the second part of her holiday cookbook series – A Very Vegan Christmas.
Recently, I was speaking with Rebecca on Instagram and she very kindly agreed to an interview.
Where do you live and has this placed featured in any of your writings?
I currently live in England with my husband and two kids. This is my second time living in England and for me, it is home. I have moved a considerable amount in my life and each state or country I have lived in has greatly influenced my writing. The Lady Raven was inspired by the castles of the United Kingdom but adopted a German influence after I moved to Germany. I combined the two countries, using both cultures as a guiding influence.
England (and all my travels) has shaped my writings. In Louisiana Latte, I write about my past and growing up with a diva for a sister. The book is based on true events and my upbringing in Upstate New York, as well as my high school years in Daytona Beach Florida in the 90s. So far, Upstate New York, has been a main source of inspiration for a couple of my books now. My next novel, Conjure Lake, coming out in 2020, takes place in upstate New York and was entirely inspired by my parent’s lake house in Coopers Town, New York. (*Smiles*.)
This blogger: I totally understand and relate to how the castles in the UK influenced your writings for a medieval/early-modern tale. For years, every summer, I used to go on a day trip to visit the castles. They are an eye-opener into a lost world.
A Very Vegan Halloween: The Witch’s Cauldron Cookbook was a No.1 Amazon bestseller earlier this year, which is a massive achievement. Well done! Why do you think it was so successful?
Thank you so much for the congratulations. I truly appreciate it! I’m not only an author, I am also a mother, a gardener, and a vegan. A Very Vegan Halloween combined all those elements into one project. I believe the cookbook is relatable, engaging for children, and useful for people who are looking for cruelty-free, plant based options to traditional holiday recipes.
As with all the books I write, I write them for me – a book I want to read – and hope others will enjoy it. Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday, so I think my passion for the season exploded as I was creating the book. I had so much fun baking and cooking the recipes, taking photos of the dishes and crafting this book. I believe my love for the project just exploded off the pages.
Your newest book is seemingly a follow on and is called A Very Vegan Christmas: Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen. Which recipe would you recommend most?
A Very Vegan Christmas is book two in my holiday cookbook collection. I would say the Gingersnap Gingerbread Cookies, hands down. I put a lot of love and time into that recipe, experimenting with different options, making and remaking the batter. I wanted the taste to be scrumptious for adults but not overpowering with unnecessary spice or sweetness for kids.
Not having a sweet tooth, I don’t like to overuse sugar in my recipes. I try to present each recipe with low sugar options in the Mrs. Claus’ notes, giving people the choice to kick up the sweet level if they desire. I used molasses with my gingerbread recipe which has a very bitter taste, in my opinion at least. Trying to get the sweetness to the perfect level without it becoming sickeningly sweet took a bit of experimenting, so I am quite proud of the results. My kids are my ultimate taste testers. So when they give me the thumbs up, I know it’s good to go!
This blogger: (*Chuckles.*) Just from this recipe, alone, I can tell how much effort and love you have for cooking. I am sure your children (and friends) love your cooking. No doubt, your kids give you the thumbs up a lot of time.
The Lady Raven was your first published novel. What was the spark that made you write it? Was it an experience or something that you read or watched?
This is an excellent question. The first time I lived in the UK I was in my mid- to late-20s. I had never been to Europe before, and the castles fascinated me. My daughter was just a toddler at the time, so everything was magical for her at that age.
I began to do research on the castles we visited, which led me to researching Cinderella. From there I learned about one of the earliest European retellings, The Glass Slipper. It was terribly dark, a folklore more than a fairy tale. I was immediately intrigued and wrote The Lady Raven, honoring that original gothic telling.
In two of my blog pieces, I discuss how to approach writing an antagonist or a villain. In your opinion, what makes the perfect villain/antagonist?
A villain is someone I love to hate and at best can even empathize with them. An Antagonist in my opinion, is when I can see myself in them; they are so relatable, I become part of the story through them.
This blogger: I completely agree with your analysis of a villain and an antagonist. I personally love antagonists. I recently read Hannah Ross’ novel, The Quest of the Messenger, and she has created an antagonist exactly as you describe. It is an excellent read and I thoroughly recommend it.
Are any of the characters in your books (The Lady Raven, Louisiana Latte and Hybrid) like you? If so, which one(s)?
Yes, Becky from Louisiana Latte. I wrote that book based off real life experiences and growing up with my diva sister Deb. Becky is a version of myself, a person I was in my 30’s. I believe we adapt, grow and evolve with time.
The character Becky shows elements of myself during different periods of my life. The book is full of flashbacks going all the way back to my childhood. Writing so many different glimpses of Becky over three decades was surreal for me. I always knew I would write this story, but wrestling with the idea of including myself as one of the characters was a challenge. I am a very private person, revealing so much about myself even in a book categorized under fiction was a difficult decision to make.
This blogger: I can imagine. Whenever an author writes, he/she is bearing their soul and to some extent their experiences. Or, rather, how he/she perceives experiences. It’s scary, and you are very brave to reveal so much of yourself in Louisiana Latte. Thank you for doing so.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Having too many ideas and not enough time to get them all on paper. I always have 3 books or more stored in my brain. It’s finding the time to put them all on paper that defeats me.
This blogger: (*Laughs hard*.) Yep, I can relate to that.
If you could give your younger self some advice about the writing process, what would it be?
Write the book you want to read, and you will never fail. Write it for you and no one else.
Have your family and friends read any of your books? If so, what do they think of them and how do you feel when they talk about them with you?
Yes, I’m very fortunate, I have a large circle of support from my kids, family and friends. They read all my books, including my cookbooks and try the recipes too, even though none of them are vegans.
I am a very shy person so positive feedback always makes me blush. Anytime I receive a compliment I blush and turn scarlet. It’s a wonderful feeling to know they are proud of me. I appreciate their comments to the moon and back. It fills me up with joy. But just knowing they read my work, that is enough for me. Knowing they took the time to support me, that means everything.
This blogger: (*Smiles widely*.) That is wonderful to read. I hope all of your family and friends all see this interview, just so that they will know (if they don’t already) how much you appreciate them.
How has writing changed you?
I don’t think it has to be honest. I’ve always written since I was a toddler, including writing stories with crayons or scribbling lines on paper, calling it a book, before I was in school. This is me. It’s been a part of my existence my entire life.
What is the best piece of writing advice that you’ve read or been given?
I once read an interview from an author when I submitted my poetry for publication back in the late-90s. I cannot recall who said it, but I remember the quote vividly and it has stayed with me for twenty years: “Be prepared to wallpaper your walls with rejection letters.”
That prompted me to never give up. It told me that even if my walls are covered in rejection letters, I must keep going, keep submitting. That’s exactly what I did, and I had my first poetry published at the age of nineteen. It’s so easy to take rejection personally. But it is not personal, it’s subjective. If you can separate that rejection from personal hurt and believe in yourself, you can achieve your dream.
This blogger: Rebecca, your mentality is fantastic. You say you are shy, but you have real steel for a personality. Honestly, you deserve all the acclaim you get for your determination alone. I sense (Please God) many more bestsellers by you to come.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I have many interests and hobbies; writing is just one of them. I love to read, garden, sew, knit, practice yoga, hike, bake, cook… I’m always doing something with my hands and in nature. I take daily walks, rain or shine with my dog Thomas in the fields and meditate.
Also, I come up with most of my ideas whilst walking. I was a sewing instructor when I lived in Singapore, teaching children how to knit and sew. I am always involved with hobbies and love to share my interests with those around me eager to learn. But, my favorite pastime, is just being with my family.
End of Interview
That brings our interview with author Rebecca Henry to a close. I would like to thank Rebecca for her time, and to say that it has been delightful speaking with her. I wish her all the best in her future writings, her family, sewing, cooking, yoga, hiking, and seemingly countless other ventures.
You can purchase Rebecca’s books on Amazon, including the Amazon no.1 bestseller A Very Vegan Halloween, along with her newly released sequel, A Very Vegan Christmas. For vegans out there, these cookbooks are perfect for you! And for anyone who likes fantasy and/or thrillers, The Lady Raven and/or Hybrid will definitely pique your interest.
Otherwise, follow Rebecca on Instagram and Twitter, check out her page on Goodreads, and visit her website. This way, you will be able to keep up to date with her and be the first to know when her next book, Conjure Lake, is out.
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