Today, it’s my pleasure to interview the author of “Hidden in The Dark”, RaShell Lashbrook. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed, RaShell!
Leigh: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a mom of six children, ranging in ages from twenty-one to seven years old. I own and operate a cleaning business, which gives me a great deal of time to think while working. I have a tremendous amount of creative energy, and I’m happiest when I’m building something, whether that be a garden, a new recipe, or most recently, a book.
When I was around two years old, my parents got rid of our television so my childhood entertainment became books and creating things. I’ve always known that I wanted to write, but up until my early forties, I didn’t feel that I had anything to write about. I’d start stories in my head, but never put them onto pages.
Right around my fortieth birthday, personal challenges left me feeling frustrated, angry, and scared. Needing an outlet for my emotions, I began to write. The release was amazing. I could kill people the legal way – on paper! I say this jokingly, but the writing allowed me to work through some things. In case you’re wondering, most of the awful things that happen to my characters in Hidden in the Dark never happened to me. My problems were far less interesting or horrifying.
I’d like to think that I could survive a zombie apocalypse, so I’m a bit of a lazy prepper. I go through phases of being all organic and self-sustaining, in fact I have a blog dedicated to this type of thing named Poppyjuicelivingwellforless.com. Then, I go through times of buying take-out food and sugar cereal. My kids love the lazy mom phase!
Leigh: “Hidden in The Dark” involves very serious subject matter. What drew you towards writing a thriller centered around familial abuse?
Although I was in a very unhealthy relationship at the time that I began writing “Hidden in the Dark”, the type and extremity of familial abuse that occurred in my story was a surprise even to me. I wasn’t in a happy place, and felt very controlled in my relationship. As crazy as it sounds, I had no idea what I was going to write about when I first sat down in front of the computer. At the risk of someone suggesting a psych evaluation, I truly felt as if the characters were revealing their stories to me as I wrote.
Perhaps I worked through some of my issues with the characters and storyline. At the risk of giving any spoilers, Genny was a victim, but by the act of not protecting her children in the way a mother should, she also became an abuser of sorts. Enabling and covering was something that she seemed to do naturally, whether it be her abusive husband, or her youngest daughter. Every female character in “Hidden in the Dark” has pieces of me.
As I got to know the characters, I played the game of “what if” – What if this happened? What if that happened? I was actually uncomfortable with the direction that the story took and initially tried to water it down. The resulting story was weak and had no real direction. Once I decided to give in to the story in my head, it began to flow.
Leigh: What do you find are common traps for new writers to fall into?
I’m not sure about other writers because I’m a bit of a hermit, but for me, I struggled with the need to be perfect in my writing. Once I understood that editing is where the magic happens, I could get my story down. I began to practice the act of writing whatever, even if it was crap. I would let it sit for a time, then go back and reread. This was so helpful, to be able to edit my work with fresh eyes.
Another thing that I struggled with was worrying about how my story was going to look, or appeal to readers. Concern about what other people might think caused me to hold back often. Initially, the fear that my spouse (he unhealthy relationship) would read it and dislike it caused me to write something that was very mild. Eventually, I began to write only to please (or disturb) myself. Then, the story began to really take shape.
Leigh: Is there a book on your shelf that you re-read more than once over time? What is it?
The Wizard of Oz was a book that I read often as a child. As an adult, I’ve only reread several books – “The Witching Hour” and “Lasher”, both part of a series by Anne Rice. Her writing is so intricate that I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss any details.
Leigh: What were some of the literary works that shaped your love of writing?
The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon, works by Stephen King, and of course, Anne Rice’s works before she went back to the church.
Leigh: How many unpublished and partially completed books do you have? Do you work on multiple projects at once or focus on just one at a time?
Although I have three barely-begun works on my computer, there is only one that I consider a book yet. It is the prequel to “Hidden in the Dark”. I try to work on one thing at a time, but I never ignore an idea that won’t leave me. I’m afraid I won’t get back to it, and I’ll forget it completely. I have collection of notes in my phone that may be seeds for future books, or may get integrated into the book I’m currently working on.
Leigh: What are you currently working on?
The prequel to “Hidden in the Dark” is my current focus. Due out December 2017, “How a Monster is Made” is the story of Randall Carter, the abusive father in “Hidden in the Dark”. I wanted to understand how someone could do such vile things to their children and wife. I’m on a journey to reveal his past.
Leigh: What was the most difficult aspect of the book to write and why?
I struggled with the abuse scenes. I didn’t want to diminish the horrific aspect of the abuse, but I also worried that the abuse would be too graphic.
Leigh: Do you write part time or full time?
Part time. Whenever I can, but I dedicate every Monday to writing.
Leigh: How much research was involved in writing “Hidden in the Dark”?
I didn’t research much initially. After the story began to take shape, I verified that my writing jived with some facts. The multiple personality aspect of Raine wasn’t researched much, and I do worry that I will offend someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder. One of my beta readers has a degree in psychology. She reassures me that I’m not terribly far off, so I’m taking her word for it.
Leigh: What other hobbies do you enjoy?
I adore gardening and anything DIY! I love to learn how to do something, master it, and move on to the next challenge.
Leigh: Do you find it is difficult getting honest, quality book reviews in today’s market? Are there any strategies for getting reviews you’d like to share with other new authors?
Initially, when I began to seek reviews, I had some offers to give me a good review for a price. I wondered if this was just part of promoting a book. Luckily, I question everything. I researched and found lists of book bloggers/reviewers that claim to give honest reviews. It is difficult in the sense that book reviewers get inundated and may not have time to review. The temptation is there to pay for good reviews, but I truly believe taking the high road will pay off in the long run. My strategy thus far is to research reviewers, pay attention to the requirements of the individual reviewers when submitting, and respect their time. Understand that they are doing you a favor by agreeing to give an honest review. Never place all your hope in just a few reviews. Also, don’t rule out the idea of giving books to social contacts in exchange for honest reviews, but be prepared to get less reviews that expected on your preferred sites. For example, I ran a free download promotion on Kindle for two days with the request to acquaintances to give an honest review in exchange. I received a good amount of positive feedback on Facebook, in personal messages, etc. but almost no one took the time to review on Amazon or Goodreads.
Leigh: How can others find out more about you and your writing?
Website: RaShell Lashbrook
Blog: RaShell’s Blog and Living Well for Less
Facebook: RaShell on Facebook
Linkedin: RaShell LinkedIn
Amazon Author Page: RaShell on Amazon
Book Links: American https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06W2FZHSK
Goodreads: Hidden in The Dark at Goodreads
Thank you very much, RaShell, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Thank you, Leigh! It’s been a pleasure and an honor to participate!
RaShell Danette Lashbrook was born in Wellington, Kansas, the eldest daughter of Lyle and Marcia Pope Lashbrook. Her parents threw the television away when she was just two years old, so she spent her childhood in Mulvane, Kansas reading, exploring, biting her nails, and picking her nose.
Her deep love of reading always fueled a small flame of desire to write, but it wasn’t until 2012 that she began to practice the craft of throwing words onto paper and rearranging them repeatedly.
She is blessed to share her life with her first love – Mr. Man of the house, her six magnificent children and their friends, parents that anyone would be envious of, Andee (her best friend since the eighth grade), the best siblings in the whole world, a crazy Australian Shepard, a psychotic Siberian Husky, a mutt named Dojo, and a “top-shelf” circle of extended family and friends.
RaShell’s fascination with many different subjects has served her well in her writing. She prefers to think of her dabbling as “research”. Her lasting passions have been organic gardening, music, cooking, murder, mysteries, aliens, and people with mental disorders.