Friday, February 8, 2013

Rachel Rueben, Hag

AUTHOR: Rachel Rueben
PUBLISHER: Self-Published

Tell me a little about your book.
Hag is YA novel about a girl (Audrey) who discovers her ex-boyfriend and best friend are gay.  The story deals with bigotry and homophobia not just within the antagonists, but also within the protagonist, Audrey.

What gave you the idea for this particular story? 
It started when I learned about life on the down low via the Oprah Winfrey show.  For those who don’t know, it’s where a closeted gay man lives as though he were straight.  They get married, have kids, etc.   

Even though, I thought this would make a great story, I didn’t know what to do with it, so the idea stayed in the back of my brain.  Then two years ago, several young, gay men committed suicide because of harassment and humiliation by their peers and I just got so mad that I started writing.  Hag is the result of that anger and bewilderment.     

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time
Right, now I’m a full-time writer.  I divide my time into two parts, in the beginning of the day, I do all the stuff that’s not writing- related like answer emails, update social media accounts, and blog.  At night, I start writing.  I love writing at night, because there’ s little chance of me being interrupted. 

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? 
I was in sixth grade when I knew.  In school we were given an English project where we were asked to write a book.  We were given a blank, white book with pages and asked to create a cover and story.  It’s an experience I never forgot, it was my first self-published book now that I think of it!  I am eternally grateful to my teacher Mrs. Kickle for thinking it up.     

What do you hope readers will take from your writing? 
I hope people learn respect and compassion for their fellow human beings no matter what race, religion or sexual orientation they may be.  Also, I hope they learn that sometimes you have to stand up for what's right no matter how scared you are.     

Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I write children’s and YA.  I don’t have a preference for a particular genre.  If it’s in my head, I just write it down and let everyone else label it!

What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Self-doubt is my biggest obstacle, I usually get over it by looking at the authors I’ve met on Facebook and Twitter.  They inspire me, as some of them have full time jobs, kids and even go to school.  If they can do it, so can I! 

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
The character of Mrs. Hughes was based on my own high school principal, who was way too "suburban" to deal with the complicated issues of an inner city school.      

Actually, there is a part where the principal of the school inadvertently catches a couple of adult thugs sneaking into the school and instead of calling police, she demands they take off their coats and hats.  I actually saw that happen in my own high school.  Needless to say, I never felt safe there after that!

How much is your protagonist like you? How different? 
My protagonist is the teen version of me in a lot of ways, she's insecure, angry and depressed, but then again, what kid isn't at that age?   

She’s different from me in that she needs the encouragement of others to get her self-worth.  At her age, I hated everyone too much to care LOL! 

What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I did have to research the prayers for the Catholic burial rights of a child.  I had no idea there were separate prayers for adults and children. 

I also had to learn to read "text" in order to create convincing text messages.     

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Yes, they do because I am rather squeamish, I really try to avoid watching the late night news because of all the violence and horror on display.  On the other hand, I have no problem with watching a horror film because I know it’s not real but I hate watching real violence.  No UFC fights for me, thank you very much!

As for writing sexual scenes, this book doesn't have any because of the obvious problem of my character's different sexual orientations.  Also, I think a sex scene would have taken away from the emotion of the story. 

What about your book makes it special?
Well, Hag is a book that examines teen sexuality in a very real and non-apologetic tone.  It's special because as far as I know, there have never been any books that examine the down low lifestyle in teen culture and it's impact on the straight partner.           

What is your marketing plan?
My marketing plan consists of writing the next story to build up my portfolio.  Also, I enrolled this book in the Amazon KDP Select program and had quite an interesting experience.  So interesting, I blogged about it LOL!  

But when I launched my book, I've tried a combination of the KDP giveaway, advertising, and social media.  Advertising beats them all hands down.  I must warn however,  authors have be careful of where they put their money.  Social media ads on Facebook and Goodreads got me the least response, but advertising my giveaway on Kindle Nation Daily propelled my ebook into the Amazon top ten list for Women's and Girl's Lit.     

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
They can go to my website: or they can go to: 

Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Yes, don’t preach or talk down to your readers.  Just because they’re young, doesn’t mean they can’t comprehend complex issues.     

What’s in the future for you?
Well I plan on being a bestselling author and if that doesn’t happen, then I’ll become an astronaut.    

Brief excerpt:
Audrey is having a tough time in school, things are only made worse when her ex-boyfriend is killed, and she discovers he’s been intimate with her best friend, who is also a boy.  Hag is a YA novel that is gritty and real which confronts the very shocking question: What would you do if…? 


  1. What a deep subject. I applaud you for the courage!

    Intriguing title - HAG

    Rachel - best of luck with your goals, and thanks for the information about advertising. Appreciated!
    Thanks Penny you always have such interesting guests!

  2. Great cover! It made me looks twice.:) I also enjoyed the author interview. I love that she used material from her own high school years. Thanks for sharing.