Alice Rachel is the author of the YA Forbidden Romance/ Dystopian Romance Series “Under Ground.” Her time is divided between teaching French, writing, reading, drawing, and spending time with her hubby and guinea pigs.
I met Ms. Alice through Instagram. I’ve seen some bookstagrammers who read and review her books and I requested a review copy and she agreed. I’m really glad that I’ve *virtually* met her and read her books.
If you have read her books, I’m sure you would love to read my interview with her.
Nica: How young were you when you wanted to be an author? When did you first started writing stories?
Alice: I wrote my first story when I was in high school. It was homework for my English class, and I had to write a new version of “The Landlady” by Roald Dahl. Then, I wrote some stories when I was in college. I stopped for many years though and picked it up against with “Under Ground” about four years ago.
Nica: Your books have very diverse characters and tackles issues like human rights, who/what inspired you to write such stories?
Alice: Thank you! 🙂 Human rights are a major concern in our world today. I think many people are still struggling, and I wanted to raise awareness. Technically, “Under Ground” is dystopian, but how much more dystopian is it from our world today? Reading brings understanding and empathy. I hope my books can do that for someone.
Nica: In your story, you also tackled about anxiety and depression. Have you ever experienced it?
Alice: I have struggled with depression before, yes. When I was in college, I suffered from terrible depression. When Thia describes her feelings, I am only tapping into my own memories. Depression bears a huge stigma. People view it as a weakness when depressed people are strong and fighting every single day. I actually wrote a blog post about depression. I put it on my website. I am no expert, though. Those are just my own experiences. In the series, Thia, Chi, Stephen, and Chase all suffer from different levels of depression.
Nica: What was the most difficult part in writing your story?
Alice: Editing is hard because I have to question myself and my skills a lot. It’s very humbling and depressing, honestly. Otherwise, writing about Stephen and his father is the most difficult. It is equally heartbreaking and revolting.
Nica: Who among the characters are you most alike?
Alice: Thia. When my husband and friends read my book, their first comment was, “Thia is so you.” I think it’s because of her sense of injustice, her fight through depression, and her rebellious spark. Also, she’s coy and blushes a lot.
Nica: Who is/are your favourite characters? You can choose up to 3 characters. And why?
Alice: 1 – Stephen. He is the easiest to write in the sense that he has a strong personality, and he is hardly under my control. He pretty much just does what he wants, and I just sit there and type the words for him. Also, he is complex. He’s bitter and yet sweet, mean and yet selfless, heartbreaking and beautiful. At least, to me, he is beautiful, but I created him so…I am deeply biased.
2 – Terrence. He is not a major character in “Standing Ground,” but he has grown on me so quickly. He’s sweet with a sense of innocence to him. Though he has gone through a lot of pain, he isn’t scarred emotionally or physically like my other characters. He hasn’t lost his ability to love and feel empathy, and he is really close to my heart.
3 – Chi. Well, I just love his rebellious spark and his passion for justice. I also like how respectful he is toward Thia. I know he may be just a little bit too perfect, but I wanted young women to learn that this is how they should be treated and they shouldn’t settle for less than that. People have flaws, but respect is a must in a relationship, and Chi is there to show us that.
Okay, I’ll just add that Taylor and Chase are next on my list of favorites, ahah.
Nica: The title of your books are really unique and interesting. How did you come up with it?
Alice: I chose the first title “Under Ground” because of the rebellious group in the series, the Underground. I chose that for the rebels’ name in reference to the Underground Railroad during the American Civil War. The Underground in my book refers to rebels who risk their lives every day for justice. Rebels who help others escape a fate they didn’t choose. Rebels who strive for the freedom that is rightfully theirs.
“Under Ground” also hints at Thia’s feelings and her depression in book one. She has spent her whole life feeling like she was already dead and buried six feet under. At the end of the novel, Thia overcomes that and manages to rise above.
Then, for the rest of the series, I looked for expressions with the word “Ground” that would match the feelings and goals of each book. Stephen is first Losing Ground in front of his parents in his first novella, and then he’s Holding Ground in front of the monsters in his life in his second novella. And Thia and Chi are Standing Ground in spite of their trials in book 2. 🙂
Nica: All of your books contain playlists, how did you come up with this idea? (I think it’s really awesome!)
Alice: Thank you! Well, I also make playlists for couples from other people’s books that I really love. It just heightens the feels… *wriggles eyebrows* But with my own stories, listening to songs helps me get into the mood for a scene. And this way, I can listen to the songs when I’m not writing and it helps me connect with my characters and remain creative even when I can’t write.
Nica: What’s the best compliment about your book have you received?
Alice: “I hate you!” *laughs* Moving my readers to the point that they hate me is the best compliment I could ever receive as a writer. It’s always hard for me to tell if they will feel the pain I felt while writing, so when they do feel that pain, it means I did my job right.
Nica: Any messages for the readers who support your books?
Alice: Yes, thank you so much for reading and breathing life into my characters and loving them and hating them. Thank you for your support. Please, try not to hate me too much! 🙂
I love her books because it convey deeper messages to readers. It’s also inspiring and it really raise awareness to readers like me. I do believe we need more diverse books and her books are a good example.
She’s a very creavtive, kind, and inspiring person. And I’m glad that she has become one of my friends. (and that I can bug her anytime I’m being emotional because of her books, lol)
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