Monday, October 2, 2023

Rachel Harrison Interview - Black Sheep

Photo Credit: Nic Harris

Rachel Harrison is the National Bestselling author of CACKLE, SUCH SHARP TEETH, and THE RETURN, which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Her short fiction has appeared in Guernica, Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, as an Audible Original, and in her debut story collection BAD DOLLS. She lives in Western New York with her husband and their cat/overlord.


Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre? 
It’s too hard to pick all-time favorites, but my favorite book in recent history is The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay. It’s punk rock and heartfelt and scary all at the same time. I really connected to it; I think it’s a love letter to misfits. Recent favorite outside of my genre would have to be Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book? 
Twitter, for sure! It’s necessary to log out when writing. All social media, actually. It can be delightful but it’s also just a vicious time suck.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes? 
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. It was the first book that made me feel less alone in the world, which was very profound at fifteen.

Can you tell us when you started BLACK SHEEP, how that came about? 
I got the idea for BLACK SHEEP over the summer of 2021. Isolating during the pandemic gave me a lot of time to reflect and think existentially, and so I was pondering nature vs. nurture. Part of getting older is looking back on your childhood and your parents—seeing your parents as people rather than just mom and dad. Those Progressive Insurance commercials about becoming your parents always make me laugh, but they somehow also provoked a more in-depth analysis. Is it inevitable we become our parents? How much of us is them? These questions all inspired BLACK SHEEP.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters? 
My characters always surprise me. I start them off and they take me the rest of the way. The protagonist for BLACK SHEEP, Vesper, was the most fun to write because she’s braver than I am. I appreciated my time with her.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from BLACK SHEEP
One of my favorite scenes from BLACK SHEEP is the opening scene at the restaurant. It’s the reader’s introduction to Vesper, but it was mine, too! Her character clicked into place, and I had so much fun writing it. It was my agent Lucy’s idea for Vesper to work at a chain restaurant, and Shortee’s is just the best setting for hijinks.

One of my favorite quotes from BLACK SHEEP is “It’s a cruelty of life that we can never protect our own innocence. We can only watch ourselves lose it in retrospect. Scream at memories.” I think one of the most difficult parts of adulthood is reflecting on our youth with new perspective. It can bring up a lot of complex emotions. It was an important thing for me to explore in this book.

What is the first job you have had? 
I was a babysitter. I also worked as a waitress at an English restaurant/tea shop, and at a chocolate factory with one of those I Love Lucy conveyor belts. I ate a lot of the chocolate. I should have been fired.

Name one thing you miss about being a kid. 
So much! I miss not knowing about taxes. What bliss!

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? 

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why? 
Maybe Mae West? She had herself a good time. Or Dorothy Parker, for the wit.

What is one unique thing you are afraid of? 
Gnomes. I have a serious phobia of garden gnomes. Which is objectively hilarious but very real to me.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid? 
I loved growing up in the 90’s with Nickelodeon and Disney movies and TRL and American Girl Dolls and Bagel Bites…but maybe the late 70’s or early 80’s just so I wouldn’t have to grow up to these millennial problems. I’d trade Bagel Bites for the ability to retire someday. Or maybe not. It’s a tough choice.

A cynical twentysomething must confront her unconventional family’s dark secrets in this fiery, irreverent horror novel from the author of Such Sharp Teeth and Cackle.

Nobody has a “normal” family, but Vesper Wright’s is truly...something else. Vesper left home at eighteen and never looked back—mostly because she was told that leaving the staunchly religious community she grew up in meant she couldn’t return. But then an envelope arrives on her doorstep.

Inside is an invitation to the wedding of Vesper’s beloved cousin Rosie. It’s to be hosted at the family farm. Have they made an exception to the rule? It wouldn’t be the first time Vesper’s been given special treatment. Is the invite a sweet gesture? An olive branch? A trap? Doesn’t matter. Something inside her insists she go to the wedding. Even if it means returning to the toxic environment she escaped. Even if it means reuniting with her mother, Constance, a former horror film star and forever ice queen.

When Vesper’s homecoming exhumes a terrifying secret, she’s forced to reckon with her family’s beliefs and her own crisis of faith in this deliciously sinister novel that explores the way family ties can bind us as we struggle to find our place in the world.
You can purchase Black Sheep at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you RACHEL HARRISON for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Black Sheep by Rachel Harrison.

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