October 18th, 2019
I asked Rebecca where she would like to chat:
A cool evening breeze blows across the portico, bringing with it scents of autumn wildflowers and cedar trees. This high up, the air is thin yet ever-invigorating. Beyond the colorful treetops beneath this cozy cabin lies a valley, vast and cloaked in mist. Even more distant are the tree-covered mountains peeking out from the fog.
We sit in brown-painted rocking chairs on a redwood porch overlooking the Smokies. A small table rests between us, supporting two steaming mugs of mint chocolate tea. As the sun nears the western horizon, setting the sky ablaze with color, we sip our tea then begin the interview.
Laura Mae: What inspired you to enter the world of writing?
Rebecca Hutto: My younger self being annoyed by a lack of good new things to read. I grew up in a family that went to the library often instead of buying new books to keep, so I was limited by the very finite selection of stories in the library’s children and teen collections. Back then, non-fiction was my favorite kind of writing, so my first attempt at making a book was a small collection of facts about Border Collies, which I wrote for fun when I was twelve.
L: How long have you been writing for?
R: I’ve been writing seriously (with the intent to publish) for about seven years.
L: What are you currently working on?
R: I actually just started writing a book called “Outsider” a few weeks ago. It’s the sequel to my debut, “Wildcat,” and will pick up roughly three months after where its predecessor left off. I really can’t give away too much without spoiling people, but I will say that one of the main characters is a cat with autism and genetically enhanced intelligence. It’s going to be quite a ride.
L: Are there any books or authors who inspire your work?
R: Tui T. Sutherland has been one of my biggest inspirations lately. I only discovered her series, “Wings of Fire,” about two years ago, yet it has left quite an impact on me. It might be targeted toward middle schoolers, but it has one of those stories anyone can enjoy. From character development and dialogue to plots and messages, there’s almost nothing about this series I don’t find inspiring. Tui herself is quite an inspiration, too. She’s not afraid to take risks in her writing to tell the story she wants to tell, which is partially what inspired me to take some risks in my own.
There are other authors and books that have helped me see the world from new angles, of course, but to list them all would probably take up half of the interview!
L: What has been the most challenging for you so far?
R: Getting my work out there. Marketing is a much bigger struggle than I was expecting, and Wildcat being a xenoficton doesn’t help. Even with the existence of a few treasured classics like Watership Down, books with talking animals are often seen as being for children. Because of this, marketing a story about talking cats to a mature audience has been a tad difficult to say the least.
L: What is your favorite writing trope? Least favorite?
R: Characters who love books! I’m not sure if it’s considered a trope or not, but I will gladly support pretty much any author who decides to include it. As for least favorite, that would have to be unhealthy relationships being portrayed as “cute” or “romantic.” It’s not only poor taste, but it sets a bad standard for anyone who reads it.
L: Besides writing, what is it you like to do?
R: In my spare time I enjoy drawing, hiking, traveling, video editing, photography and making modifications to my computer. I also like curling up in bed with a good book.
L: In a brief statement, have you self-published or traditionally published? What was your experience?
R: I went the self-publishing route because it offered me the most control over my content. I didn’t want to have to make changes to my story to make it more marketable to a broader audience. Aside from advertising, it’s been a pretty positive experience. Amazon’s self-publishing service is easy to use and made the process as painless as possible.
L: What element of writing do you enjoy the most?
R: I love writing any scene with intense emotion, no matter what that emotion may be. It’s a blast, trying to create something that will make people feel joy, heartache, fear or anger alongside my characters. Environmental descriptions are also fun. I often have such vivid images of each setting in my head. Capturing them in words is always fun.
L: What are you currently reading?
R: I just started reading a book called “Catalyst,” which is about a cat who lives on a spaceship, keeping it free of vermin and detecting potential problems. It’s kind of funny because I recently DNFed another book titled “Catalyst” after losing interest. Hopefully this one will be better!
L: What genre do you read?
R: My absolute favorite is mystery, but I also love science fiction and fantasy. I’ll give almost any genre a try if I like the premise, though.
L: What does a typical day of writing look like for you? Any rituals or ‘must-haves’?
R: I keep my alarm set an hour early so that I can fit in some writing time before I get ready for work. Unfortunately, that’s often the only writing I can get in on a given day, but at least I’m accomplishing something—even if that something ends up being scrapped the next morning. Aside from that, I don’t really have any special habits. Though I do often listen to ambiance while writing.
L: Any songs or type of music you need to listen to when you write?
R: As mentioned, I tend to listen to ambiance tracks or ambient music picked to set the mood. Sometimes I’ll go with more epic-style music if I’m working on a dramatic scene, but anything too loud or distinct will inevitably distract me.
L: Who is your favorite literary character and why?
R: Hmm, that’s a tough one. There are a lot of characters I’m really attached to, so it’s hard to settle on one. Some of my all-time favorites are Cricket and Whiteout from Wings of Fire, Sherlock Holmes from the original stories, and Kai Phoenix from a fantasy book I recently finished beta reading called “The Night’s Fall.” As far as my own characters go, Ember will always hold a special place in my heart, as will Boreal.
L: Where would you say you get most of your inspiration?
R: Everywhere! People and places I’ve come across in real life, books I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, and games I’ve played have all had an influence on my writing.
L: For aspiring writers out there, what would be the best advice you want them to know?
R: If you have a story to tell, go ahead and tell it. It doesn’t matter how strange and unconventional your ideas may seem, or what others will say or think of them. Each and every one of us has a story. It’s a part of us—a part of who we are. Don’t be afraid to let it out. Let the writer inside of you shine. Tell that story and make it something you love. Make it something you’re proud of.
Rebecca Hutto is a part-time artist and full-time tech enthusiast with a passion for psychology, creative writing and all things feline. A lifelong lover of nature, she has spent many long hours hiking up the mountains and gullies that helped inspire her debut sci-fi novel, Wildcat. She currently resides in Louisiana with her loving family and four very spoiled black cats.
Wildcat – History is important, loyalty is everything, and everyone has at least one secret they will guard with their life; these are the only things Ember is certain of. As sure as the sky is pain blue. Everything else is a toss up—including whether or not she should still be breathing. Being the chief advisor means Cloud is used to making tough decisions. Those decisions don’t always grant him the respect of his colonymates, but when it comes to family, the approval of the council can wait. Some rules only work when broken—and some threaten to rip his family apart by the roots.
Nearly a century ago, the appala cats of ARC united to form the Colony. After a power struggle, the Colony was divided in half, with the resulting settlements positioned on two facing mountain slopes: the East and the West. Now, in 2110, life in the Western Colony is not easy. With every inter-colony meeting, tensions rise. A second war, one far bloodier than any fights before it, seems more inevitable by the day. However, when Westerners start to turn against each other, the father-daughter duo is forced to question everything they thought they knew. Are they really above the rogue gangs and mercenaries stalking the Lowlands, or are they no better than the wildcats?
Buy it here!