Friday, October 23, 2009

Interview with Rebecca Cornish Talley

Rebecca Cornish Talley was born and raised in Santa Barbara, CA. She graduated from BYU with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications. She met her sweetheart, Del, while serving as the “mom” of her FHE group at BYU (he was the “dad”).

Rebecca and Del are the proud parents of ten multi-talented and highly creative children. Rebecca lives with her family, a spoiled horse, goats, a puppy, and a llama named Tina in rural Colorado.

Besides writing, Rebecca enjoys swimming in the ocean, playing with her kids, dating her husband, and dancing to disco music while she cleans the house.

She is the author of a children’s picture book, Grasshopper Pie (WindRiver 2003), and two LDS novels, Heaven Scent (Cedar Fort 2008) and the newly released Altared Plans (Cedar Fort 2009).

Here's my interview with awesome Rebecca:

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Rebecca: I might have known it when I created my first book, The Velt Book. It was made from felt and I’ve since learned to spell it correctly. I’m sure I knew it when I was in sixth grade and I started my very first novel that was similar to the Encyclopedia Brown books. I wrote it in a bound diary and included a few illustrations.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Rebecca: My first book, Grasshopper Pie, was a children’s picture book. The story is based on an experience when my children tried to feed me a live grasshopper. I submitted it to several publishers and it was picked up by WindRiver. My oldest daughter illustrated it.

My first novel, Heaven Scent, actually began as a short story in high school. I worked on it for years making it into a novel before I submitted it. It changed dramatically over the years, especially as I learned more about writing.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Rebecca: Yes, I was discouraged as I tried to learn more about writing and then tried to find time to write. Before the internet changed everyone’s lives, I wasn’t able to connect with any other writers. I struggled along reading books and taking correspondence courses, but I was never able to associate with other writers or have the opportunity to ask questions like I can now with the internet.

I worked and worked and worked on my first novel. Some days I wanted to hit the delete button, but I kept at it. A friend of mine told me I’d eventually be published just because I was so persistent and refused to give up.

I think discouragement is Satan’s way of preventing us from accomplishing good. He uses it frequently, and with astonishingly good results, in all areas of our lives. We just have to ignore him and remind ourselves to keep working toward our goals.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

Rebecca: Crazy! I write when I get a chance. I’m convinced that summer is the worst time for me to write because with 9 kids home, I rarely find time to write. During the school year, I usually get kids off to seminary and school, play with my younger kids, clean, get laundry going, homeschool, and take care of any other chores before I write. I can get in a bit of time while my youngest naps, but I have to really use my time wisely—something I’m still learning to do .

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?

Rebecca: My mother always wore a distinctive perfume. After she passed away, when I was a young girl, I often smelled her perfume, especially during stressful times in my life. I have no doubt there’s life after death and that those we’ve loved and lost are around us. I wanted to write a story about this because it is such an important part of my life. I developed Heaven Scent around that theme.

My new book, Altared Plans, is loosely based on my courtship with my husband. It was really fun to write and made me feel nostalgic as I remembered our pre-marriage BYU days.

I tend to write stories inspired by true events in my life and then add fictional elements to make them novel-worthy.

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

Rebecca: Never surrender. Don’t ever give up your dream to see your book in print. Keep honing your craft and keep submitting and you’ll someday see your name on the cover of a book. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. Persistence pays off.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline

Rebecca: I outline. It isn’t super formal, usually a narrative synopsis and character sketches. I’ve used the Snowflake system before, but generally, I just write out a page or two that includes the entire story. I then write the first draft to see what works and what doesn’t and to give my characters a chance to come alive. My first drafts are a mess, but they allow me to just let everything fall out on the screen. Then I’ll go back and make sure every scene has a goal, conflict, and disaster and that the timeline all works. I also make sure there’s a story arc, that the main character grows in some way, and that it all makes sense.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Rebecca: I never have writer’s block because I have such little time to write I don’t want to waste any of it. I’ll think about the story while I’m driving kids around, doing dishes, mopping the floor, changing diapers, etc., and then as soon as I have time I’ll go write it down.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?

Rebecca: Absolute quiet? At my house? Not a chance. Fortunately, I can block out noise while I write, though I can tell in an instant if the noise around me needs my immediate attention. I think authors that are also moms probably all develop this ability.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

Rebecca: I tend to think about my characters, how they feel, what they’re thinking, what reactions they might have to certain situations. I listen to their conversations, their worries, their hopes, their dreams. My characters inspire me.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

Rebecca: My husband. His unconditional support and encouragement has kept me going. He’s my biggest fan.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

Rebecca: I’d love to have an in-person critique group. I’m a member of several online groups and we all share our writing. I’d love to find readers that aren’t writers who were willing to give me feedback so I could improve my writing even more.

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?

Rebecca: Wow, that’s hard. I love all of them for different reasons. I don’t think I can pick just one.

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share

Rebecca: I love writing. For me, it’s a creative outlet that allows me to feel good about myself.

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Rebecca: My books are available at Amazon,,, Independent LDS Bookstores, and Seagull Book and Tape.

Rebecca blogs at and Her website is and she runs a writing website for aspiring writers at


Rebecca Talley said...

Thank you, Michele! I sure appreciate it!!

jenheadjen said...

Wow! Great interview ladies! This one hit the spot with me! Thank you!

One Cluttered Brain said...

Great interview Michelle! Inspiring since I am slowly making my way up to being a published author....I have alot to learn that's for sure.

Krista said...

Thank you, Michele and Rebecca. You filled my writer's cup today!

Sheila said...

Michele,what a great interview! I love Rebecca! She is one of the sweetest people I know. It is so exciting to see so many great things happening for her!

Kids Music said...

I'm glad to have visited your blog and good to know you! I find it interesting and informative.

Marcia Mickelson said...

Great interview. I am continously impressed with Rebecca.

Terresa said...

Great interview. Loved the bit about Rebecca's mother's perfume & how she smells it, still at stressful times. And a mom who can write with 9 kids? She's an inspiration to me!