When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making up stories, whether it was through the dialogue of my beanie babies or in the misspelled scribbles of my journals. I still have one that I wrote when I was eight, about an adventurous family of frogs, complete with sticker illustrations. It was in high school or college, however, that I set the goal to publish a novel. My grandfather was an author, as is my dad, and I longed to follow in their footsteps.
Who were the authors that influenced you as a youth, and in what ways?
My family has always been big on classics, so growing up I read a lot of Lewis Carroll, Hans Christian Andersen, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien, to name a few. These certainly influenced my writing style and standards for good literature. As far as most influential books go, there is one in particular I am indebted to. I have dyslexia, so I’ve always been a very slow reader. Despite my love for stories, I disliked reading when I was a kid, and could never finish anything I started—that is, until I picked up Mara, Daughter of the Nile, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. It’s a quick and easy Egyptian historical fiction about a slave girl who becomes a double-spy. I loved it so much that I was able to finish it all the way through, faster than I’d ever read before, and I enjoyed every moment of it! It was the book that taught me to love reading, and I frequently revisit it for a fun trip through ancient Egypt.
How did it feel when you got to hold your very first advanced copy of your book?
Call me cliché, but I cried. I remember a time when, as a little girl, I’d asked my grandpa if he could pull some strings with whoever had published his books to print just one copy for me of the story I would one day write. Lovingly, he told me that’s not how it works—but he could print it out at home, fold the pages, and staple them together like a book. “It’s not the same!” I pouted. Years later, I handed him a paperback with my name in it, and there are no words to describe the joy it brought to both of us.
What was the inspiration behind your book(s)?
I have such a hard time answering this question, because I’m not entirely sure! Sometimes I surprise myself with what comes out on the page when I’m writing, and it’s not until afterwards that I realize where it came from. The earliest memory I have of the initial spark was when I told my roommate in college that I wanted to write a book about a picture-perfect institute that had a dark underbelly. Over the following five years, it fleshed out into so much more than that. A Whitewashed Tomb is full of characters, plot points, and themes that were influenced by countless people, experiences, and musings in my own life, more than one singular inspiration.
What was your publishing journey like?
I self-published through CreateSpace, which has since merged with Kindle Direct Publishing. I went the self-publishing route because it was more important to me that I got my book out there to my friends and family, vs. selling it on a mass scale to the whole world. Self-publishing gave me the freedom to write what I wanted without worrying about whether or not it would sell or please the right audiences, I could work at my own pace, design the cover and format the interior of the book myself, and generally go about the whole process of being a first-time author with lower stakes and less stress. That being said, I do hope to publish traditionally in the future, and am excited for all the new things I would learn from that experience.
What advice do you have for aspiring young novelists?
Just do it. Don’t worry so much about getting it perfect the first time around—because you won’t. That’s what second and third and fourth drafts are for, and even then, you’re always going to be your worst critic and think it’s just not good enough. But it is. You have a story that only you can tell, and the world is waiting! Practically, the most helpful advice I ever followed was setting a daily word-count goal. Mine was 500 words per day. Without that routine, A Whitewashed Tomb would not exist.
If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
I would want to be a water-bender! I could make a bubble of oxygen around my head to breathe underwater, control aspects of the weather, summon water from the air to drink, maybe even learn to fly since human beings are made up primarily of water—the possibilities are endless!
Where is your favorite travel destination?
I love traveling and am always hoping to see new places and experience new cultures! But the places I’ve re-visited the most and never get tired of are New York (where I grew up), Florida, and Italy.
When you’re not writing, what are your favorite hobbies?
My hobbies are many and ever-changing. Life is just so full of interesting activities that I tend to jump from one to another on a whim. Currently, I’m hooked on salsa dancing and acroyoga. Some other staples include art, going to the movies, playing board games, and kayaking.
Where can people find you online?
Instagram: @rebecca.loomis.media | @rebeccaloomis.art
Facebook: @RebeccaLoomisAuthor | @AWhitewashedTomb | @RebeccaLoomisMedia
Pinterest: @rebeccamloomis | @rloomismedia