Theory on Thursday with Rachel Bailey

Today I’m ecstatic to have my RWAus twin on my blog – a MASSIVE welcome to Desire author, Rachel Bailey. We’re twins because people actually mistake us for the same person – we often get each other’s emails, more often Rachel gets mine cos she’s far more famous than I am – and sometimes people who have known us for years, discover we’re actually two different people. Seriously… it happens that much that we’re thinking of getting t-shirts printed for conferences. Something along the lines of ”If you’ve read Rachel Johns, you’ll LOVE Rachel Bailey” and vice versa. Aside from our first names being the same, my ”real” name is VERY similar to Bailey and well… you get the idea.

Rachel’s chatting today about something I LOVE the idea of but have never actually managed to embrace properly so I’m hoping for some tips. 

Over to you Rach…

Invitingyour right brain out to play
Popular psychology hasa theory that our left brains are the place where most logical thinkinghappens, where we do our arithmetic, store the grammar rules and generally berational. The theory goes on to say that our right brains are where ourcreativity resides, our imagination and intuition, and where we synthesisethings.
You may already have agood relationship with your right brain, but my left brain usually jumps inbefore my right brain gets a chance to say much. So when I’m plotting a story,I have a couple of techniques I use to coax my right brain into playing withus.
One of those iscollage.
You’ve probably readabout collages and writing before – there are some great articles on the web,such as this one Jennifer Crusie, so my post today is more about how collages work for me.
Sometimes when I’mrushing to plot a book, I consider skipping this step, but things always goeasier for me later with the story when I’ve taken the time.
I generally start by flippingthrough magazines. There’s a stack in my office cupboard kept for just thispurpose. I’m looking for the obvious: someone who might look like my hero orheroine (I also browse the internet for these) and settings that might occur inthe book. But I’m also looking for anything that may *feel* right. It might bea bottle of red wine, or a posy of wildflowers, or a word, or a bluebackground. After a while the random images start to form a pattern. Or not.But, put with the things my left brain chooses, they always add up to an overviewof the feeling of the story.
Then I’ll go to a craftstore / craft section of a department store and scour for anything that feelsright on their shelves. For a future book I’m planning I bought silver andpurple felt stick on butterflies. They’re so pretty, and although I don’t thinkthere are any butterflies in the story (or maybe there will be?) it’s probablygoing to be a metaphor for my heroine’s journey. Sometimes an image or anobject I find will start my brain thinking about a whole new thread to thestory – those moments are gold.
The background to thecollage is important to me too. For Million-DollarAmnesia Scandal, I stuck pieces of red and brown paper in a chequeredpattern before adding on the pictures on top – the colours felt right. For What Happens in Charleston… I used thickblack cardboard and sprayed it with gold hairspray to give it a glitter effect.(Probably my favourite collage background so far!)
The act of creating thecollage is really useful to me in getting the plot together in my head andfinding threads and aspects to the story I otherwise may have missed. Butthat’s only one purpose.
After I’ve finished acollage, I hang it above my computer while I write the book and it becomes anongoing inspiration. When I first sit down in the mornings, I look up at thecollage and fall into the story again – especially important if I’ve just beenworking on edits for another story and need to ‘feel’ this one again.
Also, when I have thosemoments where I wonder about what comes next, instead of gazing out the window(which would be sure to distract me), I gaze at the collage. Looking at thepicture I’ve chosen for him pasted beside the picture of the heroine surroundedby all the colours and metaphors for their journey, I can almost hear themtalking (or not talking as the case may be) and I know where the story needs togo. It’s like the collage becomes my muse.
Everyone’s brain worksdifferently, so using collages may not help you at all – it might just wasteyour time – but it might be worth a try in case it does add something to yourplotting experience!
So tell me, have youever used a collage when writing? Was it useful or just a waste of time? I’dlove to hear about your experiences!
(Bythe way, I haven’t posted any photos of my collages here because I’m surethey’d have images that are copyright to the photographer and I need to respectthat.)

WOW Rachel, some of those collages sound AMAZING!!! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your collaging process with us Rachel. Do be sure to share your collage-ing experiences as Rachel said 🙂

Rachel’s latest book is WHAT HAPPENS IN CHARLESTON (don’t ya just love that title?)
Here’s the blurb:
Money has always given Matthew Kincaid whatever he wanted. Yet now his son needs something even his millions can’t buy. The widower’s sole recourse is the surrogate who gave birth to his child – for she is also the boy’s true biological mother.
Susannah Parrish needs no prodding to offer her assistance – a child’s life is at stake. But to their mutual surprise, the minute she’s back in Charleston and residing in Matthew’s home, passion consumes them. Is this a relationship doomed by deception? Or is it the one chance at a love they both secretly crave?

You can find Rachel at her website, on Twitter and on Facebook (go ahead, like her. You know you want to :)). 


24 thoughts on “Theory on Thursday with Rachel Bailey

  1. Hi Rach and Rach!!!! *g*

    And oh I want to make a collage again now – Miss Four would LOVE it!!!
    I made one for Shadow Hunter (unpubbed) and one image I found in a magazine started a whole new scene (an old abandoned railway carriage).
    Rachel I love the way your mind works =))

  2. Rach, I love your intro about people confusing us. Our private email addresses don't help the situation, but my favourite are the ones you mentioned where people we've known for a few years — and one of us has even met in person — don't realise we're two different people! But at least you and I know each other well enough to just pass the emails along. 🙂

  3. Rachel I have absolute admiration for you. I would love to see some pictures of those! I'm not artistic at all and wouldn't know where to start. I've printed out a picture of David Gandy for my latest hero inspiration and it's sit in a polypocket – does that count???

  4. Scarlet, send me an email at rachel (at) rachelbailey (dot) com at the end of the post, I've probably used copyrighted photos, so it's not fair to the photographers if I publish the collages on the web, but I'm happy to email you a couple of snapshots. 🙂

    David Gandy? Don't know him, which is very exciting! I love finding potential new heroes. Thanks!

  5. Argh! A sentence seems to have disappeared from the reply to Scarlett. I'm not sure how I deleted it while typing, lol.

    It should have said: “Scarlet, send me an email at rachel (at) rachelbailey (dot) com and I'll send you some photos. As I said at the end of the post, etc”

  6. Hi Joanne! The background is really important to me because it sets the tone. My mother is an artist (and ex-high school art teacher), so we were discussing the exact shade of a future collage's background yesterday. Kinda cobalt blue with a touch more purple. Fun!

  7. MJ, I haven't tried doing it electronically – I think the hands-on aspect helps me, as well as having a great big final product on the wall behind my computer. But you've piqued my interest, so am off to explore Curio…

  8. Thanks so much for this post, Rachel. Like Rach I'm fascinated by the collage process but it's not something I've ever done. Although, perhaps I kind of do it because all through my book “bible”, where I make notes about the characters and plot and keep calendars and maps, are pictures. Lots of them.

    I think this is something I might try in future books. It'd certainly save me flipping backwards and forwards through all those pages of scribble!

    All the best with What Happens in Charleston… Fantastic title!

  9. Cathryn, very cool that you have a book bible – very easy to translate parts of it to a collage for easy reference if you wanted. I've included maps, eg, I had a map of South Carolina on my What Happens in Charleston… collage.

    Also, I added a Wordle pic of the first three chapters of Return of the Secret Heir to its collage. It looked great because the biggest words were JT (hero), Pia (heroine), baby and other relevant words. Gave me a snapshot, almost like a log line.

    Would love to hear how you go if you decide to merge your bible with a collage!

  10. I think butterflies are wonderful analogies. I have one in my first novel. My inspiration, however, comes from living a kilometer (as the butterfly flies) for Coffs Harbour Butterfly House. An up close and personal butterfly exp. Oh and Rach x 2, I know I have so totally got your emails mixed up in the past. One too many Rachjohns!!!! So I'm not really ditzy 🙂

  11. Jenn, I'm very green about you living so close to the Butterfly House! I drove through Coffs once, years ago, and we couldn't visit the BH for some reason. Must repeat the trip!

    Don't worry about mixing up the Rachels – as the other Rach said, we're thinking of getting T-Shirts. My fave option: I'm the Other Rach. 🙂

  12. lol I don't think I have sent an email to the wrong Rachel. Hmm… You have me thinking now. And yes, you are two different people. Oh, in a nice way. 🙂

    I couldn explain but I'd be here for a month. lol..

    Love the premise of your story Rach B. A child between two people is a strong tug bringing unsual circumstances, some good and some not so good. 🙂

  13. So sorry I haven't popped in until now. It's been a HELLISH kid week so THANK GOD it's the weekend. I've just cracked open a Diet Coke and am trying to catch up!

    Thanks for all your comments. MAybe we should all go away and do a collage for the next book.

    Rachel – if you're still around, I have a question! Do you KEEP your collages once you're done with the book?

  14. Hi Rach! Thanks for inviting me along. 🙂 Yep, I keep all my collages – I have some hanging on my walls and some in the cupboard. They help keep me in the “writing frame of mind” when I got into my writing room.

    Hope this week is a better one for you!

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