Alumni Stories: Rachel E. Carter

Rachel received her B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Education from UC Davis in 2012. She's now the author of the USA Today bestselling YA fantasy series The Black Mage. We spoke to Rachel about her time at UC Davis and the path she took to becoming a published author.
 

What was your favorite English class at UC Davis? 

 

My favorite class (that I can recall) was Jane Austen. It was a privilege to read all her works and get class credit for it!

 

I understand you previously worked in insurance operations before pursuing your dream of becoming an author; do you have any advice for anyone who may be in a similar situation? 

 

I don't regret that job prior to publishing--yes, it wasn't my dream, but having an opportunity like that straight out of college allowed me to pay off my student loans right away and set aside money, which later allowed me to quit said job to work part-time somewhere else and write the rest of the time. It's very uncommon for an author or writer to do what they love full-time right away--I can't even tell you how many accomplished authors I know that work part-time even after multiple book deals with major houses. It's an unstable career and having a job like my past insurance role wasn't glamorous or enjoyable, but it was a necessary step to fund my dream. I'm very fortunate now that I make enough to write full-time, but I'm forever conscious of how unpredictable the publishing industry is and at any time I might have go back to a job like that to continue doing what I really love, which is write.

 

Do you have any additional advice for current students interested in becoming writers? 

 

Don't be like me. My biggest regret was choosing English Literature for my BA instead of Creative Writing. I was too afraid to pursue the major I really wanted, and instead convinced myself that getting the "reliable" degree was more important (with a minor in Education so I could teach). While I enjoyed taking the traditional English major, I'm forever wondering what it would have been like to really hone the writing craft through school instead of learning through trial-and-error (and various self research) on my own years later. That, and I think it's important for anyone interested in becoming a writer to make a point to write and read for fun outside of the papers and books your professors assign.

 

Is there any particular work of yours that you are especially proud of? 

 

Well, right now I only have one series out (currently working on my next) so it's really just The Black Mage for now. The series starts off on a light note (First Year) but takes a heart-wrenching turn (Last Stand) that brings the reader to a dark, twisted, beautiful place I'm particularly proud of. The series is, at its heart, a love story with shades of gray and moral choices, so it's very near and dear to my heart.

To find out more about Rachel and her work, you can visit her official website at http://www.rachelecarter.com.

 

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