Hi there! I’m Rachel Stedman, and I write as RL Stedman. I write mostly for young adults and kids, and you can find out more about my books here.
Because I’m often asked how I began writing, I’ve put my writing story below.
I wrote this partly to encourage other, younger writers. Never give up. Because good things can happen.
Never Giving Up: My Writing Journey
I write because I love to read.
I was a voracious reader as a child. My parents didn’t have a television, so my brother and (4) sisters disappeared into books. My mother had an account with a local bookstore (my father always got a shock when the bill arrived) and we were regulars at the local libraries.
I read anything I could get my hands on: cereal packets, instruction manuals, Dickens…(I tried David Copperfield when I was six, which put me off Dickens for life). I discovered Diana Wynne Jones when I was nine – she hooked me on fantasy fiction, and its been fantasy, sci-fi and romance genres for me ever since.
I wrote, too. Little stories, illustrated with coloured pencil at primary school, competitions for Cadbury’s Chocolate, essays at High School. I never won anything, and my teachers appeared fairly underwhelmed by my talent. But I kept on writing. I trained as a physiotherapist, married, travelled, and kept reading. I wrote small diary entries, studied science, and fell in love with science fiction.
It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties, after a bout of illness, I considered writing again. I began slowly, starting a romance (which I never finished) and returned to New Zealand. I had two lovely children, and wrote a short story.
After recovering from depression — it seems to be illness that spurs me to creativity — I decided to take writing seriously. I wrote a novella, submitted it to a number of agents, and received a number of rejections. One, a kindly hand-written letter, I pinned to my noticeboard as a reminder that someone thought my writing was good enough to warrant their time.
I completed an MBA at the University of Canterbury and attended a few night-classes. Wrote more short stories, received more rejections. As you do.
In 2010 things fell apart; I took on a job that was just … overwhelming. I developed palpitations, my blood-pressure was at a record high. ‘It’s your job,’ said the cardiologist sternly. ‘You need to make some choices.’
What did I most want to do with my time? I wanted to write.
I enrolled at Aoraki Polytechnic, where I studied creative writing under the amazing Diane Brown. I submitted short stories to a number of magazines and e-zines. Slowly, rejections began turning into acceptances. I published short stories in Semaphore, Moon-Drenched Fables and The School Journal.
My first novel, A Necklace of Souls, was published by HarperCollins in 2013. In 2014 Necklace was shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Award, was awarded Notable Book by Storylines and gained Best First Novel at the New Zealand Post Book Awards.
In 2014 I published Inner Fire under my own imprint (Waverley Productions, so named because that’s where I live!), following this with A Skillful Warrior, the sequel to A Necklace of Souls, in 2015. I also released The Prankster and the Ghost, a middle grade adventure, in 2015 and Upon A Time, a collection of fairytale retellings in late 2016.
I’m currently writing the final in the SoulNecklace stories and am planning my next work.
So, if you’re wanting to write, the moral of this long post is: don’t give up.
And now you can find me on most social media platforms, behind my computer, or at my local library!