TEATIME TEN: Rebecca Loomis

Welcome back to the Teatime Ten, an author interview series!  Today we have Rebecca Loomis chatting about her debut novel, A Whitewashed Tomb

Rebecca has generously offered a book giveaway, so check out the end of the article for how you can win a signed copy for yourself! 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I'm a Catholic artist, photographer, graphic designer, and writer. I grew up in New York, then zig-zagged across the country for college and missionary work. I studied film in California, then mass communications in Kansas; served with Saint Paul's Outreach at Arizona State University, then again at Texas State University. I've visited seven foreign countries and counting, and it's taught me how small I am in this massive world of wondrous marvels. I'm stubborn but soft. A dreamer and a doer. I can't stand being passive, but I hate being busy. At all times, the contents of my purse will include a knife, a koozie, and a rosary. When people ask me what I like to do, I'm stumped, because I simply love life and all it's facets! I believe that beauty can save the world, and I'm determined to play my part in making it a little more lovely with the gifts God has given me. 

2) What's your book about? 

A Whitewashed Tomb is a dystopian novel (the genre of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Fahrenheit 451) about a young woman named Tabitha. She lives in a society divided into the classes of "Privileged" and "Provision," the latter of which provides all necessities to the former. Her problem: Tabitha is Privileged. Her mother is dying. And only the Provision have access to the kind of medicine she needs. Tabitha's father promised to obtain this medicine, but has been MIA since he left, three years prior. When Tabitha discovers that her father is a felon at an elite institute for the Provision, she blackmails her way in, making the same promise to her twin that she'll get medicine for their mother. When Tabitha arrives at the institute, she's recruited by Security to assist in finding and capturing him, putting her at an impasse: to save one parent would doom the other. At first, the choice seems obvious. Her father abandoned her and deserves his punishment! But a large part of her still just wants her daddy back. Through her journey, Tabitha learns what it really means to forgive, and is challenged to sacrifice her own ambitions to take a stand for what is right.

3) What inspired you to write it?

Writing requires a general love for people in all their diverse complexity. My inspiration comes from them all: people I've met, people I sleep down the hall from, people I see at airports, and the ways people have impacted my life--for good or for ill. It's hard to pinpoint a single spark that lit the fire for A Whitewashed Tomb. Some of my inspirations for the society and antagonist come from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and my own personal studies of Margaret Sanger and the New World Order. This first book of the Whitewashed Tomb series doesn't touch too much on these dystopian factors, but there's a lot more creepy totalitarianism and eugenics to come in the sequels! 

4) What was the hardest part of the book to write?

The hardest part of writing my book was starting. I planned and outlined for years before I finally wrote the first scene. I never even used the prologue that was the first thing I wrote, but I didn't need to. It didn't matter. What mattered is that I'd started, and in doing so unplugged the cork that was stopping the story from flowing freely out. 

5) What surprised you about the writing process?

I was most surprised at how the story kind of wrote itself. I had plans in place that I'd labored over for literal years and had to scratch because my characters would simply not allow it. Some side-characters were never supposed to live past the midpoint, but they demanded to exist. Some characters were supposed to fall in love, and they told me, "Ew! Not happening." Some of my favorite scenes and story elements (i.e. Krikor and the bubble-gum pink squirrel) happened spontaneously mid-sentence. 

6) What was your journey to publishing like?

When I finished the first draft of my novel, I cried. When I held the first proof of my book in paperback format, I laughed 'til my face hurt. When I announced to my social media followers that my book was available for purchase, my heart dropped into the pit of my stomach. Oh gosh. People are actually going to read this. It was terrifying.

A Whitewashed Tomb isn't on the big, colorful displays at Barnes&Noble (though that would be amazing!). My dad, Mario Loomis, had recently self-published his novel Essence, Assault on the Mind, through an Amazon company called CreateSpace. I followed his footsteps. Everything was in my control: the design, the marketing, the distribution. I knew it would be a little, unknown book and I probably wouldn't make any profit off it, but it was out there. Someone, somewhere, would get to experience the delightful story that had, until then, been exclusively mine. That's what mattered to me most.

This being my expectation, I was blown away by the positive feedback I got from my readers. People fell in love with Ambrose. People begged me to tell them what happened with Mayra Mae. People wailed at Tabitha's stupid mistakes, the same way I had. Local shops offered to let me host book signings, someone asked for discussion questions to review at their book club, some others gave me five-star reviews, and many people sent me pictures of their excited selves holding their newly-arrived copies of my story. These may have been little, everyday gestures to them, but each one meant the world to me.

In short, I'm still a starving author, but there's nothing like kicking that horrid title "Aspiring Writer" to the curb, and getting to fawn over my own characters with other people who now know them too. 

7) Do you have any tips for would-be authors?

I've found that just about every other person I talk to about my book has some story locked away inside them. They say, "Oh, I've always wanted to write a book," or "There's a story I've been thinking about writing for years," and so on. My advice to them would be: JUST DO IT. I spent six years working on A Whitewashed Tomb, but only ten months actually writing the first draft. The hardest step is the first, but if you never make it, you'll always ask "What if?".

On a practical note, I found that setting a daily word-count goal is a huge game-changer. I decided on 500 words per day, and when I incorporated that into my routine, that's when I was finally able to write my story. Not only did it push me to finish, it also released a torrent of creativity that I wasn't previously able to tap into. I think when you force yourself to do something creative despite a lack of inspiration, it trains your brain to be more creative all the time. I didn't always meet 500 words, but when I pushed past the first 50-100, I usually ended up writing closer to triple my goal, and the quality of the work was better.

8) You're stranded on a desert island for a week and can only bring one book, one dessert, and one famous person dead or alive.  What's your week like?

  • Book: Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
  • Dessert: Ice cream (mint chocolate chip, cookie dough, and chocolate peanut butter swirl with hot fudge and whipped cream)
  • Famous person: Jesus
Jesus can multiply fish and make bread fall from the sky, so I'll be able to survive there for a week no problem. He'll make excellent company as I read my favorite Egyptian historical fiction for the tenth (give or take) time, and the ice cream will cool me off after a long day of exploring the untamed nature of our island. 

9) For twenty-four hours you're given one superpower.  What is it and what do you do with it?

I never actually watched the show Avatar, but I would love to be a water-bender. Water fascinates and simultaneously intimidates me. I would use my superpower to create an air bubble around my head and fulfill my dream of swimming among hundreds of wild stingrays. I'd might power-wash my house... but mostly I'd just play. Playing is good for the soul. 

10) What's up next creatively for you?

Next up on the list of things to write is the sequel to A Whitewashed Tomb! I've already got the storyline all worked out, it's just a matter of doing the actual writing and editing. This is the fun part, and I can't wait to share it with my readers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Loomis is a photographer and graphic designer from the New York Hudson Valley. During college, she studied under screenwriter Christopher Riley, who is considered “The most authoritative figure for the official screenplay format of Hollywood,” according to IMDb. Switching gears from entertainment media to mass communications, Rebecca graduated summa cum laude from Benedictine College. She then spent three years doing stateside missionary work, counseling college students for the nonprofit Saint Paul’s Outreach, after which she dabbled in marketing at BBG&G Advertising. Rebecca has won multiple awards for her poetry, published articles in various media outlets, and teaches online classes through Skillshare.com.

Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or Patreon!  Check out her official website here.  Follow A Whitewashed Tomb here. 

BOOK GIVEAWAY!  Leave a comment and be entered to win one signed paperback from the author!  The winner will be notified by next Tuesday's Teatime Ten!

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Comments

  1. A water-bender would certainly be a lot of fun. A great interview thank you.

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  2. A good interview, very simple and sweet! Can't wait to read your book!

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