Rachel or Rachael?
Rachel Landis, contributing author to 21 Days of Christmas, spells her name two different ways. Find out why in my chat with her today. She wrote “A White Christmas with You” in the second book in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series.
You spell your pen name as Rachael. What is the reason behind that choice?
When I was younger, I wanted a more interesting or unique name. My grandma was also named Rachel, but ever since she was a teenager, she spelled it “Rachael,” with an extra a. She said she thought it looked prettier that way and that was the French way of spelling of Rachel. I knew I couldn’t change my name completely, so I decided to be satisfied with an extra a. I still legally sign without the a.
Tell something about yourself as a person and as a writer.
I grew up in Barbados and Jamaica, where my parents served as leaders of a charity organization called YWAM (Youth With A Mission). We lived on a campus where training programs, youth camps, and visiting ministry teams were hosted. Now I live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where my dad is originally from. As a child, I loved words and the way you could string them together to make a perfect combination that creates emotion and ideas in another person’s heart. A story’s power of conveying thoughts or creating new worlds or lives enthralled me then and still does.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
At the time I wrote this story, I was working for a homecare company for the elderly. One of the main parts of my job was being a companion to our clients. This story was inspired by one of my clients, whom I accompanied to the hospital because her children were too far away to go with her. She was in so much pain that she thought she was dying. Because it was right before Christmas, I initiated a conversation about holiday traditions and memories—to distract her from the pain while waiting for the nurse. We even sang “White Christmas” together, which was a key moment that inspired my short story.
What else have you written?
My other short story, “Call It,” will be published in January 2016 in 21 Days of Love: Stories that Celebrate Treasured Relationships. I also wrote two skits based on the life of Gladys Aylward and Jim Elliot for the Kardia Learning Center play Go, Light Your World, performed May 2015. Lancaster Newspaper published an op-ed piece I wrote this past summer called “Summer Is a Good Time to Volunteer.”
What genre(s) do you like to read?
I enjoy many of the classic literature books required in most high schools, especially when accompanied by explanations of their meaning and historical background of the writer or story. I love modern poetry, the kind that’s easy to connect to and understand. Right now, I’m enjoying some young-adult authors who write honestly about teenage life with humor and real emotion.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
C. S. Lewis is a brilliant writer whose stories overflow with creativity and insight. I also love Anne Lamott’s raw and real writing style. She doesn’t hide anything but strives to shed light on difficult life situations.
Do you write part time or full time? Do you have a job, kids, hobbies?
I’m currently studying professional writing at Taylor University Online while working as a creative design assistant for a company where I write blog posts and product descriptions. I also nanny two days a week for three kids under three. I attended YWAM’s school of writing in Woodcrest, Texas. I love DIY projects, Pinterest crafts, reading, and keeping up with my favorite comedies.
Where and when do you write?
I write anywhere I can. I keep paper in my purse, my car, my room, and I always have my phone nearby to record ideas if inspiration strikes. Usually I write articles or stories in my living room or bedroom, on my desk.
What do you love most about writing?
One of my favorite parts about writing is when sparks of inspiration start as an idea or story burning in my mind. I love the feeling of words connecting from my brain to the page as I rush to record each thought before it disappears. Of course, I love the universal bond that good writing brings between the author and the reader. When I connect to writing as a reader, I feel a strong sense of unity, not only to the author but to the world. That feeling is why I write.
What do find most challenging about writing?
One of the hardest parts of writing for me is dedicating myself to the craft of learning to read like a writer and write like a reader. I also struggle with writing consistently and being vulnerable by submitting my work. These are universal writers’ struggles.
Share one of your most rewarding moments connected to your writing.
I wrote an article about my grandpa’s death: how I felt receiving the news, during the funeral, and the next two years of healing after grieving. Almost three years after his death, my grandma—who is now remarried—read it and said she enjoyed how I captured that time and shared my feelings.
What does Christmas mean to you?
Christmas is a special time for me because it means my family with be together again. Since my immediate family members all live in a different country, Christmas is a wonderful time to get together. We love reminiscing about family memories and celebrating Christmas traditions. This Christmas, we have a new family member, my three-month-old nephew!
Thanks for sharing with me and my followers, Rachel! (Or should I say Rachael?)
Rachael Landis was born on the island of Barbados. She grew up there and in Jamaica as a missionary kid. She is now working toward an associate of the arts degree for professional writing while working as a barista and a caregiver for the elderly. Her favorite things are cats, chocolate, cake, and chocolate cake. Of course, she also likes reading.