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Talking with Rachel Grant at #RWA16



Rachel Grant is a lot of fun. I met her for lunch on a blindingly sunny San Diego day and she immediately showed me a rock. Then ordered a beer.

The rock was not just any rock. Rachel is an archeologist by training and, let me tell you, that woman knows her fossils. This rock–which I got to hold!–is from Djibouti and is ancient. She described it in an email:

Here are the basics of the African Stone Age. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_Age

You’ll see if you scroll down a tool that looks similar from the Oldowan period – which could be  as old as 3.3 million years old.

It also could be from the Acheulean period – from .9 to 1.7 million years old.

The theory is that the tool I showed you is more likely Acheulean, made by a hominin, either Homo heidelbergensis, Homo ergaster, or Homo habilis. However the patina on the stone is so thick, it really could be from the Oldowan age.

It was found in Djibouti as part of a joint project between the Djiboutian government and the US Department of Defense. It is part of a large collection that is the property of the Djiboutian government but is currently being studied in the US. The entire collection will be returned when Djibouti has a curation facility.

Because this particular tool lacks provenience (which is partially why the exact period is unknown), its value lies in being used as a teaching tool, which is why I bring it to conferences and reader events. To me it’s very grounding to hold it in my hand and think about the hominin who made it anywhere from 900,000 to 3.3 million years ago, and I enjoy having the opportunity to pass on that experience to others

Rachel also knows suspense. She’s published eight books as well as several novellas. One of them, Body of Evidence, has been optioned for a movie by Spotted Cow Productions, a film production company run by Nancy Cartwright (known to bazillions as the voice of Bart Simpson), Peter Kjenaas and Monica Gil.

“We see, in this extraordinary novel, an entertaining, wild ride of passion and courage,” Kjenaas said. “Rachel has elevated the genre by rooting it in her deep knowledge of archaeology and this gives it an authenticity that is unique. Behind the truly threatening action of a thriller is the even more threatening risk of giving in to desire.”

We can’t wait to see the film.

How old were you when you wrote your first romance? Plot?

I started writing my first romance/mystery when I was in 6th grade. It was going to be just like Agatha Christie but better because there would be a romance between my version of Poirot (the heroine) and my Hastings (the hero). I wrote about 27 pages before I gave up because I didn’t know how to type yet and it was taking too long to get to the good parts.

Side note: Agatha Christie married an archaeologist and so did I, so my first attempt at a novel wasn’t the only time I copied her.

Tell me two truths and a lie.

I have 6 brothers and 7 sisters.
I have all my wisdom teeth.
I have never been arrested.

What would your most recent hero never do in bed?

Anything that would hurt the heroine.

If you could make up the perfect name for a fictional President, what would it be?

LOL – I avoid naming presidents in my books, I just say “the president,” so it doesn’t pull the reader out of the story and feel like fiction, if that makes sense. But I did have to name a former vice president in Body of Evidence. Because he’s a possibly crooked politician in the story (no spoilers here on his guilt or innocence) and I didn’t want readers to assume I was modeling him after anyone in particular, I gave him the last name I was born with (not my maiden name because I took my stepfather’s last name when I was 18), which is Stevens. Of course, some time after I initially named him, I realized people might think of the late Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who was found guilty of corruption in 2008, but I never bothered to change the name. No one has ever asked if Vice President Andrew Stevens was modeled after any particular politician, thank goodness.

What’s the last TV show you binge watched?

This is going to sound so pathetic, but it was the last two seasons of the Battlestar Galactica reboot – and we watched it four years after the series had ended. We watched the rest of the series when it aired, but once we got behind we decided to wait, and it took that long for us to get around to it. I don’t watch a lot of TV (except for The Daily Show, The Simpsons, and Big Bang Theory), but my daughter binge watches in the summer, so I sit down with her here and there and watch Parks and Recreation, Jessica Jones, and Agent Carter when I have time and she’s mid-binge. My son made sure I watched all of Gravity Falls, and I’m getting up to speed on Steven Universe.

Which do you prefer: Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre?

::hangs head in shame:: I’ve never read either. So I’m going to say Rebecca.

If they made a movie of your life, who would play you?

No one would want to see that movie!!! When I was younger I was frequently told that I looked just like Juliette Lewis, but that hasn’t happened in a long time. I’m going to go with Rachel Weisz because I want to be that gorgeous and we’re the same age. Plus the name. And she played an Egyptologist/librarian in my favorite archaeology/adventure/romance movie.

What’s the last book you read and loved?

I just finished an eARC of Elizabeth Bemis’s upcoming Truth and Lies and loved it.

What’s next from you?

Poison Evidence (Evidence Series #7) – I had hoped for a summer release, but now it looks like it will be out in the early fall. My writing time has been cut short this summer with travel and other exciting news…. (see above!)



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