I am absolutely thrilled today to interview someone who has made such an impact on my life, my agent – Rebecca Angus! Today, her novel WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN comes out! Happy book birthday, Rebecca! This book is a beautifully woven historical romance inspired by Texas history that intrigues me so because there is a bit of a modern twist to it! Check out my interview with Rebecca below and learn more about this stunning story! But first, LOOK AT THIS COVER! *SWOONS*
When Aubrey Harrison wrecks her truck on the side of a dark Texas highway, she wakes up in the year 1836, in another woman’s life—someone who looks just like her. Struggling to understand her new reality, Aubrey connects with Tapley, a handsome cattleman with a tragic past.
As Mexican soldiers begin to fill the small settlement, Aubrey recognizes the first sign of a deadly battle yet to come. A bargain to save her new family’s cattle business leads to murder, and Aubrey is forced to take shelter within the walls of the Alamo, even though she knows that’s the worst place she could be.
The fate of Texas was sealed before the battle ever began, but with it, a new love may now be lost somewhere between the past and the present. An attempt to change fate comes with the high price of Aubrey’s future, but she’s determined to give history a fight it will never forget.
Sydney: So, thank you Rebecca for letting me interview you on your book birthday *throws confetti*! Let’s start off with you telling us a little about yourself and how you began your journey as a writer.
Rebecca: My writing journey is pretty typical. I was a book obsessed teenager with a writing dream of my own, but it wasn’t until right after college that I started writing seriously. I am a military spouse and I met my husband at Texas A&M University. We got married our senior year of college and he deployed to Afghanistan the year after. While he was deployed I had living in Washington away from my friends and family and I turned to writing as a way to combat the stress and loneliness that I felt during that first deployment. I actually wrote WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN in 28 days during that time, and dove straight into revisions shortly after. A few months later I found my literary agent, Jessica. She has been an amazing champion for this book!
Sydney: I totally relate to turning to writing as a way to combat stress! But 28 days – I think that is some sort of record! What was the process like in finding your literary agent, Jessica? What drew you to submit your story to them?
Rebecca: My search for the perfect agent was definitely a rollercoaster. I actually had a fantasy project that I had been querying heavily before I began writing WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN. The fantasy project did not find me an agent, but it did bring me some incredible feedback and revision suggestions that I ended up using to make the manuscript stronger. I also researched, connected with other authors, and perfected the query writing process during my first trip through the query trenches. I feel those experiences helped me put together a stronger query and manuscript for WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN, and from that I met my agent.
Sydney: The query trenches is such a hard time in a writer’s life. I always tell people, if you think writing a book is hard…wait till you have to query! Gah! But you have a pretty cool perspective, being both an author and an agent. Which one do you find more daunting?
Rebecca: I actually find the author part more daunting. I have a really good routine when it comes to working as an agent. However, when it comes to prioritizing my own books and writing, I definitely feel the pressure. I have to schedule writing time, and that can be difficult. Most days I find time after Mini Agent has gone to put in an hour or two of writing.
Sydney: Scheduling writing time is a tough task for me too! I can’t imagine adding a little kiddo to the mix! What kept you inspired to dive into writing this story?
Rebecca: Well, I knew this question would come eventually, but my husband inspired this story….yes—that is very awkward for me to admit. I drew so much inspiration from our time at Texas A&M. Our love story began there, so the love story central to WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN also parallels to those same themes. The main character, Tapley, was actually inspired by Tapley Holland who was the youngest defender of the Alamo, and played a significant role in the history of the Alamo itself. We loved the name Tapley so much that we named our son after him as well. There is so much history in this story, but there is also so much of my own life in it as well that it’s very personal. It took me awhile to come to terms with the fact that people are going to read these words that I wrote and experience my own feelings in their own way. It’s a very vulnerable but exciting feeling as an Author.
Sydney: I just adore that this story was inspired by your own love story with your husband, and that you used significant people in Texas history to write this story. It just makes it seem even more real. Since this book involves the main character going into the past and being a part of the Alamo, what kind of research did you have to do?
Rebecca: I am from San Antonio so I grew up around the Alamo city. I did an incredible amount of research about the history of the Alamo, and the original settlers of San Antonio. The book is extremely accurate when it comes to historical details, events, and people. I do have to give credit to my amazing publisher and editor, Lynn and Jessica, who helped keep the story as accurate as we could possibly get it. We went through quite a long process of developmental edits making sure clothing, mannerisms, etc. were realistic and accurate for the time period. That was probably the most challenging part of this story. Hopefully readers will appreciate the research behind the story.
Sydney: I have such respect for people that write historical fiction because there is so much research involved. So props to you and your editing team! Since there was research and factual events included within the story, did that affect your approach to plot or did you have the characters drive you?
Rebecca: WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN was a bit of an unusual journey and not typical of my writing style at all. I am 100% a micromanaging plotting machine. I have to have a solid plan of action before I start writing anything, and usually I begin by creating a detailed outline and a chapter summary for each part of the book before I even start writing a chapter. WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN was a solid 28 days of writing from the heart. Every emotion, insecurity, and frustration I felt being a military wife was put into that story, and I didn’t outline any of it. While I knocked the book out very fast, I will never pants an entire story again. I definitely prefer going into a story more organized. However, sometimes the characters in the story have a mind of their own and your plan of action can completely change. Don’t be afraid of change in the story—work with your character. After all, it’s their story.
Sydney: I feel like I can always tell when an author is emotionally invested in the story they wrote. Those are the kind of stories that I end up falling in love with and stay with me. Are you currently working on any other projects you feel that emotional connection to?
Rebecca: I am working on a new historical project, and a contemporary romance. Love stories are really my happy place when it comes to writing, and I always try to add some aspect of the military to the story.
Sydney: That’s so great and really relatable that you include the military in your stories since that is essentially part of your life story too. How much of yourself do you put into characters that you write? Which character in WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN are you most like?
Rebecca: I am 100% Aubrey. Because the story was inspired by what I was feeling and experiencing at the time, I wrote the characters from a very personal level. Aubrey is very much me as a person and she represents what the military and deployment feel like to me. She’s also very stubborn and a bit of a Mary Sue which I relate to very much. If Aubrey was sorted into a house at Hogwarts she would definitely be a Ravenclaw.
Sydney: For me, writing characters so deep like that can feel intimidating. But I think it’s what makes a great author. What’s the best piece of writing advice that someone has given you?
Rebecca: Everyone has their own writing journey. It can happen at different stages of your life, at different paces, and at different levels. Whatever your writing journey is, focus on your individual successes and try not to get caught longing for the successes of others. I know I give that speech to my authors on a weekly basis, but I frequently have to remind myself of the same thing. This is my writing journey and it will be what I make it, not what others perceive it as.
Sydney: I appreciate that speech and every time you have cheered me along the way. It means so much now cheering on you! If you could describe WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN in three words, what would they be?
Rebecca: Timeless. Tragic. Eternal.
Sydney: I feel like I am just going to fall head over heels with this story already! Thanks for joining me on your special day to tell the world about WHERE WE FIRST BEGAN. I have a few fun little questions for you! What is a little known fact about you?
Rebecca: If I could be anyone in the entire world I would be Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus.
Sydney: I am going to be singing that theme song ALL day long now! Let’s just call you the Ms. Frizzle of the ‘agenting’ world and we are your students! One last question – if you could become any book character for a day, who would it be and why?
Rebecca: Lucy Pevensie, because she believed in the impossible when everyone else thought she was a silly little girl.
Rebecca Angus is a Senior Literary Agent with Golden Wheat Literary, and romance author. Rebecca has over five years of experience in the Publishing industry, and she’s excited to work with new authors and illustrators. She started as an editorial and submissions intern at Entangled in 2014, and from there she moved into an intern position at Golden Wheat Literary. After interning on both the publishing side, and the agent side, she set her sights on becoming a Literary Agent and found her home at Golden Wheat Literary.
When she’s away from books, she is an Army wife, science teacher, toddler chasing Mom, and equestrian. The military moves her family way too much. She lives in El Paso, Texas with her family.
Rebecca is a supporter of diversity and inclusion in publishing, and she is a member of SCBWI NM.