The Rabbit: An Interview With Rachael Smith

Following the success of her debut graphic novel House Party, Rachael Smith's new book The Rabbit will be released on 28th August 2015 and is available to pre-order now.

Ahead of it's release, we asked Rachael about The Rabbit and her writing process.

What is The Rabbit about?

The Rabbit is about two sisters, Eleanor (14), and Kathy (9), who have run away from home. They’re traveling through the woods fuelled with sugar sandwiches and make believe games when they come across a tiny baby rabbit, which they name Craig. They take Craig with them on their travels – and he begins to get bigger and bigger…and kinda scary. That’s all I can say without giving too much away!

Where did the idea come from?

Golly, I’m never very good at answering this question! Um, I’ve had the idea kicking about in my head for a couple of years now. I suppose at the time I did House Party (my first graphic novel) I was in a pretty similar position as the main character, Michelle – so it felt very apt and slightly autobiographical. The Rabbit is less autobiographical and a lot more surreal, but there are a few similarities between me as a little girl and Kathy, the younger sister in the story. Kathy is always wondering about the big questions and worrying about things she doesn’t understand, Eleanor is much more pragmatic and practical, and gets frustrated easily with her sister’s whimsical and tender nature. So I guess, while House Party was about how I was feeling at the time I wrote it – for The Rabbit I’ve been turning more to my childhood. Both sisters have been a blast to write and draw, I love them a lot.

What is your writing process when creating the story on a project like The Rabbit?

I write early ideas down by hand in a scrappy notebook I always have with me. Then I write things properly in a Word document. When the Word document gets too big and unwieldy then I start putting things in Scrivener (a writing programme) and that’s where I start working out pages/panels/chapters etc etc. When I’ve written the whole thing I print it out and go through it with a pen and make changes – I find my brain works a bit differently sometimes when I’m looking at paper rather than a screen, I dunno if other people are like that too?? Then I go and make all the changes to the Scrivener document – THEN I print it out a bunch of times and ask my very close (and patient) friends to read it and let me know what they think. They usually come up with some very obvious and logical things that I’ve completely missed so I go back and change things again…and so on until I’m happy enough to start drawing! Sometimes when I’m drawing the pages I find that some dialogue is made obsolete because the picture is already telling the reader enough without it…but other than that I don’t really change the script at all once I’ve started drawing.

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I imagine writing and drawing your own graphic novel is a massive job - on top of your work on Titan's Doctor Who, touring the con circuit and working on other projects - how long did The Rabbit take, from concept to completion and what system (if any) do you have for dividing your time between the various projects?

I started writing The Rabbit properly just over a year ago. Comics and illustration is my full time job these days so I’m lucky in that I don’t have to share my time with a day job/part time job - that makes things a lot easier! I’m also lucky in that I work quite fast – especially when I’m well into a project and have hit my stride. As far as dividing time between projects is concerned – I make lists, and write in my calendar a LOT. I have a main to-do list and then I have a list for each day with the tasks I need to do. This is incredibly boring I’m sorry!!

Once The Rabbit is out there and in the hands of your audience, do you have an idea for what your next book/project will be?

I do, but it’s still a bit all over the place right now (I’m writing this on 04/08/15)…I know that it’s going to be called ‘Bess’*, and it’s going to be a webcomic**, and it’s going to launch in November 2015***.

*subject to change

**also subject to change

***please don’t get mad at me if this also changes

Thank you Rachael.

You can pre-order The Rabbit here. and purchase a copy of House Party here. Rachael will be attending many events over the coming months which you can find detail of on her website. You can also come and see Rachael at #TBCF2016 and you can buy tickets for that here.