Rachel Reynolds is a special educator and freelance writer. She currently serves as the principal of the Dominion School, operated byCommonwealth Autism Service. You can find her writing at Richmond Mom,Hello Grief, Richmond Magazine, the webzine Insert Eyeroll, and her personal blog, See What You Meme. She is also the co-founder and executive director of CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation (CJSTUF). In 2012, Rachel was awarded the Eagle Rare Life Award for Courage.
Rachel lives in Ashland, Virginia with her husband and two incredibly annoying (but completely adorable) cats. In her spare time, she obsesses over Don Draper, dark chocolate, and public radio personalities (not necessarily in that order). You can follow Rachel on Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads.
1. Why was writing Four Seasons for Charlotte so important to you? After Charlotte died, I felt an incredible need to tell our story. We had experienced things that I think very few people can truly understand. Other parents had told me that they found new understanding in the grief process by reading the blog that we kept when she was sick. This was an opportunity to share our experience with others, hopefully helping other families as well as communities who supported families in crisis.
2. What was the writing/creative process like? I learned about the power of editing! It is amazing the difference good editing can make with a book. My original manuscript had some great ideas but it was through the help of an editor that I was able to fill out the “characters” of our little family. Every time I went back to the editing process, I found something to make the book a little better.
3. How did you come up with the title? There are really multiple meanings to the title Four Seasons for Charlotte. The time from diagnosis of cancer to her death spanned almost a year, so we spent four seasons of intense time with our only child. She also lived four years on this earth so we went through four “seasons” or cycles of life with her during this time.
4. When did you first consider yourself a writer? Although I have been writing all of my life with different projects, I never considered myself a writer until I received my first paycheck as a freelance writer for another website. Getting paid to write certainly makes it feel “real”.
5. What books do you believe influenced you in your life? Some of my favorite writers when I was younger included C.S. Lewis, Madeline L’Engle, and John Steinbeck. I think that in order to be a good writer, you have to love reading and read a wide variety.
6. How much influence did you have in the cover of your book? Did you initially have a different idea of how it would look? I had a few different ideas but once we chose a title, the publisher presented me with the cover that we have and I loved it immediately!
7. Can you describe a typical day for you? I work primarily as a principal of a private day school for kids with autism. That dominates about 9-10 hours of my day. Then I head home. My evenings consist of meetings or work on our foundation, CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation, writing on my various projects, or playing in an improve comedy troupe.
8. What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I love reading, cooking, exploring new restaurants, and taking day trips to new places.
9. What do your family and friends think of your writing? I get a lot of positive feedback from friends and family. I guess that’s what keeps me writing. I love it when people tell me that my writing helped them think about something in a new way.
10. What do you think is more important – a good plot, or good characters? Why did you choose the one you did? My book is nonfiction so I think this question is hard. You have to have both but I think having a good and well defined character helps your plot move forward. If the characters are boring or one-dimensional, there won’t be much of a story.
About Four Seasons for Charlotte
Rachel Reynolds shares a powerful journey in her memoir, Four Seasons for Charlotte. It is the story of an ordinary family bearing an extraordinary burden.
When Rachel’s three year old daughter Charlotte was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the world of the Reynolds family was changed forever. In Four Seasons for Charlotte, she recounts the events of the year of Charlotte’s diagnosis, treatment, and eventual death. Her chronicle of the family’s story is about more than the untimely death of a child. It is about harnessing the strength of a community, gaining perspective through tragedy, and finding light in a time of darkness.