UCF Alumni Author Spotlight: Elizabeth J. Rekab ’09
Last month, alumni author Elizabeth J. Rekab (Jessica Baker ’09) released her novel The Ghost Junkies, a young adult paranormal thriller set in the ’90s. October is the best time to cozy up with your favorite thriller novel. If you’re looking for something new, you’ll want to check this book out!
Rekab talks about what inspired her most recent novel, how she approaches writing a standalone novel vs. a series (her series The Reaper Trilogy is wrapping up this November), and what she’s working on next.
Meet Elizabeth J. Rekab!
Share a little about yourself!
Go Knights! I’m proud to be a UCF alum. In addition to being an alum and a writer, I’m also an animal lover (there’s a dog, two cats, and a parrot in my household) and a huge fan of travel. Can’t wait to get back out there!
Let’s talk about your most recent novel, The Ghost Junkies! What was your inspiration for the novel?
The story started as a simple concept: “What if a teenage girl who can see ghosts learned there was a way to, in essence, find a sort of high from them?” My idea was, here’s this girl who’s a bit of a misfit, a girl who doesn’t necessarily fit societal standards of beauty. She’s a little insecure at times (aren’t we all), but she’s kind of okay with being a bit weird. She just resents the fact that her friends start to drift away from her, that her grades start to slip, that her father was taken from her so abruptly. So she turns to this sort of release she finds with other ghost-seeing teens who, inevitably, are bad news. But the story is all about her journey, her realizations and growth, all while dealing with creepy ghosts, an infamous urban legend, and figuring out the mystery of why the entire town seems to be going crazy around her.
The Ghost Junkies was so much fun for me to write. Probably one of my favorites, not just because I love my spunky main character so much, but also because I got to rewind the clock. The story is set in 1997 and it was a blast reflecting on the era of my youth, back when smart phones weren’t a thing, dial-up was the norm, and boy bands were all the craze. It was a total stroll down Memory Lane!
You also have a trilogy that’s wrapping up this November with the final novel, Freehaven. What’s your process like when writing a standalone novel (The Ghost Junkies) vs. a trilogy (The Reaper Trilogy)?
I’m admittedly a bit of a pantser, so I don’t always know how my stories are going to go until I’m well into the first draft, and then the plot starts to evolve organically. At least that’s the case for standalones. When you write with the intent of creating a series, you’re forced to plan a bit more, to kind of decide, “Okay, so if I end book one here, and book two there, then what do we have left for book three? Where do we want to end up?” Not to mention, keeping facts straight, even things as mundane and simple as character descriptions, is a lot harder to do when spread across multiple books as opposed to just one. My memory isn’t always the best, so I keep extensive series notes! It’s the only way to go.
What led you to the young adult paranormal genre?
I’ve always been drawn to the paranormal, even as a kid. My mom and brother and I would read Goosebumps aloud together at night, and my fascination grew from there. I loved Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Fear Street, Spooksville, R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, and I eventually graduated to some Stephen King. Yet I always go back to the young adult end of the paranormal genre, maybe because it’s what I grew up with. I’ll always have a soft spot for it.
What are you working on next? Do you have any new novel ideas in the works once The Reaper Trilogy is complete?
Definitely! I have ideas for several more series coming up, and even a spin-off idea for The Reaper Trilogy. I also intend to release a standalone YA horror about a marching band from hell–literally–next year. I’ve got so many ideas on the backburner, I just wish I had more time, hands (and brains) to get all the stories written quicker!
Where can we follow you?