Seventeen-year-old homeschool
student Rachel Coker infuses
her own teenage experience into
poignant historical novels.

“My first fiction story was a
school assignment in sixth
grade,” Rachel shares. “I guess
my mom was pretty impressed
by my short story, because she
sent it to a professional writing
coach who offered to work with
me for a few months to hone my
fiction skills.”

Short stories and a novella led to
starting her first full-length novel
at age 13. After finishing it, she
queried agents, signed with one,
and at 15 received a contract offer
from Zondervan for Interrupted:
Life Beyond Words

Her sophomore novel, Chasing
(also Zondervan), takes
readers to 1960s Georgia, where
17-year-old Scarlett Blaine struggles
to hold her eccentric family
together and fulfill
her autistic brother’s
dream of flying
a rocket to Jupiter.
“I love how raw
and real the characters
in Chasing
are,” Rachel
says. “They’re not
perfect—in fact,
they’re far from it,
but you just can’t
help but love how
crazy and cute they
all are. They have a
genuine love for each other that is stronger than the
circumstances surrounding them.”

She believes her age gives her books an edge that
other young adult novels may not have. “They’re stories
about teenagers written by an actual teenager, so
they have a raw realness to them that I think a lot of
other YA books lack. I write about what it’s like to
be young—the heartaches, joys, humor, and love that
comes with being 17. And other teens relate to that!”

Rachel lives with her parents and two younger sisters
in Virginia, where she writes and owns a photography
business, as well as continuing her schooling.
“All my years of home education opened my
eyes to the exciting and vast world of classic literature,”
she says, “and many of those books inspired
my later works.”

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2013 issue of FamilyFiction Edge digital magazine. Subscribe for free today!

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About The Author

Rachel Coker is a homeschool student who lives in Virginia with her parents and two sisters. She has a passion for great books and has been surrounded by them all her life -- in fact, as a young child, Rachel helped her parents in a family-run Christian book business. When not writing or playing the piano, Rachel enjoys spending time with her family and friends.