Interview: Paisley Ray

Please welcome Paisley Ray, author of The Rachael O’Brien Chronicles.

Jcakes_final_sRGBWhat’s your idea of a perfect day?

Sitting under a beach umbrella, with a fully stocked cooler next to the Atlantic in South Carolina.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?

I wear a Swatch watch—an updated version of the one I wore in the 80’s—Just like my main character Rachael O’Brien wears.

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Growing up, I got hooked on Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. I really loved watching the series on Masterpiece Theatre. I also became a fan of Ed Gorey who designed the pen-and-ink Victorian and Edwardian sketches of tombs and a woman on a tower in peril, which introduced the mystery each week. Those images stuck with me. Once I completed the first books in The Rachael O’Brien Chronicles, I had an artist design my book covers in a whimsical hand inspired by him.

Do you listen to music when you write?
The only music in my writing space is the snore of my fourteen-year-old pug, Quigley, and the hum of a fan on a hot day.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
A milk chocolate turtle. Lots to chew on and a bit nutty.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
The span of years between teenager and young adult are when young adults step into their own skin and find their gumbo. I remember that time well and luckily, am able to laugh about it. My books are set in the Carolinas, a place I absolutely love to visit and where I have a lot of memories.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
Enduring friendships, changing family dynamics, boy drama, local cultures and an art mystery

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality.
Rachael O’Brien thinks she’s knows what’s best and considers herself savvy, and sensible in a laid back kind of manor which couldn’t be farther from the truth. She’s good at reading others, but terrible at recognizing her own weaknesses. Neurotic about avoiding trouble, she falls right into it.

What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Rachael grew up in small town Ohio, with a normalish family until Freshman year when her mother left to find her inner psychic self. Once her mother left, the dynamics between her and her dad changed and Rachael discovered hidden family secrets. It turns out that nothing was as she thought, which continues to mess with her head.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
I tell people that my books are Bridget Jones meets Fried Green Tomatoes with a Nancy Drewesque art twist.

If you could host an author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?

Shakespeare & Agatha Christie – no introduction needed

Colin Dexter – Inspector Morse

Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes

Jennifer Saunders – Almost Famous 90’s UK BBC sitcom

Patrick O’Brian – Aubrey-Maturin series

Edward Stratemere – Nancy Drew series

Can you tell, I’m a big fan of English authors–

What’s next for you?
Swamp Cabbage—book 6 in The Rachael O’Brien Chronicles

Paperbacks of my first five plus audible versions.


Paisley Ray, a steel worker’s daughter, was Born and raised in rural Pennsylvania. After eighteen years, she had a diploma from North Allegheny High School and a part-time job at a local fruit stand, Soergel’s Orchards.

Freshman year, she attended college at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, for a year before transferring to Marquette University. Certain life experiences become seared into your brain. For Paisley Ray, being a furry blue college mascot, dumped head-first into a trash can by Bucky the Badger at the Marquette University rivalry basketball game, was one of those unforgettable moments. Fortunately, she is now able to look back and laugh, more than cringe.

After graduation, she worked for Jorgenson’s chocolate factory until it went bust. On the plus side, she can now easily identify caramels, creams and nuts before taking a bite. After that she had a stint at Holsum Foods, a salad dressing and olive packager, before landing a gig with Jockey, the tightie-whitie underwear company. The idea of writing a novel peculated and over the years, she took a stab at evening writing classes while she penned rough drafts of short stories.

They say necessity is the mother of invention and when the 2009 recession hit, Paisley was summoned to a hotel lobby, where her laptop was commandeered by her boss and the head of Human Resources. It was that moment that changed the course of her life. After a few hours of what now, she made a pact to write that damn novel and over the course of five years, The Rachael O’Brien Chronicles were born.

Married to a Brit, she is the mother to a eleven-year-old daughter and a fourteen-year-old pug. When she’s not taking care of her cronies, she can be found crafting the antics for the imaginary characters in the newest book of The Rachael O’Brien Chronicles. Book 6, SWAMP CABBAGE is her latest endeavor and is due to release winter 2014.


Twitter: @heypaisleyray


9 thoughts on “Interview: Paisley Ray”

  1. Paisley, thanks for stopping. I love your bio – and I can related to that “what now – write the damn novel” thought. The same thing happened to me in 2011. North Allegheny High School? That means you from where I am now. Still there? I am embarrassed to say I’ve never been to Soergel’s, although I hear about it a lot.


  2. Thanks for the interview! Sorry I’m late to reading (where on earth did Friday GO?!?). Getting ever closer to the “necessity is. . .” point of focusing on finishing a novel, so I loved reading your bio. I, too, love those Brit writers–can I come to the dinner party?!?


  3. Love your mash-up! Sounds like a character I would enjoy. And, a Carolina beach is one of my favorite places in the world, so I look forward to checking out your books. Thanks for visiting!


  4. Thanks for having me as a guest! North Allegheny HS — I grew up in “The Burgh”– Pittsburgh that is. I have to confess, it’s a lot of fun creating fictional trouble with my cast of characters. I really love them all.


  5. Love your work, I’ve read all 5 books. The series follows your lead character Racheal through college. I’m concerned the series will end with book 7 when she graduates. Say it aint so.


  6. I’ve been watching the re-make of Miss Marple on Netflix and really enjoying them. There are some surprising British actors in the series–before they became famous. Benedict Cumberbatch is in one of the episodes!


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