Pelham author Rachel Cullen is at it again. Her new contemporary fiction novel Second Chances, set in Westchester towns Rye and Scarsdale, is available for readers to enjoy.
You might recognize some of the spots mentioned in the book, like the Scarsdale Starbucks, Soul Cycle, Winged Foot and Sunningdale Golf Clubs, as well as Heathcote Road, and the Rye Metro North Train Station. Second Chances was published in June and is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format.
This isn’t the first time Cullen has written a fictional story about women set in Westchester towns. Her first book, The Way I’ve Heard It Should Be, is also set in Rye, and familiar locales like Greenwich Hospital, Whole Foods, Rye Country Day, plus a few others.
Second Chances follows three women and a teenager who happen upon each other, all at a low point in their lives when their paths cross. While Cullen’s first book, published in April 2016, focused on the idea that no one knows what is happening in another’s life, her second dances around women empowerment by facing issues head on whether it is alone or with the help of friends. One character, Danielle, has her storyline continued from Cullen’s first book.
“When I finished writing the first book, her story had the best jumping off point because she was left as about to be divorced and pregnant,” says Cullen. “In my head I really wanted to know what was going to happen to her next.”
Cullen already had four characters in mind when she decided to write her first book, and liked the idea for a second too. She enjoyed that the books didn’t focus on just one character that the story would revolve around; instead, they jumped between a few for readers to connect with and understand.
“Sometimes when you have the characters, as a reader, you have one that you might favor more than the other,” says Cullen. “You read that chapter and you’re like, ‘I can’t wait to get back to the chapter about so and so’.”
Cullen worked in brand strategy consulting and marketing for over 10 years, but felt she needed to stay home after her third daughter was born. She loved being a stay-at-home mom, but also wanted a sort of project that she could focus on when and where she wanted to; writing a book was the perfect fit.
“I didn’t even tell me husband at first because if it turned out to nothing it sounded almost silly, and after probably a month or two the first person I told was actually my sister,” says Cullen.
Cullen used a self-publishing site through Amazon, had friends with writing backgrounds help with editing, and hired a freelance designer for the cover of both books. This allowed her to pick and choose her own deadlines giving the whole process a grassroots feel. However, a challenge arose when it came time for marketing.
“I’m kind of a one-woman show where the marketing comes in,” says Cullen. “So they [Amazon] help you do the publishing, press these three buttons, put it here, do the review, but when it’s out, then the marketing is all up to me.”
Although in the very early stages, Cullen has already started on her third book. She continues to have a flow of ideas that she constantly thinks about throughout her day, which gives her the ability to sit down and write away.
“I mean, at some point maybe I’ll sit down and won’t have anything to write, so for right now I’m thinking about it a lot,” says Cullen.
If you are looking for any juicy details about Cullen’s third book, there was only one she was willing to share: it will not be a continuation of the first two books.