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Meet Rachel

I’m sure every writer has been asked this at least a couple of times, I’ve answered it at least four times already, and to be honest, I really don’t have an exact answer. I didn’t want to be a writer at first. My dream job was to be an FBI agent, in the Behavioral Analysis Unit, and my dream-dream job was to write horror screenplays. There’s nothing in this world that I love more than movies and studying psychopaths.

How I landed on writing novels happened after a series of events but there was never a moment where I thought to myself, “I’m gonna be an author.”

It falls somewhere between the moment when I discovered Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl, falling in love with poetry, becoming obsessed with the writers of the Beat Generation, and realizing how boring some areas of criminology were.

Only a handful of the courses in the Criminology department revolved around the topic of study that I wanted to focus on; Psychology, Patterns in Criminal Behavior, Victimology, Abnormal Behavior and Criminality, and the Selective Topic courses (Serial Killers). Unfortunately, these weren’t part of the required curriculum as much as the ones I couldn’t stand such as Forensics, Social Sciences Stats, and Survey of the Criminal Justice system.

Most of it was too technical, so I took a few Creative Writing classes for fun. I really just wanted to write some crime stories but when it came time to do my first assignments, a poem and a piece of flash fiction, I ended up doing something different. I loved it so much that I just kept writing, poem after poem, story after story, and after much self-debate, I decided to officially change my major.

I was an angry kid and an even angrier teenager, and I used my newfound love of poetry to try and purge some of it. My first two poems were titled “Mad Ones” and “A Wolf,” both about the wild hatred and painful isolation I had felt for most of my life—of not belonging, and fear of not being accepted among my fellow humans.

“A Wolf” got a lot of love from my classmates and other people who read it, and that was such an amazing feeling. People were reading my stream of consciousness that, to me, was just a reflection of pain and anxiety. They were reading it and they liked it, and not only that, they were also putting their own take on my words. Everyone saw something different, and they would tell me and share their own stories.

All because I got mad and wrote my pain down. The poem ended up becoming my first publication, appearing in a beautiful collection of LGBTQ poetry called Smitten This is What Love Looks Like. The rest is just history, I guess.

Rachel Roth

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