Meet the Writer: Rachel Mucha

Author Rachel Mucha and I happen to share a few things in common. A literary agent, for one. Studying journalism in college. And a deep, deep love for likeable, memorable characters.

Rachel’s latest novel Bad Press hit shelves recently, so it only seemed right to see what inspired this cozy mystery with some romantic sparring to keep things really interesting.

Christa Banister: With your background in journalism, how did the art of interviewing and reporting inform your work? Tell me a little about the title which I suspect may hold a double meaning.

Rachel Mucha: I’ve always loved the idea of being a journalist, but after studying it in college, I realized it wasn’t quite for me. Luckily, as an author, I can still live out my wildest journalistic dreams through my characters. I really wanted to write about a confident, persistent female reporter trying to exist in the male-dominated crime-solving world, and have her kick butt!

What’s so fun about journalists for me is that they have no “typical day.” They could be tracking down sources or traveling to conduct interviews. Plans could change at a moment’s notice, and they have to think on their feet a lot. My reporter character, Evie, is always running around, trying new strategies to get the full story for her readers, and I think that makes for an entertaining, fast-paced book. There’s a sense of urgency in working on a news story–as well as crime-solving—and I wanted my readers to feel that through the pages.

As for the title, it definitely has a few meanings! A big point of contention between Evie and her reluctant detective source Penn is that her investigative reporting often makes the police department look incompetent. So in the traditional sense of the phrase, Evie is responsible for a lot of bad press the cops get. But then Evie herself isn’t perfect–she has a history of doing unethical things to get her stories, and throughout the book she’s fighting to prove she’s not a bad journalist.

CB: I read that you’ve always loved to write stories. How did you know you had enough of a story that you wanted to write an entire novel? What was it about these characters that you couldn’t quit?

RM: When I’m turning over a new idea in my head and trying to decide if I do have enough to fill an entire book, I always start with the characters. Are they likable and compelling enough that I’d want to write about them for 300 pages? (And would readers want to read about them for that long?) Do I have backstory for them? Do I know how they’re going to grow and change over the course of the story? When I first thought of Evie and Penn, they checked all these boxes for me. I love how complex their relationship turned out to be. They’re polar opposites: Evie is an optimistic rulebreaker, and Penn is realistic and by the book. It made for some fun interactions as they begrudgingly worked together to solve this mystery. I think their chemistry propelled the book forward—I couldn’t stop writing their arguments and banter. There’s no way I could’ve squeezed all that into a short story!

CB: For someone not familiar with your work, who are some of the writers that influenced you? What made you want to write a cozy mystery?

RM: I grew up watching a ton of mystery tv shows (Monk, The X-Files, Bones, Psych, Castle) which really got me obsessed with crime-solving characters. As I got older and watched and read more mysteries, I knew I wanted to write my own one day.

As for my biggest writer influences, Janet Evanovich is definitely up there. I’m obsessed with her Stephanie Plum series and how it combines mystery, romance and humor so effortlessly. Some other authors I really admire are Karin Slaughter and Tana French, who also inject romance into their dark, twisty mysteries. Something about the combination of mystery and romance is so addictive to me! I love reading things with twists and tension, but also tender moments as well.

CB: Rumor has it, there’s a romance that brews without your twisty plot. Tell us a little about the feuding crime reporter and detective who make a rather good team in more ways than one and the enemies-to-lovers dynamic.

RM: Right away, Evie and Penn get off to a complicated start. When they first meet, Evie hides that she’s a reporter and charms some crucial case information out of Penn, which she uses for a story. Naturally, when he discovers he’s been deceived, Penn is furious and refuses to talk to Evie ever again. He ends up changing his tune when she solves one of his open cases, and the two form a fragile source/reporter relationship.

Evie and Penn are just plain fun together.  As I mentioned earlier, they’re complete opposites, which leads to a lot of butting heads. They’re clearly attracted to each other from the beginning, but their different philosophies get on each other’s nerves, which results in them suppressing their feelings. Evie and Penn do have something very important in common though: they want to solve the cold case of a missing girl and get justice for the family. And while they might not always agree with the other’s methods, they accept that they’re allies. There’s a level of respect and understanding there, which becomes a great basis for a romantic relationship.

CB: Where can our readers connect with you online?

RM: I have an author website, Readers can follow me on Instagram and Twitter for authorly updates as well: @rachmucha

And now for the Banister Questionnaire:

What’s the first book that made you crazy about reading? As a kid, I couldn’t put down the Nancy Drew books. I think I owned nearly all of them, and could finish one in two hours flat.

Characters or plot? Characters all the way! If I don’t love the characters, I won’t want to keep reading.

Which authors’ books do you always buy no matter what the story is about? Emily Henry and Taylor Jenkins Reid are auto-buys for me.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and why does that method work best for you? I used to be a pantser, and looking back, I have no clue how I did that! Now I’m 100% a plotter, which helps me not panic when I hit a tough spot. I also write out of order now, starting with the scenes I have a clear vision for first, then filling in the blanks later.

Actual books or digital download? I read both equally! I love how I can get any book I want instantly downloaded on my Kindle, but if I really love a book, I’m going to want a physical copy for my bookshelf.

What’s your favorite bookstore? Location, please. Reads & Co. in Phoenixville, PA.  It’s a great little Indie store with helpful staff members. I love it.

Describe your ideal writing environment. I need peace and quiet to really focus, and usually some kind of beverage (coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, wine at night). It’s even better if it’s a nice day and I can open a window for some fresh air. I’m also usually on the couch instead of at my desk. I need to be comfy!

Coffee or tea? I love both, but if I had to pick, coffee.

What’s your favorite way to procrastinate when you know you should be writing but don’t feel like it? I end up cleaning my apartment when I’m procrastinating writing. I tell myself it’s something that needs to get done, so it’s good that I’m not writing…right?

What are you working on at the moment? I’m just finishing up revising my latest manuscript for my agent, which I’m really excited about. It’s my first true romance (no murder or mystery in sight!). It tells the story of a past secret relationship between a best-selling romance author and a much-older action movie star. It’s swoony and steamy and a little heartbreaking, but there just might be a happy ending in store… :) It’s kind of a cross between The Idea of You and a modern-day The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Rachel Mucha debuted in 2022 with Another Day, Another Partner, but she’s been writing all her life, whether it be short stories or satire articles. A graduate of Ithaca College, Rachel currently proofreads by day and writes mystery novels by night. Her fascination with crime-solving started at a young age with Nancy Drew books, and carried into adulthood with countless detective shows and novels. Rachel currently resides in the Philadelphia suburbs, where you’re just as likely to find her wrapped up in a dark police procedural as a mushy romantic comedy.

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  1. Very interesting!CB is a fantastic interviewer

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