Weaving Tales

By Elizabeth Barnhill

Author R.M. Gray debuts with an action-packed young adult bestseller, “Nightweaver”

Waco native Rebekah Gray is a newly published author who has found her debut novel, “Nightweaver”, on several No. 1 lists on Amazon.

Gray, 27, is a Robinson High School graduate. She attended McLennan Community College, where she received her esthetician license. Soon after graduating, she and her husband of five years, Harrison, created Gray & Co. Construction. Gray was the leading interior designer for the houses they built, but her lifelong dream of writing books continued to call to her.

Gray admits to having a lifelong love of books.

“I’ve always been a fantasy reader,” Gray said. “When I was a kid, I greatly enjoyed the Narnia books. But my favorite book was ‘The Two Princesses of Bamarre’. It was written by Gail Carson Levine, who also wrote ‘Ella Enchanted’.

It is my favorite book; I reread it every year.”

Levine also wrote “Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly” which had a huge impact on Gray.

“I read ‘Writing Magic’ when I was really young, and it inspired me to be a writer,” she explained. “It gave me helpful advice on how to write fantasy and build worlds and characters.”

Gray stated that her parents played a significant role in her reading life. Her mother read her the Nancy Drew books as well as classics such as “The Time Machine”.

Her father really encouraged her to write.

“My dad is an avid reader,” explained Gray. “When I was 15, I shared with him that being a writer was what I wanted to do with my life. He brought me a big stack of books on writing, including ‘The Writer’s Digest Guide to Good Writing’, by Thomas Clark and ‘On Writing’, by Stephen King. He said to me, ‘If you’re going to do this, then you’re really going to do it.’”

The result of this is venture is “Nightweaver”, a young adult (YA) fantasy novel that she self-published last year. She writes using her initials R. M. Gray. Gray describes it as “Pirates of the Caribbean” meets Gothic “Downton Abbey”, but with a dark, magical twist.

Gray described the self-publishing journey as a crash course in publishing.

“You wear all the hats,” she said, “including marketing and promotion. Everybody says you need to build your author platform but it’s such a different world now with social media. I questioned how to get people to pay attention to my book. At first it was like shouting into the void, trying to gain traction. Then I started having fun getting plugged into the readerly community through Instagram — the online community really embraces independent authors and books. I also found that I really love the marketing aspect of publishing.”

Gray currently has over 16,000 followers on her Instagram handle, @rmgrayauthor. Through this platform, many followers were eager to pre-order her debut. She received 1,500 pre-orders in 30 days and sold 2,500 copies during the first month following publication. This enthusiastic response landed her as the No. 1 book on several Amazon bookselling lists, including No. 1 Teen and Young Adult Pirate Action and Adventure as well as No. 1 New Release for that category. For several months, she was in the top 50 in book sales on Ingram, the service provider to the book publishing industry. She currently has sold approximately 4,000 books.

“I told my husband if I sold 10 or 20 copies it would be a win for me, so the excitement about the book has been so encouraging,” Gray beamed.

YA fantasy over the last few years has soared in popularity, but it is not just for teenage girls as is widely believed.

“I was surprised by the fact that my guy friends and my brother really enjoyed ‘Nightweaver,’” said Gray. “There is truly something in it for everyone. I’ve had many adults tell me they loved reading the book as well, but I would say it’s especially good for readers who love coming-of-age novels. The main character is 17-year-old Violet, who is navigating upheaval and grief in her life. It is definitely a good story if you are experiencing a major change in your life.”

Gray had a book signing at Paper Leaves, an independent bookstore in Waxahachie. She participated in the Local Author Faire at Fabled Bookshop and has given several interviews including with Julie Hayes at KWTX and Kate Delaney of America Tonight. Gray also has upcoming speaking engagements at the Round Rock Library and Hillsboro High School.

Gray is living her dream and she states there is always more room at the table for aspiring authors. She recommends to anyone starting on the writing journey to write a book on a topic they enjoy, because the book will be attached to them for the rest of their life.

“I advise aspiring authors to focus on building community and meeting the readers,” Gray shared. “I also encourage people to find others on the same path so they can cheer each other on. I met several writers through various online platforms, and we supported each other on our journeys.”

Gray reports always writing when ideas pop in her head, but she typically writes in the mornings and has a goal each day to write 2,000 words. However, she is happy if she writes 1,000 words that put her in a place where she is excited to pick up the story again the next day.

Gray is currently working on the sequel to “Nightweaver”. She believes it will be a series of three to five books. She plans to continue to write in this genre.

“I have a soft spot for YA,” she admitted. “It was so impactful for me growing up and I just feel like those are the stories that I want
to tell.”