Author Interview: Rachel Donohue

Told through alternating points of view, The Temple House Vanishing is perfect for fans of Elisabeth Thomas’s Catherine House or Kate Elizabeth Russell’s My Dark Vanessa. We spoke with author Rachel Donohue about the inspiration for The Temple House Vanishing, audiobooks and accessibility, and more!

The Temple House Vanishing

By Rachel Donohue • Narrated by Jennifer Fitzgerald & Clodagh Duggan

“The creeping pace, melancholic tone, and full-bodied characters create a perfect snapshot of desperate youth amid oppressive tradition. This stands among the best of the current modern gothic trend.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

Stories always begin with a mood and setting for me. I could see a decaying red-brick mansion on a hilltop and a young woman arriving at the door. I felt her anxiety and a sense of desolation and threat in the damp air as a nun and the other students watch her from the window. I needed to find out who she was and why she was there in this lonely, cold place.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

How Irish accents are really nice to listen to!

Have you listened to your own audiobook? What struck you about the narration?

Listening, I feel the emotion of creating these characters all over again but in a different way. I am outside of them now, and they are more real and alive than ever. It’s thrilling and alarming in equal measure.

You can also understand the flow of the story in some ways so much better when listening. I read my work out loud all the time when writing, I’m always trying to hear the beat of the narrative. I wish I had actors like Jennifer Fitzgerald & Clodagh Duggan in the room when I’m writing.

Are you an audiobook listener? What are some of your favorite audiobooks?

Yes! My absolute favourite audiobook has to be Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, it is narrated by a huge cast of amazing artists including Julianne Moore, David Sedaris, Lena Dunham to name a few of the (160 or more) characters in the book. It really is a work of absolute genius. I also really like the audiobook of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch which is narrated by David Pittu. I found this book hard to read for some reason in print form, I was on holiday in Italy trying to read it and I just felt I couldn’t quite get inside the story. I found the audiobook just let me in and I was able to engage with it on a different level. I loved the audiobook version of My Sister the Serial Killer written by Oyinkan Braithwaite and read by Adepero Oduye.

On a very personal note my father has dyslexia, so audiobooks have become his lifeline to books generally, and listening to an audiobook of mine is very special for him.

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders • Narrated by the author, Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Various, Carrie Brownstein, Don Cheadle, Lena Dunham, Bill Hader, Kirby Heyborne, Keegan-Michael Key, Julianne Moore, Megan Mullally, Susan Sarandon & Ben Stiller

The Goldfinch

By Donna Tartt • Narrated by David Pittu

My Sister, the Serial Killer

By Oyinkan Braithwaite • Narrated by Adepero Oduye

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

They are places of refuge really, you never feel judged or alone when in a bookstore. There is this quiet acceptance and welcome, and you never leave feeling less. You always feel more of who you are, either because you found something you were looking for on the shelves, or you found something you didn’t know you were looking for.

Bookstores were the places I missed most during the COVID lockdowns in Dublin. I felt like I got used to almost everything being shut but walking past a closed bookstore was like a personal affront and I never wanted to get used to it. It was not natural, they are essential places.

And as a new writer, their openness and support for unknown voices has been overwhelming. They make you feel like the table is long, and there is always another chair.

“You always feel more of who you are [at bookstores], either because you found something you were looking for on the shelves, or you found something you didn’t know you were looking for.”

Rachel Donohue

Header photo by Shane O’Neill, Coalesce

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