Rachael Lippincott: On Coming Back to a Shelved Project

Author Rachael Lippincott describes why she shelved her latest release, The Lucky List, to write and edit another novel, and why she ultimately came back to the project.
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Rachael Lippincott holds a BA in English writing from the University of Pittsburgh. Originally from Bucks County, Pa., she currently resides in Pittsburgh with her wife and their dog, Hank.

Rachael Lippincott

Rachael Lippincott

In this post, Lippincott describes why she shelved her latest release, The Lucky List, to write and edit another novel, why she ultimately came back to the project, and much more!


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Name: Rachael Lippincott
Literary agent: Emily Van Beek
Book title: The Lucky List
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release date: June 1, 2021
Genre: Teen & Young Adult Fiction, LGBTQ+ Romance
Elevator pitch for the book: Emily finds her late mother’s summer bucket list from the summer before her senior year of high school and decides to duplicate it with the help of Blake, the swoony new girl in town. A love story about learning who you are, and who you love, when the person you’ve always shared yourself with is gone.
Previous titles by the author: Five Feet Apart and All This Time

The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott

The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott

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What prompted you to write this book?

I really wanted to write a book that captured the magic and the possibility of summer. I wanted a girl to go on a journey of self-discovery and exploration at a time in her life where things really feel like they are in complete disarray. I wanted a girl to find the courage to be her complete, authentic self, no matter how scary that may be. This book, at its core, is about that: finding yourself and standing proud in that truth.

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How long did it take to go from idea to publication? 

I originally got the idea for The Lucky List on a lake trip with my in-laws. I remember sitting on the back deck one evening, watching the sunset over the glittering water while I listened to music, and the character of Emily just … came to me. A girl, frozen by the loss of her mother three years prior, unable to really move forward, but secretly, on some level, longing to spread her wings and become the person she truly is.

I sat with it for a few months, waiting for the story to fully unfold, and the idea for the list was the puzzle piece that made everything click into place. This girl, so frozen by grief, discovers her late mother’s summer bucket list, and by doing the items and fighting back against fear and uncertainty, is able to truly blossom.

After that, I put together a few chapters and an outline, and my amazing editor at Simon & Schuster, Alexa Pastor, liked what she read, and the rest is history. I actually put a pause on The Lucky List to write and edit All This Time and returned to it in February of 2020. This book was my escape during the pandemic, and disappearing into the sun-kissed pages of The Lucky List was an absolute delight.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title? 

With both of my previous books, Five Feet Apart and All This Time, I was working off of a screenplay, so I think writing those was really where I cut my teeth. I learned what worked best for me as a writer, from outlining to scheduling to hitting my deadlines. I think this would have been a very different experience if it wasn’t for those two books.

With the pandemic, there were certainly many learning moments as I adjusted to the world around me, and how I felt during those first few months. I had days where I just couldn’t write. Days where it was pretty close to impossible to make any forward progress. There was a whole lot of forgiveness on my end and trying to be gentle with myself during those moments.

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Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

Just the global pandemic. Adjusting, readjusting, figuring out how to actually get work done and be productive at a time when it was, quite frankly, really hard to. I’m a huge scheduler and list-maker and planner, so it was really tricky for me to reach a point where I felt like myself when I kept having to revise and re-plan and rearrange. It definitely took some getting used to!

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

That even during your hardest, lowest points, there is always, always hope.

Rachael Lippincott: On Coming Back to a Shelved Project

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

I think the best advice I can give is to really follow your passion and remember your why. I think it can be so hard when you’re in the trenches of querying or revising, or even just the stress surrounding a book release, to really feel that fire and that love for this really special and incredible thing we do. We write because we love it. Sometimes we love it so much we hate it! But it’s that passion, that magic, that’s really at the core. Above all else nurture that and always, always go back to that when things get tough.

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