Truth in Fiction by Rachel Spangler (Plus a FREE copy of Spanish Heart

Spanish Heart
by Rachel Spangler

Congratulations to Ruth Carson! She is the winner of Rachel’s latest novel, Spanish Heart.

Check it out! Rachel Spangler dropped a guest blog on us this morning. She’s celebrating the release of her fifth book, Spanish Heart, from Bold Strokes Books. And, to double the fun, she’s giving away a free copy. I bet you can even convince her to sign it. 🙂 Want to enter the drawing? It’s easy. Just drop a comment in the comment section at the end of the blog. Be sure to leave your email address in the appropriate field so we can contact you if you will. I’ll leave the drawing open until Friday and then I’ll post the winner here. We will also notify you via email. Good luck, folks!

If you want to read an excerpt from Spanish Heart, go here.

Truth in Fiction

by Rachel Spangler

With the launch of my fifth novel. Spanish Heart, I’ve been all over the Interwebs talking about how much of the story is autobiographical. Part of me likes to tell the stories because in a sense the truth is stranger than the fiction. I did take a trip to Spain as a teenager, my teacher was hospitalized on the first day of the trip. My classmates and I with little to no experience in cities, much less foreign countries, were largely left to travel on our own. While getting rid of a chaperone might be seen by some as being a very convenient plot point for a coming-of age-story, it’s also one of the most purely autobiographical aspect of the story.

Another reason I put so much truth in my fictional novel is that in this case the truth enhanced the fiction.  The characters in my story take basically the same trip I took through Spain. My characters visit the same cities and see the same sights as I saw on my trip, and even some of my minor characters are based on people I met along the way. In some places I even stole actual snippets of real conversations because they lend legitimacy to both the setting and the tone of novel, especially in the more dramatic and humorous moments. And anyone who knows me is going to see flashes of a young Rachel Spangler in the Midwestern small-town baby lesbian, Ren Molson.

So the setting is real, some major plot points are real, the side characters are real and even bits of the dialogue are real. Now I can hear some people starting to wonder if this is really a novel or if it is just a glorified travel journal.  Given all the stories I’ve shared about my real-life experiences, I wouldn’t blame you if you thought, “Damn, Spangler’s got no imagination at all.”

But then there’s Lina. Sweet, beautiful, young, sexy Lina is the second romantic lead in the novel. A young tour guide and a native of Spain, she is pretty much a dream girl for me. Dark and lean, sexy, feminine, intelligent, intuitive, and passionate. Did I mention she’s sexy? And clearly, as a main character and romantic lead, she falls in love with our other main character, Ren. Their romantic arc drives the story.  And there’s all this truth floating about in the book, so you’re probably beginning to think I am the luckiest bastard alive. Alas, here is the proof of where the autobiographical aspects end.

Rachel and her tour guide, Janette, in Spain

That’s a picture of me and my tour guide, Janette. Now it’s not that Janette was not lovely. She was, but she was also the very straight, married, mother of one, who kept asking us if we remembered to “make a pee pee” before we got on the bus.  While very useful and informative, my relationship with her was far from a romantic one. I don’t think she ever knew my name, and she certainly would remember me now.  Janette would guide us from city to city, get us checked into our hotel and tells us about various excursions available, some she went on, some she didn’t, and we were on our own until check out time when she’d collect our keys, get us checked out and made sure we made a pee pee before we moved on to the next city.

Lina is purely a product of my imagination, a dream girl if you will. She’s not what this boi found in Spain, but autobiographical aspects aside, Lina is one of the most genuine characters I’ve ever written.  She loves her home, she loves her family, and in spite of all her best efforts not to, she loves Ren.  She loves her enough to let her find her own way and even to follow her lead without knowing where she’s headed.  Lina doesn’t push or come down heavy even when Ren deserves it.  She simply lives her life passionately and sincerely, in the process holding a metaphorical mirror for both Ren and for the readers who care about them enough to follow closely.  The moments in the book that involve Lina never occurred for me in real life, but they almost always convey the most important things I learned both about myself and my place in this world during my time in Spain.

So while sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and the truth almost always enhances fiction, in Spanish Heart it’s the fiction the most clearly showcases the truth.


  1. Rachel, Rachel everyone has a dream girl like Lina in your book, thing is, I believe I’ve found mine. Only thing is she has a little gray (which I Love) mixed in the black hair. Sexy and wonderful She would have made your perfect Lina.
    So gal I’d really like to read your Ren and Lina. Please put me in the drawing.


  2. I am new to Rachel Spangler books, sorry that it took so long to find her. Great Author and great books!! Keep up the great work Rachel!!


  3. I own all of Rachel’s books in print, which is rare (I have 26 print lesfic books, the rest are ebooks). All of them are signed (yay!) and I’d love to add this one to the collection! thx, Rach! ~allie (RamenGrrl at gmail dot com)


  4. I would love to have a signed paperback book for my reading nook. Almost all my new books are ebooks nowadays.


  5. Guess I am old fashioned. I don’t own any ebooks. Love the feel and the texture of paper books. Recently discovered the gem in Rachel’s other books. They left me immediately loving them on an emotional level but found myself thinking about them intellectually for the next few days. Would love to add this book to my collection and it would be even better if signed.


  6. I spent September in Spain. I would love to reminisce while reading Spanish Heart. I have this on my to buy list. Please count me in for the drawing.


  7. Can’t wait to read this book! You are such a wonderful author,blogger,mom and you are just fun to know. I always look forward to your posts on Facebook.


  8. Looking forward to obtaining a copy of this … to go with the others I have of yours. As others, I would love a signed copy, but either way I will have a copy. Love your work; keep them coming.


  9. I’ve been wanting to read this story ever since I saw it on the bold strokes website. I think that it’s going to be a really good read.


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