Author encourages teen girls to be strong, independent and successful leaders

By Susan Peterson

“The Neophyte’s Tale” follows 16-year-old Raindalynn, who lives on the Great Island with other survivors following a mighty eruption. In this dystopian story, the ruling body that strictly governs its citizens is The Disciple Council, which is comprised of women. Raindalynn is tested to find her assignment, and she discovers that she carries the memory gene and can hold the collective memory of others. But, through her gifts, she becomes part of a plot that could set the island’s inhabitants free.

Finding your identity and standing up for yourself were lessons that author A.R. (Audrey Rachel) Alexander learned the hard way. After graduating from Pangburn High School, she found herself trapped in a toxic marriage. Her career goals were derailed by her husband and she became pregnant with her daughter. As his abuse increased over the years, she finally obtained a restraining order. Shortly thereafter, a self-inflicted gunshot wound tragically ended her husband’s life.

Emotionally distraught, the single mother soon remarried, and the cycle again repeated itself. She found herself in another abusive situation, pregnant with their son. The marriage ended in divorce after eight years.

That’s when realized she wanted her teenage daughter to know that through inner strength, there is a way out. And the best way she could express this was to write a story. She knew how much her daughter loved “Twilight” and ”The Hunger Games,” so she decided to write her own book that featured a strong female character. The book is “Dedicated to Sprout, my Neophyte … you will never know how much you changed my world forever.”

Six years ago, she entered into a third marriage, slowly and for all the right reasons. Her husband, Carl Alexander, has become her biggest supporter, and he encouraged her to publish her book, which she did several years after presenting it to her daughter. She says her brother, who is tech-savvy, helped her through the daunting self-publishing process. The artist who designed the eye-catching cover was found through an author’s group on Facebook.

For Alexander, validation of her talent as a writer has come in several forms. Readers have written reviews commending her on her skill of world building, which is very important to make the dystopian setting believable. Others have called it “fast-paced” and said they couldn’t put it down. They are also asking for the next installment in the series, wanting to know what happens next.

Her book has sold more than 600 copies in five countries. A young female reader from Belgium wrote to her, saying she “needed that story” since it helped her realize she could take a different path than her friends.

But most surprising was the day Rachel received a thank you note from Lois Lowry, author of “The Giver,” for having sent one of her books. Lowry was one of Alexander’s favorite authors when she was growing up.

Something Alexander hopes people will take away from her story is that there is always hope, and things can change for the better. But ideally, it is best to know who you are and be true to yourself in order to make the right decisions initially.

A.R. and Carl Alexander live in Searcy with their combined family of three children. And “Sprout” is doing just fine, living and working on her own.

Recently, Alexander completed her Master’s in Nursing (MSN) as a nurse practitioner. She says she has the “honor and privilege” of working for hospice. When not working, she enjoys sewing, participating in cosplay, and writing the next installment of her series, which she hopes will be out in April 2023.

Copies of “The Neophyte’s Tale” may be purchased on Amazon.