Today, I'm happy to welcome author, Emma Newman to Book Jems for an interview. She's here to talk about her latest release, Between Two Thorns.
Describe Between Two Thorns in ten words or less.
Can I cheat and give something from a review that came in today? "JK Rowling meets Georgette Heyer." Actually, that's not enough words… ermmm, how about:
Dynastic families with supernatural patrons, mad sorcerers, evil faeries. Tea.
Wow, that's hard. I'm still not happy with that!
What made you decide to write a fantasy novel?
I don't think I ever made that decision. I wrote the story I needed to write and it turned out to be urban fantasy (with a soupcon of noir too).
Where did you come up with the idea of two worlds co-existing? What drew you to build a new world for the Fae? Did you have to do any research as you were writing?
Hang on, that's three questions! ;)
The two worlds that came into mind first were Mundanus (our world) and the Nether – which strictly speaking isn't a world as it's the place between the split worlds (the other being Exilium) but you know what I mean. It's a product of having an over-active imagination and walking around the city of Bath whilst wondering what it used to be like in its heyday. I was in the real world, but not, all at the same time. I walked into lampposts a lot.
As for building a world for the Fae, you know, I can't one-hundred percent remember where that idea came from. It's tangled up with the backstory about the Sorcerers and all kinds of stuff I can't talk about yet. It was also inspired by Irish myths and good old fairy tales too.
What is your favorite, non-spoilery part of Between Two Thorns?
I think it's when Cathy has her first conversation with Lord Poppy. She has to be brave and clever and keep her wits about her. It's where Cathy starts to shine, I think.
What kinds of books do you read? Has what you read inspired you to write, or does your inspiration come from elsewhere?
Funnily enough, I don't read much fantasy other than a small number of urban fantasy novels that I could count on one hand. It's science fiction that I read more than anything else.
I think it would be madness to say that my life-long love of reading is unrelated to my (almost) life-long love of writing but I don't think the former has necessarily inspired the latter. I think it's the urge to make other worlds and take people into them with me that drives me to write. And dissatisfaction with how normal and non-magical the real world is.
What would you like your readers to take from BTT? What do you hope they are left feeling?
I hope they feel like they have been elsewhere, like returning home after being somewhere exciting. Is it bad if I confess I'd like people to have that book hangover thing? I love that feeling of still partly being in a book after I've finished reading it. If I could achieve that with something I've written, I'd be very pleased.
What was the hardest part about writing this novel? The easiest? How long did BTT take you to write?
Getting Cathy right was the hardest part. I didn't want to get her wrong as she embodies a struggle that I'm rather passionate about, albeit writ large in this fantastical world. The easiest? Well, Sam was the easiest character to write, but the easiest part, generally speaking, was probably the politics and sniping that happens in the Nether. Once I'd made the place, the social structure, the families and characters, having them interact was a lot of fun.
As for how long it took… well I was building the world through stories, running a roleplaying game in it and letting it brew in my mind for at least a couple of years, if not more. The first draft was written in five weeks – when I'm working on a book's first draft I aim to write 4,000 words a day five days a week. Then it had to sit for a while before going through a total of eight or nine rounds of editing over several months.
What writing project(s) are you currently working on?
I'm horribly secretive about that kind of stuff I'm afraid. There are two books I'm developing at the moment and haven't started to write yet but it'll be soon. I have about eight knocking around at the back of my mind, so there's no risk of running out of stuff to write any time soon.
What is a book that has yet to be released that you are dying to read?
Yet to be released? Blimey, I have dozens I'm dying to read that have been out for ages! I'm finally reading "Blackbirds" by Chuck Wendig (took far too long to find time for it) and really enjoying it so far. After that, it'll be Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell (his space opera "The Recollection" was one of the best books I read last year) and then I want to read The Player of Games. And a zillion other books. You know how it is.
What is some advice you have for aspiring authors, or writers suffering from writer's block?
I usually say "Don't listen to any advice – especially from writers" because I firmly believe everyone has to find their own way. However, I recently wrote a post about how unhelpful the usual "just write" advice is, and that seems to have struck a chord with people. It's all about identifying how fear can stop us from sitting down and just writing – and if we can't find a way to work despite fear, we can't write. It's here, in case anyone's curious: http://www.enewman.co.uk/writing/the-writers-rutter/when-just-write-is-not-enough
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Angry Robot
Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.
There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.
But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?
Jenn and I are so happy to have hosted Emma for this interview. Interested in what I have to say about Between Two Thorns? My review will be up next week!
What did you think of the interview?