It has been a while since I have written a blog or even had a chance to talk to many writers and force them to do an interview with me. This does not mean I have given up or have lost contact with many wonderful people in the twitter world of #writingcommunity, on the contrary, I have managed to get to know few of them even better.
One of those wonderful people is Emily, a copywriter, a storyteller, a podcaster and an avid gamer. She has far more talent that I can possibly capture below and please make sure you visit her “website” and listen to her “podcast“.
1- What inspired you to start writing?
I always lived in imaginary worlds as a child. I could play for hours and hours on my own in these intricate universes I’d created and I held it all in my head… like, years of story. I was first inspired to write those adventures down when I got into the Harry Potter books, and realised that a person had written them. It sounds silly, but the realisation that one person had created an entire world, and found a way to transport people into it, inspired me to do the same.
2- What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
I don’t like advising people, so I’ll defer to some life saving advice offered to me by the author Herbie Brennan. I talked to him about my writing a few years back and told him I started things, but lost confidence in them halfway through… he interrupted me and said: “Just finish it, and don’t worry.” Whenever I lose confidence in what I’m doing, I repeat that until the feeling passes. Whatever you’ve got, finish it. You can edit what’s written, you can’t perfect what doesn’t exist.
3- What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Consistency is key. Always. A character has to be whole and consistent within themselves to be credible, even if they’re consistently unhinged.
4- What comes first, the plot or characters?
Both at the same time, but character first. Stories can’t exist without the people in them, and you’re going to be spending a LOT of time together, so getting to know them is very important.
5- How do you develop your plot and characters?
The characters in The Blood Road trilogy have been with me in one form or other since I was about sixteen years old. Until a few years ago, I knew the rough elements in their story but there was something not quite clicking about a key relationship. Then, one night, I was having a think about things, and I realised what the main relationship had to be. Immediately, the plot unrolled in front of me like a carpet and I could see the whole thing; the world and everything. I’ll never forget that moment. So in answer to your question, I develop characters slowly, but the plot can happen very fast.
6- When did you first consider yourself a writer?
As I’m a content creator and copywriter by trade, words are my profession. You have to consider yourself a writer when you’re sat in an interview convincing people to pay you to write!
7- Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
I think it’s best to just accept it’s going to consume you, and dive in head first. Don’t fight it. You do your best work when you’re fully invested in something. Try to come up for air, do eat, do sleep, but don’t be too worried if it becomes an obsession, because it almost needs to be.
8- How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?
I’m a very empathetic person, so I live the emotions as I write them. Like all emotional journeys, you’ve just got to feel it. Process it all and let it out. But don’t shout at your loved ones, they don’t deserve that!
9- How do you handle literary criticism?
I get bombarded with critique every day at work. The whole team tears what I write to pieces on a regular basis, so that’s good practice. Professionally, you can’t afford to be precious. Sometimes I have to get past an initial “affronted” stage, before I get on with the edits, but mostly I’m just good to amend straight away.
10- How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?
The world spreads out before me as I write, so it’s a very organic process. As I said before, there was a moment when the whole world became clear to me, but details and cultures are still solidifying while I write.
11- Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing the story?
No. I’m a massive pantser, so I just leap in. I have this anxiety that planning is an elaborate form of procrastination. This is so much the case that I’ll apply formulas to my narratives retrospectively to make sure the structure is there, rather than writing it to fit a structure in the first place. Having said that, I expect my process to change. Writing is an evolutionary occupation.
12- What was your favourite part, and your least favourite part, of the publishing journey?
I’m still in it, so I’ll let you know! Book one is in publisher submission right now and it’s killing me slowly! The waiting and not knowing is the hardest part of anything.
13- Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels?
All of them have their challenges. If we’re talking about a trilogy, the first book has to establish everything while carrying the plot. The second book has to work hard in order to avoid the “awkward middle book” thing. The third has to round everything off without making readers want to hunt you down. It’s all a balancing act!
14- Describe your perfect book hero or heroine.
The more imperfect the better. My main characters are great, I love them to pieces and I want the world to love them too, but they’re not actually very nice people. I studied literature and there’s a lot of formulas writers can follow when creating characters and if I recognise one of those formulas being used, I lose interest quickly. Even heroes need to challenge the reader.