Author Interview: Emma LearPosted in author, Goodreads, guest, interview, promotion
About the Author:
Emma is a half Finnish/half Londoner and an almost-graduate of the English Language and Literature. Writing has been a pivotal part of her life since the age of nine when she tried to throw her cat off of the porch in the hope that it could fly, then wrote a story about it.
She currently lives on the glorious south coast of Britain near to Brighton with the rain, the pebbles and the seagull invasion and enjoys all the usual hobbies, including but not limited to pole dancing, skittles (the candy not the game) and yelling at the television when the touring cars come on.
What made you want to become a writer?
I’d have to attribute that first of all to kids’ books like ‘Whatever Next’ and ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’. I loved reading and my biggest aspiration was to be like Enid Blyton. Growing up I wanted to be so many things: an agony aunt in a magazine (at the age of 10) and then a journalist (for two terrifying weeks interning at a local paper at the age of 14) and finally I had to admit to myself that I only enjoyed writing fiction. Aside from writing I’ve gone through a range of potential career possibilities like florist, mechanic, singer, show jumper, dog-trainer, but writing is the only thing that always kept my interest.
Where do you get your inspirations from?
I’d love to say ‘life’ but inspiration seems to come in such random splurges that it’s hard to pinpoint. When inspiration does strike, be it from watching a mother reading to her kid on the seafront or pesky seagulls dive-bombing cafes and nicking everyone’s food with apocalyptic style vigour, I try to remember to have a notepad and pen with me. Inspiration is fleeting and so many times I’ve been running home and forgotten it by the time I get there! Inspiration comes from the world around me and being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to witness something magical or meaningful.
Other than writing books, what else do you do in your free time? I take a pole-dancing class once a week (my nemesis as, much as I love it, I still can’t get my butt upside down!). I read as much as I can, and have mastered the art of interacting with the world one-handed so that I can hold a book in the other and multitask. I’m getting quite good at it now but I think my shins are planning to leave me and find someone who doesn’t assault them with table legs, edges of the bed, door frames etc. If the British Touring Car Championships are on I’m usually found yelling at the television, or stuck on the 2p machines in the pier arcade.
If you could work with another author, who would it be?
Oh lord, can I not pick several? I suppose I’d say Neil Gaiman, because his ability to create other worlds inside this one is unbelievable. Then again, the artful creation of Discworld would also mean I’d have to pick Terry Pratchett too. I’ll go with Enid Blyton, as they say children’s fiction is the hardest thing to get right and I’d love to learn to write kids’ books.
What are major themes of your work?
Fantasy, survival and love. I actually had book 2 of The Firebird Trilogy partially written in a different form before it took the shape it’s in now. Book 2 has scaffolding and warning signs all around it as it’s nowhere near to a grand design job yet, but I’ve always loved the idea of being able to slip into other secret worlds and fantasy has been a big part of most stuff I’ve written. The love themes not only extend to romance, although that is a big part, but also the idea of family and wanting to belong somewhere and I’m guessing a lot of people could relate to that.
What do you think people look for in a book?
In fiction, it’s often the ability to escape. I know I love a book if I finish it and I’m dying inside a little because they’re not coming back, or I have to wait a lifetime (or even several weeks, same thing really) for the next book. Everyone is different; some people need to be scared out of their seats and others need the comfort of a sweet story about beating the odds, amongst other things. But then what one person calls a good scare story, someone else will think is a bit too twisted. The one thing that seems to make a good book for everyone, is the ability to slip into that other world, if only for a half hour. That’s when I know I can call myself a writer, when someone comes up to me and says my books did that for them.
Are there any recent works you admire?
Of all the books I’ve read lately (not counting books I’ve re-read because I just love them so much), I’d have to say I love Elizabeth Hunter’s Elemental Mysteries series. I got totally sucked into them and ended up quite depressed at the end of the fourth one because there weren’t any more. The writing is well-paced and the characters are believable and feel utterly real. I loved Hugh Howey’s Wool trilogy as well, it kept me going through our first house move and I’m guessing his fourth book will keep me going through the second move with any luck!
About the Book (The Man):
Which character in the book do you think you can relate to the most?
Tricky question. I’d love to say Emelyn, but I think that’s wishful thinking given what she is. I’m more likely to end up like Ma Kath without the serenity, trying to fix everyone with food and annoying everyone in the house by coming home cradling a new pot plant like it’s my first baby. I’d love to relate to Gin but, in truth, I’m a bit scared of her!
How did you come up with the character's names?
I was off sick from work when I decided on the name Gin. I love the film Swingtime with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but that was the first time I saw it and I knew that, although Gin is as far from Ginger Rogers as you can get, the name would be for my next heroine. Niall was a bit of luck really. I discussed names with a friend of mine who talked about wanting to be name their future kids something cool, something diabolical and dark like Niall, and I thought then and there ‘I’ll be having that thank you!’ I also find A-Z Baby Name websites help. It can be brilliant to sit there and trawl through thinking of a name for your latest beloved creation and know you don’t have to go through labour at the end!
What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
A huge mix of things contributed to the book, all little meaningless bits and experiences that added up to make the Firebird Trilogy as a whole. I knew I wanted to write a fantasy book and found the first idea on a night plane to Finland ten years ago. Since then I’ve been sitting on it and nurturing it until I suddenly thought ‘holy smokes, its alive!’ The fact that it’s even finished is due to a lot of support from family, who’ve tolerated the self-doubt and me hiding under the bed when I couldn’t be sure it would work, and from those that encouraged me to go for it. I’ll be honest and say the rise of the self-publishing industry has helped a lot too. Seeing other amazing authors out there take the reins into their own hands and push their book into the public eye made me realise I could do the same. Part of my inspiration to keep trying comes from the trailblazers that have gone before and proved it’s possible, so my thanks go to them!
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