Sunday, December 29, 2013

The demons are watching -- Interview with Emma Adams!

Our resident-Brit and very own Tangled Girl, Emma L. Adams, just released her second novel, Darkness Watching this October (Curiosity Quills Press). Darkness Watching is set in fictional Blackstone, a small, isolated town in England. The novel centers on university freshman, Ashlyn, who has an unusual connection to demons and the Darkworld from which they come. Blending magic and sorcery and good old-fashioned college shenanigans, Darkness Watching is the first book in this clever, fantasy NA series.

Read the interview below to find out about Emma's inspiration for her work, her ability to balance writing and college (she's only 22) and her thoughts on the controversy surrounding new adult literature.

Ashlyn is a young woman who learns she has an unusual supernatural connection to the Darkworld, a demonic spiritual realm. What inspired this concept?

I thought of the idea of the demons years ago. I wanted to write a magic-and-monsters story but do something totally different with it, and I thought of the idea of a creature that can terrify people without even touching them. As for Ash’s particular connection…there will be more on that in the next book. ;)

Ashlyn begins university as a timid, insecure freshman but as she learns about her connection to demons and sorcerers, she becomes empowered. Do you see Ashlyn's character arc as a metaphor for most college freshmen? 

Interesting question! I suppose I wanted to tie Ash’s journey into the idea of university as a time of self-discovery and a first chance at independence - at least it certainly was for me! 

You really developed a dynamic cast of characters from fun Claudia to lascivious Pete to enigmatic David. Who was your favorite to write and why?

Tough question! With Darkness Watching, I enjoyed writing the scenes with Ash and her fellow magic-users the most – I like Leo, Cyrus and Claudia and the strange dynamic the group has. We’ll be getting to see a lot more of them in the sequels!

I really enjoyed the mythology surrounding the Venantium (the sorcerers' governing body). Did you plan out this world before starting the series or did the mythology develop as you wrote the novel?

The background was actually part of a different story originally, the first novel I wrote. Two years ago, I had an idea for rewriting the original story and turning it into something completely different. But the background and mythology is more or less the same as it was in the first book I wrote (and which is permanently trunked!).

Darkness Watching is also considered a new adult novel. Are you excited about the trajectory of new adult in publishing and also slightly surprised by the controversy surrounding it?

I love the idea of New Adult as a category, though I may be slightly biased as I’m in the target audience and it’s sometimes nice to read about characters a little older than YA protagonists. With that being said, I’m disappointed with the way many people – including some media outlets – have misinterpreted it as being ‘sexed-up YA’ or just ‘college romance’. Although the NA books that have gained media attention have been contemporary romances, I’m hoping that speculative NA will get more of a following.

Readers may not be aware that Darkness Watching is your second novel. You published your debut novel, The Puppet Spell, in 2012. While most college kids could barely get through exams, you were writing novels. How were you able to balance writing with your course work? 

I actually wrote my first published novel as part of my creative writing course, which I guess gave me an excuse to work on my own projects! :P When I came to my third year, I’d written two novels (completed over the 3-month summer break) and had a contract for The Puppet Spell. I was lucky in that I had only 4 hours of contact time a week, which gave me a lot of leeway to organise my spare time so that I could balance both course work and writing. But I still skipped out on a lot of sleep…

How many books are planned for the Darkworld series? And can you give any hints on what's to come?

There will be five books in total – I’ve actually completed all the novels in draft form, as the series was pre-planned. The second book, Walking Shadow, will be coming out next year. It involves a murder mystery, psychic vampires and a doppelganger. ;)

Darkness Watching is published by Curiosity Quills, a small press. Can you describe your experiences working with a small press and what advice would you give authors seeking to submit to small presses?

Curiosity Quills has been wonderful to work with and I’d highly recommend them. The best advice I can give is to do your research before deciding which path to pursue. I submitted Darkness Watching directly to publishers rather than seeking an agent. At the time, agents weren’t really accepting New Adult but it was making quite a splash in the epublishing world. Small presses are often the best bet for niche genres and for books in hard-to-sell categories – for instance, YA paranormal and dystopian are hard to pitch to agents at the moment because of the over-flooded market, but small presses are often more willing to take chances.

When submitting to agents, make sure you’ve got a finished, polished book and tailor your cover letter to each individual publisher. If you get a small press offer, I’d talk to other authors published with them and try to find out as much as possible before signing the contract. I did consider self-publishing the Darkworld series before I got the offer, but I knew signing with CQ was the right decision. In addition to editing, proofreading and formatting, you’ll get more say in things like cover design when working with a small press than with a bigger publisher. It’s like being part of a family, and I highly recommend looking into CQ if you write speculative fiction of any kind!

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Writer Flip-Flops

Being a writer is hard. I am revising my first MS and I’m not doing too well with it. It’s a frustrating venture for me as something I don’t really have experience with. And because of those frustrations, I sort of just want to focus on another WIP instead. This is part of one of what I’m calling the Writer Flip-Flops. The other part is the love/hate relationship with what I’m trying to revise.

I have such an easier time creating something new. For whatever reason, a blank page that needs to be filled in is so much less overwhelming to me than 90K+ words that need to be altered, pruned, reduced, expanded on, clarified, reworked, rewritten, etc. The story idea is in that stage where all I really have to do is figure out how to put it into the correct words, which is actually a bit more complicated than that sounds. But I don’t have to figure out how one seemingly small change is going to impact every single word that follows it. I know I need to revise. It has to happen, even if just to clarify the story for me. And more than that, how else am I going to get better at revising if I don’t actually do it?

While I’m pushing myself to keep going through this slow-going process, I’m struggling with another flip-flop and I really hope I’m not the only writer experiencing this. Some days I absolutely love my work and other days I can’t help but think my storyline is stupid, silly, and full of plot-holes. I've been very fortunate to have some great friends and family read my MS and give their support and valuable input and honestly, some days it’s that support and input alone that keeps me going with it. That’s usually the point in which I step away from my computer or binder and give it a few days or weeks before attempting more progress, waiting until I’m back in that I-love-my-characters-and-their-story-has-to-be-told mentality.

Like I said, being a writer is hard. But I’m working through the Flip-Flops and hoping that at some point, it will get easier, even if that only means the flip-flop periods get shorter.

Do you ever get the Writer Flip-Flops? How do you get through them?

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It's coming!!!!

(I'm posting this from my phone so I apologize if the formatting is weird!!)

SALT comes out in 20 days.
The sequel is due in 33 days & I have 18.5k words.
I baked cookies for 3 hours last night. 

Now you've has insight into the life of an author.
But in all seriousness, SALT comes out in 20 days and I'm thrilled. (Mostly. Sometimes I'm scared.) 

There are a lot of reasons we write books: for a friend, for a deadline, for a character, for publication, for fun, for themselves. SALT was completely for myself; I honestly never thought it'd ever be published. 

I wrote SALT after finishing a major revision on FOLLOW ME THROUGH DARKNESS. I'd spent two years with FMTD and that book is my heartbeat but the MC is lost, the subject heavy and the world intense. I was so tired when I finished that revision and then I heard Penelope's voice. 

She made me laugh. Her story made me smile, left me feeling joyful and light. It rejuvenated me, and I wrote it. It was fun to write and read, even while drafting and rewriting and building. That was why I wrote SALT. It was fun. It was never meant to be this beautiful piece of literary genius. It was relief and escape and happiness and kissing. 

As other people read her story, they fell in love with Penelope and her voice. That's how Entangled ended up with it. It's a fun story. And even when I was doing page proofs a few weeks ago, it made me laugh. It always makes me laugh. :)

As SALT comes out in 20 days, I hope it beings you happiness for a moment and makes you laugh. (I mean the cover is purple and sparkly I think that's pretty self-explanatory for the tone of the book.) 

I hope SALT is as fun for you as it was/is for me! 

And now, back to my sequel. And the cookies. 

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

We are Limitless

December is the season where we tell our babies and toddlers and youngsters that magic exists, it's real and you can have it if you believe in it enough. When do we all stop believing in that magic? I hope the answer is never. 

Imagination is our greatest tool and it has carried humanity to impossible shores and beyond. And I think that we need to use it more, or we'll all grow zombie-like.

Here's what one of my favorite author's has to say about the topic of imagination:

“I think most people’s imaginations don’t have limits. Imaginations get limits forced on them. You know, it’s really interesting, with kids. Kids just imagine stuff. They make stuff up. They think up stuff. They daydream. As we get older, we stop daydreaming. As we get older, we stop letting our mind wander, and it’s when your mind goes wandering that it comes home with really interesting things that it found on the way. I think what’s most important is just remembering the value of imagining. The knowledge that, if you look around, everything you see was imagined at some time, by somebody.”
— Neil Gaiman, in an interview with Cosmopolitan Philippines

I watch the little ones I teach everyday and there's a wonderment that I try to tap into with my own artistic endeavors. We are never too old to daydream. We are never too old to dream. We are never too old for imagination. We are limitless.

What have you been imagining lately?

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Monday, December 2, 2013

I'm Such a NaNo Liar

In my Tangled post last month I admitted that I was planning to give in to my desire to participate in NaNo. And I really did have all intentions of doing so. My plan was to modify the demands a bit and spend the first two weeks of November revising my last manuscript so that I could turn it into my agent by the 15th. Then, I was going to spend the second two weeks writing my newest manuscript idea. I had hoped to hit 25K in the new one by the 30th.

Yeah...that totally did not happen. Not even close. It's now December 2nd and I am still not done with revisions on that first project. I won't lie. I'm a bit disappointed I haven't yet gotten to my new idea, but I'm honestly not that disappointed.

The reason why? I'm finally back to enjoying this book. Somewhere in the middle of all the revising, I fell in love with my characters and their story all over again. I am connected to them again and that feels soooooo good. Like, omgpleaseforgivemeforeverwantingtoabandonyou good. I'm happy I stuck with them and will be proud of what I turn into my agent in just a few days.

So while I didn't achieve my original NaNo goal, I'm still grateful for NaNo because it got me recommitted. It helped me focus and, really, what's better than falling back in love with a story that you haven't felt connected to in months?

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