It's been a while since I've had anyone in my hot seat. I'd like to welcome author, Emma Right, to the interview chair. Let's get the grilling *coughs & winks*, I mean, interview, underway.
Please tell us about yourself?
I've always like to tell stories even as a young girl of eight. I remember how my neighbor friends would sit around by our front porch and keep pestering me to tell them one tale after another. I also recall being sometimes annoyed by this--I mean how was a girl going to think up all the stories if she had to keep spewing these out each time she had any moment away from school work, right?
Actually life was hard for me while I was growing up. I was very much the latch-key kid and had to raise myself since I was about seven or eight I think that's probably one of the reasons I always made-up stories in my head--a runaway mechanism. Also, I buried myself in books and faraway lands--see the trend?
Of course things are looking very positive for me. My husband and I live in California and we have five kids we homeschool--actually I should I homeschool, since he travels quite a bit. We're also animal lovers and belong to a warm church community.
Tell us your latest news?
I am currently editing Dead Dreams, a young adult psychological mystery/ thriller, and that should be ready Dec. 2013. And I hope to have Keeper of Reign Book 2 out early 2014. Some readers have asked me to write a prequel for Keeper of Reign. I might. Time is my enemy these days.
When I first began writing Keeper of Reign in January 2008 it was just a story I made up for my five kids, then younger. They wanted a fun, adventure story set in a fantastical setting and as a mom, I wanted the story to be more than just a fairy-tale. I wanted them to learn about the importance of loving each other--as they grated on each other a lot --and the importance of family, and the value of persevering and so on. So I wove these themes into the tale, at the time called Kingdom of Reign. Then I thought, hey, maybe I could publish this…hence the journey to self-publishing. So being an author wasn't something that I strived for from the beginning, although I worked as a copywriter when i first got out of college and wrote print ads and TV commercials and surprise, surprise! even won some Ad Awards. But I have to say that I could always spin a tale, even as a kid.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I feel in some ways we are all writers, since we all write, right? (Pun intended.) But writing a novel is very different from regular writing and I have heard that even surgeons who have taken up authoring have found the process of writing a novel a daunting task. I have always been an avid reader, but it was only when I started my book, Keeper of Reign, and then began my quest of self-education so I can craft better stories, that I came across things like the "architecture of a story", or "plot development" or "story arc".
What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I want to empower young readers with this message: that if they seek the truth (the Ancient Books, in Keeper of Reign) they will find wisdom and answers to life's problems. It doesn't mean the answers are going to come easy, but persistence will pay off, and that was how it was for Jules Blaze, the protagonist--a boy living under a curse and knowing he's so small, yet he felt, he could make a difference and persisted.
Tell me a little about your book.
Books written in blood. Most are lost, their Keepers with them. A curse that befell a people. A Kingdom with no King. Life couldn’t get more harrowing for the Elfies, a blend of Elves and Fairies. Or for sixteen-year-old Jules Blaze. Or could it?
For Jules, the heir of a Keeper, no less, suspects his family hides a forgotten secret. It was bad enough that his people, the Elfies of Reign, triggered a curse which reduced the entire inhabitants to a mere inch centuries ago. All because of one Keeper who failed his purpose. Even the King’s Ancient Books, did not help ward off that anathema.
Now, Gehzurolle, the evil lord, and his armies of Scorpents, seem bent on destroying Jules and his family.
Why? Gehzurolle’s agents hunt for Jules as he journeys into enemy land to find the truth. Truth that could save him and his family, and possibly even reverse the age-long curse. Provided Jules doesn't get himself killed first.
I'm curious about your writing process. Let's take a jump there.
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I write whenever I can--which may not be more than a half hour on some days, since I am a full-time mom to five kids and a homeschooling one at that! Staying organized is the key, and on days I fall apart, I take time out and weed out things that take up too much time but are unimportant for the time being.
What is your marketing plan?
Keeper of Reign is my first book, and my newbie stab at book marketing. My learning curve has been steeper than the white Cliffs of Dover, I can tell you that. Right now, my marketing plan just has been putting out some ads and doing a bunch of blog tours to get my name and book out there, especially since I found out that the number one reason readers choose a book is because they've heard of the author.
What inspired you to write your first book?
When I first heard the Switchfoot song , "Meant to Live" (for so much more) it got me thinking about how far short many of us fall from our true potential. The trials and troubles of this world reduce us, and for me, most days, I feel overwhelmed, and it feels that the troubles of this world is so big. Too big. That was what Jules Blaze, the protagonist of Keeper of Reign felt. but he persevered and even though things did get worse for him, he never gave up. He kept trying and that's the message I would like young people to realize. If you keep trying, you will succeed. And that's what inspired me to write Keeper of Reign, to show young people that it's okay to feel small, but in the end, they can overcome this feeling and triumph in life.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I think writing a novel was the second hardest thing I'd had to do. The hardest is probably raising kids! Writing in general is so different from creating a story and fleshing out characters and the world, and the conflict that can exist on so many levels. And don't forget structure of a story. When I first wrote Keeper of Reign, it never occurred to me that stories had an architecture to them. Really? I thought architecture had to do with buildings? Several books from Writer's Digest later, I had the Aha! moment and then I understood the need to have proper story engineering. All good stories have them. So, I had to re-revise Keeper of Reign--only about 17 times-- and finally I was happy with the structure. Of course, having two editors helped me some, too. Then, there are the challenges of only having 24 hours to a day! And five kids to care for, feed, and homeschool, and too many pets--we keep running out of kitty litter for instance. Juggling everything and still getting to my writing done has been a hard struggle.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That no matter how small you feel you are, you can still make a difference, and be significant to your family and your society, if you keep on keeping on.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write a million words, read, read, read, and write a great story that's been trying to bust out of you. Read as many books as you can on crafting great fiction that deals with all the elements of a great book. Writer's Digest have plenty and I practically spent thousands of dollars trying to educate myself and soak in as much as I could when I had to re-revise Keeper of Reign--about 17 times. And never give up on your dream no matter how many problems life throws at you! You'll eventually get published if you don't give up.
What books have most influenced your life most?
I like classics, like Lord of the Rings, and the young adult book, "The Hobbit" and the Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, To Kill a Mockingbird…there are so many wonderful books out there that have influenced me in so many ways. We've also enjoyed the Laura Ingall's series as a family read-aloud and as a family have been amazed at the trials young Laura had to face as a child of the Pioneer Era. Mostly, as a Christian, the Bible is also forever full of treasures, for me. Like recently I just found out there are 365 verses that cover fear--one for each day of the year! So this helps me to remember, to never be afraid. And it's something I'd like to remind children, too--to never live in fear. And why do I like these books? Because there's something perennial about each of them.
It's time to get personal. I want to learn more about Emma Right. Shall we?
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Probably C S Lewis, or J.R.R Tolkien.
What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it?
Beautiful Creatures series. While I find the ideas there intriguing I do have an issue with how books with 16-year-old protagonists are targeted as YA books meant for kids 11 and up. Seriously, I have an 11-year old, but I will not allow her to read such a book--for two reasons:
1. I feel the issues dealt with in BC are really adult issues--like falling in love --seriously? A 16-year-old who feels he's found his soul mate? I have a 16-year-old boy, myself. No way my son is ready for any soul mating. I'm not putting down the books, just that I feel our society just wants to push kids to grow up too soon and I feel kids need to be kids and kept innocent until they are over 16, maybe even 17. When you think about it, books of this sorts have been categorized by publishers who want their books to reach as many people as possible--and hence sell more books. Their motivation? Money. There's nothing wrong with wanting to make money, I just don't think this should be at the expense of the innocence of our kids.
2. Again related to the age thing--I feel the story is quite dark. I feel books are very powerful and if we put dark images into the minds of young teens, how will they be when they are older?
I know I asked about your latest news, but if you don't mind going down that path again...
What are your current projects?
Dead Dreams, Book 1, a young adult psychological thriller and mystery. This is the synopsis:
Eighteen-year-old Brie O’Mara has so much going for her: a loving family in the sidelines, an heiress for a roommate, and dreams that might just come true. Big dreams--of going to acting school, finishing college and making a name for herself. She is about to be the envy of everyone she knew. What more could she hope for? Except her dreams are about to lead her down the road to nightmares. Nightmares that could turn into a deadly reality.
How can we find you?
Please visit me at my site--http://www.emmaright.com. I'm the sort who holds nothing back so I'm pretty much an open book there--for better or for worse. If you'd like to subscribe to my blog, or newsletter, please do so, i won't inundate your email box. I'd love to hear your comments, and try to put helpful tips on my site, from reviews, to homeschool ideas, and how to get published or market your books. There's a lot there. Even giveaways which I try to do every month. I just feel it's a place I can try to connect with readers.
Also connect with me on my FB Keeper of Reign page - Facebook page
To see images that have inspired me to write reign go to my Pinterest account and check out on the world of Reign, and characters in Reign.
And here are my other social media urls:
Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?
I have quite a few blog tours and giveaways lined up this month and then in late October/ November I have even more blog tours for my next series "Dead Dreams" for a slightly older age group, (girls 14 and up) . So, be sure to check my social media pages and my website. I am also trying to work more on my Google+ account -- https://plus.google.com/u/0/111644513292318573575/posts-- so please include me in your circle--especially for aspiring authors as I intend to post lots of helps for self-published authors.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
For me, the most important thing for an author to remember is that the story must have a message. The greatest stories have one, or more. Otherwise, it would be like eating candy--tastes sweet, then it's gone. There's no real nourishment. But real food leaves something of its nutrients inside of a person and I feel that's what a great story must be like, and that to me is even more important than the world building, or anything else. It must leave something of what the author believes in strongly inside the reader. And for Keeper of Reign, I hope the reader will see that it is possible to reign in life!
Thanks Emma for stopping by. I wish you much success with your writing and your book.