Author Interviews

Welcome to my Indie Author interviews! As a new feature on my site, once a fortnight/month I will delve into Twitter and find an indie author to show you what these clever people can do.

This fortnight we are talking to Emily Marsh, writer of love stories and voracious reader. She’s currently working on a novel she intends to publish, while writing up nonfiction articles. Her current book is set on an island, which is where her creative mind normally sits, and who can blame her.

liz.jpgWriter of love stories. Reader of everything. Mom & wife, shower singer, bisexual, nature enthusiast, tea fanatic, bourbon lover, and story addict..png

What is your favourite Austen character?

Anne Elliott from Persuasion is my favorite, but lately I’ve gotten really interested in Mary Bennett. I couldn’t call her my favorite — she’s not a likable character — but I see a lot of interesting potential in that character. As written, Mary is pretty awful, but I feel like Austen’s narrator is merciless with her, and Mary’s situation garners my sympathy. Mary is not pretty; social interaction doesn’t come easily to her; she isn’t a scholar or witty or clever or rich. She tries hard for accomplishments, since they are the only aspect of her situation that she can control, and she is desperate for approval, especially from her dad, but she simply cannot gain it, no matter what she does or how hard she works. She’s stuck in a horrible situation, and even the nice characters don’t try to reach out to her — and that makes her a great “starting place” character. I actually have an idea for where she might go next that I would love to turn into kind of a Muriel’s-Wedding-Meets-Regency-England kind of novel, but if I think too much about it, I’ll get distracted from what I’m doing now.

What is your current WIP and what excites you the most about it?

It’s a romance novel set in South Carolina about an attorney who falls in love with one of her colleagues. She’s this bright, funny woman who is living a pre-scripted life because she hasn’t seen the potential for anything better or more authentic. The colleague is a paralegal — a shy, quirky, brilliant guy who has responded to a difficult life by withdrawing inside himself. Around her, he relaxes, and around him, she encounters a world that works better for her than the life with which she starts at the beginning. She’s kind of like Wonder Woman all tapped down into a suit and heels and other people’s expectations, and he brings out the side of her that is powerful and that wants to use all that energy instead of ramping it down.

They find themselves working with a small town called St. Anthony set on a fictional sea island, and this company wants to turn it into a sort of Atlantic City of the South with casinos and a boardwalk. But the changes will mean changing this unique community with its extraordinary history out of existence. So the town hires this law firm to help them negotiate the legalities of preserving itself. So there’s a parallel to Lise (the heroine’s) situation in the idea that practicality is threatening to crush something organic and awesome. And there’s the whole Big Money vs. the Little Guy plot, but I am going to undercut it with complexity — the town has survived on practicality, for example, and casinos create jobs, so opposition to the project isn’t universal. And Caleb has a complicated history with the town that adds a layer as well.

I’ve had a great time developing St. Anthony’s history, and Etiwan (the island) is beautiful in my head, so those parts have been fun to write. And I’m really excited by Caleb as a character and how he’s developing.

What do you do when you get writers block?

My writers’ block is usually due to insecurity, especially if I leave the work for too long. I start to critique anything I’ve written harshly, and there’s no better way to kill creativity than to bury it under a boring load of “it’s not good enough.” I get back into the work by basically rolling over my twitchiness and writing anyway. I start by by going back and reading the previous chapter. Before I know it, I’m tweaking. Once I’m tweaking, I get back in the zone, and I can keep going.

What’s been the most challenging thing about being an writer, and the most rewarding?

The most challenging thing about being a writer has been my tendency to constantly second guess everything — the idea or the writing or the plot. I get stuck, if I’m not careful, due to an internal critic that’s on steroids, and I can’t get anywhere if I over-critique before I’ve even gotten the thing written. I handle this problem by doing a lot of drafts so no one draft has too much pressure on it and by professionalizing my work. I am a freelance writer by profession, and that means I do a lot of different kinds of writing, so I get practical and think of fiction as one of the many kinds of professional writing that I do. Since I’m at the beginning of writing fiction for publication, I don’t really know if it will ever make money (though I certainly hope it will), but thinking about it as part of my job keeps me from getting too angsty about it all. It’s practical. I just sort of say to my inner emo writer, “Just do your job and stop overthinking it.”

The most rewarding thing about being a writer is sort of obvious — I love doing all kinds of writing.I love writing articles; I love learning all the odd little things I learn when I write them. I love English — it’s such a cobbled-together language and so many people have used it and changed it in so many ways. I even enjoy trying to get the words perfect in advertising copy. And I have liked a lot of jobs in the past — teaching is incredible sometimes — but I have never loved any job like I love wrestling with this fictional world and its characters and trying to make them better and richer and more real.

What advice would you give to writers out there?

Write, constantly. It’s a skill that practice improves, so just the act of doing it can improve our work, and the more we do it, the more productive we are and the less wheel-spinning we do. So do what works to keep yourself writing even when you feel stuck. When I get stuck, I find that writing in different genres helps me — if my novel gets stuck, I work on an article. If I’m stuck for article ideas, I work on the novel (and think of ways to turn the research into articles.) That’s a good way to keep myself from getting bogged down. (That and getting away from distractions — if I’ve got a good new book in the house, I go work at a coffee shop.) So that’s what works for me. Figure out what works for you in circumventing your own obstacles and and don’t let yourself stagnate.

 

You can find Emily swanning about on Twitter,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Past Interviews

This fortnight we welcome Beth Overmyer, a fantasy author who has twelve published works. She’s won awards for the Best Comedy at Gotham Screen’s 2008 screenwriting competition for The Method, and an honorable mention for a short story in Allegory’s 2010 spring/summer issue for Red.

Author Pic 2.jpgLCS for GR.png

From fantastical kidlit to everyday popular fiction, Beth knits together her prose in a small Ohio town. Her hobbies do not include cat-hating or traveling. She adores her cat, Cricket, and traveling will happen someday, but for now, the farthest Beth travels is the western parts of her brain during cold, dark months of editing.

Ok, easy one to start that requires only silly answers to break the ice, what is your favourite Austen character?
If I’m being honest, it would depend. Based on the books, Elizabeth Bennet goes in for the win! She’s witty, fun, and her faults are endearing and amusing. But then there’s Barbara Leigh Hunt’s portrayal of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. Oh how I love her Lady Catherine–but not in a Mr. Collins way or anything. Lady Catherine is so clueless about how obnoxious and rude she is. One cannot buy good manners and good breeding, now can they? (Mrs. Elton from Emma is another favorite. Man, I know how to pick ’em. The more annoying, the better!)

What is your current WIP and what excites you the most about it?

I’m a major genre-hopper–and I have lots on the back burners. But my main project right now is the sequel to a fantasy novel about magic goblets that imbue people with powers, and about the people who need to unite or destroy said goblets. What excites me about the second book is the challenge of writing the characters from book one again. I have to keep their personalities true to where I left them at the end of the previous book, and continue character arcs that have to span the novels (there will be two more books.) Plus, I get to add a smart and sassy character who can see parts of the future, so that’s been a treat.

What do you do when you get writers block?

The main thing for me when I get writer’s block is to assess: Is it burn-out or boredom? If it’s burn-out, I take a few steps back and do something else. I watch movies and movie trailers, I read (more), and I give myself a break. Beating a lame horse isn’t going to get me anywhere. If it’s boredom, I need to try a different project for a while. No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader and all that. Simply taking a break from a project can do wonders for the mind.

What’s been the most challenging thing about being an indie author, and the most rewarding?

The most challenging thing and the most rewarding one boil down to one: It’s all on me. If I fail, well, I can only blame myself. And that’s hard, knowing I did something to screw up book promotion, maybe the ending of the book, maybe the entire book, and that I have no publisher to fall back on. But that’s also a blessing: If I fail, no publishing house is going to hand back my rights and send me packing. So when I get a sale, I can say, “Wow. I did that!” and celebrate with the extra royalties that would have otherwise made its way into other (deserving) pockets.

What advice would you give to writers out there?

Don’t compare yourself to other writers. Their journey is theirs. If they’re thirteen with a ten-book deal, and you’ve got one book out, that’s okay. Your day in the sun will come. Just keep working hard, and keep your nose out of everyone else’s business. You’ve got this.

You can find Beth’s books here, as well as her intriguing Lady Catherine Says: 365 Tweets of Condescension here.
She floats about Twitter and Facebook too, so be sure to visit!

 

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