Today, I have the pleasure of bringing you an interview with YA author Wren Emerson. Her debut novel, I Wish… is the first in a series titled The Witches of Desire. I hope you find her answers as fun and enlightening as I did.
Is Wren Emerson your real name or a pseudonym?
Although I adore the name Wren Emerson, I’m sorry to say it’s just a pen name. I’ve always thought Wren was a really pretty alternative to the more widely used Robin. I did some quick Googling before I settled on it to make sure that nobody was already using it, you know, as an actual name. The coast was clear and now I get to live out the fantasy of having a name I love.
What time of day do you like to write?
I think in a perfect world, I’d probably stay up all night writing and sleep until 2 in the afternoon. But I have kids so I have to work around their schedules. I don’t work outside of my writing so my whole day is a series of writing related chores. I spend a lot of time working on my blog,
answering emails, and just trying to self promote in the ways I feel comfortable (mostly via having an online presence). Then I might take the afternoon off to take the minions to the park and cram in a few hours of writing in the evenings. The only thing that’s set in stone about my schedule is that they go to bed at 9pm and my love and I stop what we’re doing then and go to our room to watch movies. It’s the only time we have to connect where we aren’t in parenting mode and I feel like it’s so important that we respect that no matter what else is going on in life.
Coffee or tea?
I don’t like either, to be honest. My favorite drink of all time is coconut Italian soda. Yum!
Is your glass 1/2 full or 1/2 empty?
I believe in positive thinking. My glass isn’t just half full, it’s also got a lemon wedge and lots of ice.
What are you reading right now?
I’m beta reading Courtney Cole’s sequel to Every Last Kiss and Shana Hammaker’s memoir, The Cookie Dumpster.
What was the hardest part about writing for you (in general or regarding I Wish)?
I’m a huge procrastinator. I put off editing forever. So I think my weakness is really getting myself to apply butt to chair and get busy writing. Which is sad when you think about it, because that’s the only part a writer can consistently control. The right words might not come or
they might get writer’s block, but there’s nothing stopping them from sitting down and putting words on paper. It kills me when I think of how prolific I could be if I’d just work harder.
Were any of the characters based on you or anyone you know?
Some of the names were shout outs to people I know. Only two characters were really inspired by anyone I know. One of the romantic leads is largely based on my love. I won’t say which one in case it colors how readers feel about them and what might happen between them as the series progresses, but I think anyone who’s ever talked to my love might be able to see where the influence comes from.
Then there’s Ramona. I want to start by saying that my grandmother isn’t as heartless and manipulative as she is. I sincerely hope nobody is. My
grandma has mellowed a lot with age, but when I was a kid she was very much the matriarch of our family. She didn’t just influence the character, but the entire idea of a town run by women. I was her first granddaughter and for some reason that meant a lot to her. It wasn’t a huge leap to go from that odd dynamic between us and the rest of the family and the town of Desire.
If you could date one of the men in I Wish, who would it be and why?
I have to admit that I’m already a little in love with Evan and Ben. I think either one would be a great boyfriend if you can get past their respective hang ups. Evan’s adherence to tradition would drive me nuts, but Ben’s paranoia and cynacism (no matter how well deserved) would crush my soul– See answer 4. But I think the perfect guy for me would be Zane Littlebury (minus the gay thing). He’s upbeat, funny, and thinks for himself. Not to mention he’s cute. You could do so much worse than him. And you know who doesn’t get much credit for being an amazing guy? Shep Claphan. If you’re looking for someone who isn’t still in high school, he’d be like the best husband you could ask for. He’s attentive and protective. Mmmm..
What project are you working on now?
Initially I planned to take some time off from the Witches of Desire and work on an unrelated adult romantic comedy, but I hadn’t counted on how many people are asking when they can expect the sequel. What can I say? I hate to disappoint people so that’s what I’m working on now. I’m shooting for a mid July release. I also have some short stories in the works for other projects. One project I’m really excited about is a collaboration between Courtney Cole, I, and several other hot YA paranormal authors. We’ll be writing a short story anthology and I believe most, if not all, of us will be basing our stories in our established series’ universes. My story is about Julia Carter’s past when she was a teen. That should be released around August 1st and if you love YA paranormal, you aren’t going to want to miss it.
What advice, if any, do you have for other writers?
Ok, remember how I said I procrastinate a lot? Don’t do that. When I’m actually writing I decide how long I want to take for the writing process and give myself a word count to meet every day and then I make sure I meet it. I write on Saturdays and Sundays too. The only way to finish a book is to dedicate yourself to the project until it’s done.
The other thing I swear by is outlining before you write. I know a lot of writers can’t work that way, but I can’t write without one. A detailed outline takes a little bit of effort in the beginning, but you save so much time in the long run both through writing the first draft and editing. I knew my story was structurally sound when I edited so I focused my attention on adding new scenes for length (I added 12k words worth
of new content between the first draft and the finished product), tightening my sentences, and trying to kill all the typos. Fun fact: I used the word “lightly” 98 times in the first draft. I think I kept it in 6 times in the final version.
The last thing I’d say isn’t so much writing advice as promoting advice: I’d say to anyone who has any interest in joining the indie publishing community that we’re all in the same boat. The very best thing you can do for yourself as an indie is to help other indies at every opportunity. I got a review the other day that was really lovely and it mentioned that the first thing that the review knew about me was that I was quick to welcome her to our little chat community on Twitter (#pubwrite- join us, we’d love to have you!). You never know who you might inspire to buy your book when you act in kindness.
I happily promote other indie writers on my blog through a weekly interview feature, reviews of the indie books I read, and just general shout outs. I don’t begrudge anyone a single sale. Heck, I buy lots of indie pubbed books myself. What people might not realize is that every time
an indie makes a sale, it benefits us all. It’s one sale closer to breaking down the stigma that exists around not being traditionally published. Every time a reader tries an indie book and loves it they are more likely to buy another in the future. Every time an indie author makes a living by self publishing, it makes other authors take it a little more seriously as an avenue to publication. In the end we all stand to gain a lot.
So how can you promote yourself and the indie community? Here are a couple of things that I’ve done.
Find a partner and promote each other. I have am part of an undeclared threesome. We tweet and blog each others successes and commiserate when things aren’t going so well. It helps to have other people to brainstorm with or to go to for advice. Writing can be solitary, but it doesn’t have to be.
Trade excerpts. Find someone who writes in a similar genre and ask them if they’d like to trade the first chapter or so of your books. With ebooks you can even make a clickable link to places where their book is for sale (Amazon for the Kindle edition, B&N for the Nook version, etc…)
Create an anthology. Find a group of people who write in the same genre as you do and come up with a theme and go for it. It’s promotion that people literally pay you for. Crazy, right?
If anyone has any questions about any of this, feel free to shoot me an email at wrenemerson(at)gmail(dot)com or catch me on Twitter @wrenem. I love helping out whenever I can.
Wren Emerson was born on the mean streets of small town Kansas 30*mumble* years ago. She first put pen to paper at the tender age of 12 and wrote an epicly awful story. She then became publisher and editor in chief of a family newspaper which included articles written by indentured servants/siblings. It got rave reviews from all 8 members of her family.
Now in adulthood, Wren still enjoys bossing people around so she became overlord to a small army of minions; her true love, kids, a cat, and a dog. When she’s not plotting to form a dictatorship she writes. When she’s not writing, she plays video games, reads books, practices her iphoneography skills, and spends way too much time hanging out in #pubwrite on Twitter.
Now for an excerpt from I Wish…
When a two hundred and fifty pound man takes a swing at your face, the last thing you want is to be blind. But that’s exactly the predicament I found myself in while fighting Shep Claphan one September afternoon. I could hear voices murmuring around us, but I couldn’t hear him. I
knew less about Shep’s past than I did about my own, but I always imagined him as a soldier or a stunt man or a martial arts expert. And he was attempting to kick my ass. Not exactly a challenge when you consider that I was 5’7″ to his 6’4″ and weighed half as much.
I didn’t hear his foot lash out until it caught me in the stomach. It stung, but it was obvious since I was still standing that he pulled most of the power of that kick. What I did hear was the gasps of the people that surrounded us. I swung in the direction the kick had come from, but I didn’t hit anything. Chuckles from the peanut gallery.
He kicked the back of my leg, forcing me to take a knee. Behind me. I swept my leg along the ground, hoping to knock his feet out from under him,
but he was too fast. I followed the movement into a standing position and punched in short efficient jabs. I was gratified to feel one land somewhere soft. It wasn’t a solid connection and judging by the way it slid off his body, it was most likely his shoulder. At least now I had an idea of what his position was. I swung at him again, but missed by a mile, judging from the reactions of the people watching.
“I can see you. I can dodge you if I can see it coming. You can’t see me so you don’t have that advantage. You need to use whatever other information you can gather. Listen for my breathing. Hear the leaves and sticks being crushed under my feet. Smell me sweating if you have to. When I move in close your body knows it, it feels my heat and the air I disturb around you. Listen to what your body is telling you.”
Shep’s voice was normally a sound I enjoyed, the deep bass mellow and soothing and a perfect match to his barrel chested body, but right then I just wanted to slap him. He wouldn’t end practice until I managed at least a couple of good hits, but my past experiences with this had been less than impressive. I didn’t expect much more from this one.
I tried to push back my irritation. His advice was sound even if the last thing I wanted to do right now was admit he was right. I took a deep breath and tried to narrow my focus. Shut out the whispers and giggles from the people around us. Shut out the aches from my muscles and the deep throbbing of forming bruises. Ignore it, it doesn’t help me.
I didn’t hear him move so much as I felt the way his shifting body crossed the sunlight on my face. When he swung at my face I was ready. I knew the direction he was coming from and I grabbed his arm and used it for balance as I kicked him twice in his ribs under the arm I held immobilized. Hearing his breath exhale with a sharp woofing sound was gratifying, but I didn’t pause to celebrate the minor victory. I dropped his arm and danced backwards out of reach before he could grab me. I’ve been flipped by Shep before and it ranks high up on my list of things I’d rather avoid.
An advantage to my attack I hadn’t anticipated was that his breathing was now audible to me. My next punch was a thing of beauty, connecting solidly with his jaw. I wasn’t using full power either, but it had to have hurt him at least half as much as it killed my hand.
“Shep, your head feels like it’s filled with rocks.”
“You know, I’ve heard that from every woman in my life.”
By now I was really in the moment. There’s just no other excuse for the stupidity of my next idea. I ran towards Shep, jumping while still a few feet
from him, planning to plant a foot in his chest and execute a neat back flip and while he was still awed by my finesse, I’d land a killing blow. If life were an action movie I would have been able to execute it flawlessly- probably in Matrix style slow motion. Real life rarely comes with slow-mo though and so this is how it really happened:
I ran at him and leaped, all according to plan. When I planted my foot in his chest, however, he grabbed it and gave it a vicious little twist. I landed face down in the dirt and breathing was suddenly a skill that needed relearning in a hurry. The only blessing was that the hilarity of the crowd watching us was somewhat muffled by my gasping.
Shep gave me a hand up and pulled off my blindfold. I still couldn’t take a full breath so he waited patiently while I stood there, squinty eyed and
wheezing. Finally he said, “You shouldn’t showboat. You could have finished me, I was hurting and you had the edge.”
“You… are a… really… bad winner.”
The friendly backrub eased my wounded pride a little. As he worked the knots from my tense shoulders I took a moment to check out the people who’d just watched my humiliating defeat. I could only hope that there weren’t any cute boys around to witness my literal fall from grace. Lucky for me, it seemed that the only people at the Sunnydale Motor Court on a weekday afternoon in the fall were all either elderly or families with young children. So unless I was willing to date a man who needed regular diaper changes, I didn’t have to worry about
having blown my chances with the potential love of my life.
“Come on, I think Ramona wanted to leave as soon as we were done here. You know how she is about having plenty of time to check into a hotel before a book signing. If she doesn’t have enough time to get beautiful she’ll cancel the signing and then her publicist is going to give her sh- crap.”
“And crap rolls downhill. I get it.” I gave Shep an affectionate punch in the arm and started back to the RV without argument. I wanted to grab a quick shower at the facilities here before we hit the road and I knew he wasn’t kidding about my grandmother’s desire to greet her public looking fantastic.
Every life hinges on a series of days that change everything. The thing about days like that is that you never see them coming. Looking back, that shower marked the last time that everything in my life was normal. If I knew then what was in store for me, I think I might have just kept walking past the showers and down the road. I guess that’s why change takes you by surprise. I doubt anyone would seek out life altering transformations willingly.
But I didn’t know and so it was with visions of cute boys and clean hair dancing in my head that I went from my old life and headlong into the insanity.