Oh boy. If you guys follow on me on any media platform, you would’ve seen my deranged fan-girling about a book called The Short Life of Sparrows. You may recognise this incredible cover:
Look at that cover art. And the story within is even more incredible…
That being said, I have been lucky enough to interview the author – the fabulous Emm Cole! In addition to this (it just keeps going, right? Right?), Emm is offering a signed paperback copy of The Short Life of Sparrows (international). Details are below. In the meantime, let’s find out what makes this incredible writer tick –
Hey Emm! Thanks so much for participating in this interview – let’s start off with some run of the mill questions.
Growing up I was always jotting down poetry and short stories for fun. I ended up writing MERMINIA because I kept picturing this intense underwater world at war. The idea was so visual in my head that I knew I had to write it down at least for myself. Once I had the experience of connecting with a set of characters and developing new mythology, I was hooked.
What inspires you to write?
Readers inspire me more than anything. When you read a review where you can tell a character or plot line affected your reader, it’s the most amazing feeling.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Read a lot. You hear that everywhere, but it’s so true. Studying a well-written book is a better teacher than anything else in my opinion. I also think you really have to develop a thick skin so you are open to critique and criticism. Once you can accept the areas in your writing that need work and listen to valid criticisms, you can make an okay story so much more.
Why did you self-publish?
I originally self-published just out of sheer enjoyment. MERMINIA was a blast to write, and so I just kept going. I may at some point look into traditional publishing, but indie has been great because it has allowed me to find my own voice and do so on my own time table.
What genre would you love to write someday?
I have a plotline that is a mix of historical horror and suspense that I’m hoping to tackle one day, but it would be something very different from even the gothic elements in THE SHORT LIFE OF SPARROWS.
What stops you from writing it now?
It has a really dark and shocking twist to the end. It’s the kind of ending I want to slam a reader from out of nowhere. I haven’t written it out yet because to pull it off and surprise a reader will take some subtle and careful plotting. I’m good to let that one work itself out in my head for the time being.
Now on to my favourite section – weird things!
What is the strangest thing you’ve had to research?
Mermaids would seem on the surface to be pretty self-explanatory—fins and water and all. But it’s an amazingly diverse mythology. Even after piecing together my own version, I am still astounded at the new takes I find on a very old subject. Mermaids definitely give vampires and werewolves a run for their money as far as fresh takes on old lore.
Weirdest question you’ve been asked about your writing?
Not so much a question as a statement, but I think it’s very strange when you tell someone you write books and they respond with, “I’ve thought about doing that one day but I don’t have the time right now.” This is something I’ve heard more than once. I find it funny that anybody looks at writing as having too much time on one’s hands. Writing takes so much self-discipline, because you don’t get paid by the hour. Creating a book requires some real commitment and dedication. There are never enough hours in the day for perfecting a story.
Strangest conversation you’ve had with others about writing, or things you learned through research?
I still laugh about this. I had someone tell me that they were embarrassed to read my love scenes in KEEPING MERMINIA and THE SHORT LIFE OF SPARROWS. Not because said love scenes were too racy or detailed, but because they assumed writers are drawing from personal experience and they knew me well. Now, I’m the most private and shy person when it comes to stuff like that. And if you asked my beta readers and writing buddies they’ll tell you that those scenes were redrafted more than anything else. Executing a death scene or a love scene demands a lot of thoughtfulness and precision of wording. For me, a love scene is solely about the personality and relationship of those characters, and it had better reflect those characters to be believable. That’s comparable to assuming a ruthless villain’s actions mean a writer must have hidden psychopathic tendencies. I am still half-mortified and half-amused that anyone would think a writer’s private life is reflected in a bedroom scene. I had to assure this friend THAT will be the last introspective thing a reader discovers about me in my stories.
Some more personal questions…
What gets you out of a writing slump?
I like to make new playlists or add to my visual board on Pinterest. It helps me regroup.
Who is your personal cheerleading squad?
Indie writers make the best cheerleaders. Specifically I can’t thank Howard Parsons, S.K. Munt, Liz Meldon, Heather Rigney and Sara Mack enough. And Marie McKean for her critiques on The Short Life of Sparrows. Ariel Mathis, Tiffany Holme, Sherlyn Goh and Kelly Peterson are bloggers and readers that I constantly feel lucky to have sharing and shouting about my books. Their enthusiasm never ceases to humble me.
But my mom is THE biggest cheerleader. It’s funny, because I can wake up any given morning and see she’s sharing her love of my stories somewhere new online. I know everyone would probably say their mom is in their corner, but my mother is the type to give her unedited and honest opinion. When I’m writing a draft she’s the first to tell me if something falls flat, because she just can’t fudge about whether or not she likes something. So to have her share my stuff with anybody who breathes the word “book” means a lot and hints that maybe I shouldn’t throw in the towel on this venture.
Favourite writing music?
I listen to all kinds, because I like the music to fit the tone of each scene. Florence + The Machine and Johnny Cash are staples for me though.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you love to do for a hobby?
I want to learn to paint. My grandmothers all did, and my eleven year old daughter has such a knack for it. I don’t know that I’d be any good, but I’d like to try it out for kicks.
If you were marooned on a desert island and could only have three books, which ones would they be?
That’s such an unfair question because I have a hard enough time narrowing my favorites to a top ten. I guess I’d say John Green’s Looking For Alaska, The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I’m going to cheat a little on this question. Laini Taylor and Sarah J. Maas are my heroes for writing fantasy series that slay. And I’ll add that I recently finished Six of Crows and The Wrath & The Dawn, which both blew me away more than anything else I’ve read this year.
Where is your favourite place to write?
Anywhere that I can put in my headphones without my girls running circles around me works. I’ve given up on hiding from the dog. He still tries to lie on the laptop from time to time.
What is your opinion on the world of publishing?
I think the greatest part of indie vs. traditional is it gives writers more options. The indie scene is a fantastic way to find your voice and you have so much freedom to explore genre. Traditional has its perks too, and I get discouraged when I see writers from either platform being snubbed by the other. Any avenue that allows a person to share their creative process should be valid. From time to time I hear the argument that indie books cut a lot of corners. Sure there are probably some E-books out there that are uploaded without the attention to editing and polishing, but that isn’t my overall experience with it. I’ve found a good deal of truly talented writers who spare no effort to put out the best final product they can for their readers. And I have a few favorite indie writers that for me rank with New York Times Bestselling authors as auto-buys.
What does the future hold for you?
I have no idea. Throwing your stories out into the world when there are countless other good stories is a bit of a gamble. I just know I love books, and I can’t imagine my house without a pile of paperbacks to read and a stack of notes for new characters. Here’s what I can say is almost certain. Tomorrow I’ll get up, make my kids’ school lunches, do the laundry, load the dishwasher, scrub the toilet, and help them with their homework. I’m very fortunate that the thing I love to do doesn’t stop me from being with my kids. The rest I’m more than happy to figure out as I go.
Follow the link to enter the giveaway!
Emm is a self-admitted night owl who likes sweaters, rainy downpours, crazy prints on socks, way too much coffee, high stacks of books, Johnny Cash & The Rolling Stones at hideous decibels, the ocean, and movie marathons.
Her funky imagination tends to be equal parts whimsically pretty and morbidly sinister. Emm plans to keep developing unique magical realms, one book at a time.
Links to buy Emm’s books: