Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Interview with Emma Elliot

Good morning, All! (I admit at this hour I'm probably still in bed enjoying the last few days of summer sleep in. Ahhh the joys of scheduled posts)

Today, along with a review of A Thin, Dark Line by Emma Elliot, I was lucky enough to get to interview the talented author....

Which character was your favourite to create? Why?

Favorite character? Hm, that's like asking me to choose my favorite child. They each came alive and took up residence in my head. I love secondary characters. Eloise and Cormac were such strong individuals, but no story takes place in a vacuum, and friends, family, adversaries are all part of the story. Clay surprised even me with how layered he was. Adriana constantly made me laugh, but also broke my heart a little. I didn't expect to like her as much as I did. I wish I had a Sal and Patrick, the entire Florenelli family actually, in my life. Robby and Harmon were inspired, in part, by the little girl I was a nanny for. I have several Jane figures in my life. Rounded, developed secondary characters are oft times some of my favorites. 

When you’re not writing, what else do you like to do?

My job takes up much of my time; unfortunately, more than writing does. I attempt to run, with an emphasis on attempt. I enjoy yoga and hiking, traveling and wandering the streets of foreign cities. I love the winter, so snow sports are my favorite, cross country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, etc. And reading. Curling up with a good book is my favorite past time. 

If you were asked to make a soundtrack for A Thin, Dark Line, what songs would be on it?

I really don't listen to music when I'm writing. I find it more distracting than inspiring. A close friend of mine, who is also an incredible musician, composed piano pieces for A Thin, Dark Line. So I've my own original soundtrack to listen to. 

If your book were turned into a movie, who would you choose to play the leading characters?

I'm really not familiar with any of the major, popular actors of today. I love actors like Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, Tom Selleck, Sean Connery... The characters of A Thin, Dark Line are so distinct to me, though, that I would most likely have a hard time associating them with whoever was chosen, regardless of how well they played the part. 

Was there a part of A Thin, Dark Line that was difficult to write?

Writing A Thin, Dark Line was as much an emotional endeavor as anything else. Saoirse's story was probably the most wrenching to tell. Here was a woman for whom life dealt blow after blow. Each time her situation seemed hopeful, she was drawn back into a desperate, dark world most people cannot even imagine. Like Eloise, I wanted to hate her but found myself admiring her and wishing more for her than what she'd been allotted. 

Tell us about the day you found out A Thin, Dark Line was going to be published. How did you react?

The first publisher I sent A Thin, Dark Line to rejected the query letter immediately, so I was thrilled when TWCS asked to read the full manuscript. I tried not to get my hopes up, though, and told myself while at least they were interested enough in the first three chapters and synopsis to want to read the rest, it didn't mean they would publish it. 

It was on a winter's evening around the Christmas season when I received the email, and, terrified, I let it sit in my inbox unopened for about ten minutes. I finally worked up the courage to read what I was prepared to be a rejection, so when I saw "we would like to offer you a publishing contract" I didn't make it much further because I was crying too hard to see. My parents have always been incredibly supportive and encouraging, so my mother was the first person I called. Of course, she was frantic with worry when she answered her phone and heard me sobbing on the other end of the line. I finally managed to blubber out the news, and was torn between tears and laughter for the rest of the evening. It's only now starting to lose the feeling of surreality. 

Is there any part of you in your characters?

I think writing parts of yourself into characters is oft times unavoidable. Any reflection of myself in Eloise, or anyone else, was unintentional. But I am as passionate about books as she is, and as stubborn. I admire her strength of character and forthrightness and wish I had a portion of both. 

If you were stranded on a desert island, what five things would you want to have with you?

Sunscreen, since I'm very fair skinned; a well-stocked survival kit; an emergency locator transmitter for when I decided I wanted to be found; my collection of Mary Stewart books; and a rugged, intelligent, resourceful man, of course. 

Is there a certain book that has made a lasting impression on you?

My favorite book is "The Night Country," by Loren Eiseley. It makes a profound impression on me each time I reread it. It's a collection of archeological/anthropological essays, which sounds dry, but it is a brilliant, poetic pondering of the nature of man. 

As for someone I wouldn't mind emulating, I love all of Mary Stewart's books:  her seamless blending of subtle, classy romance and breathless suspense; the rich descriptiveness of places, so much so that the settings are entities unto themselves; the strong secondary characters. I wrote her a letter once--she's in her nineties now--and she replied with a handwritten note. I have it framed. 

What’s next for Emma Elliot?

I have a couple of different projects in the works right now. One is an historical, set in Wyoming territory, near Yellowstone in the 1870s. It revolves around a group of men who have banded together and are attempting to save bison from being hunted into extinction--and around the woman who stumbles into their lives. The other is related to A Thin, Dark Line.

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