Interview originally posted on Smitten's Book Blog, January 26, 2013.
Someone Else's Fairytale and Nobody's Damsel are two very
different books. Both fab and intriguing in their own way and offering a bit of
something for everyone. What made you decide to write both of these storie? Who
or what was your inspiration?
Given Someone Else's Fairytale is a romance novel, it
doesn't lend itself to sequels very well. You'll notice that most romance
series use an ensemble cast with different people stepping up to fall in love
for each book. The other option is to have a couple so fraught with romantic
problems that they threaten each other with divorce once a book or somesuch.
And I guess there's a third option, to just fill books full of sappy sweetness
and no plot, but my readers are too smart to put up with that.
Nobody's Damsel is a transition book. It sets up a repeatable plot
structure that enables me to keep telling stories about Chloe and Jason. The
plot framework isn't romance though. In Damsel it's a police procedural and
later books can use Jason's job for the plots too, so the result is something
that lends itself naturally to an ongoing series because films and criminal
investigations are the kinds of thing that repeat over and over again. Several
people wanted more Jason in this book, so I'll make sure to put more of him in
the next one.
As for my inspiration, I just thought the idea of a down to earth
woman catching the eye of a superstar was too funny to pass up. Then I created
some characters and I love them, so they're my inspiration now.
When you begun SEF, did you know what the story of ND was
going to be? Or did that come at a later date?
No, not at all. I wrote SEF while pregnant and off my
medication (I'm an insomniac). It was after I'd parted ways with my publisher
and while the chick lit market was melting down spectacularly, so I just wrote
it for me, to entertain myself, really. I didn't ever see it getting published
or having sequels or anything like that. Then when I did publish it and it
found its audience, I decided a sequel would be a good idea.
The reason I took a year to write Damsel, though, was because I
knew I had to plan carefully. I wanted a structure that lent itself to a
series. Later volumes won't take a full year to write, thank to the time I put
into engineering the framework of Damsel.
I looooved Jason, as you may have gathered from my
reviews. Do you have a dream cast for Chloe and Jason? And any of the other
Not really, though someone suggested Jake Gyllenhaal for Jason and
that made me think of Maggie for Jen - who would be PERFECT. If a movie deal
were ever on the table, though, I'd approach it as a chance to see what other
people could bring to the story. Given it's about the film industry, I dare say
any actors would have opinions worth listening to. And I've seen enough film
deals to know that going this route means letting go of creative control (and
getting your money up front!
Did you write in order? What was your writing process? If
not, what were the first and last scenes you wrote?
I do write in order. Then when I redraft, I do that
piecemeal. I pick a scene I don't like and get to work, no particular order
there. I edit with a very heavy hand, deleting tens of thousands of words in a
day sometimes. By the end of the process, I'll have written two or three times
the number of words in the final novel, sometimes more. Most of them get cut.
There were some dark elements to Chloe's story.
Especially in ND. Were these difficult to write?
Not really, though I guess that sounds a little mental. I
don't put in nasty scenes for the sake of being shocking; I do it because
really bad things do happen, and there's no point pretending otherwise. I
believe happy endings are earned and fought for and require a lot of emotional
resilience and creativity. Anyone can have one, and they are never easy, even
if some people make them look that way.
Also, fairytales tend to be very dark if you think about them.
Living happily ever after always required passing a major test and winning
against the odds.
Were the endings always going to be that way? Or did you
have a few different ideas?
For the most part, yes. Damsel lays out the theme of the series, that our dreams are no
less important than our reality. Chloe deals in reality, in hard evidence and
matters of life and death. Jason deals in dreams, in humanity's ongoing project
of processing life experiences and making sense of why we live our lives the
way we do. Their relationship is basically a metaphor for how all of us live,
with one foot in reality and the other in imagination, speculation, and
There are plenty of new authors out there and lots of
impending 2013 releases and works in progress. If you could give a new author
one piece of advice, from your experience, what would it be?
1) Know what it is you want and 2) go get it. I think
people often focus too much on #2 without taking the time to figure out #1. For
example, some writers will say that the write for creative fulfillment and then
be devastated when they don't make sales. This means they don't actually write
for creative fulfillment; that might be part of it, but they also write to make
money, or to reach fans, or to become famous. Knowing which of these matters is
essential to putting together your career plan, or else you'll never find
Me, I always wanted to be a writer for my job. My goal is
to reach a point when my income from writing supports me. I don't have to be
rich, I don't have to be famous, I just want to have that job, so that's what
I'm working on.
You have quite a few other books out too. Can you tell us
about some of those? Are they all the same genre as the Fairytale series, or
are they all completely different?
They are all romance, but in order to explain how varied
they are, I should give a little background:
I began writing as E.M. Tippetts when I decided to branch out
from my usual science fiction and fantasy (which I write as Emily Mah) and try
my hand at romance. I also wanted to try out novel publishing, so I wrote LDS
(Mormon) romance so that I could sell it to an LDS publisher. That's where
E.M.Tippetts got her start. Her first novel was Time & Eternity, about a 26
year old convert to the church who has a revelation from God, which in turn
kicks off a whole lot of strife and mayhem in her life. (I was tired of
religious books were God solves all the problems. I mean, really, no one's made my life
more complicated than He has, not that I would trade it for anything.) The next
book, Paint Me True is a coming of age story for a thirty year old woman who
still yearns for a perfect romance, only to learn the hard way that love is
what you make it.
Then comes Someone Else's Fairytale, the first non-LDS book by
E.M. Tippetts. I then delved back into LDS fiction to write Castles on the
Sand, which is a YA novel about a girl who thinks she's nobody special, and her
deeply religious older brother who knows her true worth. Then I wrote Nobody's
Damsel, and next will be the sequel to Castles on the Sand.
Aside from that, I still write science fiction and fantasy short stories
as Emily Mah and sell them to magazines and anthologies, then publish the
reprints in electronic format for Kindle, Nook, etc.
Thanks so much, Emily. I have to say, I hadn't
realised you'd planned a whole series for Fairytale, which makes me very
happy! I can't wait to read more about Jason and Chloe (okay, I
admit, mainly Jason)
and it also explains a lot about the way ND pans out. I really like that. The
other books in the series will definitely be going on my TBR list.
Thanks so much for the opportunity! Re: more Jason,
what I LOVE about indie writing is that I get to work directly for fans. No
editor telling me I have to hit x target demographic or whatever. If people say
they want more Jason being romantic, I can go right ahead and write it.