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The Real Writing Process of Emma Newman: Part One
Episode 10521st November 2021 • The Real Writing Process • Tom Pepperdine
00:00:00 01:02:22

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Tom Pepperdine interviews author Emma Newman on her day-to-day writing process. Emma discusses her experiences writing stories in a shared universe compared to writing in her own, how she deals with inspiration boglins, and why she doesn't write any of her planning down.

You can find all of Emma's books on the following link: https://amzn.to/3kKie8R

You can find her on Twitter on the following link: https://twitter.com/EmApocalyptic

And everything else on her website: http://www.enewman.co.uk/

And you can find more information on our upcoming guests on the following links:

https://twitter.com/Therealwriting1

https://www.instagram.com/realwritingpro

https://www.facebook.com/therealwritingprocesspodcast

Transcripts

Tom:

Hello, and welcome to the Real Writing Process.

Tom:

I'm your host, Tom Pepperdine.

Tom:

And on this episode, my guest is Emma Newman.

Tom:

Emma is the critically acclaimed author of the urban fantasy series, Split

Tom:

Worlds, as well as the stunning piece of science fiction, the Planetfall

Tom:

series, which was shortlisted for best series at the 2020 Hugo awards.

Tom:

Emma is also an audiobook narrator and co-wrote and hosted the Alfie

Tom:

and Hugo award-winning podcast, Tea and Jeopardy, which is why her audio

Tom:

in this interview sounds amazing.

Tom:

This interview took place in mid August, 2021.

Tom:

And my one disclaimer for this episode is that I think it might be my

Tom:

favorite interview I've done so far.

Tom:

And you'll hear why straight after this jingle.

Tom:

So I'm here this afternoon with Emma Newman.

Tom:

Hello!

Emma:

Hello.

Tom:

Hello.

Tom:

Thank you for joining me.

Tom:

Uh, My first question as always is what are we drinking?

Emma:

Oh, it's got to be a nice cup of tea.

Tom:

Yes, lovely.

Tom:

And are you very particular about the way you have your tea?

Emma:

I like it with milk and no sugar.

Emma:

And I think probably because of things that I've produced in the past and

Emma:

various interviews with me and things like that, people often think that I

Emma:

have some kind of like real tea snobbery and like would only have a particular

Emma:

brand and I really don't, just a bog standard cup of tea, good builder's

Emma:

tea will sort me out, absolutely fine.

Tom:

Do you have any inverse snobbery that if it's too fancy that puts you off

Tom:

or is it you just happy with everything?

Emma:

Yeah, actually that's very true.

Emma:

I, and I am very fussy when it comes to what I would call tea.

Emma:

Like fruit teas.?

Emma:

No.

Tom:

Yeah.

Emma:

That's just wrong.

Emma:

It's just the thing, the thing that upsets me about fruit and herbal teas is

Emma:

that they smell amazing, but then they taste like dishwater, in my experience.

Tom:

Oh, absolutely.

Emma:

Maybe I'm doing something wrong.

Tom:

It's because they're good for you, Emma.

Tom:

It's because they're good for you.

Tom:

You can't have things that are good for you taste nice.

Emma:

I think that my bog standard builders tea is very good for me.

Emma:

So I'm going to stick with that.

Tom:

It's got lots of antioxidants.

Tom:

And are you one of these people that you have to have your first

Tom:

cup of tea before you can function in anything in the morning?

Tom:

Like you before a cup of tea is not someone that that people should encounter.

Emma:

It's actually me before coffee, that people shouldn't encounter.

Emma:

I have coffee first thing in the morning.

Emma:

So I have that as my first drink of the day.

Emma:

And then I have a second cup of coffee.

Emma:

And then the rest of the day is tea.

Tom:

So is tea your working drink?

Emma:

Yes.

Emma:

Coffee is my," Oh my God.

Emma:

I have to face the day again," drink and be functional, and tea

Emma:

is, "maybe life isn't so bad" drink.

Tom:

For me, this seems revelatory cause I associate you with tea so

Tom:

much, but I'm also a coffee drinker.

Tom:

So it's a joy to hear that you also drink coffee.

Tom:

Do you have a particular way that you drink your coffee?

Emma:

Er yes, always with two sweeteners or sugars and strong

Emma:

coffee, but with lots of milk.

Tom:

Okay.

Tom:

My wife has the same with tea, actually.

Tom:

She likes it very strong, but milky.

Emma:

Yeah.

Emma:

That's more or less how I like my tea.

Emma:

That's how I consider a good builder's tea.

Tom:

Yes.

Tom:

But this is my first cup of tea in a while, and it is quite tasty.

Tom:

I am enjoying it, I must admit.

Emma:

It's one of those things, which is such a cultural touchstone that I almost

Emma:

feel cliched with, the importance that tea plays in my life, but I can't deny it.

Emma:

It is one of those things.

Emma:

Everything is falling apart, the world's on fire, your dog has just

Emma:

announced that they're going to leave home and go and live somewhere

Emma:

else, and the roof was falling in.

Emma:

And every single thing it's, "Oh, let's put the kettle on," or "Let's

Emma:

have a brew," as my Nana would say.

Tom:

It does have the association, doesn't it?

Tom:

It it's such a calming influence across British culture, historically as well.

Emma:

Yeah, and it's got such a terrible history.

Emma:

I mean, the most horrific things that we've done as an empire to

Emma:

secure tea suppliers horrendous, but I can't let go of it.

Emma:

And it's just one of those things that I just have to live with.

Tom:

And where I'm speaking to you right now is this is your writing office.

Tom:

Is this where you actually do your writing?

Emma:

Yes.

Emma:

I do all of my writing and my sewing and my making things, my

Emma:

art, everything in this room.

Tom:

And for our listeners, as someone who may have heard your Tea and Jeopardy

Tom:

podcast and the lair and the ever-changing locations, I would love to hear you

Tom:

describe your office to our listeners.

Tom:

And how would you go about describing it?

Emma:

It's not nearly as exciting as all the tea lair

Emma:

locations for Tea and Jeopardy.

Emma:

Um, my office is more functional than beautiful.

Emma:

It has a very important piece of art to me on the wall, which I'm looking

Emma:

at now, which is a painting of a more in Yorkshire, which I found

Emma:

in a gallery when I was teaching for an Arvon writing course, a

Emma:

residential course a few years ago.

Emma:

And it was one of those kind of Jaws-like contra zoom moments when

Emma:

I saw it on the other side of the gallery and it's like, "oh my God."

Emma:

And it haunted me, it haunted me for over a week afterwards.

Emma:

And I had the wherewithal to take the card with me and uh, had to think seriously

Emma:

about whether to get it because it was the first piece, the first and only

Emma:

piece of original art I've ever bought.

Tom:

But love at first sight?

Tom:

Love at first sight, it sounds like?

Emma:

Yeah, it was very much so it really, I love it so much.

Emma:

It's got beautiful colors in it, but the thing I love the most is

Emma:

the way that the artist has painted rain, falling across a distant moor.

Emma:

It's a very dark and brooding, very bleak picture.

Emma:

That's my jam.

Tom:

Very evocative.

Tom:

I always define.

Tom:

For me, I define art as something that elicits an emotional response and that

Tom:

can be both positive and negative.

Tom:

And it certainly sounds like this is something that elicited

Tom:

an emotional response in you.

Emma:

Absolutely.

Emma:

But going back to describing my office, it's full of broadly organized

Emma:

fabric and my huge cutting table and my sewing machine and my computer

Emma:

and my audio book recording set up.

Emma:

So there's a lot going on in this room and it overlooks my back garden, which

Emma:

has been mostly taken over by squash that I've been growing this year.

Emma:

And it's grown like Triffids and it's like pretty much well, there's

Emma:

an apple tree that for the first year has started to produce fruit.

Emma:

Cause I planted it last year.

Emma:

And that's it really it's yeah, there are houses that I can see.

Emma:

I would really love to say that it's, in some kind of very interesting eco

Emma:

home bunker in the middle of moorland somewhere, but alas, I would be lying.

Tom:

You can say you can see a bleak moor and Triffid-like

Tom:

plants from where you're sat.

Tom:

So we'll go with that.

Tom:

Surrounded by uh, sways of fabric to be created into marvelous costumes.

Tom:

Just waiting.

Tom:

So with your writing, you know, this is where you do the nuts and bolts.

Tom:

Do you go to anywhere specifically for inspiration?

Tom:

Do you find sitting in that room, you can develop ideas or do you

Tom:

need to get out of the house?

Emma:

No, I don't associate ideas with any particular location or even a

Emma:

state of being, they will just arrive.

Emma:

The only thing I can say that they all have in common is that it's

Emma:

usually at a really inconvenient time and they really demand a lot

Emma:

of thought and a lot of attention.

Emma:

And sometimes, my attention needs to be elsewhere and it

Emma:

can be a little bit frustrating.

Emma:

But yeah, sometimes I do feel like I'm just stumbling through life and

Emma:

then every now and again, this kind of weird boglin turns up and grabs

Emma:

hold of my trouser leg and says,

Emma:

"Write me now!"

Emma:

"But I have all these other..."

Emma:

"No, write me now!"

Emma:

And you know that I don't have much control over that at all.

Tom:

And so do you feel that you have to make a note of it?

Tom:

Do you carry notebooks with you for when the boglin arrives or is it something

Tom:

that it's just okay, I will remember this, but I need to finish task A first.

Emma:

Um, no, I don't write anything down.

Emma:

I was on a panel at a convention a few years ago and I was with other writers

Emma:

and this came up in the discussion because one of them said, " I write every

Emma:

single idea I have down in a notebook and I've been a writer for many years now.

Emma:

So I have dozens of notebooks that are filled with ideas.

Emma:

And then whenever I need one, I just open up a notebook and there's one there."

Emma:

And then it came to my turn in the panel and I said, "No, I

Emma:

don't write any of them down."

Emma:

And the look on his face was just such complete horror.

Emma:

And I explained at the time that I don't write the ideas down

Emma:

because the good ones will stay.

Emma:

And it's a way for me to sort out the wheat from the chaff,

Emma:

because I get lots of ideas.

Emma:

Many, many, many ideas.

Emma:

Not all the time, but you know, I do get lots.

Emma:

I've had lots over the years and sometimes they are just like seafoam that have just

Emma:

been created by the churn of my life and the activity of my brain at the time.

Emma:

And they surface and I'll think, "Oh, that would be an interesting idea for a story."

Emma:

But the ones that stay are the ones that would actually be able to be

Emma:

turned into something substantial.

Emma:

They're not just foam that are going to dissipate.

Emma:

And it's the ones that haunt me.

Emma:

It's the ones that are the genuine, like creature-like things that will

Emma:

hang on and will just not let me go.

Emma:

But I have the faith that there is something really decent

Emma:

there to develop in and to put a lot more work and time into.

Emma:

Um, sometimes I will have an idea and I know immediately it's for a short story.

Emma:

And that is the the very kind of like the simple one-line idea.

Emma:

Sometimes a whole story will pop into my head fully formed, and I

Emma:

think that's a short story, I'm gonna write that, and that's done.

Emma:

But for novels, yeah.

Emma:

There's a lot more kind of um, waiting and seeing if it sticks that goes on.

Emma:

Yeah.

Tom:

And it sounds like a lot of your ideas are more scenario based.

Tom:

It's sort of like a, what if this happened?

Tom:

Rather than-

Emma:

Yes and no.

Emma:

It depends on the story, it depends on the genre to a certain extent.

Emma:

Though the genre is usually one of the last pieces that falls into place.

Emma:

I guess when it comes to science fiction, a lot of science fiction can emerge

Emma:

from the question of, "what if," but I write very character driven fiction.

Emma:

So it's more of, it's often more having an idea for a character or something that I

Emma:

want to explore in terms of an experience.

Emma:

And then that develops into an idea.

Emma:

Or sometimes it can be a question.

Emma:

A question that I want to answer.

Emma:

And sometimes that question can be a "what if," but not as often as a question

Emma:

like, "would I be able to pull off?"

Emma:

So for example, After Atlas, which was the second novel in the Planetfall series.

Emma:

That one, one of the bigger questions to begin with was, can I write a murder

Emma:

mystery set 80 years in the future and still make it compelling when technology

Emma:

takes away a lot of the tools that crime fiction uses to maintain interest and to

Emma:

prolong suspense and to do all of those things that keep you reading and engaged.

Emma:

Could I do that?

Emma:

If I flip that all on its head, can I pull that off?

Emma:

And at the same time around, you know, when I was developing that that

Emma:

the collection of ideas that went into After Atlas, one of the things

Emma:

I wanted to explore was abandonment.

Emma:

And that is at the heart of the psychology of the protagonist.

Emma:

And I also wanted to explore power imbalance and the horrors of

Emma:

unfettered capitalism, and to talk about what I think the world will

Emma:

be like in the future, if we don't sort out several critical things now.

Emma:

And so that's a huge amount of stuff that just gets chucked into a big pot.

Emma:

So I would say that generally one of the first things that comes up is

Emma:

a sense of what I want a character to go through and a question.

Tom:

Yeah.

Emma:

Sometimes it can be completely accidental.

Emma:

The Split World series which is Urban Fantasy, that started from a short

Emma:

story that literally was in my head as I woke up one morning and, you

Emma:

know, before anyone starts hating me, that doesn't actually happen that

Emma:

often, but it did happen that morning.

Emma:

And at the time I was part of a flash fiction community.

Emma:

This was before I'd been published and I had this idea in my head.

Emma:

I needed to write a thousand word story that day.

Emma:

Cause we all published on a Friday and I fired it off, went off to do everything

Emma:

I needed to do that day came back and the community seemed to love it.

Emma:

I didn't know at the time, but it was the beginning of me growing an entire

Emma:

world with three levels of reality that went on to become a five book series.

Emma:

But it was only like 10 short stories in to that where I'd been writing every week

Emma:

and like plucking out a different kind of silly fun kind of urban fantasy-esque

Emma:

thing to play with each week.

Emma:

I suddenly realized, oh, I'm actually developing a world for novels here.

Emma:

And I stumbled across the main character in the writing of those short stories.

Emma:

So sometimes it doesn't even follow the pattern I've just

Emma:

explained with After Atlas.

Emma:

So I'd love to say that it's a very tidy replicating process

Emma:

for each project, but it isn't.

Tom:

Yeah.

Tom:

And do you feel in yourself that it is evolved over time or is it just as the

Tom:

idea hits you, your working methods develop as you're developing that idea?

Emma:

I think that what's refined over time is the way that I handle an idea

Emma:

once I choose to develop it into a novel.

Emma:

So the, the process from getting from the initial idea or question

Emma:

or combination thereof to actually sitting down and starting to write the

Emma:

novel and how I turn that initial idea or ideas into a sustained narrative

Emma:

that has been refined over the years.

Emma:

Definitely.

Emma:

In terms of choosing which idea to develop.

Emma:

I'm just thinking now that there've probably been, I think, a total of

Emma:

two ideas that I started to develop into a novel and then abandoned

Emma:

and that's oh, I don't know, 15 odd years now of writing seriously.

Emma:

I'm very fussy about what I develop and just because of the way that my career has

Emma:

also shaped up as well, the the necessity to write to contract and the outlines

Emma:

of what I'm expected to produce for that particular contract also has an influence.

Emma:

And by that, I mean, when Planetfall was sold, they didn't just want Planetfall.

Emma:

They wanted two novels for the contract and Planetfall was a standalone.

Emma:

And I was like, oh okay.

Emma:

And they wanted it in the same universe.

Emma:

And that was a bit of a shocker.

Emma:

So I had to come up with an idea and all of that stuff that had been

Emma:

churning around in my brain then became After Atlas and then Planetfall

Emma:

was so successful they wanted two more books in the Planetfall universe

Emma:

after those two had been delivered.

Emma:

And then I was constrained by having to write within that particular universe.

Emma:

And so the ideas that were kind of coming up at the time and things that

Emma:

I'd been mulling over were emergent from writing within that universe.

Emma:

So it, it skews the process.

Emma:

Whereas more recently.

Emma:

Um, I'm actually about 10,000 words into a book.

Emma:

For the first time in my life, I'm writing two books, absolutely side by side.

Emma:

I had one year where I wrote two novels and a novella in one year,

Emma:

but I did them sequentially.

Emma:

But at the moment, I'm in a strange position where I'm writing a book that

Emma:

I've been commissioned to write, but another one turned up and absolutely

Emma:

would not let go and I have to write it.

Emma:

I'm compelled to write it.

Emma:

And I feel that quite rarely.

Emma:

So I'm paying attention to it.

Emma:

And I've got the commissioned project to just shy of 25 K I'm at the end

Emma:

of act one in that, that project.

Emma:

And I've put that aside to write the, the first kind of 20 to 30 K of this book.

Emma:

So I can send it to my agent and say, what do you think, has this got legs?

Emma:

And then I'll go back to my commission.

Emma:

So I've never written like this before.

Emma:

So I've had 10 books published and short story collections, and I've been

Emma:

in anthologies, and this is the first time in my career where I've done this.

Emma:

So it changes, it evolves.

Tom:

And I mean, with those two are they very different?

Tom:

Are they different genres?

Tom:

Are they written in that, cause I know you've written

Tom:

both third and first person.

Tom:

And so yeah, so are they very different?

Emma:

Yes they are, they are completely different in terms of genre.

Emma:

Very, very different, which helps.

Emma:

And also the commission novel is within a shared universe.

Emma:

I've been given kind of some guidelines on the kind of

Emma:

thing that the publisher wants.

Emma:

I've come up with the storyline and the characters.

Emma:

Um, but it, it isn't writing my own world, not writing my own novel.

Emma:

It's the first time I've done it.

Emma:

It's the first time I've been involved in a shared universe project for a novel.

Emma:

So that feels very different because of that as well.

Emma:

But they're both Third Person POV, but the commissioned novel is a tight single POV.

Emma:

And the other one I'm writing is multiple POVs, but only

Emma:

two characters at the moment.

Emma:

So yes, they are different and I think it would be very difficult to

Emma:

write two, first person POV deep, psychological exploration novels like

Emma:

I did with the Planetfall series.

Emma:

It would be very hard to write to like that, especially in the same genre.

Emma:

I think I'd probably go crackers.

Emma:

Um, that year where I wrote two novels and a novella, one of them

Emma:

was in the Planetfall series.

Emma:

One of them was in the Split World series and the novella was Third Person POV.

Tom:

Uh huh.

Emma:

So the Planetfall series was first person.

Emma:

The Split World series was multiple Third Person POVs but very tight

Emma:

POVs to each of those characters.

Emma:

And yeah, I didn't write them concurrently, but they're almost

Emma:

like going to different houses or different, completely different places.

Emma:

That's the only way that I can describe it.

Emma:

It's like they have completely different spaces within my mind.

Emma:

And when I've gone to the space, that one world inhabits, intrinsic to that space

Emma:

is the style that I'm writing it in.

Emma:

If that makes sense.

Tom:

Through doing these interviews, one of the things that's helped formulate

Tom:

in my mind, a lot of writers talk about having several ideas percolating at

Tom:

the same time, but there's a main focus with a few brewing in the background.

Tom:

And one of the best metaphors I heard was a cooking stove and you've got

Tom:

multiple hobs on and some things are simmering in the background,

Tom:

but you're cooking the main dish.

Tom:

And it just sounds like you're using both front hobs and you're alternating.

Tom:

Um.

Emma:

That's a really nice analogy.

Tom:

Okay, good.

Tom:

That works.

Tom:

As long as you agree.

Emma:

It does work.

Emma:

And there's a third book that I've written two chapters of, which

Emma:

was going to be my next book.

Emma:

And then the commission came up and it was like, oh, okay.

Emma:

I've started it off on the, the hob, if we want to take this analogy, I'm

Emma:

going to put it into a casserole dish.

Emma:

And that's just going to sit on a really low heat in the oven.

Emma:

And, I know that there's a bit of my brain that is constantly

Emma:

tinkering away with that book.

Emma:

And I will go to that after I've finished these two that I'm writing.

Emma:

Um, but I also know that that book is harder to write than the two

Emma:

that I'm writing at the moment.

Emma:

And so there's a bit of me that almost feels like I need to clear these two

Emma:

projects to have the mental space, but also hopefully a bit of a financial

Emma:

boost to be able to survive long enough to work on this third book when I'll

Emma:

get out the oven and, you know, really start working on it on the stove.

Tom:

That'd be a long project.

Emma:

It's not so much that it's going to be a long project.

Emma:

It's gonna, it's more than it's going to be more consuming in terms of

Emma:

my mental energy and how many other projects I'll be able to do alongside it.

Emma:

And also the amount of research and thinking I, it's, I'm not going to

Emma:

talk about it in any detail, cause I never talk about my projects in

Emma:

detail, but it's the question that I am asking myself in that book is huge.

Emma:

And I don't know even how to go about answering it yet, which

Emma:

is exciting and also terrifying.

Emma:

So I know that I'm going to have to give so much more to that.

Emma:

So I'm going to need to scale back other things that I do, and

Emma:

I have multiple income streams.

Emma:

And so there is a, there are financial ramifications for taking on a project

Emma:

that takes up that much bandwidth.

Emma:

So that is often, you know, always at the back of your mind

Emma:

when you're writing as well.

Emma:

And your kind of, at the stage I am in my career where I've

Emma:

had several books published.

Emma:

There's a, I don't want to say conveyor belt.

Emma:

But there is a definite, okay, I need to sell a book because I

Emma:

need to be able to afford to live.

Emma:

And I work very hard to try to devote my life to creative pursuits because

Emma:

I spent a lot of my adult life doing awful jobs to pay the bills.

Emma:

And I really don't want to go back to doing that.

Emma:

So I would much rather earn a wage through writing novels and selling novels

Emma:

and recording audio books and writing short stories and things like that.

Emma:

But it, it is difficult to manage when you live in late stage

Emma:

capitalist dystopian hellscape.

Tom:

We do, indeed.

Tom:

Um, I want to go on to, you said earlier that you're very character

Tom:

driven in your stories, and you've got two books on the go at the moment,

Tom:

one with sort of two main character focus and one with another, how do you

Tom:

go about developing those characters?

Tom:

Because one, obviously in a shared universe, did they tell

Tom:

you about the character or was it completely your own invention?

Emma:

No.

Emma:

So I was given free reign on the characters, the exact setting, even

Emma:

the time period within a certain frame.

Emma:

So I have a lot of freedom with that project.

Emma:

So with that character what I wanted to do was to tell a particular kind of story.

Emma:

It's really hard for me to explain it without giving away details of

Emma:

the project and we're not, it's not gone public yet, so I'm not

Emma:

allowed to talk about it really.

Emma:

But suffice it to say that I decided that the project

Emma:

demanded a certain type of story.

Emma:

And so that type of story gave rise to a large number of things that I could

Emma:

do, but it also did narrow, narrow down exactly the kind of story that

Emma:

I wanted to tell within that range.

Emma:

And then once I knew that kind of story, I thought, okay, this is the starting point.

Emma:

This is this girl's life at the beginning of the novel.

Emma:

Um, and this is the emotional arc.

Emma:

This is the development that I want her to go through.

Emma:

This is her inciting incident.

Emma:

This is the motivation she has at the beginning of the novel, and this

Emma:

is how it's going to change her.

Emma:

And I have an idea of that in very broad strokes, very early in the project.

Emma:

So that was how that character came about.

Emma:

And also, I played in a role playing game a few years ago, where there were a

Emma:

couple of similarities between a character that I played and this book character.

Emma:

They're very different in lots of ways, but there are a couple

Emma:

of elements that were the same, and it was so enjoyable to play.

Emma:

And I thought, actually, that resonates really well with this

Emma:

kind of story that I need to tell.

Emma:

So there's a tiny bit of that character that's gone into her as well.

Emma:

With the other book that I'm writing at the moment.

Emma:

That was a very strange experience, actually, a very strange experience and

Emma:

not typical for me that I was thinking about the, the main topic of the book

Emma:

and was thinking about the way that it would affect families involved in that.

Emma:

And then suddenly it all unfolded in my head very, very suddenly

Emma:

the, the core of the book.

Emma:

The circumstances of the family.

Emma:

The three siblings.

Emma:

What they'd been through.

Emma:

How it impacted them in terms of their own psychological development,

Emma:

but also their interpersonal relationships with each other.

Emma:

And then the plot arrived like the full rest of the book plot

Emma:

arrived about half an hour later.

Emma:

And that is incredibly unusual.

Emma:

And very strange.

Emma:

And I thought, oh, okay if that's going to be a one to stick around, it'll still

Emma:

be there tomorrow and it didn't let me go.

Emma:

So yeah that's very, that's a very unusual case, but with all of the characters in

Emma:

my books, I think being a very keen role player plays a very large part in it.

Tom:

Yeah.

Tom:

I was going to ask about that because you've been quite involved

Tom:

in live action role-play as well as just generally playing games.

Tom:

And do you feel that's really helped you develop character or have a

Tom:

shorthand way to develop character?

Emma:

Yes and no.

Emma:

I think one of the things that role-play has given me, cause I, I played tabletop

Emma:

and LARP for like for over 20 years now.

Emma:

And when, the period of my life when I had temporarily forgotten that I was a writer

Emma:

and was trying to just run away from it.

Emma:

That's a very silly story.

Emma:

Anyway, I didn't write for 10 years and my university years were part of that 10

Emma:

year period, and I did a lot of GMing.

Emma:

So the storytelling was still there, it was just in a different medium.

Emma:

And the storytelling through character in all of the games I played as

Emma:

well was something I really enjoyed.

Emma:

And one of the things that I think is directly transferable from role-playing

Emma:

is, or at least the kind of role-playing that I really enjoy and really love

Emma:

is to really inhabit the mental space of the character that I'm portraying.

Emma:

To really look at their life and think, how would that make you into

Emma:

the person that you want to play?

Emma:

How has that character's experiences their internal world?

Emma:

How does it affect the way that they relate to other people?

Emma:

All of those are really fundamental questions that you have to ask

Emma:

if you want to write character focused fiction as well.

Emma:

Because it's not enough to just know what they did and where they

Emma:

went to school and what job they've got, or even how they approach their

Emma:

work or their problems or whatever.

Emma:

For me, I want to really understand and to think very deeply about how they

Emma:

are shaped by their life experiences prior to the beginning of the book

Emma:

and how that then informs the way that they react to the events of the book.

Emma:

And then finding a way to convey both of those to the reader that's

Emma:

enjoyable and not too expositional.

Emma:

That they are understandable.

Emma:

You know, I want every major character in my books, even the

Emma:

people who are really awful.

Emma:

I want them all to be understandable and to a certain extent, sympathetic,

Emma:

even when they are doing awful things.

Emma:

And that's when I feel I've done my job correctly is thinking enough about

Emma:

that character's life to be able to infuse everything they do within the

Emma:

book with genuine plausibility and internal consistency is, you know.

Emma:

For me, in terms of world-building, I'm very into world-building and internal

Emma:

consistency and world-building is one of the things that I work very

Emma:

hard at, but there is also internal consistency in the psychology of each

Emma:

character that has to be respected.

Tom:

And with that, do you write down any sort of character, like personality

Tom:

types um, or is it all kept in your head?

Emma:

They're all in my head, which is it's, it gets annoying when you're

Emma:

writing a five book series with four POV characters and you're like, ah.

Emma:

The thing was that wasn't difficult in that series, this

Emma:

is the Split World series.

Emma:

What was actually more difficult to keep track of is when people

Emma:

found out certain key pieces of information for plot purposes.

Emma:

And that was when I had to start keeping notes and to start actually really writing

Emma:

things on index cards and planning it out.

Emma:

But in terms of having a grip on the character, no, they are so realistic

Emma:

in my head that it's like going and putting a different pair of boots on.

Emma:

As soon as I've got those boots on, I know exactly who they are

Emma:

and what their life is like.

Emma:

And you know, sometimes it's a combination of putting various key

Emma:

events into place in their backstory and then excavating as I go along.

Emma:

Um, sometimes it's clearer than that before I start.

Emma:

And there are certain things, like as soon as you have a central premise

Emma:

for a character, you know that you're going to have to build in certain kinds

Emma:

of experiences to make that character plausible, which was very much the case

Emma:

with the protagonist of Planetfall.

Emma:

And again, I'm not going to talk about details there

Emma:

because it'll spoil the book,

Tom:

No, absolutely.

Tom:

Fortunately, I had a personal connection to someone in my life who was very

Tom:

similar to the central protagonist of Planetfall and it resonated so true to me.

Tom:

It was so authentic.

Tom:

And to know that you just kept it in your head, how do you

Tom:

research that personality?

Tom:

We don't need to discuss which personality type, but that's a very notable

Tom:

personality type which can be identified.

Tom:

So was there a, how did you research that?

Tom:

Was it simply that you knew someone who had that personality?

Emma:

Funny enough, I remember that conversation we had at the event in

Emma:

Bristol and that, that was something that has stayed with me ever since,

Emma:

so thank you for telling me that, because it meant a huge amount to me.

Emma:

Because there's always a, there's always a fear that I have that if I write

Emma:

things that I won't do them justice, that I won't do them well enough.

Emma:

And I see that every story has a a tax that you pay to it.

Emma:

And the tax that you pay, when you write stories about people who have mental

Emma:

illness, who have trauma, who have very difficult circumstances in their lives,

Emma:

that tax has to be much higher because it will have a direct impact on people.

Emma:

So with that particular character, I drew upon some of the things I came across

Emma:

in my degree which is admittedly because of the nature of my degree, wasn't as

Emma:

helpful as I wished it would have been.

Emma:

I studied experimental psychology and the emphasis of that degree

Emma:

course was you can only study things which can be empirically proven.

Emma:

It was just because that particular university had a bee in its bonnet about

Emma:

making psychology a respectable science.

Emma:

But luckily I got to run away and do a summer school course in abnormal

Emma:

psychology as it was called at the time.

Emma:

And I learnt about a particular suite of obsessive compulsive disorders within

Emma:

that course that really interested me.

Emma:

I have no direct experience of that, that life that my

Emma:

protagonist in that book leads.

Emma:

I don't know anyone personally who suffers from it, but I read

Emma:

a huge number of case studies.

Emma:

I've watched television programs, which are in my mind, I think quite awful

Emma:

exploitations of people suffering.

Emma:

But what I took away from those programs, wasn't the kind of the false forced

Emma:

narrative of those particular types of shows, but snapshots into the worlds

Emma:

of these people And from that went and found out more information, reading um,

Emma:

people talking about it online, but also really examining some of my own traits and

Emma:

seeing where they intersect with that and thinking, I think I have the same roots

Emma:

of illness that these people have, and theirs has gone in a different direction

Emma:

and it's expressed itself in a different way, but I can genuinely understand

Emma:

and empathize with what underpins that.

Emma:

And certainly with all of the characters that I've written,

Emma:

especially in the Planetfall novels.

Emma:

Each of them will, they all struggle with different forms of mental

Emma:

illness or the impact of deep trauma.

Emma:

And each of them, there is a part of me that is common to all of them.

Emma:

Especially with Before Mars, where the protagonist has postnatal depression.

Emma:

I suffered from postnatal depression.

Emma:

That was a more direct connection.

Emma:

I could draw more, much more on my own personal experiences a bit.

Emma:

But with the Planetfall novel, it was, yeah, there was a lot of research,

Emma:

a lot of careful selection of what I took from some more unreliable sources.

Emma:

And just a lot of intro introspection and relating to the, what I was

Emma:

talking about with underpinning it.

Emma:

In multiple forms of mental illness it's like they, they often come from a very

Emma:

similar place and that is often loss.

Emma:

Extreme loss over a quick successive period.

Emma:

One person can develop one illness from that.

Emma:

Another person can develop another type.

Emma:

So it was like going back to the core root and then feeling that.

Tom:

Yeah.

Emma:

That I then put into that character.

Tom:

Does that inform your writing now on the current

Tom:

projects that you're working on?

Tom:

There's still that you're looking at the root um, elements of the character, like

Tom:

you said, in the shared universe that, you know, you know the inciting incident.

Tom:

Are you drawing on your own empathy skills or are you with that much like

Tom:

in Planetfall, having to look at a case study forums to get the emotional

Tom:

truth of that sort of personality of someone going through those events.

Tom:

Is it something you can draw on yourself or are you still doing external research?

Emma:

With this one, this is more drawing it, drawing on it from my own

Emma:

experience, but the commission novel is not as deep as the Planetfall novels.

Emma:

It's an adventure story.

Emma:

So there is still going to be psychological authenticity there,

Emma:

but it's not going to be as deep and exploration as the Planetfall novels were.

Emma:

And the other books that I'm writing.

Emma:

Yeah there's a lot.

Emma:

So I've been recovering from a breakdown and I've been in therapy

Emma:

now for about 18 months and I've been doing a lot of work in therapy about

Emma:

generational trauma and how it can affect relationships within families.

Emma:

And I think that's one of the reasons why I'm having to write this book at the

Emma:

moment, because I'm processing lots of stuff that I've learned through that.

Emma:

You know, people sort of say, you know, write what you know, and the

Emma:

writing community has, resoundingly rebuffed that in recent years

Emma:

and said, "oh, for goodness sake, can you please stop saying that?"

Emma:

But I think that, what I would like to think, is that when people say write

Emma:

what you know, what they may well have been getting at is actually find the

Emma:

common point of emotional experience.

Emma:

Find the bit in your life that has the same emotional resonance as what

Emma:

your characters are going through because they are often very common.

Emma:

And so the situation that the protagonist, the family, is in this book, I haven't

Emma:

experienced anything like it, but I have experienced generational trauma.

Emma:

I have and am experiencing difficulties and family relationships caused

Emma:

by people being shaped by trauma.

Emma:

And that can be directly drawn upon and create what I hope to be very realistic

Emma:

characters because it's being based on something that is real, even though the

Emma:

particular circumstances are different.

Tom:

So we've gone about your characters if we can go into your world building

Tom:

and actually how you go about that.

Tom:

So it's with your research of uh, science, uh, full books, because there's

Tom:

a fascination with the engineering and tech and how that evolved.

Tom:

And I'm really interested in how you approach that.

Tom:

I don't feel it was just a simple, let's Google what's coming up.

Emma:

Er, no.

Emma:

I have always been really nerdy, I'm just a big old nerd and I have always been

Emma:

interested in science and I think I would have been a scientist if I could do maths.

Emma:

That was one of the great tragedies of my teenage years was looking

Emma:

at my options for GCSE and being very excited about physics.

Emma:

And my science teacher pulling me to one side and saying, "Em, you can't do maths.

Emma:

You can't do physics."

Emma:

It's like, but I love all of this stuff.

Emma:

I love the theory.

Emma:

And I was really good at the stuff that didn't need maths, but he was saying, you

Emma:

know, the higher you go up in learning about the kind of science you like,

Emma:

the more, it just turns into maths.

Emma:

I'm really sorry.

Emma:

And that would just make me so sad.

Emma:

He was entirely right.

Emma:

I skidded through the statistics aspect of my degree on my backside.

Emma:

And honestly, I'm terrible when it comes to numbers.

Emma:

So I've always loved science, but I've always been forced

Emma:

to enjoy it more as a layman.

Emma:

But it's never going away.

Emma:

And so I read, you know, scientific journals and I keep abreast of the

Emma:

news and I just absorb a lot about developments in various areas.

Emma:

And so for all of the science in the Planetfall novels, that was

Emma:

all know the world-building aspect of it was as much as possible, the

Emma:

logical extrapolation of what we have now, eight years in the future.

Emma:

I don't necessarily believe all of the things that I have extrapolated.

Emma:

I don't, for example, believe that in 80 years we will have

Emma:

the neural chip technology that I have in those books, but that was

Emma:

something that I wanted to play with.

Emma:

And so that was what I considered to be my one big lie.

Emma:

So there was that, but even with all of that stuff, I try to keep

Emma:

it very grounded in how it could work if certain advances were made.

Emma:

And, some of the components of what the neural chips can do in those

Emma:

books are already being done, have been being done for a long time.

Emma:

And, the deep implant technology that's been being used to treat severe

Emma:

depression and certain other mental illnesses, which has been going on for

Emma:

a couple of decades, at least I think.

Emma:

Through to the research that's being done, helping people with

Emma:

locked in syndrome communicating via neural chips that have much more

Emma:

simplistic than the ones in the books.

Emma:

So I try to route every time something came up where I

Emma:

thought, okay, this would be cool.

Emma:

It was all rooted in real science and certainly for the colony in Planetfall.

Emma:

That was all very much based on a particular scientists' current work Dr.

Emma:

Rachel Armstrong.

Emma:

She did a talk at the Clark awards in 2012, 2013.

Emma:

I don't remember because hello, I'm terrible with numbers, but she did

Emma:

this amazing talk about her work and that went in so deep into my brain.

Emma:

My brain was just fizzing with excitement at the stuff she was talking

Emma:

about with synthetic biology and just incredible things that she was doing.

Emma:

And the technology used in the colony.

Emma:

A lot of that was inspired by her work, but extrapolated forwards.

Emma:

And as for the 3D printing aspect, 3D printing is just cool.

Emma:

Everyone knows this.

Emma:

It is known.

Emma:

And I got very excited about 3D printing.

Emma:

I still remember the exact moment when I was reading about

Emma:

the first home 3D printers.

Emma:

And I started reading the article and then I had to stop.

Emma:

And I was thinking, I can't visualize this.

Emma:

What is this?

Emma:

Cause I was looking at my laser jet printer going, how is this?

Emma:

And then I went and looked into it and was like, Aw, this is so cool.

Emma:

Then I enthused about it to my uncle who is an engineer.

Emma:

And in fact he was one of the people that I really drew upon to

Emma:

write Ren's engineering mindset.

Emma:

I'd think about how my uncle approaches problems.

Emma:

And I had various discussions with him and how he diagnoses issues and how he

Emma:

works out a solution to a particular problem and incorporated that into

Emma:

the way that Ren solves problems and investigates things in the book.

Emma:

And I remember going round to his house and saying, "Oh, I've been looking

Emma:

into 3D printing and it's so amazing.

Emma:

And did you know anything to do this thing?"

Emma:

And he turned around and he said, "We've had 3D printers at work for 10 years, Em."

Emma:

And I was like, "why did you not tell me?"

Emma:

Because he works for, he's retired now, but he worked for a company that

Emma:

builds helicopters and they were 3D printing components for the last decade.

Emma:

When I talked to him about that, it's about eight years ago that I was

Emma:

having this conversation with him.

Emma:

And I was so extraordinarily excited and really, it really brought home to me that

Emma:

our own perception of the way that things are advancing really is very dependent

Emma:

on what we intersect with in the world.

Emma:

And in his world, it was old tech.

Emma:

Whereas for me, just because I'd stumbled across some kind of domestic

Emma:

consumer, oh, 3D printers are now becoming affordable for hobbyists.

Emma:

That was my first experience of it.

Emma:

Um, so yeah, for the world building the science there, the talk by

Emma:

Rachel Armstrong, you know, there was a big part of that technology.

Emma:

Once I decided about the neural chip technology, that also informs other

Emma:

decisions that you make about the world.

Emma:

And I mentioned before about the internal consistency that's

Emma:

important within world-building.

Emma:

That I spend a lot of thinking time considering how having one particular

Emma:

type of technological advance would have an impact on the way that people live.

Emma:

Because for me, that's where science fiction gets really sexy, as the

Emma:

kind of the intersection between human experience and technology.

Emma:

And so, you know, does it facilitate understanding between people,

Emma:

does it hinder it, does it do good things for the way a particular

Emma:

problem is solved in the world?

Emma:

Or is that a bad way that things are solved?

Emma:

And certainly with the colony in Planetfall, I wanted to have a

Emma:

colony that was completely non colonialist in its attitudes.

Emma:

I hate the legacy of my ancestors.

Emma:

I hate the impact that colonialism has had upon the world.

Emma:

And I wanted to have a society that was established, completely

Emma:

rejecting the ideals of colonialists.

Emma:

That they don't go to this other place to find all of the resources they

Emma:

can and exploit them for profit, but they go somewhere and they tread as

Emma:

lightly as they can upon that place.

Emma:

And they go there for a spiritual reason.

Emma:

And they're not harmful in the way that they live and build

Emma:

and take from the environment.

Emma:

And I wanted to explore that too.

Tom:

Yeah.

Tom:

Also, it's going on the other genres that you've written in, Urban Fantasy

Tom:

with the Split Worlds, novel or novels?

Tom:

Yeah, there's a very different approach to how you world-build

Tom:

there and obviously there, it's very based in Regency historical elements.

Tom:

How did you world build there?

Tom:

W was there a bit of historical research.

Tom:

Or was it just reference on fiction?

Emma:

There's a, there's just mountains of historical research that was done

Emma:

for those novels and about 5% of it actually made it to the books.

Emma:

There's the entire kind of background history and law of why the Nether,

Emma:

which is that plane of reality between Exilium, which is where the Fae reside,

Emma:

and the normal mundane world that is our normal present day everyday world.

Emma:

Yeah.

Emma:

The amount of research that went into that and why it was like that and all

Emma:

of the historical events that happened within the world to create that

Emma:

has never reached the light of day.

Emma:

It's all in my head.

Emma:

And yeah, the process of coming up with the Split Worlds in

Emma:

some ways it was different.

Emma:

And in other ways it was completely the same.

Emma:

Because it was looking at a key decision I had made, i.e.

Emma:

The Fae are real.

Emma:

They are not Disney fairies.

Emma:

They are scary, more like the Sidhe, drawing upon that folklore.

Emma:

And once I decided that they existed, and once I had the idea about the

Emma:

sorcerers that were the opposing power faction, then those key decisions

Emma:

led to really fundamental questions like how does the magic work?

Emma:

And this is, I guess this is where my GM experience comes from, where that

Emma:

was useful because in my mind it was very important to have a very good

Emma:

grasp of exactly how the magic worked in this world that I was creating.

Emma:

Because just like when you're a GM, you have to have a grasp, I think,

Emma:

of what is happening within the world and how, if you have a magic

Emma:

system in your world, how that works.

Emma:

To be able to cope with players who look at your plot and then walk in the

Emma:

opposite direction and decide to do something completely different instead.

Emma:

Or, when they find the big red button, they will always press

Emma:

it, all of these things, and you have to know what happens next.

Emma:

And if you have a really solid understanding of how everything works on a

Emma:

very fundamental level, you can cope with whatever the story or the players demand.

Emma:

And it's exactly the same.

Emma:

I knew right from the start, when I started developing the first novel

Emma:

that it was going to be a big story.

Emma:

Yeah.

Emma:

And so I needed to be certain of how the fundamental things worked so that

Emma:

I didn't paint myself into a corner or do something really stupid later on.

Emma:

So that I would build in that internal consistency immediately.

Emma:

So for the sorcerer's magic, I based it on PHP and my SQL coding language,

Emma:

which I could write at the time.

Emma:

And I had some coding experience and I approached their magic

Emma:

through that framework.

Emma:

And the Fae magic was completely different than was based on emotion and the soul.

Emma:

And how they could completely balance each other out was very important

Emma:

because otherwise they wouldn't be plausible, rival factions, fighting

Emma:

over basically the nature of reality.

Emma:

But there are, there are tons of other bits of research and in terms of the

Emma:

historical aspects for the Nether, that was all very much determined by

Emma:

when Nether cities were established and what the dominant historical

Emma:

period was at the time, because the whole shtick about the Nether is that

Emma:

nothing changes there, it's stagnant.

Emma:

And there aren't the same events in wider society that forced

Emma:

change, nothing changes there.

Emma:

And so I wanted to explore that.

Emma:

And you have people who came from slightly different historical periods

Emma:

and had slightly different ideas.

Emma:

And you know how the, one of the protagonists, her father was actually

Emma:

very involved in World War One, and what he experienced in World

Emma:

War One had a huge impact on the way that he treated his family.

Emma:

Whereas her uncle was from the Regency period and had a

Emma:

completely different outlook.

Emma:

So all of those things are important for world-building, but again, it comes

Emma:

back to that having character as centre, and what does that person experience?

Emma:

And once I realized that the people who were the Fae-touched, who are the families

Emma:

that live in the Nether, that they are actually just normal human beings.

Emma:

They just have Fae patrons and puppet masters effectively.

Emma:

The next question was, okay if the nether is this place that exists

Emma:

between planes of reality and never changes, how the hell do they grow up?

Emma:

Oh, they grow up.

Emma:

They grow up in the real world.

Emma:

Obviously they grow up in Mundanus and then they go through to

Emma:

live permanently in the Nether.

Emma:

And then it became like an allegory for how awful it is when you're a child.

Emma:

And you have to then suddenly go to the world of work.

Emma:

And loads and loads of different things could play into that.

Emma:

Yeah, there's a lot going on in those books.

Tom:

And how, it must be, as you were saying, it's very different for

Tom:

you writing in a shared universe.

Tom:

So a lot of the rules of the world already established.

Tom:

So how's that been?

Tom:

And and, are you still able to create a world rules within the shared universe?

Emma:

Yeah that's a different.

Emma:

It's a new shared universe.

Emma:

And I think I'm very lucky in that I'm writing the first book in

Emma:

terms of chronological w like when it is happening in the timeline.

Emma:

So I've got quite a lot of freedom, but also the publisher has deliberately

Emma:

given us lots of freedom as well, and have said, "these are the key things,

Emma:

go have fun," which is fantastic.

Emma:

So it's almost a pro, it's a kind of a collaborative process,

Emma:

it feels like, between me and the publisher at the moment.

Emma:

Because I'm writing things and saying, "is this okay?

Emma:

Is this okay?"

Emma:

And they're like, " yeah.

Emma:

It's all good.

Emma:

It's all good."

Emma:

So it's a very different experience to writing for the Wildcards universe, which

Emma:

is my other shared universe experience, but that's only with short stories.

Emma:

But that has been very different because that's a universe that's

Emma:

existed for over 30 years now.

Emma:

And has a huge cast of established characters, a large number of writers.

Emma:

And that has been a very different experience because that is far

Emma:

more constraining of what you can do and what you can write about.

Emma:

Because you really are coming into a world that is very

Emma:

fleshed out and has historical events that are there in cannon.

Emma:

And yeah that's much harder, I think, to, to deal with as a writer because you

Emma:

can't just run off and do what you want.

Emma:

And I, I'm not a team person really.

Emma:

I'm not,

Tom:

You've got you run it?

Emma:

Well not so much run it, but just do my own thing.

Emma:

It's, it really hit me like in the last year.

Emma:

I've discovered that I'm autistic and it made so many things make sense.

Emma:

But one, one of the first memories that I was processing was taking

Emma:

part in my one and only escape room experience with three other people.

Emma:

And as soon as we went in the other three were going around, looking at

Emma:

things together and chatting about it.

Emma:

And I just went off in literally the completely different direction,

Emma:

just looked at stuff by myself, processed stuff by myself, found

Emma:

details, found weird things, filed them away in my brain and then found

Emma:

clues, presented them to the group.

Emma:

And then when one of them said, oh, but wouldn't there be a such and such, I

Emma:

could say, oh yeah, that's over here.

Emma:

So we kind of worked collaboratively, but I'm not very good at team thing,

Emma:

you know, group activities, because I just do things differently.

Emma:

I process things differently.

Emma:

And, and I think when it comes to writing, I've always been used

Emma:

to having all the control and creating exactly what I want to.

Emma:

I've had several friends who are writers over the year saying years saying, Hey,

Emma:

we should do a collaborative thing.

Emma:

And I've said how does that work?

Emma:

And they describe a process and it just sounds like a living hell to me.

Emma:

And I'll say, "Look, I love you very much and I'm really flattered

Emma:

and I love your work, but no.

Emma:

I don't think I could ever write like that.

Emma:

That just sounds really weird and hard.

Emma:

" You know, people, I've got several

Emma:

collaborations where they, they don't even know necessarily who writes which

Emma:

lines by the end, because they write stuff, they exchange it, they edit

Emma:

it, they write each other's bits.

Emma:

And in my mind, I just shudder and I'm like, I'm so glad that

Emma:

works for you, but no, scary.

Tom:

Yeah.

Tom:

And actually going on to actually writing and plotting out, are you someone who

Tom:

likes to have a clear outline of this happens, this happens, this happens?

Tom:

Or is it just, I want to end up at a certain point and I'm

Tom:

going to start writing and just sort of see how close I get?

Emma:

Neither.

Tom:

No?

Tom:

How do you do it?

Emma:

So there's an approach in the programming world called agile where you

Emma:

have a giant project and the client comes to you say, theoretically, "I want you

Emma:

to build a big website that does this."

Emma:

And you say, "okay there, we'll build this website for you."

Emma:

So in the kind of the old waterfall approach, you listen to what they say

Emma:

they want, you go away and build it.

Emma:

You show it to the client and they say, "oh no, this isn't what we wanted at all,

Emma:

in fact," But you know, you've done it.

Emma:

You've spent all the budget building what they said they

Emma:

wanted, but they often don't know.

Emma:

The agile approach is to say, okay, great.

Emma:

You break it up into phases.

Emma:

You do 10, 20% of the project.

Emma:

You take it back to the client and say, " is this what you wanted?"

Emma:

And then they say, "oh no, this isn't anything like what we wanted."

Emma:

And then they can start to articulate it and you go, "okay."

Emma:

And you refine your approach.

Emma:

You take that on board and then you do the next phase and you check in again.

Emma:

That's as close as I can get to explaining how I write a book.

Emma:

So at the beginning of the book, I will have my question that I want

Emma:

to answer very early in the process.

Emma:

I usually have the idea of what the protagonist is like, what

Emma:

kind of mind, what kind of issues, the psychological makeup of that

Emma:

character and how I want that to develop over the course of the novel.

Emma:

So the overarching kind of emotional and psychological development

Emma:

where they're starting and where I think they will finish up.

Emma:

And also an idea of the plot.

Emma:

It starts here.

Emma:

I think it's going to end at this point.

Emma:

Maybe an idea of two or three major events twists or whatever

Emma:

that happened along the way.

Emma:

And then I plan out the first five chapters or so, and it can literally

Emma:

just be bullet points, or a single word.

Emma:

And then I write those chapters and then I go back to thinking about my original kind

Emma:

of conception of the arc of the novel and look at whether they still apply, whether

Emma:

it's still what my internal client wanted.

Emma:

Whether I've actually ended up writing something completely different, because

Emma:

I didn't know what I was making at the beginning and go, okay, that's going

Emma:

to change or this is no longer working.

Emma:

And then I'll plan the next five chapters and then write them.

Emma:

And then be constantly comparing with what I thought the book was about.

Emma:

I never ever sit down and write out the entire plan for a novel,

Emma:

because I'd never want to write it.

Emma:

If I plan it any more than that, I get bored with it.

Emma:

And even when I have a fairly detailed idea, like the shared world book,

Emma:

I had to write a full synopsis.

Emma:

A detailed synopsis of what would happen.

Emma:

And even then there were bits in it where it was glossed over that I'm

Emma:

excited to get to, cause I want to find out what's going to happen.

Emma:

And when you sell a book to a publisher and you have to send in the synopsis,

Emma:

it can be the side two sides that most there have to be big gaps in

Emma:

there for me to still be interested.

Emma:

And I'll often get to the point where I'm at the 90% mark.

Emma:

I know what has to happen, but I don't know how exactly they're going

Emma:

to do it or exactly how it's going to feel or what the emotional resonance

Emma:

is going to be at that stage of the book, whether it's going to be hopeful

Emma:

or whether it's going to be bleak.

Emma:

I may not know until I get there.

Emma:

And that for me is what propels me to the end of the novel,

Emma:

because I want to find out.

Tom:

That's the end??

Tom:

That's not the end.

Tom:

That's the end of part one.

Tom:

And the second and concluding part will be coming very soon.

Tom:

But for now.

Tom:

Yeah.

Tom:

Th that is the end.

Tom:

Now did I do a frustrating cut in the middle because I've just watched Dune?

Tom:

No.

Tom:

It's because Emma and I spoke for two and a half hours and all of it was excellent.

Tom:

Now I've cut out my waffle, but Emma, as you've clearly heard,

Tom:

is on fine and fascinating form.

Tom:

I couldn't cut her words, nor would I want to do that to you.

Tom:

However, whilst we have this intermission.

Tom:

Please go buy her books.

Tom:

Also subscribe to her newsletter and Patreon, as she does write a lot of

Tom:

short stories for her subscribers.

Tom:

Links to all of her books, social media, Patreon, and newsletter sign up can be

Tom:

found on her website, enewman.co.uk.

Tom:

Now, I've also decided not to sign off with my usual tune, Until The World

Tom:

Ends, because that's not the vibe I want when there's a second part to come.

Tom:

Fortunately, Lollo has also sung a great tune called My Bucket

Tom:

List, which seems far more apt when I've interviewed Emma Newman.

Tom:

So here it is.

Tom:

And I'll sign off with bye for now.

Tom:

And take care of everybody.

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