Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Special...Wren Emerson!

As part of my continuing salute to the KIDS NEED TO READ fundraiser anthology, EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED, my author interviews continue with Wren Emerson!

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 on Twitter.
And now, in my hotseat: WREN!

R: Hello, Wren, welcome to my hotseat!
W: Thank you, Rocco.

R: To begin, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your books?  And your short story in EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED.
W. Sure. I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. I love stories. I love world building in particular, but until I wrote my first novel, I Wish, I’d never managed to finish a project. Then in January of 2011 I discovered the world of indie publishing. I realized that for the first time the only limiting factor on whether or not I saw publication would be whether I could finish writing and editing my book. For better or worse, I could put my story out there directly to the readers and let them decide what they thought of it. The idea was just too appealing to pass up so I sat down and wrote I Wish.

I Wish is set in a town called Desire where everyone is a witch. The protagonist, Thistle Nettlebottom, has been raised outside of the town so she doesn’t understand the culture that’s developed over the years in this society where only the women exhibit a Talent and there is a strictly enforced Family hierarchy. My contribution to Every Witch Way But Wicked is a story set in Desire called The Hazards of Desire and explores some of the pitfalls that come about when you mix magic and love.

R: What do you do when you are not writing?
W: I have a lot of interests outside of writing that keep me really busy. I love playing video games, watching movies, reading, taking photos, traveling, and recently joined my local roller derby team, the Soul City Sirens. My real passion is art. I am constantly trying new mediums and techniques. Just this week I’ve bought the supplies to experiment with both casting resin jewelry and screen printing.

R: How long does it take you to finish a book?
W: At this point I’ve completed one full length novel and dozens of short stories. I spend around 6 hours on average writing a short story. With I Wish, it took about 6 weeks to brainstorm, write, and edit. When I’m in writing mode, I am really focused on the project I’m working on and set strict word counts with myself to finish. My greatest strength in writing is my discipline while I’m working on a project. My greatest weakness is how long I procrastinate before starting a new project.

R: Are you a pantser or a plotter?
W: I’m a plotter to the nth degree. I even take the time to come up with a written idea before I’ll attempt to write a short story. With I Wish and the entire universe involving the town of Desire, I spent a solid week doing nothing but world building. I have a system where I will simultaneously build my plot, characters, and world. As I discover a new detail about one of those three things, I am then able to add a counter point to one of the other categories to build up conflict. Everything is so interconnected that you couldn’t take a character and stick it in a new plot or set that plot in a different world. I think it makes a richer story with more layers of conflict and meaning, but it also has the added benefit of totally eliminating writer’s block. When you’ve worked out the entire story in advance, you can’t possibly write yourself into a corner later.

R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing?
W: Until recently my winning combo was music and Onenote. I’ve since switched to a Mac and I’m slowly learning how to use Scrivener for my needs. I’m a reluctant learner and because of that the learning curve has been pretty steep, but I’ve successfully used it to write several short stories now and I’ve been moving over my notes from Onenote with the hopes of writing the sequel to I Wish soon.

R: Do you have any particular rituals you follow when you write?
W: Not particularly, although I do find it weird to write in a different location. It was hard to get back into any kind of writing groove when we moved to Georgia this summer. Nothing really felt right. Finally I just set up an office area on our second story screened porch. It’s really simple; just a cheap plastic folding table and a thrifted waiting room chair, but once I sat down and made myself start writing it quickly became my new writing place.

R: Do you listen to music when you write? If so, who’s on your playlist?
W: I love music while I write. I don’t listen to it consciously, but I feel like it helps me stay focused on my writing, almost like white noise. For I Wish, I listened to 90’s music to help put me in touch with my inner teenager. I have really strong associations with a lot of the songs written during that decade.

Most of the time, however, I will just turn on iTunes which is an eclectic mix of everything I own. I adore pop music, especially from the 80s and 90s, but my favorite bands/singers are Journey, Survivor, White Lion, Warren G, Fuel, T Pain, Madonna, Aerosmith and Chicago. I’ll listen to just about anything as long as it’s not instrumental. I like to sing along (loudly and badly).

R: What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given? What would you say to someone just starting out?
W: There’s a saying about applying butt to chair and fingers to keyboard, that I find to be right on. It’s something I’m continuously struggling with myself. Once I sit down to write, it goes fast and I wonder why I resist it so much, but it never stops me from procrastinating between projects.

My personal advice to any new writer would be to plot, plot, plot. It really does make things so much easier during the writing process. I know it’s not for everyone though, but no matter whether your notes are more complete than some people’s first drafts or if you pull random plot points from a hat as you write, everyone can benefit from keeping a story encyclopedia. I’ve written several short stories set in the world of my novel. Some involve characters from the stories and some are characters I made up for that particular story. I keep character sheets for all of them regardless. Nothing is more annoying to me as a reader than to read contradicting information in a later book in a series, or even worse, later in the same book. If you’ll just take a minute to jot down any new information you introduce in your notes, you can easily reference it later without losing time going back through all your manuscripts to find that one mention. Your fans will thank you.

R: What books are you reading now?
W: I’m slowly working my way through The Kid by Sapphire. I split time between that one and several indie published books. I tend to buy them as a way of showing support to fellow indies, but I have so many now that I’ll probably never read them all. I also have a pile of nonfiction, art related books and magazines on my TBR list.

R: Now, the part I like to call: Just for fun:
Wren’s Favorite:
TV show
W: Hmm… I can’t answer this one with just one show. I love Family Guy, House, Glee, Jersey Shore (I know >,<), Sister Wives, How I Met Your Mother, South Park, American Dad, Cheaters (another guilty pleasure), and Cleveland Show.
W: It by Stephen King has been a long standing favorite. His characters always feel so real to me. Even the most minor characters are fully developed and have believable motivations for doing the things they do. I admire his writing so much for being able to pull that off.
W: Seth Green is my celebrity crush. I think he’s adorable and hilarious and I’ll watch pretty much anything he’s in.
W: Janeane Garofalo was pretty amazing in the 90s, but she’s sort of disappeared since then.
W: Stephen King is great. I think Dave Berry is pretty much the funniest man alive. Dean Koontz is a great read if you get one where he does a first person narrator. He’s got a wonderful conversational tone. I’m not as impressed with some of his other stuff.
As far as authors who have had a strong influence on my writing, you should check out some of the big YA horror/paranormal writers of the 90s like Christopher Pike, RL Stine, Lois Duncan, and LJ Smith.
W: I don’t have a specific favorite character, but I love a “bad boy with a heart of gold” trope. I love when two characters seem really unlikely together because one is a goody goody girl and the guy is some sort of rebel, but somehow they end up hooking up and he turns out to be very protective of his girl and finds redemption through love. I can’t get enough of it.
W: Coconut Italian Sodas. Yum!
Spies or Spook?
W: Spies
Vampire or Warlock?
W: Warlock
Cats or Dogs? (Loaded question,heh heh)
W: Cats are a lot easier, but I love them both. (R: Big Smile – of course we are!)
Beach or Moutain
Iced Coffee or Iced Tea?
W: Bleh, neither.

R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
W: These questions are always so hard for me since I’m pretty open. It’s on my blog bio so it really doesn’t count, but the thing that seems to always get comments when it comes up is the fact that I hate cheesecake. I don’t even like the smell.

R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
W: I’m pretty tame so there’s not a lot of wild and crazy in my life to talk about. I’ve gotten a little less inhibited since I joined the roller derby team. In the 2 months I’ve been with them I’ve danced with an 80+ year old man in a bar, spent an entire day passing out wet sponges to runners wearing a tutu and rain boots, went to a biker themed baby shower, and gone out in public wearing nothing but hot pants and fishnet stockings. Tonight I’ll be selling Jello shots to people who are there to bid on plaster molds of our breasts (to raise money for breast cancer awareness). My life has definitely taken a turn for the interesting lately.

R: What can we expect from you in the future? What are you working on now?
W: I took a longer than expected break from my trilogy to work on short stories under a pen name, but it’s my hope to have the second book in the sequel out in time for Christmas with a good start on the final book. I’m working to find some balance between my writing life and my hobbies and to further split up my working time so that I’m making progress on my YA novels and not just my writing under the pen name.

R: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to our readers?
W: I’d love to take this time to thank everyone for your support of indie writers. I strongly believe that every sale for any indie helps us all in the long run. Every sale is a step towards legitimizing what we are doing. The lines between indie and traditional are blurring more and more every day thanks to readers who are willing to take a chance on an unknown indie. Change is happening one book sale at a time. Thank you so much for making that possible. You guys are the best.

Thank you, Wren!

People:  Go buy EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED NOW, and check out Wren’s books!

Link to Wren:

Up next:  Barbra Annino!


1 comment:

  1. Very interesting interview! Wren, I'd love to read a book with a character who's in a roller derby team.