I cannot contain my excitement already! Imagine me, making the first draft of this post at one o’ clock in the morning (I actually finished this in one draft). That’s how excited I am. This is one of the best things that has happened on my blog. But most importantly, it was a huge step forward for me. Remember that thing I said about something the thirteen-year-old me never would have done? This was it. And I’m just bursting with extreme happiness and a huge sense of achievement in having a blog interview with the author of one of my most favorite adult contemporary romance novels, Love Beyond Words, which I’ve made a book review here.
Emma Scott is the author of the contemporary romance series, City Lights, consisting two published novels, Love Beyond Words and Unbreakable (which I also made a review here). The third of the series, Rush, will be out this June 30. I got in touch with Ms. Emma via Goodreads and email and she was very much awesome to answer a few questions. So here they are!
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
That’s a funny one, actually, because I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid but I never thought of being ‘a writer’ until my late twenties. As in, I didn’t even consider it could be something that I was, as opposed to something that I did. I even got a college degree in a different area of study. Silly, now that I think on it. So I suppose the real answer is when I gave myself permission to accept that title. After a lifetime spent writing, I realized I wanted to a BE a writer a few years ago.
- Can you name some authors who have inspired you?
John Irving, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, David Mitchell, JK Rowling, George RR Martin, Weiss and Hickman who wrote a fantasy series that I carried around with me everywhere I went until I finished the whole thing, (I read it while setting the dinner table, in French class…) Louisa May Alcott, and Stephen King. If I could meet any living writer it would be Stephen King, hands down.
- And which books have a strong influence on you or your writing?
Pretty much anything I read influences my writing in some way. There’s always something to learn, even if it’s small and subtle. I’ll be reading along and I’ll think, “Ohh, I like how she did that…” and it sort of seeps in. Big picture, I’d say Stephen King influences me the most; obviously not genre-wise, but I believe there are few writers in the world who can spin a story like he does, and that’s what I strive to do. To tell a whole story. You can’t get a better model of pure, reading entertainment than King, and so his style, if not his subject matter, very much influences me.
- Where do you get inspirations for your books?
The weirdest places! The first romance I wrote started out as a flash fiction in a contest where they prompted me with a romance genre. I’d never written romance before. I later expanded the 1000-word story into Love Beyond Words. Other ideas come to me from listening to NPR, but Rush was the weirdest. I’m an avid runner and I was taking my afternoon run when an entire conversation popped into my head. It was so clear and distinct, it was like I was eavesdropping. I raced home and wrote it all down before it slipped away, and that conversation would later become the backbone for Rush. It was Noah’s interview of Charlotte, and it just burst into my mind almost fully formed. In fact, I don’t think the final version that appears in the book is much altered from what I heard in my head that day as I ran.
- Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
Interesting or amazingly f*cking horrible? Because my process is godawful. I try to outline, I try to notecard, I try to just wing it, I try to stay up late, I try to get up before dawn, and it all works sometimes, but none of it works all the time. How I ever manage to get a full draft is a mystery. I think it’s because I never stop writing. No matter how bad it gets, I just keep going and eventually a book falls out. “Never give up! Never surrender!” as my Galaxy Quest friends remind me.
- Your works are of contemporary romance and new adult genres. What draws you to these genres?
I am in love with the idea of following a couple as they fall in love. And—bonus—I love writing the sex that goes with these manifestations of emotion. It’s the hardest thing to plot—the falling in love bit— because you have to layer it, and structure it believably, and hopefully tap into some universal feelings while maintaining a bit of fantasy. The conversations and physical reactions have to build, and it’s very difficult to get that right. I don’t know that I ever have. Maybe no one has but for Shakespeare. And then the fun part is writing the sex scenes, because my scenes are always steeped in the emotion first. I think when the characters really care about each other, you can turn the heat up more and it makes the entire experience much more fulfilling.
- Your characters all have great depth and are relatable and I seriously love them (as I know others do too). How do you create such great characters?
Thank you for saying that, and that’s my number one goal, in ANY genre I write or read. If the characters don’t feel real to me, I can’t write them, and it’s the first thing that will get me to close a book I’m reading.
As for how to create them, I just sort of let them talk. Charlotte (in Rush), for instance, started out in my mind as a sharp-edged kind of gal, but when she started to come out on the page, she was softer, kind of dorky, insecure. And I realized how much better suited she was to Noah that way, since Noah was already hard-edged. (The men are so much easier to write, by the way!)
But the answer is I have a basic idea of who they are and then they just start talking. And they are all based on real-life personalities that I’ve known or experienced, and if they’re not based on people I’ve known, then I just try to tap into motivations, and that fills in the blanks. Even someone who seems over-the-top like Deacon—I’ve known people like that—and so they sort of emerge in my books. But then, that’s a writer’s job, to draw from life as realistically as you can, methinks.
- Is there a type of scene in a story that reaches out to you and connects with you more than the others? If so, were they harder or easier to write?
The first kiss is the best thing to write. The first time the characters break the tension between them and move from emotional to physical. I love writing the first kiss and it’s almost always the first contact with nothing more. In both Love Beyond Words and Rush, the kiss is on its own, with no further physical contact because I think it sort of needs to be that way. Just a kiss. In Unbreakable, the characters jumped the gun on the first kiss in the bank, and went straight down to business, but you’ll notice later—in the hospital—they have that ‘first kiss’ anyway, where the fear and panic is gone, and they’re just touching for the ‘first time’. I love that.
- Can you tell us a bit about Rush? What can we expect in it?
Rush is about a young man—Noah—who had been an extreme sports athlete—sky diving, skiing, mountain climbing—and he was severely injured in a cliff-dove gone wrong. He is left blind and angry, holed up in a townhouse in NYC, living out his life in basically one dark room, mourning the loss of his exciting, colorful life. Charlotte is a violin prodigy reeling from the death of her brother, with whom she was very close, and then from being dumped by her skeezy first boyfriend immediately after. She has lost the joy in playing music, and takes a job as Noah’s live-in assistant to pay the bills. Slowly, she tries to break him out of his exile while trying to protect herself from having her heart broken again. The book is out June 30, and as this was the hardest thing I’ve ever written, I’m living in a perpetual, dual state of fear and exhilaration that it’s finally coming out.
- Your series, City Lights, are all set in different cities. How do you choose what city the story will be set in?
The first novel was easy. I’ve lived in or near San Francisco since college and it’s my favorite city on the planet. As to the rest, I choose cities that are iconic in some way, so that some of the landmarks and restaurants are broadly identifiable. I try to capture the spirit of the city as best I can, so another criteria is that I’ve had to have spent a good deal of time in that city. I’ve lived in Los Angeles too (Unbreakable) and visited NYC several time (Rush).
- Is this the last of the series or will there be more? (crosses fingers) And if so, is there a possibility that you would write a story set outside United States. Like, say, Paris or London? 🙂
The next and final two novels are, coincidentally enough, set in Paris and then London. But there’s a catch! I’ve been to Paris, but not London, so I have to somehow arrange a trip before I can write the last book in the series. It’s cheating, otherwise! 🙂
- What are your current projects?
Reading is my current project. When I write, I sort of do nothing else. And I feel the brain of a writer is like a car engine: you write (drive it around) and then it starts to run on empty and reading is the gasoline to fuel it back up. I know when I’m overdue for some reading when my writing starts to get flat. I’ve been working on Rush for three straight hectic months, and now desperately need a reading break. A month, at least.
After that, Book IV in City Lights (Paris) but I’m also kicking around an idea for a paranormal romance—vampires!—which is kind of exciting, so I might have to jump on that. Gotta write what excites you or your readers won’t be excited to read it.
- Any advice to aspiring writers?
READ a lot. I can’t stress that enough. You don’t necessarily need a college degree in English, but you need to have, down deep in your bones, an understanding of how a book is structured. How dialogue is punctuated. How a story is unfurled. The best way to understand that on a muscle-memory level, is to read GOOD books to learn how they do it. It will seep in, believe me.
The second thing is to write. A LOT. I’m not breaking new ground with this advice—every writer will tell you the same thing, but that’s because it’s the truth. There are not many absolute truths a struggling writer can hang on to in this crazy business, but those two are the real deal. You have to read, and you have to write, and if you’re really serious, you’ll understand that the first thing you write is not going to be gemstone-encrusted treasure. It’ll probably suck, and what separates the given-up writer and the aspiring writer is the willingness to get better. Ernest Hemingway once said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” That, right there, is one of the best, most important singular piece of advice I’d ever heard; I want to tattoo it onto the backs of my hands so I can see it as I write.
- And to teenagers regarding their career paths?
Do the one thing that you know you can’t NOT do. I can’t stop writing. Even as this last book wrung me out completely, I’m already feeling the itch to start another. Whatever is you feel like you MUST be doing, be it painting, acting, or working in the accounts payable department of a huge corporation, if that’s what you feel, deep down you need to be doing, then do it. Everything else will fall into place…you just have to work your butt off for it.
- Last thoughts to our readers?
Thank you. That’s really where I’m at right now, as my latest is getting ready for release. I’m not thanking your readers for reading my books, necessarily, but for reading at all. For talking about books, for visiting blogs and supporting readers and leaving reviews, and to bloggers like you who put in the time and effort to give us a platform, simply for the love of books. So that’s my first and last thought to any and all readers of books, thank you.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I did! It really was a wonderful experience to me. I mean, I was nodding at her answer on #8. And #11? I was practically jumping up and down shouting, “Really?I’msoOhmigoshWow!” (and yes there were no spaces there) and woke up my mom. Sorry, mom, but there isn’t any scolding that can burst my happy bubble right now.
Here are the two published books of the series. The images are linked to each of the books’ Amazon page.