debut novel

Today I have the pleasure of talking to Rebecca Emin, one of the most supportive fellow writers out there in the blogosphere.  Rebecca has written poetry and short stories, has had flash fiction published by Ether Books.  And now she’s published a novel for older children and teens.  It’s called ‘New Beginnings’ – a story about overcoming bullying and pursuing your ambitions.  It’s inspiring and affirming (and my daughter loved it).  Here she is answering questions on the book, on digital media and how she manages to juggle everything while also being a full-time mum.

Write your biography in 50 words.

Rebecca Emin lives in Oxfordshire, with her husband and three children. Her debut novel, ‘New Beginnings,’ will be published by Grimoire Books on 23 January 2012. She is currently working on her third novel. Rebecca enjoys writing flash fiction and short stories and is an author for Ether Books.

What’s New Beginnings about?  And can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it?

New Beginnings is about Sam, who starts at senior school and becomes a victim of bullying. The book shows how she copes with this, develops important friendships both inside and outside of school, and also gains confidence by taking part in activities that she loves like drama and self defence groups.

New Beginnings was my first novel length piece and I have drawn from my own experiences and interests throughout the book, and then expanded on some of them.

Tell us your favourite stage of the writing process.

I absolutely love getting edits back from a beta reader, editor or publisher. By that point I have moulded the story as much as I can on my own without going cross-eyed. I love seeing what a fresh pair of eyes has picked up and especially love suggestions for how to improve my writing.

Apart from writing, what other work do you do?  And how do you manage to juggle everything?

I am a full time mother of children aged 9, 7 and 4. I also do the admin for my husband’s company.

As for juggling everything, I always feel I have too much to do for the available time. Something has to slip. I’m the first to admit I am not a domestic goddess.

What do you do for relaxation?

I like going to a spa for the ultimate break, but obviously can’t do that very often. My favourite way to relax for an evening would be go to see a show at the theatre or the cinema. I also love reading.

How important is digital media to your role as a writer?

I think digital media will become more important as time goes on. Despite my preference for reading paper books, I have recently ordered a Kindle and have already got an iPod Touch which I read short stories on (via the Ether App, which I have several stories on as well). Publishing is evolving all the time, so it will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years.

Writing wise, what are you working on at the moment?

My second novel is complete and currently seeking a home.  I currently writing a contemporary novel for adults during NaNoWriMo.

I am also working on a short story for Deck The Halls which is an anthology coming out in December from Emergent Publishing. Aside from that I always have several short story and flash fiction pieces on the go at various stages of the writing/editing process.

Finally, name your most precious thing.

That is the easiest question! My children.

 

You can buy ‘New Beginnings’ on Amazon in the UK and in the US but this week Rebecca is giving away a free copy!  Write a comment below, we’ll put names in a hat and draw out the lucky winner later in the week.

Rebecca’s blog – Ramblings of a Rusty Writer – can be found here.  You can also keep up with Rebecca’s news on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

 

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What is it about October?  So many people are publishing novels this month, and it seems like these days interviewing other authors on one’s website is de rigueur.   Personally, I never tire of hearing from other writers about their processes and what makes them tick.  I’m nosy like that.  So here’s an interview with the lovely Laura Wilkinson, a Brighton-based writer whose debut novel BloodMining has just come out with Bridge House Publishers (based in Manchester).

I’m very excited to have got to know Laura. We’re both publishing our debut novels at the same time, which is what prompted the connection.  But when we talked more we realised there were several thematic overlaps: motherhood, different social structures and family arrangements, ethics and beliefs.  Set in the future, the heart of the story in BloodMining is a woman’s quest to find a donor who can save her son with a terminal, degenerative disease.  And in the process, everything she knew to be true about her origins is thrown into question.  BloodMining is a page-turning read, challenging and thought provoking.  I highly recommend it.  Here’s Laura on how she came to write it, her literary influences and what she does in her ‘spare’ time.  Oh, and on not owning an iron.

Write your biography in 50 words.  (I confess that I nicked this idea from Stephen May – but it’s such a brilliant one that I couldn’t resist! – Ed)

I grew up in Wales and now live in a never-to-be-chic area of Brighton. I’ve worked as a journalist, an editor, and a copywriter. In between raising my boys and working I’m completing my second novel. I have published stories in magazines, an anthology, and digital media like Ether Books.

Why should we read BloodMining?

Eeek! That’s hard; I’ve never been any good at selling, least of all my own work. But as I have to… because it’s a good yarn, because there’s nothing else quite like it out there (at least not as far as I know), because it asks the reader to consider some important questions, because it’s about the really significant things in life, because it’s from the heart, because … I’ve run out of things to say. Is that pathetic?

Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it?

Sure. It all started with a news piece on the BBC website. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and then a fictional character appeared, started talking to me, and the dilemma she faced.  I wrote a piece of flash fiction and showed it to my sister Helen, who’s studied for an MA in Creative Writing and like me has worked as a journalist, and we both agreed that it didn’t work as a piece of flash, but as the germ of an idea for something much bigger it was quite a good one.

That’s why I say in the back of the book that it started with Elizabeth. I had a picture in my mind of the character who would eventually become Elizabeth at her mother’s graveside. I started thinking about the child she was holding and who that little person would go on to become, and that’s when I was propelled into the future. A scenario where ethics are open to abuse.

Tell us your favourite stage of the writing process.

I genuinely enjoy all the stages – even that final, nitty-gritty, getting rid of qualifiers, overused words, surplus adverbs and adjectives, checking-fiddly-aspects-of-grammar one. Other than the usual troughs one can expect to hit during the writing of a novel I find first drafts exhilarating and, when things are going well, fantastically exciting. I’ve never been one for big dipper fairground rides in real life, but first drafts are like this, and I love the ride. Second and third drafts are when I start digging to get to the heart of the story, and what I’m trying to say, and ensuring that the characters and narrative are truthful. Shaping it into a cohesive, hopefully engaging, read. On the tricky days I despair and feel that I’ll never write anything worthwhile, that everything is bollocks. I keep going regardless and though I might dump almost everything at a later date there’s usually something, a phrase or single word, worth salvaging. Or maybe that’s me kidding myself!

Apart from writing, what other work do you do?  And how do you manage to juggle everything?

I work part-time in a junior school, with a lovely bunch of people, and I also work as an editor for Cornerstones, one of the leading literary consultancies. I read manuscripts, and offer detailed and constructive feedback. It’s a great feeling when authors write back to me saying that they have found my reports useful and inspiring.  Juggling? My house is filthy, my front and back lawns meadows, and I never, ever, iron. In fact, I don’t own an iron.

What do you do for relaxation?

To be honest, I don’t get too much free time, but when I do I like to watch movies and hang out with family and friends. Eating and drinking is usually involved.

Who are your greatest literary influences?   And your greatest non literary influences?

There are many authors I respect but those I always find inspiring include Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Emma Donoghue and Maggie O’Farrell. Susan Fletcher is another newish, young writer who I’m full of admiration for. Many classic writers too: Jane Austen, George Eliot, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, the Brontës, Hardy.  All the usuals. And the great American novelists, like Melville, Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Lee and Morrison.

Non literary? The world around me, my mother, my sister, my grandparents, my father…

 What are you working on at the moment?

Finishing off my second novel. It’s set in 1980s Manchester and noughties London. I’m writing about the relationship between a beautiful, damaged artist and a deformed boy. One is on a quest to look ‘normal’, the other experiments with cosmetic surgery as a means of artistic expression.

Finally, name your most precious thing.

That’s easy: my boys. My lovely ginger boys. I’ve cheated, I know. They’re not things.

You can buy BloodMining on Amazon here.  And if you want to know more about Laura and her work, do pop over and visit her website.

 

 

 

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