On today’s author spotlight: E.M. Wright, author of the upcoming novel Sedition, available on May 18th!
Introduce yourself! Tell us your name and one interesting or unusual fact about you.
Hi, my name is Em, and I used to play 7 instruments. I could probably still do it, just not well. It’s been a long time since I touched a saxophone.
Outside of writing and reading, what do you like to do with your time?
I do a lot of arts and crafts. I like to paint and draw. I knit, crochet, and I picked up cross stitch during the pandemic. My current project is cross stitching the cover of every book I read this year. I also love to bake!
Tell us a bit about the earliest story you remember writing.
I was eight and obsessed with two things: Star Wars and horses. So I did what any good horse girl would do, and combined the two to make Star Horses, which was essentially a really bad spoof.
Do you have any writing rituals or habits?
I usually write at night, between 7 and 10pm. I don’t write every day (I’d like to, but life gets busy), but I do adhere to VE Schwab’s advice: leave the door open. I’m constantly thinking about my projects, even if I don’t have the time or energy to write that day.
If you could sit on a panel at a convention with any other author, who would it be and why?
This is a loaded question, because there’s so many amazing authors I’d love to sit and converse with. But I think maybe if I had to pick just one, I’d choose VE Schwab? She’s really inspired me recently and I’d love to discuss character creation and morally grey characters with her.
Tell us a little about Sedition. What inspired this project and how did it come together?
SEDITION has been with me for almost ten years at this point. It started as an amalgamation of the steampunk aesthetic and a few books I’d read at the time. A couple of characters appeared in my head one day, arguing about a clockwork time machine. That scene was cut in a fairly early draft but the characters became my main and her best friend: Taryn and Royal. The book developed over years of work, as pieces changed and got rewritten and more characters inserted themselves, but the heart is still there: it’s about a girl who doesn’t belong anywhere, who doesn’t know what she’s supposed to be, going on a journey of self-discovery in a world that’s extremely hostile.
Who is the ideal reader for Sedition? What other books might they enjoy?
My ideal reader is probably a 15-16 year old who loves science fiction. The kind of reader I was at that age, because this really is the book I needed in high school. They probably enjoy books by Scott Westerfeld or Emily Suavada or Philip Reeve, or even the old Victorian authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or HG Wells. Anything with lots of weird inventions and strong characters.
What has been the best part of working on this story?
This might sound cliche, but just the fact that I created this world and now I get to share it with people. I love my characters and the world I’ve created, with all its strange, dark, complex twists and turns, and I’m so excited that other people are going to get to experience it.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
I love when I’m working on a scene I’ve had in my head for a while and the words just flow. I get lost in those scenes until it doesn’t really feel like writing anymore; it’s almost like being in the scene myself.
Favorite book, podcast, or blog about writing, and why?
Probably Death by Living by ND Wilson, followed by Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman. Neither are craft-based, but they’re about the act of creation and the beauty of creativity. The way it’s necessary to human existence. That kind of book always inspires me when my creative well has run dry.
If you could only read one book ever again (aside from religious texts), what book would it be and why?
Oh, that’s a hard one! It’s almost impossible for me to pick just one (I have so many favourites!) but I think right now I’d choose Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It’s almost 1000 pages of some of the most brilliant storytelling I’ve ever read. It has everything: magic, faeries, death, love, Napoleon. Plus her footnote rabbit trails add so much to the book. It feels like living in an alternate world for awhile.
What bit of writing craft or advice do you take most to heart?
Probably VE Schwab’s “Leave the door open.” She advises thinking about a project every day even if you don’t open the document or the notebook and actually put words down, and that’s very similar to how my process works.
What bit of writing advice drives you up the wall?
Adverbs are evil. You have to write every day. Chapters need to be X length. You have to plot your novel or it’ll be bad. I could go on.
If you could share just one tip for aspiring authors, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid of the rewrite. I know when you put the words down on the page it feels like they’re permanent, but the sooner you learn that a story changes and becomes better each time you retell it, the sooner you’ll discover that ninety percent of writing is rewriting. It’s not something to be afraid of. It’s something to embrace. It’s freeing to know what you put on the page isn’t set in stone.