As part of the ‘Promising Light’ blog tour, I have with me today, author Emily Ann Ward. She was gracious enough to answer some of my questions. What follows is an extremely interesting interview.
To know more about the blog tour and to visit all the participating blogs, you can go here. I am also hosting a giveaway of TWO paperback copies of Promising Light. This open for US ONLY. You can go HERE to enter.
About Promising Light
Grace began a secret courtship with Dar for the thrill of doing something against her father, the king’s general. She hadn’t planned on falling in love with him. When Dar suddenly leaves her, she searches for answers, reluctant to let him go.
Everyone seems determined to keep the truth from her—until she’s kidnapped by Dar’s family. They’re shape changers who claim she can break a curse set on them ten years ago by the Protectors, a group of noblemen determined to stifle magic in the name of safety.
Torn between two worlds, Grace isn’t sure who to trust. If the curse endures, Dar’s family could die out forever. But to help them, she’ll have to leave behind everything she knows.
Interview with author Emily Ann Ward
Describe your books? What genre would you classify them in?
Promising Light is the first in a fantasy series, The Protectors. Grace is a young noble in a secret relationship with Dar, and when he suddenly leaves, she searches for answers to his mysteries. Weeks later, she’s kidnapped by his family, shape changers who claim she can break a curse set on them years ago. Will she choose to help Dar’s family or will she support the noblemen who think they are doing good by stifling magic?
The series deals with the struggle between the shape changers (also called Avialies) and the Protectors, noblemen who think they are doing the world good. The prequel novellas are about the beginning of the curse and the Protectors’ growing political power, but the tides change in Promising Light and its sequels.
My short stories tend to be contemporary: ordinary people dealing with relationships, love, family, things like that. Passages is a collection of seven young adult stories, and Beyond Home is three short stories for adults, though young adult would probably enjoy them, too. I have a short story in Love, Me, an anthology that will be published February 1st. It’s a romance story between two characters in Promising Light.
My longer works are fantasy and scifi-driven. I love the fantastical and speculative! Finding Fiona is a YA scifi novella about a girl who loses her memory and fears she may be a human replication. Promising Light is the first in The Protectors series about a young girl named Grace who is trying to decide who to help: the shape changers who are cursed or the noblemen who are trying to protect the world from magic.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing very young. I remember my first story was about a doll that came to life, and I was probably only six or seven then. I’ve just always loved telling stories and thinking up situations. I love the characters, relationships, and worlds I can create.
How did you come up with the idea for the series?
Back in 2005, when I first started writing it, it was just about Grace and Dar and their strained relationship. The development of Dar’s family grew out of that, then it took precedence. I liked the idea of writing about a magical family that was being oppressed and exploring how they would fight back for their rights. I wanted something that was high stakes, but not on a “save the world” level.
How has your journey from writing to getting published been?
In general, or with this book? I’ll tell you about Promising Light. It’s been quite a ride! Like I said, I started writing it in 2005, but then I lost a good chunk of it after a computer virus. I started rewriting in 2008, got bored because I had no direction.
Last year, I decided to rewrite again and seriously this time. I wrote a loose outline and finished a 120,000 word first draft in three months. The last eight months I’ve been getting very helpful feedback from beta readers and critique partners, revising, editing, proofreading, and also letting it rest for small breaks here and there.
I decided to publish this fantasy series myself to explore the possibilities of self-publishing with this book, its sequel, and a few prequel novellas. I considered traditionally publishing, but I want to see what I can do with this book and self-publishing first. I have a few other books that might do better with an agent.
Who is your favorite character? Is there a character in the series you think the readers will hate?
My favorite character is probably Grace. I think that’s partly because most of the book is from her POV, so I know her pretty well. She has a lot of spirit while still being level-headed, and she changes a lot in the book.
I think there are a few villains that the characters will hate, like Lesado or Tisha, which makes sense. But there are a few ambiguous characters that people may hate, such as Matilda or William. If not hate, at least be annoyed with them!
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the book to life?
I think the biggest reason the story didn’t go anywhere during the first two drafts is because it had no direction. I didn’t know where it was going, I didn’t know what I wanted. I’d always been a “panster” but writing a loose outline for this book was the best thing I ever did for it! I also had some challenges juggling all the different characters and locations and making sure everything was clear to the reader. I also struggled with the pacing: it’s such a long book, and I didn’t want it to drag. There were a lot of scenes I cut or tightened so it wouldn’t seem like the characters were hamsters just running in their wheels.
What was the hardest part of writing the series?
During the final rewrite, what I found the hardest was writing the climax. Without giving away any spoilers, it was difficult deciding what would happen and how my characters would react to certain things. I didn’t want it to be too easy, then I worried that readers would be disappointed with the small cliffhanger (it’s not a Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back type cliffhanger, I swear!).
Who designed the covers of the book?
My husband! We got the stock photo from Shutterstock and he worked his magic to give me the cover for Promising Light. I designed the covers for the prequel novellas, though.
Did you learn anything from writing your series and what was it?
I learned a lot from revising, actually. I got so much helpful feedback about the pacing of the first few chapters, about overdone dialogue tags, about character development. I probably learned the most about pacing: unnecessary scenes or scenes that run too long. I rearranged some things to quicken the pace and took out a few whole chapters! It’s still 130,000 words, but it’s a fast read, in my opinion.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?
I don’t think so. Who knows, maybe after some reviews, I might! 😛
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Was there somewhere in the books you felt stuck?
I really need to work on world building whenever I do revisions. I tend to focus on characters and not politics and geography and all that, so that’s a challenge, to remember I need to flesh out setting and world details like that.
What are your current projects? When is the next book in the series coming out?
I’m currently writing the sequel to Promising Light. It probably won’t be ready until late summer, but three prequel novellas are coming in February and March. They are set 2-10 years before Promising Light and focus on Dar, Sierra, and Sashe as they go through their teenage years, falling in love and dealing with the Protectors and Lisbeth’s vision.
Could you describe what happens in the next book in the series?
In the next book, Grace is dealing with the aftermath of her decision that she was forced to make at the end of book one. Sierra and Evan are with the rest of the Avialies, who are preparing for war. Poor Dar is kind of on the sidelines for the first bit of the book. It’s basically about the heightened struggle between the Protectors and the Avialies. The Protectors are fighting for political power; the Avialies are searching for allies; and no war is without casualties.
What book are you reading now? Which are your all-time favourite authors / books?
Right now, I’m reading The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. I loved the first one. My all-time favorite authors are JK Rowling, Donald Miller, Suzanne Collins. As for books, I’m a huge fan of YA series: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Tomorrow When the War Began. I also love The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and all of Donald Miller’s books.
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you, something you could not read just about anywhere.
- I love traveling. I’ve been to seven different countries (not including the US, where I live), I’ve moved around a lot. I love seeing new places and learning the history about them. At college, I’m working to receive a Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate, which I can go overseas with to teach English classes!
- I have a big, awesome family. Five sisters and two brothers, plus my parents. It may seem like this isn’t a fact about me, but it really is. They’ve shaped who I am today and have given me a lot of great experiences to draw from for my books!
- I’m a pretty religious person. I’m a Messianic Christian and I love studying the Bible as well as other religions. You can occasionally find posts on my blog about religion and spirituality.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?
Honestly, it makes my day to know what people are buying, reading, and actually enjoying my work! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, so thank you so much. And don’t be shy — visit me on Twitter, Facebook, my blog, or contact me through my website. I don’t bite!
ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
Generally, I like ebooks, but I get a lot of paperbacks from the library. It’s usually whichever format is available!
Cats or dogs?
Cats. I have two lovely ones. But I still love dogs. Especially puppies!
Coffee or tea?
Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream?
What are 4 things you never leave home without?
- My wallet
- My house and car keys
- A coat or sweater, even if it’s hot. I get cold easily!
- My cell phone
Laptop or desktop for writing?
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I usually do my writing in the evening, either in our living room recliner or at the desk in the study.
If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you any why?
- Bear Grylls, the guy from Man vs. Wild—he’d be useful on a deserted island!
- Amy Poehler, she’d keep things light and funny.
- Barack Obama, because you know they’d be searching for him really, really hard! And he seems like a nice guy.
List 3 of your all-time favorite movies?
Clue, Inception, and Up
What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
I’ve been watching Battlestar Galactica with my husband on Netflix. Wow! I now understand what all the hype is about.
About Emily Ann Ward
Emily Ward is the author of Passages, Finding Fiona, and The Protectors series. One of her first stories featured a young girl whose doll came to life. The rest is history. She spent years writing mainly fanfiction (thank you, J.K. Rowling!), but has since ventured into originality. When it comes to fiction, she writes mainly young adult, contemporary, and fantasy. She also writes nonfiction, ranging from stories of her travels to thoughts on the Bible. Aside from writing, she loves reading, traveling, learning about God, sociology, religion, and Reeses sticks. Currently, she lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband Chris and their cats.
You can find Emily here:
- Same Story, Different Art Form – Guest post by Emily Ann Ward (riteshkala.wordpress.com)