good morning, cyberspace!
Today is a very, very special day for the blog, my friends! This past January, I had the absolutely remarkable privilege of getting to beta read indie author Emily Hayse’s newest book baby! This turned out to be not only an amazing opportunity to flex my beta reading muscles, but also an opportunity to discover what would quickly become one of my absolute favorite indie published books to date: Seventh City.
Now, eight months later, Seventh City has finally been released out into the great wide world to stand on its own two feet, and its author–the ever-lovely Emily–has contacted me (me!!!) to be a part of the Seventh City Book Tour!
So today we are inviting Emily over to Smudged Thoughts to talk all about her newest book and authorly life! So without further ado, let’s get into the interview!
— ABOUT EMILY —
EMILY HAYSE is a lover of log cabins, strong coffee, and the smell of old books. Her writing is fueled by good characters and a lifelong passion for storytelling. When she is not busy turning words into worlds, she can often be found baking, singing, or caring for one of the many dogs and horses in her life. She lives with her family in Michigan.
— ABOUT THE BOOK —
“Let me tell you a story that happened so long ago that only the hills and rivers can remember the time . . . .”
All her life, thirteen-year-old Maki has heard tales of the legendary city of gold, buried deep in the northern frontier. But when her village is burned and her brother captured by cruel invaders, the legend becomes desperately real.
Armed with a wolf-dog and a heart of courage, Maki sets out on a journey that will demand all her strength and cunning. She is determined to bring her brother home at all costs. Yet as her quest leads her deep into a wilderness of ancient dangers, Maki realizes that even for her, some prices are too high to pay.
BUY THE BOOK!
— THE INTERVIEW —
KENZIE: Good morning, Emily!!! Thank you SO much for joining us here today, and for allowing me to be a part of your brand new book baby’s blog tour!
EMILY: My pleasure! Thanks for having me!
KENZIE: Of course! So I guess we should start this little interview off by introducing you as an author/human bean! What can you tell us about yourself?
EMILY: I am a northern girl with a love of good coffee, flannel, and the sea. I also train horses, follow NASCAR and dog mushing, and teach music.
KENZIE: Oh my goodness. I am absolutely in love with your aesthetic. And also you don’t really hear a whole lot about dog mushing, so I am 1000% on board with this. (and totally did not have to look it up. absolutely not. aha.)
KENZIE: Okay, so kind of in the same vein as the first question–what’s your writer origin story? When and how did you realize that writing books is what you wanted to do?
EMILY: So this one’s interesting: I started telling stories before I could read. Adventure ones that centered around various heroes and exciting settings like the jungle, or the wild west, or the sea. In my early teens these various and never ending stories transitioned into beginnings of manuscripts. There must be nearly one hundred unfinished ones lying around still. Eventually I finished a novel, and then another, and found not only could I finish them, I really enjoyed it. My epiphany came about five years ago, after I had finished my eighth novel, that I was always going to write, no matter what else I did. After that, I figured there was nothing stopping me from making it a career.
KENZIE: Ah, yes. I, too, can relate to haveing enormous piles of unfinished works and manuscript beginnings lying about. XD So speaking of origins, what was your initial spark for Seventh City? Was there a specific event or thing that brought that first plot bunny spontaneously erupting into your brain?
EMILY: It was kind of a strange mix of things… I was having Iditarod withdrawals at the end of the season, I was reading a book about conquistadors looking for El Dorado, and I was listening non-stop to King and Lionheart. Those three things generated a few sparks and the rest is history!
KENZIE: Oh my goodness! I NEED this book about El Dorado… And also to watch dog mushing because this sounds amazing…
KENZIE: So. Your smol book child is finished now–it’s out there in the great unknown, making a name for itself, standing on its own two feet–but how long did it take you to get here? Do you have a timetable for how long it took to write this book from first draft to completion?
EMILY: Yes!! It was a year and five months total. Which is much less than the unwieldy three and a half years with Crowning Heaven. About Seven Months to complete the first draft (longer than average) and then the rest was various edits and formatting and preparing to launch.
KENZIE: Oooh! That is a big difference in the time it took to complete the two different books! Is there a reason that Seventh City came about so much faster than Crowning Heaven?
EMILY: The biggest difference between the two was plot. Crowning Heaven by default had a much more rambling plot that needed gradual tightening. Also, I was being super careful with my first book because I wanted it to be really good and had never been through the process before.
KENZIE: Ahh, okay! Rambly plots are kind of my writerly kryptonite, honestly… Every single book of mine explodes into 200,000 words, and THEN I have to shorten it. XD So what was your absolute favorite aspect of writing Seventh City? What was the hardest?
EMILY: My favorite part was the setting and characters. Loving the north as I do, it was fantastic to be able to portray the rugged beauty and danger of the far north. And introduce people to things they didn’t know they needed to fear, like orca. And the characters! I adore this cast. Writing Rutter, and Drucker and Ransom and Willow and Tsanu was just a treat. The hardest part? Maybe working everything out. I was most of the way through the story before I knew whether or not there was actually a city of gold, and all Maki’s fears are ones I grew up with and still wrestle with, and so finding a resolution for her was very hard to nail down.
KENZIE: Okay, so this is a bit more of an “I’m a writer geek” question, but Maki is SUCH a strong character, and not just physically. Somehow you managed to give her a strong personality, but still keep her smol and precious and relatable. Do you have any advice for other writers looking to write strong female characters? (*cough* like me? *cough)
EMILY: First off, thank you! When I first sent this to betas I was so afraid that they would dislike Maki! So this is going to be sort of a two-part answer: the first part is I think Maki is uniquely set up to be more likeable in this case (something I discovered after beta feedback). One thing that drives me crazy about first-person present tense is how much the POV voice thinks about themselves. A lot of characters in this POV tend to sound self-centered. Maki’s particular personality tends to think a lot about the people and things around them, and experience them without really thinking of themselves as an entity. So that helped. Second, keep them real and consistent. It’s a fine line to walk when telling a story, but here’s the thing: all the girls I know in real life don’t know everything about themselves. For example, Maki is brave, but she doesn’t think she is and she sure doesn’t feel it. And the book isn’t full of people telling her she’s brave. It’s a major theme, but someone probably tells her she is only once or twice. The book can be about a character without the rest of the characters in the book knowing it. You just happen to be seeing it through their eyes. Everybody is going to be strong in some places and weak in others. Also, the less a female characters thinks and talks about being strong and the more they just *are* the better.
KENZIE: “The book can be about a character without the rest of the characters in the book knowing it.” << Okay. THIS is something that I’m going to be writing down and pinning to my corkboard. And also you should consider doing a writing workshop. I would 10/10 want to join. XD
KENZIE: Who was your favorite character to write for this book?
EMILY: Hmmm….probably Rutter or Barbarian. They were very real and right there. I didn’t have to do too much to get them on the page.
KENZIE: *whispers* I always loved Rutter….
KENZIE: Okay, so let’s make the previous question a billion times harder. XD Out of all the characters you’ve EVER written for all of your books, which is your ultimate favorite?
EMILY: Ok, this should be hard, but it actually isn’t. There is a man in a historical fiction novel that I wrote about some pirate hunters commissioned after Captain Kidd failed, and his name is Sean Lindsay. He’s about twenty-eight, has a long blond braid and the most open, carefree attitude. People say he’s the luck of a ship, and if there was any man it was true of, it would be him. He’s one of those people that you just aren’t the same after meeting, and I hope that one day you will have the honor of meeting him too.
KENZIE: UM. YES. I would absolutely adore meeting this character!!!!! There better be a book with him in it in my future…
KENZIE: So something I noticed while beta reading Seventh City was the imagery. It was just so gorgeous and picturesque and almost tangible. . . Did you have to do any research for your settings, or did they just sort of come organically to your mind?
EMILY: I did minor research here and there, but a great deal of the setting (being roughly like Alaska) I just made note of it as I saw it in my head.
KENZIE: All right, switching tactics a bit, let’s talk about your authorly life! What made you decide to become an indie author, rather than go the traditional route?
EMILY: It is definitely a lifestyle choice. There are a lot of things I really like about the traditional route, not the least of which is the structure, the prestige, and the clean, professional look. But when I really thought about it, I thrive off of moving fast with projects and not only do I want control over my content, I would likely wither and die if I had to obsess over one project for years. I am confident in my ability to learn and grow, and to judge a quality project and I am immensely blessed to be able to work with wonderful professionals where I am. So, it is a lot of work, and there’s still a stigma of “settling for second best” from some corners but it is a decision I will gladly stick with.
KENZIE: Honestly, I 100% agree. Indie publishing is something that I’ve been finding myself thinking more and more about lately (not entirely sure why. XD), and the more I think about it, the more appealing it is. Although I’m . . . ahem . . . not exactly fast at writing. BUT OH WELL. XD
KENZIE: So with being a self-published author, what does your typical writing day look like?
EMILY: It’s all over the place, currently! I make my goals by the week, so I will have picked two or three priorities to address over the day, usually one being a certain wordcount to hit, and another being social media related.
I try to get a rough idea of what I will say/do on social media early in the day (this might be 6am or 1:30pm depending on my other work schedules). On top of the writing, I may have correspondence (for example: booking a cover designer) or a post to write, which usually constitutes my third thing. On the side I will sometimes do something “inspirational”, where with certain projects I might cook certain foods, watch certain films, or do activities like swimming or painting or baking that my brain can break down into descriptions and impressions as I do it. That keeps me creative and from getting stale. Not sure how typical that is, but there you go.
KENZIE: Honestly, “typical” was probably a bad word choice on my part. Writers typically don’t have “typical” days. XD
KENZIE: How is publishing your second book different than publishing your first? Was there anything you knew to watch out for, any pitfalls you expertly avoided, any NEW pitfalls you discovered?
EMILY: It is very different! I read so many articles and books and listened to conference sessions on self-publishing before I published Crowning Heaven and none of them prepared for what it was actually like. The first time I really just didn’t have an idea of how long things actually took or which of them were hard and which of them were easy. By the second time through I was MUCH more prepared. In fact, the couple weeks leading up to Seventh City’s release were almost relaxing. That being said, I still managed to run out of time to do things, and my biggest thing I discovered with Seventh City’s release is enough time does not equal enough energy. Set your book deadlines early enough that you can worry about release with enough energy to handle the release and not stress one jot about your book’s content.
KENZIE: *jots this down for future reference*
KENZIE: And finally, now that Seventh City is finally off in the world, what sorts of projects can we be looking forward to? Anything you can tell us about your new WIPs?
EMILY: Well, since you asked…the next thing you will see from me is a book about Atlantis with a healthy dose of stormy New England, 19-year-old-moxie, and treasonous plots. After that, I can’t promise, but you might see a Nordic fantasy retelling of Hamlet (with dragons and mysterious men from over the sea).
KENZIE: Oh my word. I absolutely NEED these books in my life… Hopefully I can be a beta reader?? Maybe?? Please? XD
KENZIE: All right! Well, I think that about sums up our interview! Thank you again SO much for talking with me today, Emily! It was an absolute pleasure getting to pick your writerly brain! *gives you cookies as thanks* And congratulations on the release of your new book! I can’t wait to snag my own copy so I can display that gorgeous cover on my shelf. . .
EMILY: My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me!
TALK TO ME, PEASANTS!
And that’s all we’ve got for you today, folks! I know it’s been a couple weeks since my last post, but this is because of #life and #otherthings and #failingatlife and also WORKING ON EDITS FOR EV!!!! This is something I’m VERY excited about, but also something that I’m not going to be going into too much detail on at the moment… Soon, though, my peasants. Soon…
Anyway, I would like to give another GIANT thank you to Emily for joining us today! I’m not the best at interviewing actual humans (ahem), but I think I’m slowly getting a little bit better at it! Maybe.
. . .kinda.
Moving on. Have any of you read Seventh City yet? Are you going to read it based on this interview? (I personally recommend trying to snag a copy. It’s a wonderful book. And also the cover is absolute gorgeousness???) Are you going to check out Emily’s blog? (because you totally should, and I’ll even leave a link here for easy access. LINK. Oh look at that. I’m so nice.) and most importantly. . .
WHAT IS YOUR WRITER ORIGIN STORY??
^^ That’s like my favorite question ever, and I now need to know all of you guys’s origin stories. . .
As always, let’s talk about ALL OF THE THINGS!!! down in the comments below, my friends! And until next time. . .