The cat is out of the bag: Emma Scott writes fabulous fantasy! She gives all her secrets and more…
If you’ve ever wondered how someone could create a whole new world, come with a new language and vocabulary, invent totally imaginary beasts and villains this is your lucky day!
I’m honored and giddy to share with you the FIRST INTERVIEW of Emma Scott in her brand new role of fantasy author as E.S. Bell!
And what author! She swept me off my feet with her brand new story The Dark of the Moon. Sorry if I come across as pushy but I can’t recommend it enough if you love fantasy, pirates, warrior girls etc.!
Let me thank E.S. Bell/Emma for taking her precious time to answer all my questions. If Emma is enormously talented, E.S. Bell is brilliant!
Now time for you readers of future readers to know more about her and her work. I promise you a fascinating interview as she explains it all 😀
I will really focus this interview on this new story and the brand new adventure of writing fantasy but for those who don’t know you yet (is it possible?) I’d like to ask you some personal questions first.
- Who was little Emma? A dreamer? An athlete? A tomboy? A sweet thing?
LOL “Little Emma” was a shy, somewhat tomboyish book nerd until about 16 years old and then I decided being shy wasn’t working out. I’m not exactly a social butterfly; I have my introverted moments (it’s the two-sided Gemini in me) but I’ve definitely come out of my shell a bit.
- What’s the most foolish thing you did as a kid? Or the biggest fright you caused your parents?
The biggest fright I gave my parent was also the most foolish thing I did, when I was 17. My friends and I drove down to Tijuana (I grew up in San Diego) one night and got WASTED at a bar. We had a designated driver but high school gals driving to TJ with their boyfriends isn’t 100% the smartest thing to do, necessarily. But we had fun and…we did not get caught. 😛
- What triggered your wish to be a writer? A special story? An encounter with your favorite author? A huge imagination with a need to tell stories? A teacher? Something else?
I don’t know of any trigger, really. It was always something I wanted to do. I think it comes for most writers as a love of reading first. I was an avid reader ever since I can remember, and I think the desire to craft stories was born of that. Stephen King would have to be the biggest influence, tho. I want to be just like him when I grow up.
Now lets’ focus on this new adventure and the story.
- What pushed you to write something so different from your other romance contemporary books? You’ve introduced some paranormal elements in past books but nothing as elaborate as this story. So why? Was it a drunken conversation with Suanne? A dare from one of your besties? A paper you wrote for your kids as they were late to finish their school project (I can say I helped numerous times to finish or build some story with my kids. Preferably late in the evening when you have to be up at dawn to go to work 😉 )? Something brewing in your mind for years and you could not contain it any longer? Something else?
Truthfully, the fantasy novel was written much earlier than any romance. It’s just been sitting in my computer for three years. Fantasy was always my first love; I grew up reading Tolkien, RA Salvatore, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Weiss & Hickman, and later, George RR Martin and China Mieville. And concurrent to that, I was/am a huge Star Wars fan. I’d been writing a mega-opus fantasy novel (about 180K words) but it wasn’t any good, to be honest. But that’s okay. They’re not all fit to see the light of day just by virtue of having been written, so that “failure” I consider good practice. You need to write many, many words to hone your craft, I think, before you write them to share. Around the time I finished that and set it aside, I was playing a Star Wars computer game called Knights of the Old Republic, and I fell in love. So I wrote fanfiction for that game. (Star Wars + computer game+ fanfiction…All the makings of a future romance novelist, amirite?)
Turns out that game had a large fanfiction community and I embraced and was embraced by it. I wrote another mega-opus, this time for this game, and published it one chapter at a time as fanfiction. Some (many?) people frown upon fanfiction, but the responses and feedback I received helped me grow as a writer more than anything else I’d ever done. I learned to take criticism (and praise); I learned to write fast but not sloppy; I learned to LOVE the art of writing during that time because you don’t make a dime, you just write to tell stories. And it was from that big Star Wars fanfiction story that Dark of the Moon would eventually be wrought.
- How long did it take to write this story? Longer than your other books? I would not be surprised as this is a) a long book; b) rich in its composition filled with lots of details to make it so vivid.
It took a lot longer. It takes me about three months to write a romance. It took me more than two years to write The Dark of the Moon, and then it went through many rounds of critique via a writer’s group. The world-building takes time. You cannot half-ass it. You have to know the history of the world you’re making so that your characters can feel organic to it. They are products of the history of your world, and every detail matters.
- How do you juggle several projects or stories together? Parallel writing? Need to finish one before the other? Forget about one for years in a drawer and work on it again much later?
I don’t, but now I’m going to have to, LOL. I’ll have to write my romances as per schedule and write the sequel to DOTM over the next year. I don’t know, honestly, how this will work since I usually can only concentrate on one project at a time, but hopefully the varied genres I’m working in will help my brain to make the switch.
- What was different from writing and certainly publishing your other stories? And what motivated your choice of another pen name?
I chose a pen name only to keep the genres separate. I don’t want to confuse anyone. But as for publishing, I wasn’t going to tell anyone for fear of…well, just for fear, actually. It had been three years since I’d looked at DOTM and I had no idea how it would be received. But I quickly realized it was stupid not to share the news with my readers, as many are fantasy lovers as well. Not to mention, the support of my readers is not something I take for granted but I realized I’d be foolish to not at least see if there was interest out there. And the outpouring of support has been incredible and above and beyond anything I expected.
- What gave you this idea? Where does the plot come from? And why choose pirates, Paladin, etc. a universe filled with seas? Where pirates and magician your favorite fantasy characters as a kid?
The plot came from that SW fanfiction. In that world, the protagonists fly from planet to planet. I didn’t want to write sci-fi and I didn’t want to rip off SW, AND fantasy has always been my love, so I thought, what if those planets were islands instead? What if the heroine journeys between them on a brigantine instead of a star ship? And the rest fell into place from there (“fell into place” over the course of two years 😛 )
- You imagined a real villain. Bacchus appearance is repulsive. Did you enjoy the creative process of giving flesh to all these creatures? And how did you flesh out your characters? What’s inspired them?
Thank you! Bacchus isn’t as bad as the main villain in the next book, but he’s pretty gross,lol. I love creating characters. I love giving them motivations that are real, not necessarily always black and white, good and evil (such as with Accora). They’re not inspired by any one person in particular, but mainly I try to focus on what they WANT and build them from there.
- How do you built a Fantasy world filled with magic creatures, possessing its own vernacular, etc? Re-read fantasy? Watch films (the scene on the beach when the crew was herded towards the jungle by sea scorpios reminded me of some scenes from Hunger Games where the game Master “guided” the contestants)? Visit museums about piracy?
Most of the creatures, vocabulary, and monsters and such comes from two things: imagination + necessity. What serves the story? What does the story need? A process something like:
The people of Lunos need a way to communicate long distance without telephone technology.
It’s a world of sea and islands.
Pelicans live on islands and have pouches in their beaks that could hold messages.
But real pelicans are too small and can’t fly great distances.
What if there was a scientific community that solved that problem by breeding pelicans with larger, more powerful birds?
And that’s how the peliteryx is born, and the Guild—the scientific entity of explorers, inventors and craftsmen—came on its heels. I don’t like putting things in a story for the hell of it. I want every creature or detail to serve a purpose and feel native to the world of Lunos first and foremost.
I did, however, do extensive research on sailing and 16th– 19th century vessels (the Golden Age of Sail) because if you’re going to set your story on a ship, you’d be doing a terrible disservice to your readers if you don’t know your spar from your topsail. I took a tour of the Balclutha, a brigantine from the late 1800s, and I researched various pirate stories. I read shanties written and personal journals of sailors from that time to get a feel for what it was like to live aboard a ship. It was intense and fun and just thinking about it now makes me wonder how I set this book aside for three years, since I was so passionate about it for so long.
- How do you invent words? Do you try them speak them aloud and feel how it sounds? It’s one of the things that I admire most in this story and in other fantasy stories possessing their own vernacular. I see it as the highest testimony to the author’s imagination. Did you find some words thanks to your kids or brainstorming with friends? Did you try some dialogs with your kids like mock play?
The vernacular is a sort of hybrid of 18th century jargon, mixed with some British slang and swearing, and then I created sayings and slang that people who live on a water world would use. They don’t have “hell” or a fiery underworld, they have “the Deeps.” They classify creatures as “kind”: humankind, merkind, dragonkind, etc. The Spanish were a mighty force to be reckoned with during the Golden Age of Sail so I wanted to reflect or pay homage to that in some way: Sebastian smokes cigarillos (smaller than a cigar, larger than a cigarette) and there are the islands Huerta and Saliz to add a little bit of flavor.
As I stated earlier, the vernacular flows from the research and what the story needs. If it sounded like some made up shit (and I did have some of that early on) then it got the axe. And a lot of times characters will reveal themselves through dialogue; much of how they speak comes straight from them. 😀
- I feel Selena and Bastian are like the Two Faces God: Selena is light, she chooses to see good and hope in life in spite of what was “bestowed” upon her. Bastian is dark, mocking her for being “weak” in her kindness. He is sometimes engulfed in darkness. Would you say life IS light and dark? A balance between these two opposite forces? Without darkness we never would enjoy the light? Is it what you wanted the reader to think about?
I would say it’s a definite balance although, as Selena tells Sebastian, it only feels like the dark is more pervasive and terrible because it demands the most attention. That’s just as true now as it is for them. The news that gets the biggest headline is always the most terrible; it can often feel like the world is caving in if something goes wrong in our lives…we FEED the negative and cherish the positive as a reprieve. Something that’s considered rare.
I love writing about good people—here and in my romances. People who believe that things are better than they are terrible, and that gratitude and kindness go a long way. Selena is living embodiment of that. Sebastian is my practical dark side that says, “There’s always a price to be paid.” That life isn’t sunshine and rainbows all the time, or that it’s always easy to look to the positive. I think that’s a universal struggle among all of us, but the answer to that is who wins? Do we give up to the shittiness, or do we keep believing in hope? Selena and Sebastian are that struggle.
- I have mixed feelings for Skye. Or rather I resent her and don’t trust her. You speak a lot about her in the book but she is always absent. We never see the book through her eyes. Will that change in the next installment? Do you plan to give her voice? Will she play a bigger part? And what have you planned for Connor? You set the scene for this side character but it’s unfinished so what can we expect without you spoiling our fun?
Skye, Skye, Skye…*shakes head at her* She’s a wily one. I’m not going to say more than that but I will say there aren’t many (Bacchus being an exception) characters who fall into a neat category. Skye will continue to be a major player throughout the books but we won’t really see her POV until Book III. I think. Characters have a way of changing the most carefully laid plans…
Connor’s story is just beginning and there are other characters who play major roles that readers haven’t met yet. Connor has a lot of growing up to do, a lot to learn, a lot of humbling situations before him, as he comes to grips with who and what he is. I have a lot planned for him and I’m also looking forward to everyone meeting Xan-Lo in the next book. *heart eyes * He’s my lowly royal chef to an empress who also has a lot of story coming his way.
- Now this is a dense book as in many things happens, lots of messages and wisdom are imparted (your strength comes from within, don’t believe blindly all that’s been taught to you but think and see for yourself, kindness is more courageous than hate, etc.) and lots of details to take in. Say it would be bought by a producing company would you rather have a movie or a series? Personally I prefer movies but I think it would be a disservice to the story. I would go for series but like GOT. Who would be your dream cast for the main protagonists?
If a production company came calling my head would probably explode. LOL . I think given the sheer volume of books and story left to the series, a TV show a la GoT would be better. I don’t have a dream cast in mind: I think all unknowns would work for me so long as they embodied the story. I’d have to sit down and think about actual people if I were to cast it now. I wrote Selena with Charlize Theron in mind, not so much thinking of her playing the part, but just to keep the character alive in my mind. Also, Charlize is a badass so…
- I loved many quotes in the book. They were like bouts of wisdom. My favorite is ““It takes more strength and will to be kind than it does to indulge in anger or hate.” What is your favorite quote ever?
My favorite quote EVER, ever? Hmm, I’d guess I’d say “comparison is the thief of joy.” –Teddy Roosevelt, and I love this quote from Conan O’Brien: “Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.” Isn’t that just everything? I love it and try to live by it.
Now something light to end this book:
- The book you absolutely need? A Prayer for Owen Meany
- Last movie that made you cry? Wonder Woman
- Favorite Fantasy heroine? Dany Targaryen
- Most badass and swoon worthy hero (fantasy or contemporary)? Jon Snow
- Best advice you could give your daughter when she’ll turn 18? Find your passion and go for it the exact moment you do. Don’t wait one second, and I’ll be here as much as you need me along the way.
And maybe the most important question: will you publish a second book and when????
Oh yes, I will publish Shadow Moon Rising sometime late next year. I hope.
A huge thank you Emma for trusting me with your book and answering these questions!
Thank you so much for reading and for these awesome questions, and of course for your amazing support. <3
Awesome interview, Sophie!! Very interesting!
Thank you so much Trisy!