I am pleased to introduce you to Sarah Elle Emm, author of the new book Prismatic published by Winter Goose Publishing. Her first book, Marrying Missy, is also featured here. Young-Adult Fantasy & Women’s Fiction Author, Sarah describes her challenges as a writer, and gives us a prismatic look at the life of a writer.
Like me, you will get a sense of Sarah’s gentle humor and insightful personality as you read on. I want to thank her for taking the time, in between unpacking boxes, to give me this interview today.
Describe your life in a “headline” re: news of magazine:
Sarah Elle Emm’s young-adult fantasy PRISMATIC, now available in E-books and Paperback
Tell us your latest news?
Book one, Prismatic, from the Harmony Run Series was just released in paperback and e-books by Winter Goose Publishing. The Barnes & Noble book signing for Prismatic is this Saturday, June 9th, from 2-3:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Booksellers of Evansville, Indiana.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I felt compelled to write from an early age. When I sat down at Mom’s typewriter to write my first story at age seven, I felt at home and knew that writing was going to be one of the secrets to my happiness. Even though I didn’t get that first story finished right away, I couldn’t ignore the need to create with words and wrote some poems as a kid. Mom gave me a travel journal on our first trip to Germany when I was twelve-years-old, and I guess the journal entries confirmed that I needed to write to feel complete. When I was twenty-two-years old, I decided to start writing short stories and novels in addition to those journal entries. Even though I couldn’t tell the world about how I was feeling, I knew it was true. I was a writer, and it was only a matter of time before I would be sharing my stories.
What inspired you to write your first book Marrying Missy?
Marrying Missy is about an unlikely friendship, women hurting themselves to look a certain way, betrayal, prejudice, judging people, overcoming the negative things some of us are taught by the people who have raised us, marriage, and the chance of change and love. It is set in Atlanta in the spring time during the wedding planning of Missy. It’s a fast-paced, fun, easy read, and at the same time has some important messages for people to think about. A lifetime of internal conflict and low self-esteem inspired me to have Missy hate herself so much. At first glance, it would appear that Missy hates the world around her, but once you get further into the story, you will see that Missy hates herself. Lots of people hate themselves. Everywhere I have lived and traveled, I have met women, some worse than others, who struggle with self-esteem and body issues. I have daughters and nieces now, and I wanted to go ahead and put some thoughts out there about the consequences of negative behavior and getting caught up in the need for material excess. Life is hard enough. Let’s stop picking on ourselves, ladies. You are worth it. We are worth it. I am worth it. Prejudice is another important theme in this book. Missy is a fictional character, based off of a multitude of experiences and hundreds of people I have met around the globe. Prejudice is very real, it does not exist within one race or culture alone, and it simply disturbs me. I might be purple. You might be green. Does one color make you better than another color? No. I might be broke. You might have a billion dollars in your bank account. Does that mean one of us is better than the other? No. Believe it or not, we all have hearts beating on the inside. I don’t see the need to judge each other by the physical and material aspects. Last time I checked, most people say that it’s our hearts that matter. Let’s be nice to ourselves and one another, shall we?
Do you have a specific writing style?
Well, I have written in a few different genres. I have written chick lit, romantic suspense, and now young-adult fantasy. I think anyone who has read one of my books would agree that there is a common thread with everything I write including a romance or love story, even if it’s secondary to the main story. I had fun with Marrying Missy, writing the main character’s voice, (the character Tate,) in first person in a chick lit voice, but I intentionally wrote in third person for the other characters’ view points to kind of mix things up. I thought multiple view points added some depth to the story, but I still wanted Tate to be in first person. I got into the three different genres being a fan of reading them. A definite consistent in my writing would be that my chapters are on the short side, so my readers can pick up the book, come and go, and still have time to read an entire chapter at once.
First off, here is the synopsis…
Rare glimpses of birds are the only reminder of the freedoms Rain Hawkins once had. Now segregated into a mixed-race zone within the United Zones of the Authority, under tyrannical rule of President Nicks, Rain is forced to endure the bleak conditions set upon her. The possibility of a way out arises when Rain discovers an organized resistance called The Freedom Front, and learns that she, along with many other multi-racial people, has special abilities. Determined to overcome her situation, Rain sets out on a mission with the resistance that will fill her life with wonder, romance, and the undying hope for a better world.
Prismatic was partially intended for a Twilight type of audience. Don’t get me wrong. There are no vampires or werewolves, but there is a teen romance between main characters, Rain and Jabari, vital to this series, and I was writing it for readers who can appreciate the crazy hormones and feelings that a first love or crush can involve. Prismatic is unique in that the cast is very diverse, and the stars of the show, if you will, are mostly multi-racial teenagers. The story takes place in the year 2050 and follows seventeen-year-old Rain Hawkins as she embarks on a mission against a tyrannical government, discovers her special abilities, risks her life on a daily basis, and even discovers love in her terrifyingly bleak circumstances.
What were the challenges having your books published?
I spent a few years attempting to get a literary agent to give me a chance. I spent a lot of time researching how to write the perfect query letter, trying different approaches, and using every tip I could from agentquery.com and publishing books. It was frustrating, but I made myself keep writing through it all. When I began my blog, My Name is Sarah, to share my journey and random stories about my life, I got instant feedback from readers. I wasn’t even published, and I was entertaining and connecting with readers. That’s when I realized it didn’t matter if an agent ever gave me a chance. Shortly after my blog began to grow, I received the first positive email from a publisher. They wanted to look at Marrying Missy. I was excited beyond words for once in my life. The long road to publication was worth every bump.
What books have most influenced your life most?
The first time I recall being completely transported into the pages of a book was when I was a little girl reading a Trixie Belden mystery, The Secret of the Mansion by Julie Campbell. All of a sudden, I was in awe of story-telling, and I felt the desire to write grow stronger. That was an important moment for me. The seed was planted. Trixie was real to me. I could picture her in my mind and visualize her story. I wanted to do that. I loved reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy because they comforted me during some difficult times. I was inspired to go after my dreams, regardless of how tiny they were, after I read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. It made me want to be a better person. It made me want to believe in a better world. If Mr. Mandela could survive, overcome, and change the world after the hell he went through, anything could be possible. At least that’s how he made me feel. I recommend everyone read his story. It’s important.
What book are you reading now?
I like to support indie authors and small presses when I can, so my list usually includes some of those titles. To be honest, I am moving right now, so I haven’t read a page for at least a week. On my Kindle app for my cell phone now, I am reading Pearls, by Lisa Mills. Her cover got my attention. I just started it, but so far, I am enjoying it very much. Next up on my to-read list is Stella Stafford’s, Did Anyone Die? I think it is going to be an entertaining read.
What are your current projects?
I am finishing the Harmony Run Series. The sequel to Prismatic, is called Opalescent, and is set for a February 2013 release. I am having a romantic suspense I wrote edited, marketing my books, and keeping up with my blog. Keep in mind, I am doing all of this while keeping up with my preschoolers, (one is getting ready to begin Kindergarten,) being a wife, and oh yeah, moving from Indiana to Florida. I am currently living out of a suitcase and will be driving to my new home after my Prismatic book signing this weekend. Regardless of my projects, I have one main goal: I want to be the best mother I can be. I am so blessed to have an amazing mother, and I want to try and be the best mom I can for my kids.
Who are your cheerleaders?
These days? I have a lot of them. Mom, my brother, Sam, my sister, Coleen, my husband, Charles, my mother-in-law, Muriel, and her sister, Faye, my Grandpa, Grandma, Dad, and of course, my best friend, Sonja. This group of people are telling everyone about my latest release and being truly supportive. Before I got published? Well, not everyone knew my secret. My mother was my first cheerleader. She reassured me for nearly a decade that I could, in fact, write, and that I should never, ever stop writing. My husband jumped on board team Sarah as soon as I told him that I was finishing my first book, one that I had started writing years before I met him. He was very supportive from the moment he found out he had married an in-the-closet-writer. I remember the first time he read an excerpt from a book I had written, and he said, “Wow. You are a writer.” Sam, Coleen, and Mom have been cracking me up with their theories about what will happen in book two, Opalescent, of this new series. They are cheering me on and all slightly irritated they have to wait until February to see what happens next. I have my bag of secrets, the notes, outlines, and details for the entire series in my brother’s spare room right now, and I swear he has looked at that bag with some intensity and too much curiosity a few times. My sister is trying to trick me into revealing the details, but it’s not happening, Coleen! All of my cheerleaders will have to wait until the official release of Opalescent. Sorry, guys.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Well, as of now…no. I really like Prismatic. It’s my baby that started with a dream I had. It doesn’t get any better than that. Of course, it was just released so there haven’t been a lot of reviews yet, and it is bit of a controversial story. You never know what people might say once word gets out about a futuristic, racially segregated world with multi-racial kids standing up to resist their tyrannical government. I might be wishing I had written a Mary Poppin’s type of novel before long. Ha, ha, ha…
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I love Nora Roberts because she continuously delivers a solid, well-developed, heart-warming story. I can depend on her to tell a story I will enjoy. She never disappoints. I also love the FBI thriller series by Catherine Coulter.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I would just say that it’s best to remember who you are writing for and that you can’t please everyone. Write what you like to read, but more importantly, write for you.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I have a book giveaway once a month on my blog and Facebook fan page. All you have to do is join the blog, My Name is Sarah, and ‘like’ my Facebook page, Sarah Elle Emm, and you are entered in the free book drawing. I would also love for everyone to know about the Prismatic book signing this Saturday, June 9th from 2-3:30 p.m. at 624 S. Green River Road in my hometown of Evansville, Indiana. It’s my last stop before I hit the road for southern Florida, where the next chapter begins.
If you had to give yourself a “theme song” what would it be and why?
That’s easy. SheDaisy’s, “Lucky 4 You (Tonight I’m Just Me.)” Ha. First off, I have a small list of country songs I like, and this is one of them. It’s funny. She’s talking about her supposed multiple personalities her ex says she has, but she tells him he’s lucky tonight, “It’s just me.” It makes me laugh. I can relate to moods, emotions, or hormones, whatever it is, influencing my daily decisions. No, I don’t actually have multiple personalities, but sometimes I have to struggle to keep the calm, collected exterior in place that the world sees. I have moods I guess in place of multiple personalities. There is the crazy Sarah who just needs some chocolate, the stressed out Sarah who needs to blast reggae, rock, or blues from her speakers and dance her troubles away, the Sarah who needs to attack the treadmill to exercise the inner demons, and of course, the Sarah who needs to pour her heart onto the blank computer screen and write a fiction story. That Sarah is kind of crazier than the rest. She will laugh or shout out periodically, “Yes!” when a chapter suddenly clicks and it turned out the way she wanted. You should listen to that song right now, (after this interview.) It makes me smile. :)
Name three items which need to be with you at all times?
Cell phone, (for it’s phone but also because I like to listen to the music I have stored on it wherever I am,) favorite ink pen, paper of any kind
What would we find in your junk drawer right now?
I moved out of my house and am living in a suitcase for five more days, so technically, I have no junk drawer at the moment. In my temporary junk drawer, (a backpack at my brother’s house,) you will find post it notes and my eye-glass cleaner. (I only wear my contacts in public. I am blind and prefer my glasses at home.) You will also find a lovely scented lotion, an I-pod, and a small purse with coins only. Change is my junk drawer thing. My husband leaves a trail of coins wherever he goes, and I collect them. I made $175 off of coins I wrapped last week. It was a tedious process but somehow rewarding. My husband had to laugh after he recovered from the shock of my cash-in. Yep, I will keep saving those pennies. You can count on it.
Who is your favorite super hero and why?
I guess I am a product of the eighties because the answer is She-Ra: Princess of Power. I saw the cartoon when I was a kid. She-Ra is the alter ego of Princess Adora and He-Man’s sister. Her powers were cool…incredible strength, speed, she was acrobatic. She preferred to outsmart her adversaries instead of using violence. When I am trying to motivate myself to do something I am afraid of or overwhelmed by, the words, “I am She-Ra!” pop into my mind. I can do it. I am She-Ra. Well, at least I am going to keep telling myself that.
How can we purchase your books?
Sarah Elle Emm, a native of Evansville, Indiana and graduate of The University of Evansville, has lived in Germany, England, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and traveled extensively beyond. Her love of travel, great fiction stories that you can escape into, and multicultural experience have all shaped her stories. Sarah currently resides in Florida with her Chef husband and their children. When she’s not walking the plank of her daughters’ imaginary pirate ship, she is writing. (source: sarahelleemm.com)