Thursday, March 27, 2014

Writer Spotlight: Emma Kavanagh

On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, I'm delighted to welcome the wonderful EMMA KAVANAGH into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...

When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

I think I was 5 when I wrote my first story and got a gold star for it from the headmistress of my primary school - so pretty much then! I have always wanted to be a writer, but for the longest time I struggled with having the confidence and the life experience to do so. So, I went off and became a psychologist, started my own consultancy firm, had adventures and then, at the age of 28, finally decided to settle down and see if I actually had it in me to write that book. That book wasn’t this book. That book definitely wasn’t a very good book. But it did prove that I had it in me to stick with it and to write a novel. I haven’t looked back since.

What interests you as a writer?

Everything! I think the thing I love most about writing is that there is nothing that is beyond the scope of what I do. Anything that catches my interest - a crime, a personality trait, a large-scale catastrophe - can evolve and grow into a story. I also love how writing can be used to expose us to a world in which we would never normally find ourselves, and can give us the opportunity to imagine how we would react to it, how we would cope.

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

I’m the mother of a toddler, so my writing life has evolved as he has grown. But typically, he toddles off to crèche or to grandparents and I start work by 8am. I then tend to work pretty solidly until he comes home at 1pm. I have always preferred to write in the mornings anyway, but since becoming a mother I have learned to grab my writing time whenever I can get it. What I have found interesting about that is that I am now far less precious about when and how I write. There is no more waiting for my muse to show up. I’m on a tight schedule. She pretty much has to turn up on demand!

Which authors inspire you and why?

There are so many wonderful authors out there. One of my all time favourites is Barbara Kingsolver. She is just such a fluid writer, and an incredible storyteller. I got to see her at the Hay Festival last year and was a little bit like a teen at a One Direction concert! I also love Kate Atkinson. I love how she has given herself permission to evolve as a writer, moving from literary to crime to the staggeringly awesome Life After Life. And J K Rowling, because…well, because she’s J K Rowling. She brought an entire generation of children to reading and managed to create a world that has taken on a life of its own. It is wonderful to see her now moving into crime fiction. I have nothing but respect for those authors who are willing to push their own boundaries and take a chance on something new. When I grow up I’d like to be one of these three women, please.

Tell me about Falling.

Falling is a psychological thriller about a plane crash and a murder. It tells the story of Cecilia (one of the few survivors of the crash), Tom (her husband and the detective responsible for investigating the murder), Freya (the daughter of the pilot who is forced to question her father’s role in the tragedy) and Jim (a father dealing with the murder of his daughter). Nothing is quite as simple as it seems, and as the story unravels we come to understand the way in which these events and the lives of these characters intertwine.

What did it feel like to see your finished book for the first time?

I cried. It was, in all honesty, quite an overwhelming thing. I had dreamt of this for so long, that to actually hold Falling in my hands and to see the incredible work that Random House had done on its design and cover was deeply emotional. I’m hoping this feeling will pass. Otherwise signings will be challenging!

What are the best things about being a writer?

I get to write. I get to sit down every day and write and call it my job. And the best bit is that I now have a job that I absolutely adore and that I would do (and have done) without getting paid a penny. It still takes my breath away that I managed to get so lucky.

And the worst?

I am someone who is very self-motivating. I’ve had to be as I’ve been self-employed for years. But that tends to mean that I am very hard on myself, and I will push myself to the limits to do the best job I can. That gets pretty tiring after a while. I am also a born worrier, and this job can be pretty brutal in that way. There will always be people who hate what I do, and I get an awful lot of time to worry about reviews and sales and whether I will be a sparkling success or a dismal failure.

What are you working on now?

I have just finished the edits on book 2. Well, I have just finished this particular round. There will, I have no doubt, be many more to come. This book is called The Casualties and it begins with a mass shooting. It then goes back in time to follow the lives of four of the casualties in the week leading up to the shooting, and looks at how their lives begin to knit together and how, inadvertently, each of these innocents will end up pushing the shooter towards their final, dreadful act.

Do you have a dream project you would love to write?

Ooh, good question! I have tons of dream projects. I have already written up summaries of my next three books, and I am so excited to get started on them. I think that with each new project you learn a little more about writing and about what it is to be a writer, so I am happy with that for the moment. But as I develop in my career, I want to keep pushing myself, stretching my boundaries and always learning something new.

What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?

1. Never give up - No, seriously. NEVER. It is a tough industry. An incredibly tough industry and it is not for the faint of heart. But if it is your passion then keep going and learn to treat each rejection as one more step towards your eventual acceptance.

2. Teach yourself how to write - None of us are born knowing how to put together a novel. It’s not something that is taught in schools. I found learning (through books and writing guides) the basics of novel building invaluable, and it helped me to move onto the next step. I never assume I know everything. I am learning constantly, which means that with each book I write I learn something new that I can then put into the next one.

3. Writing is always the answer - Like I said, this is a stressful industry, particularly if you’re a worrier like me. The only thing I have found that helps is to write. You need to keep moving forward, and for us writers that means moving onto the next novel and giving yourself something to focus on other than how stressed and anxious you are.

Many thanks to Emma for such a fab interview! Falling is published on 27th March by Century and I can't wait to read it! Click here to buy your copy!

You can follow Emma on Twitter

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