Interview with R. Emery

What is your writing process?
Pursuit of the Golden Lily is my first novel, so the process of writing it was quite new to me. My first idea for the book was completely different to the narrative that evolved. It was fascinating to see how the story 'wrote' me - it literally did! I began by writing an Executive Summary - a friend in the publishing business suggested that I do this and I am so glad he did. I am not sure I could have written the book without it as the plot has many twists and turns which required extensive research. I enjoy researching topics of interest, and in this case, I found a treasure trove of information and intrigue. I like to write during the day. My optimum creative process evolves when I am free to move freely between writing, research, thinking, walking, playing music and cooking. This might be my first novel but it is not my last.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
"The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" - by C.S. Lewis. I'm not sure if it was the first story I ever read, but it had the most impact on me. I grew up in Sherwood Forest - the home of Robin Hood - and as a child I was allowed to roam the forest freely on my pony. I would spend hours in a hollow oak tree rumored to be one of Robin Hood's hideouts. Imagination was a huge component of my childhood. "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was kind of like the Harry Potter of its time - it was a book that invited the reader to imagine other worlds existed. The story nurtured my imagination and inspired me to image all kinds of magical situations. As a child, that wasn't a stretch for me. It still isn't today.
How do you approach cover design?
I wanted the cover design to be beautiful, evocative and to somehow capture the essence of my story. Knowing she is a great graphic artist with a fabulous sense of imagination, I asked my friend Susanna Smith if she would like to give it a try. Thankfully she did - I love what she created. The map in the flower is genius. I think a cover is really important - it is the first thing a reader sees and it needs to be evocative, enticing and intriguing. Susanna's cover is all those things.
What do you read for pleasure?
I enjoy novels but I also like to read philosophy, politics, history and science - I am a life long learner.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My iPad.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am just beginning to market my book, so I am in the exploratory stage - ask me a year from now! I use Twitter for my other projects and will continue to use it for the book as I enjoy that platform. I will also use Facebook, Linkedin and other platforms I come across as I research book marketing. I'll keep you posted!
Describe your desk
Well, since I am currently a bit of a nomad, my desk differs from month to month! Usually it is whatever flat surface is available. It could also be in a cafe, a park, on the beach... you get the drift. My laptop is my desk - it travels with me wherever I go.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, UK. It was a magical place. I roamed freely through the forest and my imagination flourished therein. I had a governess - I guess today we would call that being home schooled. We were four girls in the class. My teacher was a fabulous woman called Jo. Everyday, Jo opened a National Geographic magazine and our classes would be guided by the articles before us. History, geography, social studies, math - all our subjects grew from the pages of that wonderful magazine. So I travelled the world through pictures and stories that fueled my imagination and cultivated a thirst for knowledge and travel. After school my free time in nature allowed my inner world to continue to be nurtured. My family was not wealthy, but I had a privileged childhood, one which has inspired me to 'give back' in whatever way I can to the greater community, my whole life. I think that childhood greatly influences all my creative endeavors including writing.
When did you first start writing?
I began writing a journal when I was 12 years old. I have been writing in one way or another my entire life. This is my first novel, but I have written screenplays, scripts, educational programs and "We're All Interconnected' - a children's book and CD for teachers. I'm always writing something.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Initially the book was inspired by my father's wartime diary, written while he was a POW of the Japanese in Thailand and Burma. I was going to write the story of his journey, as illustrated in his diary, and recount my mother's escape from Malaysia as the Japanese invasion approached. But a friend suggested I make my theme more contemporary. So I began to contemplate this. How could I find a way to include my parents story into another narrative. Miraculously I stumbled across the secret of the Golden Lily, the clandestine WWII operation carried out by the members of the Japanese Imperial family, As I dug deeper, I learned how the CIA colluded with the Japanese at the end of the war, to hide billions of dollars in stolen gold and artifacts in return for certain political favors. It has all been contested, but it is becoming harder for all parties to protest, since court documents are now being declassified that prove it really happened. Anyway, this gave me the perfect thread that formed the base of my story. Now that this book is published I'm working on the next!
A fun and inspiring experience I had was traveling 'the book' after it as written. I journeyed to Thailand and donated my dad's diary to the Thailand-Burma Railway Center; then I visited many of the places I had described in the novel. I even met people I had invented - people I did not think actually existed! That was cool. I was amazed how accurately I had been able to describe many of the places I wrote about by using Google Maps in my research. There were one or two things that I had to change and even a couple of plot twists that were added after my visit.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have always had to promote myself; I am an entrepreneur. I did send the manuscript out to many Literary Agents and had some good feedback - but none committed. I like to keep moving with projects and being an author is no different. I want to write the sequel to this novel, I want to keep writing - that is my passion. I think 'Self-Publishing' has democratized writing; it allows Indie authors a platform - sure, there are millions of other books to compete with, but everyone stands a chance. If a good publisher was interested in my novel, I am sure I would listen, but for the moment I'm happy to be an Indie author.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I'm just beginning so we shall see. I do like the Smashwords experience so far!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Imagining plot lines, manifesting characters and seeking out their multifaceted selves.Telling a good story. Researching information that is not so well known and weaving it into a story.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. I know I cannot please everyone. As I wrote this novel I was blessed to have some wonderful friends who read every chapter as it was written. They were hooked from the start and that meant so much because I was able to discuss the characters with them in a way that made them come alive for all of us. If readers enjoy the book, if they learn something, are inspired by an element therein, or simply find it a rollicking good tale, then I am happy. I give thanks to everyone who reads it!
What are you working on next?
The sequel.
Who are your favorite authors?
Barbara Kingsolver, Geraldine Brooks, JoJo Moyes, isabelle Allende, Diana Galbaldon, Jane Eyre, Honore de Balzac, C.S. Lewis, Miriam Toews, Khaled Hosseini, Elizabeth Gilbert and Arundhati Roy to name a few.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Being alive!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like to spend time in nature, walking, sitting, dreaming. I love being with my grandchildren and my grown kids. Singing. Playing music. Cooking. Reading.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Through Smashwords of course!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The House of Spirits - Isabelle Allende. The author's imagination is sublime and her characters come alive in the book, so much so that one feels one knows them intimately. Allende is wonderful at reminding us of our shared humanity.
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini - I love books that take me to a part of the world I know little about as far as everyday life goes. This story was breathtaking and I think I read it cover to cover without putting it down.
Outlander - Diana Gabaldon - I love historical fiction, romance and time travel. This book was a mix of all these - again, I read it cover to cover without putting it down.
The People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks - again, historical and in a way a travelogue through time. Geraldine's wonderful premise of taking a walk through history guided by small items found in a book is just sublime.
The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver - Brilliant book. I loved the historical and cultural aspects of it, learning about a country I know little of, imagining this family and their journey. Captivating.
How do you deal with rejection?
As a creative artist, I have had to deal with rejection my entire life. I love my work, whether it be writing a novel, singing, drawing, creating television programs, scripts or songs. I would be lying if I said that being rejected meant nothing to me. There's always a 'moment' when someone rejects my creation. If the person gives me constructive feedback, then that is obviously a gift - it allows me to reflect on my work, to re-examine a plot point, a character, a line in a song, a melody, a script idea. But if it is purely a 'no response', or a 'no thank you, it doesn't fit our criteria', then I try not to dwell on it. I know I cannot please or appeal to everyone. I can certainly strive to improve my craft - my writing, my music, my artwork, my narratives, my characters, and I will always do so. But the fact that I have been rejected does not mean my work has no merit, no value. In the end, I write because I love it; I sing because it brings me joy; I compose songs because they inspire me. That is what matters to me. Writing brings me alive and allows me to document my life experiences, my thoughts and imaginings in ways that are tangible, and that I can share with others. So, rejection - sure, it's not always pleasant, but in my case it has made me more determined to continue creating. This is my life.
Published 2016-05-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Pursuit of the Golden Lily
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 94,830. Language: English. Published: May 22, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
When Rose receives an odd deathbed request from her father, a former World War II prisoner of war, it leads her on a mysterious and dangerous treasure hunt throughout Southeast Asia.