The Writing Life of: Emily Williams
This week on ‘The Writing Life of:‘ I am thrilled to be interviewing author Emily Williams. Emily will be sharing with us detail of her writing life, telling us all about her latest book ‘Rafferty Lincoln Loves‘, which was released on 13th February 2018, and answering a few fun questions too.
So without further ado I’ll hand you over to Emily Williams
Emily Williams lives by the seaside in West Sussex with her family and a menagerie of small pets. After graduating from Sussex University with a BA in Psychology, Emily trained as a primary school teacher and teaches in a local school.
Rafferty Lincoln Loves… is her first YA novel after the success of her debut adult novel, Letters to Eloise, released in 2017.
1) As a child what did you want to do when you grew up?
I toyed with the idea of becoming a vet until I realised I couldn’t stomach blood. Then I wanted to work with horses but my parents always tried to discourage me. I had my hobby as writing, but I never really thought I could have a career writing. One day, I’d like to fulfil this ambition and write full time.
2) Who were your favourite childhood authors?
I had some many but as a young child, I devoured any novel by Enid Blyton and then horse-related books by author Patricia Leitch, especially her Jinny series. These books mostly dominated my bookshelf collection, although there were hoards of others.
3) At what point in your life did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
Around the age of seven or eight teachers began to notice my stories and make comments on them. I knew that I could write and they were enjoying my stories. I loved creating the stories too. When I entered secondary school, another teacher told me to never give up writing. I didn’t realise at the time where it would lead me, but I have always written stories since then.
4) How did you go about following that dream?
I played around with short stories in my early twenties but never put pen to paper to start a novel. It took until my early thirties to attempt a full-length novel. I had the idea for ‘Letters to Eloise’ and when I began writing, it just poured out onto the screen. I finally realised that I could do it. I think the barrier had been starting the novel as I found the writing process a lot easier than I thought it would be.
5) What is your writing day like? Do you aim for a certain amount of pages or words before you stop for the day?
When I am in the middle of writing a novel, I try and write a few thousand words a night. I aim for a short chapter, then edit, and revise that chapter the next day. Roughly, 1500-2000 thousand words per evening. I only write in the evening when the kids have gone to bed. When my partner works nights I find it easier to concentrate without him constantly trying to talk to me!
6) Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I wrote a few short stories in my twenties under a pseudonym. They were slightly erotic and didn’t want it to jeopardise my career as a teacher at the time. Looking back, they were very mildly erotic stories and I don’t think using my own name would have changed much! I occasionally think that if I changed genre significantly, I might use a pseudonym but at the moment I write under my own name.
7) Do you have any strange habits before starting, or whilst in the midst of writing?
I have a habit of writing my novels in an odd order. Once the plot is mapped out, I pick and choose what chapter I want to write. It makes the editing process so much harder afterwards but it gets rid of writer’s block for me.
8) Do you write longhand, typewriter, or on a computer?
I used to write everything in notes first in my jotter and then type up each chapter. I now suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, so I struggle to hand write. I use the computer and on bad days, which is becoming frequently often, I use dictation software. It has taken a while to get used to, but I’m getting there. I have hard copy notes now and use a table in Microsoft Word to organise my chapters.
9) How many books have you written? Do you have any unpublished work?
I have two published novels. Letters to Eloise was my debut novel published last year and more recently, I have published my first young adult novel, Rafferty Lincoln Loves. The novel has been published for the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre and all the proceeds are being donated to the charity. I have several unpublished pieces, a psychological thriller and another contemporary novel. I’m debating at the moment which one to concentrate on finishing first.
10) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A bit of both. I like to go with the flow but have my overall plot sketched out. Some characters do lead me astray!
11) Do you read all the reviews left for your book(s)?
I do read all reviews. I’ve been very lucky to have really supportive and thoughtful reviews left for my two novels. I find it hardest when I receive a rating on Goodread’s but no review comment left, so I don’t know why the person came to that conclusion. So far, I have been very lucky to receive great reviews. I do take on board any suggestions and criticism and try to improve my writing accordingly.
Concerning your latest book:
Publisher – Lutino Publications
Pages – 286
Release Date – 13th February 2018
ISBN 13 – 978-0995742116
Format – ebook, paperback
Rafferty Lincoln doesn’t like horses. Not one bit. But when the popular high school girl of his dreams, Liberty Ashburn pulls him into a world of lead ropes and horse brushes, who is he to say no?
Except this isn’t any old horse. This is the missing racehorse, Profits Red Ridge. The horse Rafferty and three of his friends are hiding from the world. And Liberty Ashburn isn’t just any ordinary high school girl. How far will Rafferty go to win her over?
An intense, witty and powerful coming of age story with startling consequences.
12) How long did it take you to get from the idea’s stage to your date of publication?
It took about a year from the initial idea to publication. I had several draft copies before I was happy enough to send a copy to the charity for approval. It all takes longer than you think and time waiting for readers to get back to you with their thoughts etc.
13) How did you come up with the names for your characters?
The names were leftover names from our baby name list when I was pregnant with my second child! I used my top names from the lists for the characters in Rafferty Lincoln Loves…, and now (being pregnant with our third) I am struggling to think of any other names! The names now belong to those characters. I have a few names left for future novels then I’ll be back to the baby names book for suggestions.
14) Can you give us an insight into your main character(s) life?, What makes them tick?
Rafferty is a typical teenage boy. He struggles to find his place within his peer friendship group. He loves sport and uses this to hide behind at school but finds that, once out of his comfort zone, he falls apart trying to win over the affections of Liberty. He is sometimes cringe-worthy in his actions and self-centred which leads to him overlooking the needs of friends around him. Deep down he’s a good guy but just has some lessons to learn.
15) Which was your hardest scene to write?
The last part of the novel is a letter written by Rafferty. It was hard to write due to being emotional, however, the ideas flowed out as Rafferty knew what he had to say. Reading back it’s very heart felt and I’m glad it came across how I wanted.
16) How did you come up with the title of your book?
Rafferty Lincoln Loves… had several titles! The books started off called ‘The Subtle Art of Keeping a Racehorse,’ and then changed to ‘Keeping Polo.’ I’d wanted to name the horse after a Polo mint and use this for the cover, however, I became concerned with copyright issues so dropped this and debated the title for ages. I didn’t want to categorise the book as being only about horses, as it’s more about teenage relationships. The rumour the teenagers spread in the novel starts with the words ‘Rafferty Lincoln Loves…’ so though that would be appropriate!
17) Did you get a family member/friend to read your work before sending to the publishers?
I used up all the generous friend offers when I wrote my first novel, so for Rafferty Lincoln Loves… I used a selection of beta readers to read the first few drafts and offer suggestions. These readers were excellent, and as they weren’t close friends they could be even more brutal with the story and help give great suggestions. I am very grateful for the help of the first few readers and the story improved for the better. I then gave the novel to an editor who trawled through the novel for continuity errors and proofreading.
18) What process did you go through to get your book published?
There were many processes but mostly time. Each stage takes more time than you think. I wanted to make sure I had a strong plot and well-rounded characters and asked my beta readers to be honest about the characters. This led to more depth being added to several characters as the readers wanted to know more about their background. The editing process took time too. I was lucky to have the help of an editor who kindly provided her services to the charity.
Finally, I wanted to charity to be happy with the novel and was delighted that the Chairman John Sexton, and Chief Executive Gillian Carlisle, from the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre, added a few words of endorsement to the novel. The charity’s ambassador, Frankie Dettori also wrote a fantastic foreword for the novel.
19) What did you do once you had written the final word in your book?
I actually wrote the final letter in Rafferty Lincoln Loves… before I had finished the earlier parts. I have written both my novels in a topsy-turvy order so the end was written before I’d finished. However, when that final word was completed, I’d have a big smile on my face. But then the hardest work begins – editing.
20) What’s next for you, writing-wise?
I have several projects on the go, which I am deciding between. I am also having our third child in a couple of months time so will have a few weeks off writing before I get stuck back in over the summer.
1) What’s your favourite food?
I love food! This is a hard choice. I have both a sweet and savoury tooth so like a chicken noodle dish with chocolate for pudding!
2) If you had a box of crayons and you could only choose one, which colour would you choose?
Purple. Purple has always been my favourite colour. I don’t even know why!
3) What movie could you watch over and over again?
Dirty Dancing and I have watched it over and over again! Many times. I could mouth the words along with it. There are many favourites back in the day where I have worn out the VHS copy and moved on to buy a DVD!
4) What would be the top song on your playlist?
A nice bit of Ed Sheeran in the background would always be good. The playlist that I took to the hospital for the birth of my first child included Ellie Goulding and Florence and the Machines!
5) If you won millions, what would be your first purchase?
A house with land for all of our family and pets. My biggest dream is to open the upstairs window and call down to my horse in the paddock. You never know, one day this dream might turn into reality!
6) A talking duck walks into your room wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, whats the first thing he says to you?
‘Wake up! This is a dream!’
You can find out more about Emily Williams by visiting the website/social media sites below.
I would like to say a big thank you to Emily Williams for sharing with us details of her writing life, and for a wonderful interview.