Interviews

‘I Cringe a Lot When I Read My Old Stories’

Author Emma Joy Hill has been telling herself stories for as long as she can remember; and so, when she learned to write in sentences, writing down a story was one of the first things she did. ‘I remember writing a story called The Pretty Trees. It was inspired by a particular morning when sparkling frost covered all the trees in the city,’ says the Ontario-based Canadian writer, who is also well-versed in Dutch, beginning her interaction with The Literary Juggernaut

The 22-year-old, who writes in the evenings after she has finished work for the day, lets us know that in 2015 she decided she wanted to commit to writing an entire book and try to get it published. ‘Naturally, I was a bit nervous about this; so, I thought that a classic Cinderella retelling would be a safe way to go. I finished Ashes of Glass in 2017 and started querying agents and publishers,’ she shares with us, adding that the process was exhausting. ‘And I only ever heard back from one agent,’ she lets on. 

Emma Joy Hill

Drawing Connections

During the summer of 2018, when Emma was working in a strawberry patch, she struck up a conversation with one of the customers. ‘She was an author too and had self-published all of her books through CreateSpace (now Amazon KDP). I thought, “why not try it out?” So I did. It was a lot of work, especially navigating all of the formatting, but I was happy with the end product and also self-published my next book,’ she explains. 

For her second book, the author, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Music, branched out to a more original idea. ‘The concept for Beautiful Beast began with a misunderstood villain. And what if the villain is cursed and stuck in an enchanted palace? From there, the connections to Beauty and the Beast quickly twined themselves through my story, but I think the biggest, most significant difference is that the gender roles reverse,’ she tells us, going on to emphasize with a ‘Yes, you heard me right.’  

She shares, ‘The beast is a woman. Her name is Kalista, and she was cursed by a sorceress who was determined not to let Kalista escape. Then Arawn shows up, certain that Kalista is the one who killed his brother. As he gets to know her better, he realizes that maybe things aren’t quite as clear as he thought. Together, they struggle against spells, wolves, and time itself to break the curse. If they fail, Kalista will fall asleep and will never again wake.’

ENGAGE WITH TLJ | If you would like to read a far more elegant summary of the book, head over to Amazon right off the bat!

For the Love of Writing

On being asked whether she plots out the story in advance or flies by the seat of pants, Emma, whose all-time favorite book happens to be Beauty by Robin McKinnley, says, ‘I always have characters and a plot sketched out in my head, but sometimes I get more detailed and write things down. Right now, I have a project on the go, and I have almost filled an entire notebook full of character charts, plot points, and random ideas. Before this, all of that never bothered me, but I am enjoying the process way more than I thought I would.’  

Does she, nonetheless, find it difficult to juggle writing and other tasks? ‘When I am in school, it is difficult to find time to write, especially near the end of the term. So, writing sometimes gets pushed to the side. But during the summer, I try to write every day,’ says Emma, who also loves composing music, gardening, drawing, and reading. 

‘I always have characters and a plot sketched out in my head, but sometimes I get more detailed and write things down. Right now, I have a project on the go, and I have almost filled an entire notebook full of character charts, plot points, and random ideas. Before this, all of that never bothered me, but I am enjoying the process way more than I thought I would.’

EMMA JOY HILL

ALSO READ | ‘Poetry is a Journey Without an End’

Snow White Meets Robin Hood?

Speaking about her works in progress, the author lets us know she is working on the sequel for Beautiful Beast. ‘I do not want to say too much about it yet, so I will simply hint that Snow White meets Robin Hood,’ she smiles, adding, ‘I have finished the first draft and am now in the dregs of editing.’ 

We also learn she is working on a piece of children’s fiction about a world within ours where certain people can control the elements. ‘It is one I have done extensive planning for, and I am hoping to start writing the first draft soon,’ she lets on. 

When asked whether she desires to become a full-fledged author, Emma avers her dream career is to be an author and composer. ‘Those are my favorite pastimes, but it can be financially difficult in both of those careers to just do that one thing; so I hope that together I can make things work,’ she tells us. 

ALSO READ | ‘Telling’ Tale

Final Word

Be that as it may, does Emma have anything to tell budding authors who may lose motivation? ‘You are going to hate me for saying this, but just keep going. Learn from your mistakes and move on,’ she declares, adding, ‘All writers had to start somewhere, and for 90 percent of them, that “somewhere” is a pretty messy place. I cringe a lot when I read my old stories.’ 

Emma also reminds writers that a story might not be for everyone. ‘I have read negative reviews of my books and have thought that my writing sucks, and I should quit. But then a positive review pops up, and I am motivated again. So there are going to be ups and downs, that is completely normal,’ she explains. 

As the interview draws to a close, we ask Emma if there is something she would like to change in the world, and she tells us there are a million things she would want to change. ‘For one, I would like to erase COVID. But let us just confine it to the writing world, shall we? I would like to change how hard it is to get your manuscript read by an agent,’ she says, signing off.  

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