Happy day-after release day for Emily Steward!! She has an amazing book and interview to share with us.
When 13 year-old Penelope Gilbert accidentally transforms into a stapler during math class, she’s sure she’s going crazy. But she’s not imagining the men in black suits now patrolling the halls at school, nor is she imagining the new substitute teacher who orders the class to take a special new test. A test that requires blood. Hunted for her powers, and torn from the life she knows, Penny is swept up into a world in the clouds where magic meets machine and pirates rule the sky.
Emily Steward spent the better part of her childhood dressed as a ninja and trying to convince others to call her ‘Ace.’ When she wasn’t saving the world from evil samurai, she could usually be found in the branches of a tree reading a good book. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three daughters, and dog Bentley. Though she seldom dresses as a ninja now, her adventurous spirit remains as does her love of tree climbing and reading good books.
What inspired you to write this book? I wish I had some kind of revelation to share on what got me inspired, but the truth is, I just decided to quit waiting for inspiration to strike, and start writing. The story looks a lot different now than that early draft, but it was effective because it got me out of my head and actually writing.
How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing stories pretty much since I can remember. I created a whole series when I was about seven or eight about a monster family. The mother was always yelling for the kids to come to dinner, the kids were always jumping on the bed, and the main character was prone to bonking his head on everything. Apparently when you are seven, bonking you head on things is the peak of hilarity.
Are you an outliner or pantser? Oh I am such a pantser. Probably to the point of detriment. I started writing this book with nothing in mind except that I wanted something magical to happen to this young boy named Bobby Brown. Well I managed to write nearly a third of my novel before I decided it might need some sort of loose outline. It took me several years and a lot of revisions including changing Bobby Brown to a girl named Penelope Gilbert (RIP poor Bobby) and switching my audience from young adult to middle grade.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block? Just don’t get too caught up in getting things perfect the first time. It’s better to get down a bunch of silly ideas and words until you push past your writer’s block, then to look at a blank screen for days. Computers are very forgiving. You can change, you can delete, and you can revise. Just get something written!
What are your hobbies aside from writing? I love kayaking but I don’t get to do that nearly as often as I’d like. I also enjoy tennis, board games, frisbee golf, and playing guitar. But after becoming a mom, I would sadd Netflix is the hobby I generally have time for. Oh yes, I have gotten very skilled at the Netflixing.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? SO many places. Underwater in a submarine, a real tropical deserted island, ancient ruins, a huge old castle, Lake Loch Ness at night in a row boat, just to name a few. Oh wait, I just read the question again. You said one place. So I’ll say, back in time to see a dinosaur.
You were just given an Island. What would you name it? Something majestic like Azure, or majesty… or Debbie.
Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten.I once tried some Pup-Peroni. I smelled so good. Smell can be very deceiving.
If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be? Probably Haldor. He’s quirky and kind, plus he can bend metal with his mind. Do you know how handy that would be for home repairs?
Do you have any advice for other writers? Listen and learn from other’s feedback on your work, but ultimately trust your gut. Don’t get discouraged when you run up against harsh criticism. Use that criticism to fuel your fire. Edit like crazy and show them you do have a story worth sharing that only you can tell. And those rejections you have piling up in your inbox… they really are subjective. Somewhere, someone is looking for your book, it just needs to fall into the right hands at the right time.
Can you share an excerpt of your book with us?
“Come on!” she yelled to Haldor who was wriggling out from under the spider corpse. She ran to the spot where she saw the creature enter as Haldor hurried to catch up. She scrambled through the brush until she came to a stream. There she saw the spider. He was across the water under a large tree.
Above him were several objects swinging in the breeze. It took her a moment to realize that they were rotting bodies strung up by their necks. Their unseeing eyes stared eerily into the darkness. Upon closer inspection, she saw that there were at least thirty of them. She wretched silently as she tried to think of a way for Crane to not become one of them. The spider was already trying to wrap a strand of webbing around his neck.
A thought occurred to her. An outrageous, outlandish thought. I can do this, she assured herself. She tried to picture every last detail of her slain foe—every creepy crawling, hairy, shiny detail. Penny could feel the energy pulsing through her. Her hands were no longer her own. Her teeth had become fangs, and her eyes were the eyes of a killer.