Today I'm delighted to be interviewing fellow blogging friend and writer, Emma Jane!
Emma Jane Anderson is a young starry-eyed girl who can’t really remember a time when she didn’t have it in her head to be a writer-- it must have been very long ago, she thinks. Her favorite things to do are read romantic novels, sings folk ballads, romp around in meadows full of daisies, watch her favorite movies, and of course, write stories about the lively characters tramping around her imagination. She hasn’t finished any remarkable work of fiction yet, but she has high hopes of writing novels by the dozen someday, and is currently working on her first, Curtains of Lace. She gets awfully excited about things and has resigned herself to the fact that most people are going to think her odd, but in general she has a lot of fun.
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1. (Heidi) Some differences and similarities you see between the three major forms of storytelling—literature, music, and film?
(Emma) A good story well-told rings true in any form. I love all three forms, and the different ways they exert the imagination and bring stories to life make the experience of each more enjoyable! I love how books stimulate the imagination, and allow you to come up with your own mental pictures of the characters, the places, and everything, whereas when you watch a movie all that’s already laid out for you, so you come to it with the perspective already drawn. When you watch a movie, though, it’s often much easier to jump right into the story as if you were there, and it’s a whole different experience to watch everything unfold before you rather than reading the words on a page. Both have their merits, and both are awesome.
As for music, for me that has always played a big part of any movie experience. It adds so much depth and emotion and “scope for the imagination”, if you will. :-D I also love stories told through songs, because that’s putting my two favorite things together-- storytelling and music-- and really, what could be better?
2. How have you seen those three mesh together in your own creative process?
I always picture my characters and their adventures in my head, sort of like watching a movie, because it helps me to lay it out as I want the reader to see it in their own imagination. Watching movies definitely gives another perspective to writing. I watch a lot of movies (yes, I admit it) and I’ve gotten lots of inspiration from them, a lot of which I incorporate into what I write.
Music also inspires me. Sometimes I listen to movie soundtracks while I write, but mostly I just have music in my head, whatever’s just right for the particular scene that’s playing out at the moment. Sometimes I’ll hear a folk song that tells a story I find especially intriguing, and it makes me want to write a book about that someday!
3. When and how did you first begin writing?
I must have been about seven or eight when I started making up little stories and writing them down in little notebooks. At that time I was heavily inspired by Anne of Green Gables and other stories I’ve been immersed in practically since birth. :-) Most of what I wrote as a youngster bore large traces of My Louisiana Sky, Tales of Avonlea, Little Women, and things like that. I wrote my first ‘book’ when I was about eight, which was inspired by the adventures of the Barbie families my sisters and I played with all the time.
4. What are you currently working on?
The biggest thing is a novel I began last June, called Curtains of Lace. I’ve been tinkering with it on-and-off for almost a year now, and I hope to finish the first draft in a few months. I’ve never worked on a project as big as this before, and it’s been terribly exciting, as well as frightfully daunting. I’m making slow progress, though, which is heartening, and I am absolutely in love with my story. It’s the best thing that has ever come out of me.
Besides that I have a few other little stories I dabble in occasionally, depending on what mood I’m in (which depends on what I’ve been reading/watching, or other outside sources.) One of them is the story of a young debutante in 1790s England, called Haul Away, which I’m also crazy about. I’m pretty crazy about my stories. :-)
5. Particular author/s who have influenced you?
Most definitely Lynn Austin, who is my favorite author of all time. I discovered her books (and, coincidentally, the great and glorious world of Christian historical fiction) when I was twelve years old, and my life has never been the same! Also Tasha Tudor, who has always been a big inspiration to me, and Elswyth Thane, my second favorite author, who is the author of my beloved Williamsburg series and is so smart it’s not even fair.
6. Is there a “non-writing” activity that shapes your writing?
I often play the piano whenever I get frustrated or tired, or just bored with my writing. The piano bears so much of my pain. ;-D I also occasionally have fun looking at pictures on Pinterest of places and people who inspire my characters and locations. And, of course, reading, which practically goes without saying.
7. Your opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of digital books?
I strongly dislike digital books. Actually, I’ve never touched one with a ten-foot pole, but my opinion stands. Personally, I feel it takes away from the thrill and charm of holding the book in your hands, turning the pages, inhaling the scent, tracing the words with your finger. (If you traced the words with your finger on a touchscreen, you’d be in all sorts of trouble.) If I were to give you a brutally honest answer, I’d say, digital books are lame. Just read real books, people. You’re missing something very special if you don’t.
8. Do you ever do graphic design to help with your writing?
Not often, though I have made picture collages pertaining to two of my novels, which I’m terribly tickled with. I’d love to do more of it in the future!
9. Do you outline? If so, in a general way or very detailed?
I’m terrible when it comes to outlining. In fact, usually when I start out I have little or no outline at all. It comes to me either all at once or slowly by degrees, but usually it does come and I can get away with not planning. Lately, though, working on such a large-scale novel, I’ve learned firsthand the importance of laying out solid plans. You can always change things, but I’m finding it’s good for me to have a course to go by.
10. Do you work on multiple projects at once?
Absolutely! I find it tend to get rather bored if I work on only one thing for too long. I’m very scatterbrained. Plus, I’m so changeable in my moods and inspiration that I write better if I have two or three things going that I can alternately work on.
11. Do you edit as you write?
Sometimes, though it really depends on what I’m writing. I actually prefer editing to the base writing process, because it’s easier for me to get a picture of what I want it to be when I can stand back a ways and view it as the reader and not the writer. Sometimes I feel like I get too close to my own writing to really pull out the magic I want my readers to experience.
12. Certain themes you see surfacing and resurfacing in your work?
Dreams, discontentment versus genuine happiness, family struggles. My heroines tend to be very imaginative, dreamy, and prone to unusual or awkward situations, and their hero is usually much more steady and grounded.
13. A particular aspect of writing you struggle with or a challenge you’ve overcome?
I’m not the most consistent person in the world-- I have days when I just want to write non-stop, the emotion is flowing from my pen, and I’m ravingly excited about what I’m doing….and other days when I feel kind of lackadaisical about it. I’ve been trying to be more diligent in setting and keeping goals-- because I want to get somewhere, don’t I? ;-D
I do feel like I’ve overcome a huge challenge with sticking at my novel for so long, though. Right now I’m more than halfway through it, which is farther than I’ve ever gotten with something like this, and it’s been very freeing to know that I CAN actually do this, because I’m actually doing it! It gives a girl hope.
I’ve always been the kind of person who isn’t much concerned with what other people think. Chances are if I’ve written something and I really like it, I’m not going to care if you tell me you don’t. That can be good, but it can also be bad! I don’t get a lot of feedback, because at this point I don’t let many people read my work, and thankfully it hasn’t been very negative yet! While I am inclined to be indifferent to most suggestions, I try to be gracious about it.
15. One thing you’ve learned from other writers?
Everyone says ‘keep writing’, which is universally true. Just do it. You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t. Sometimes I read about people finishing books in such a short time, and writing so many, and it makes me feel very small and inadequate and unsuccessful, but I’ve learned not to let it dissuade me. Some people are prolific writers who can whip off novels fast as prairie fire-- I’m can’t. But it doesn’t matter how long it takes me to do something, I’ll just stick to it and eventually I’ll arrive where I’m meant to be. So I guess you could say I’ve learned to be patient. :-)
16. A helpful nonfiction book or website?
I don’t really read much about writing (though maybe I should), so I can’t really say. Typically when I see something online about writing tips or such, I just think, oh, I don’t need that, though I’m sure I could probably use it. ;-P
One thing I’ve been trying to remember lately is not to over-write; say what you want to say, and not what doesn’t need to be said. I have a tendency to cram words, which makes my sentences much too bulky and bothersome. I’m trying to let my writing flow easier and be less bogged down by adjectives.
Also, let your own unique style lead the flow. Being inspired by other authors is great, and essential, but don’t try to be too much like anyone else when you have your own special talent that needs to shine through.
Know your stories, and know your characters. Sometimes it takes a long time, but when you can get to know the people you’ve created so well that they become startlingly real, it’s ever so much easier to infuse that into your story. I realize that might sound a little out-there-- I’m a very imaginative person. :-) But it’s something I’ve found to be true.
Also, don’t let yourself get discouraged. If this is what you love, work at it. Write what you know, what you love, what you hate, what you feel, what you want others to feel. Be genuine, and that will resonate with your reader. And don’t forget why you’re doing it. Give it your all.
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