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  • Nikky Lee

10 Questions with E.M. Wright

E.M. Wright is an author and editor from Portland, Oregon. She spends her time daydreaming, listening to music, and playing with her two cats. She loves long walks in the rain and books of all kinds, surrounding herself with them as often as she can. Sedition is her first book, with its sequel Seraphim due May 9, 2023.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself! Where do you call home and what do you write?

I'm E.M. Wright, AKA Em, an author from Portland, Oregon. I write young adult fiction, mostly fantasy and scifi, but I'm currently dipping my toes into gothic horror.

2. What drew you to that particular genre and/or age group?

I love scifi and fantasy because it allows me to explore the impossible. Sometimes that's for an escape, and other times that's so that I can talk about something real in a fresh or more comfortable context. I'm a firm believer in the concept that fiction is sometimes the best way to tell the truth, and I want to give my readers stories that make them think, make them feel, and give them an escape for a while.

3. What’s your best known work?

I only have one book out right now, Sedition, published with Parliament House Press. I'm currently in the editing process for its sequels, and I'm very excited about that process!

4. What inspired you to write it?

I read a lot of science fiction and Victorian literature in high school, and when I discovered steampunk, I knew I had to tell a story in a world like that. I've always loved the combination of high-tech and old-fashioned, the way the best (and worst) parts of Victorian society can contribute to a fascinating science fiction tapestry. Plus the punk subgenres appeal to my inner rebel.

5. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between? How do you research?

I call myself a discovery writer. I start with a concept and a few loose ideas—characters, setting—and go from there, letting the characters guide and shape the story. Sometimes, it really feels like I'm just unveiling the story as I go along; as if it was always there, and my characters are just relaying it back to me. Other times it's more like pulling teeth, and I have to do a lot of rewriting. The creative process is always full of knots and loops! It's never a simple, straight line. As far as research goes, I have a tendency to Google things as I'm drafting, which leads to time-consuming rabbit holes and a lot of wasted time, but I never know what I'm going to need to know until I'm in the thick of it, so often researching like that is my best option.

6. What’s the strangest or most interesting thing you’ve researched for your writing?

Believe it or not, Sedition required a lot of research. Everything from the way English aristocracy works to Victorian mourning dress, English law, and even the invention dates of many, many items, I wanted to be sure I captured the Victorian period as accurately as I could (while not actually writing about it at all).

7. What’s the most personal story/scene you’ve written and why?

The book I'm currently querying feels like my most personal. It's a YA contemporary fantasy novel, but the main character is a snapshot of myself in a lot of ways. She shares a lot of the same fears and anxieties I had at her age, and writing those things required me to go to some interesting places. There's different schools of thought about whether or not it's good for an author to use writing as a form of therapy, and I don't feel like I have any authority on the matter, but it's definitely weird to look up from the page you're working on and realize you've written your own struggles into a character you made up. Sort of heavy and freeing, all at once.

8. Who are your literary influences? In what way?

For years, I've aspired to write like VE Schwab, Neil Gaiman, and Leigh Bardugo. But my literary influences are super broad, everything from Shakespeare to the Bröntes to Lemony Snicket. I don't remember who said it, but someone once said that a writer tends to be the sum of everything they've ever read, and I think there's some truth to that. I read widely, so my influences are eclectic, unusual, and varied.

9. What books are on your bedside table right now?

I don't have a bedside table (ah, apartment living), but currently in the little stack I keep on hand, I have The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones, The Hacienda by Isabela Cañas, and The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah.

10. Last and most important, where can we find your books/stories?

Anywhere online books are sold! If you feel comfortable purchasing from Amazon, you can find Sedition there, but you can also find it on Barnes & Noble and elsewhere. If you prefer audiobooks, you can find it on Audible. (You should check it out; my narrator is incredible!) Plus, keep your eye out for Sedition's sequel, Seraphim, which releases May 9, 2023, from Parliament House. It'll be available for preorder very soon!

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