It's our pleasure to welcome the very talented Emma Lai to Heroines with Hearts today. Emma has a great backshelf, a new release coming soon, and many other projects in the works as well. It's a delight to have her here today.
Tell us about yourself.
I like challenge, and there’s little I find more challenging than writing (with the main exception being the raising of my now two year old son). The characters demand their stories be told and nag me incessantly until I comply. The characters are very insistent about me remaining faithful to their adventures. As a result, I’ve crossed many genres, levels of heat and delved into areas I’d never thought to.
Tell us about your “Mates of the Guardians” series.
The Guardians are from a planet named Elysia, and their purpose is to protect the interests of their society, which takes them into not only our past, present and future timelines, but also those of other worlds...though none of those stories have been published yet. The Mates of the Guardians series presents short snapshots of how this set of amazing men and women met their significant others. However, a mystery presented itself in the first story that was never resolved, and while it’s barely touched upon in the second story, the third picks the thread up with a new twist added.
The third book in the series, His Capture, Her Rescue is due out soon. Are you planning any more in the series?
There’s at least one more story in the series, but I had originally envisioned five. There’s also a spin-off series that’s more involved in the works. I’ve completed the initial story, but I need to go back and revisit it in light of all that has occurred in the Mates and all that is yet to occur.
What made you decide to write a series?
I never really set out to start a series, but once the world was developed, a set of characters appeared to populate the world, and I felt each of them deserved a happily ever after. As a reader, I’ve often wondered about secondary characters, and in my worlds, if the secondary characters speak to me, I endeavor to tell their story.
I will admit I have a new series coming this year under the pen name L.J. Maisen that I intentionally set out to write as a serial. I’m hoping it will be well-received.
What got you interested in writing?
Since elementary school when I read 200+ books a year, I’ve always been an avid reader, and I’ve always loved writing. I love creating new worlds and the people to inhabit them. Aside from school projects and technical writing, I’d never thought to try my hand at fiction. (Let’s ignore the failed teen romance I attempted when I was ten, because what the heck did I know about romance?) Then I took a year off to finish up my master degree and was reading a lot. I told my husband I thought I could write, and he dared me to deliver. Now, here I am, three years later with multiple titles under my belt.
How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first book in fourth grade. It was titled Glartian the Martian. Then there was the failed romance in fifth grade. Between then and 2008, it was all poetry, school papers and technical documents for work. So, one could say either I’ve been writing for almost 30 years or 3 years. It all depends on how one measures.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My husband’s guilty pleasure is reading romance, the spicy ones preferably. He’s also a fan of science fiction. I write mainly for him though now that I have a wider readership, I try to satisfy their desires as well.
What comes first, plot or characters?
The opening scene comes first. I’m not a plotter. My stories almost one and all come from a dream sequence in which the characters act out the opening scene. They also deliver a rough outline, though the hardest stories to write are the ones where they just give me the opening. I have multiple works in progress because I’m still waiting for the characters to tell me the rest of their story.
How do you come up with the titles for your books?
I try to pick out the main idea of the story and play around with catchy words or phrases. A thesaurus comes in real handy. In some instances, I’ll go back into the story and work the title in or an obvious link to the title in one or two places.
What is the hardest part of writing?
Waiting. Waiting for the characters to tell me how to finish their stories. Waiting for critique partners to get me their feedback. (Sad because they all diligently respond in a week or less.) Waiting for response to the query. Waiting for edits. Can you tell I’m not the most patient of people?
Do you have an interesting writing quirk?
Aside from the voices in my head? Nope. Not that I can think of.
What have you learned from being a published author that you wish you knew before you were published?
I’ve honestly enjoyed the journey just as it has occurred. If I could go back, the only thing I might do differently is use a separate pen name for my erotica, but it’s too late for that. (I’ve already told the editor who first made the suggestion that I’d wished I listened to her.)
What’s the best writing advice you ever received/read?
Stay true to your story. If you don’t love it then you’ll hate it by the time it’s through edits. Edits take a lot of effort, and sometimes time. You read and reread a story until you’re sick of it. Writing what you love makes the journey more bearable.
Any advice for new writers?
Stay true to your story, but also remember once you’ve sold it, editors are trying to help you make it the best it can be for the target audience.
You seem to have a lot of ‘irons in the fire’ these days. Your blog shows you’re working on three manuscripts: including a rewrite of “Not His Usual Type” and a sequel to “Twice is Not Enough”. Plus you have a new release coming soon. How do you keep up with everything and keep everything straight?
I could say that I use the exceptional organization skills I developed as a project manager, that I have a lovely spreadsheet with due dates and timelines. But, I don’t. I take things one thing at a time. Whatever has the nearest due date is normally what gets worked on first. As for writing, I work on whatever interests me at the moment. This is why I have dozens of works in progress. One day, I might apply myself and get a little more organized, but that day is not today.
What is one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?
How’s it feel to be a NYT best-selling author? I think I’m a bit a way from that though.
Where can we find you and your books?
Emma, thanks so much for joining us today! Good luck with all of your projects...I know I can't wait to see/read the fruition of them.