Today I'd like to welcome the bright upcoming young author Em Lehrer, who is also the guiding light behind the successful Keystroke Blog, where she reviews books in the fantasy/sci-fi/YA and thriller genres. Em has generously agreed to let me quiz her about her life and interest in all things writerly.
A. That is a tricky question. I was born in New Jersey, but lived my first year in Staten Island, NY. Then my family moved to Pennsylvania where I spent most of my childhood before moving back across the Delaware to New Jersey. Then we moved up to Maine and then down to the Caribbean island of Dominica where I am living right now. However I'm moving up to Massachusetts this summer. Oh, and I lived in New Hampshire for a summer.
When people ask me where I'm from now, I usually just say Pennsylvania. Hopefully that answers your question.
Q. What were you like as a child? Could you share one of your earliest memories?
A. Oh man. I was the worst child. I was stubborn and outgoing and bossy. Well, I still am, but I'd like to think I'm a little more gracious about it. Anyway, one of my earliest memories is playing by the township pool with my older brother. We would always play these games, and pretend we were in make believe worlds. Back then we were really into Winx, which was a TV show about fairies. We each chose a special power to have and ran between the two pools pretending they were alternate realities. We had to battle the forces of evil and save the world. It was great.
Q. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A. I think I've always known I wanted to write. I always had a notebook or journal that I wrote in, and before that I just drew pictures of stories that were in my head. I remember getting my first journal from my aunt. It was small and had a hard, glittery, silver cover. I carried it around everywhere and drew in it. I was so sad when I filled it up.
I wrote my first story in second grade. It was a project in class, and we made them into these cute little books. Mine was about a cheetah (my favorite animal) who thought she was the fastest animal in the whole world and told anyone who would listen. Then she met an ostrich who said he was faster. Then an elephant made them race and the ostrich won, the cheetah learned a lesson, and then said they should play house. Tada.
Q. What did you learn from participating in the nanowrimo? What were the best and worst parts?
A. Nano was a journey and a half. I went in not knowing what I wanted my story to be, which I will never do again. I was writing blindly, with no idea where I wanted the story line to go, and ended up all over the place. That was probably the worst part.
The best part was meeting a bunch of writers and making some pretty great friends. There were lots of support forums that really helped keep my spirits up and in the end helped me hit 50k words. The feeling when I finished was also amazing. The only thing I'm going to do differently this year is plan my story beforehand so I actually have something I can use at the end.
Q. Where do your ideas/inspirations come from?
A. I'm not really sure, to be totally honest. My ideas randomly come to me at the strangest of times. Sometimes I am reading or watching a movie or doing the dishes or something and an idea just pops into my mind. It really is a strange feeling, because I completely zone out of whatever I was doing and just focus on the idea, and then the idea grows and blooms and it is amazing.
It actually happens a lot when I am driving or in a car. I guess something about the motion just sets me off thinking. I've had some of my best ideas in the car.
Q. What activities do you like to do when you're not writing?
A. Hmmm. Well, I watch way too many shows on Netflix. Just putting that out there. Otherwise I like to cook and bake, read (I am a huge bookworm), go scuba diving, hang out with friends, spend way too much time on social media, and think. Yup, just sit there and think.
Q. What ambitions do you have as a writer?
A. My first and foremost ambition is to finish a work that I want to share with the world and get signed by a publishing house. Then of course become the next J. K. Rowling because why not.
But in all honesty, I want people to read my work and get lost inside of it. I want to give an escape from the world, and the kind of joy that I feel when I'm reading an amazing book.
Q. What is your favorite genre, and why?
A. I don't really have a favorite genre. I have found that there are amazing books in every genre, and terrible books in every genre. It's all about finding the good books and enjoying them.
Q. Name one of your favorite authors, and one of your favorite fictional characters, and why?
A. Hmm. Favorites. Kendare Blake is amazing, her books are great. J. K. Rowling obviously. Kiera Cass and Kody Keplinger are also great. Ohh and Rick Riordan. And Allen Zadoff. And Gayle Forman. I could go on all day.
As for my favorite fictional character, I'm not even going to try to pick one. That's like picking your favorite child (or in my case dog). It just can't be done.
Q. Could you tell us about your current project?
A. Right now I am working on a book called Candy Wrappers. It is going to be the first in a series called the Gravestone Chronicles. It follows Malia, an 18 year old girl whose parents were murdered. She goes to her summer home in Maine to pack up the house and say her final goodbyes. While she is there, she discovers the existence of demons, and how they may actually be the real cause behind her parents' death.
Right now I am a few thousand words in, and having a lot of fun writing. I am constantly coming up with new scenes in my mind and planning as I go along.
Thank you so much for answering my questions, Em. It's been a pleasure to interview you, and good luck with your writing.
Keystroke blog: https://wordpress.com/stats/day/keystrokeblog.com
book talk podcast: https://itun.es/us/F7Rdcb.c
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To all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.