Featured Author – Emily English and “Uniting the Heavens”

Featured Author – Emily English and “Uniting the Heavens”

I met several fantastic indie authors a couple of weeks ago at AwesomeCon here in Washington, DC, and I’m trying to feature all of them here on the site.  First up is Emily English!

Emily has spent most of her career as a systems analyst, writing and editing technical documentation and requirements for enterprise-wide systems. If that wasn’t thrilling enough, in her spare time (aka the wee hours of the night) and over the course of five years, she completed her first novel Uniting the Heavens, a story that had taken root in her skull almost 20 years ago.

Emily is heavily influenced by (and obsessed with) anime and the Final Fantasy video game series. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and a high-anxiety dorgi in the Washington metropolitan area.

Emily is currently working on Book 2 of the Uniting the Heavens series.

You can follow Emily all over the Interwebs!  She’s on (naturally) her website, as well as GoodreadsInstagram, Facebook, Twitter and, last but not least, Tumblr

 

 

Emily’s first book is called UNITING THE HEAVENS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s it about?

When a bloodied, secret message destined for the powerful Lord Tiede ends up in the hands of Aren, a young apprentice serving in the greatest library in all of Cordelacht, his life starts to unravel. A murderer is leaving grisly sacrifices all over the city in the name of Magic, Aren’s little sister starts relaying messages from the gods, and the Lady Tiede becomes a little too familiar with the bumbling apprentice. As intelligent and handsome as he is naïve, Aren has a gift for saying all the wrong things and stumbling into hopeless situations, like falling for a mysterious scholar with her own hidden agenda.

Now it’s up to Aren to save Tiede, and to do so he’ll need to rekindle his masochistic relationship with Tiede Wood, the magical and cursed forest that protects the House. Will Aren unmask the monster on the killing spree and finally prove his worth? Or will he succumb to his personal demons, unable to overcome the stigma of being an Unblessed, and die as godless as he was born?

Want to read an excerpt?  Of course you do!

    Aren wasn’t sure how it was possible for black to get blacker.

He slowed down to keep from tripping over roots and branches, but his chest thumped hard with panic. He stopped to catch his breath in a small clearing where trickles of fading light had managed to sneak through the canopy of trees and fell upon him like a rain shower. His eyes filled with dots of shadow and light, mingling with the noise in his head, making him feel nauseous.

He leaned on the staff and risked calling out, “Selina! It’ll be dark soon, and we need to get out of here!” Perhaps yelling was not inconspicuous, but the hairs on the back of his neck were sending prickle signals down his arms. His damned headaches had caused a lapse in judgment. What was he thinking letting a child lead him into the Wood to meet up with a gnome? “Tell me where you are, sweetheart! I’m fine! I don’t need any magic water; we just need to get home!” He could be talking to himself for all he knew. She could be another half click away towards the south—though he couldn’t pick out south from any other direction at this point. “What if I told you the stupid gnome wants you to come back?” He blathered at a charcoal burrow squirrel that had peeked out of its tree. “I take that back; he’s not stupid. He’s great, hilarious actually. We’re best friends. Stars, Selina, where are you?”

He needed a plan. There were two—maybe three—hours of sunlight left outside of the Wood, which meant less than one hour of quasi-visibility where he stood now. He could try to go back the way he had come and hope that Selina would do the same after she realized there was no such thing as healing water. Or he could stay where he was and hope that Selina would come this way, if she had passed through here at all.

He hated how familiar the whole ordeal felt, how his bones woke up and burned with life. Something in the air heated the blood that raced through his veins, and he felt like he could destroy something. The magic of the Wood was driving him to madness while the voices in his head cooed and seduced him. They had to get out of here.

Emily’s also given us an interview.  You know you want to read it!

Who is your favorite author?

Although I have a lot of favorite authors, I’m going to have to go with Neil Gaiman. I love how his work can be whimsical or extremely dark. His writing is so descriptive and his stories so imaginative. I’ve seen him speak 3 or 4 times now, and I’ve met him once—he even let me hold his writing pen. His sense of humor is quirky, and he comes off as very down to earth. He strikes me as some kind of alien being who has done a great job at fitting in with us earthlings, but every now and then you catch a glimpse of his otherworldliness.

How do you describe your writing style?

My writing style tends towards the lighthearted and descriptive. I’m a huge fan of fantasy, but I don’t like getting bogged down in the rules and the histories and the world-building that goes along with it. I believe all of that is important, but I don’t like having it spelled out for me in stories. So when I write, I want to give the reader enough to form a mental image and let them fill in the rest. The result is a writing style that is more accessible—even to people who don’t read a lot of fantasy.

Why should we read your books?

I’ve had the Uniting the Heavens story in me for a very long time. I know my characters very well, and they are the driving force in my story. I’m so passionate about this story, and I have such faith in this story and the characters. I’ve been told that Uniting the Heavens is an original look at mythology and magic, and I’ve had people who don’t even read fantasy tell me that they’ve really enjoyed it because of the storytelling itself. If you enjoy reading, I think my story is easy to pick up and get lost in.

Have any of your characters been modelled after yourself?

I can relate to several characters in my story in different ways, but none of them are modeled after me or anyone else I know. My characters are their own individuals affected by their own various circumstances in their lives. That said, I find it easy to relate to their different characteristics. For example, I have a character who gets nervous around authority, and I can relate to that. I have another character who likes to drink, and another who doesn’t do a whole lot of talking. But on the whole, none of them are like me, nor I like them.

If you could exchange lives with any of your characters for a day which character would you choose and why?

I have so many characters who would be fun to switch lives with! Aren would seem to be a good choice, but he’s so haunted that I don’t think I could live his life. Dane would be fun because he enjoys a good drink and doesn’t take things seriously. I think in the end, I’d go with Kaila. First of all, she’s a water spirit so I’d get to be a water bender. Haha! She’s also beautiful, smart, and strong-willed. Mostly, she gets to spend a lot of time with Aren. Count me in!

What books have most influenced your life?

I have difficulty picking certain titles. Usually it’s a theme or an author’s writing that move me. I gobbled up books with fairy tales or mythology growing up so those were my building blocks. Then, I got into the Choose Your Own Adventure series and got into Dungeons and Dragons (editor’s note: same here!). After that was the Final Fantasy video game series. I know that’s a video game and not a book, but the influence of those in-game stories, art, and music on my life has been too tremendous to not mention. I eventually got in to Tolkien’s books, then Patricia McKillip’s books. McKillip’s books really struck a chord with me. Her prose is gorgeous, and if I could write prose a fraction of the way she does, I’d feel like I struck gold. Her book Winter Rose was a huge turning point as far as an influence in my writing life.

If you could select one book that you could rewrite and add your own unique twist on, which book would that be and why?

I’d rewrite Twilight. I’d take out the sparkling and the stalking and whatever it is that makes me want to strangle Bella (editor’s note: that would be pretty much everything about her, wouldn’t it?). I had read the entire series, and I’ll even admit that I liked Twilight. I could have lived without the other books, though. I feel like the story itself is intriguing, and I love a good love story. I also love beautiful looking characters. I would just rewrite it to make the female protagonist stronger. You can fall in love and still be a strong, independent person. I’d also inject some humor into the story. I like dark stories, but come on—you can still laugh in the dark.

Beatles or Monkees? Why?

I prefer primates over bugs because they are cuter and way less creepy. Haha! Ok, fine I’ll go with the Beatles. Everyone in my family is a Beatles fan, so it’s hard to avoid it. Usually the question is Beatles or Stones? I’ll still go with the Beatles. I’m way more familiar with their songs, and I’ve seen Sir Paul in concert. I also admired George Harrison. I couldn’t even tell you the names of the band members in the Monkees (editor’s note: Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork).

Who should play you in a film of your life?

This question reminded me that there are not enough superstar Asian women in Hollywood. I’ll go with Natalie Mendoza, Ming-na Wen, or Elodie Yung. I think this means there must also be a lot of ass-kicking in the film of my life.

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