Hey all welcome back to the Writer’s Block. Today we’re featuring something a little dark and haunting. Today’s author, Emma Rose Millar has put together a tale that shows humanity at its weakest and its strongest. Her story is gripping as it is heart wrenching. But we want to hear about her story from her own lips. Without further ado let’s welcome Author Emma Millar to the Writer’s Block. Welcome Emma, thanks for agreeing to be here.
ERM: It’s great to be here.
Alpha: Let’s get right down to it. Why don’t you tell our readers about who Emma Rose Millar is.
ERM: Emma Rose Millar is a single mother who lives with her young son in the Midlands and works part-time with young adults. She enjoys reading nineteenth-century literature and historical fiction, particularly Sarah Waters and Philippa Gregory.
Alpha: Now about the novel you’ve written, tell us about that.
ERM: My first novel, ‘Strains from an Aeolian Harp’ was published on November 2nd 2012. It’s set in the 1920s and 30s and is about a woman who falls in love with the wrong type of man. It’s a dark tale of domestic violence and opium addiction and of a man who can’t let go of his past, but also a story of courage and hope which I hope people will identify with. I have also had two short stories published in an anthology called Sunkissed by Freya Publications; ‘Five Guns Blazing’ which is a story of piracy full of lots of exciting twists and turns and ‘The Ballad of Iska and Marikit’, based on an ancient legend from the Philippines.
Alpha: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?
ERM: I never set out to write a novel for publication. Strains from an Aeolian Harp was only ever meant to be a piece of creative writing which I wrote to help me deal with my feelings after going through two miscarriages and coming out of a violent relationship. I wanted to write a story about a woman who was trapped, both by her husband and by the system in the 1920s and 30s which did very little to protect women. Initially I didn’t want anyone to read it, but then when I read it back I was quite pleased with it so I entered it up for some competitions but it didn’t get anywhere. Then one day I was sent a newsletter which had a small article about an independent women’s publisher and I thought that my work might meet their criteria and I sent it off. The publisher contacted me and they seemed really genuine; their other books were doing well so that’s why I chose that route.
Alpha: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?
ERM: The editor worked with me for almost a year to improve the manuscript ready for publication and I learnt a lot from that process. I can see now that it was nowhere near ready for publication when I first sent it and was very fortunate to have worked with such a good editor who made lots of helpful suggestions without trying to change the essence of my book.
Alpha: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time?
ERM: I was very proud of course but I also had mixed feelings about the book, because I wrote it at such a terrible point in my life, and all my emotions went into writing it. It feels strange that other people will be reading something that started out as a private piece of work – but in a good way.
Alpha: Do you have a favorite of your books or characters?
ERM: I really enjoyed writing ‘Five Gun’s Blazing.’ The story is based on real-life pirates Anne Bonny, Mary Read and John Rackham. I loved doing all the research into 18th century pirates, a subject which I had never really been interested before. John Rackham was a fascinating character. In the story I have portrayed him as a romantic hero, a kind of gentleman-highwayman of the seas. I’d love to go to the Caribbean and visit all his hideouts. Writing the story gave me a much needed break; it was much more up-beat than ‘Strains from an Aeolian Harp’, which is very murky in places.
Alpha: What was the first thing you did to promote your books?
ERM: I set up my blog and facebook page, and I have joined various yahoo groups and facebook community pages where I can promote my work and engage with other readers and writers. There are also lots of good groups on Linked In and I have just started exploring that option.
Alpha: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?
ERM: Being a published author is something I dreamed of as a little girl. I used to love writing but as I got older I became more and more inhibited about it and in the end stopped writing altogether, until one day I opened my laptop and started writing Strains from an Aeolian Harp. Having my work published has made me start believing in myself again and I am very pleased that something positive has come out of such a horrible experience.
Alpha: Are you working on anything else at the moment?
ERM: I have accepted some editing work and there’s a manuscript I’m very excited about. I’ve also written a short story based on a painting by Klimt and I’m toying with the idea of turning that into a novella. It’s set in Austria during World War II. I can’t really give any more away than that.
Alpha: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Alpha: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
ERM: Please don’t give up. Pour your heart and soul into your work and then one day someone will read it and feel as passionate about it as you do. Keep going even when you feel you don’t have time or that other commitments are taking over. On average I only wrote a page a day, but after a year I had a completed draft. When you finally get that break it will all be worth it.
Thank you Emma. This has been another Writer’s Block feature. While you’re out shopping for your next read why don’t you look up ‘Strains from an Aeolian Harp’, which promises to stay with you and give you something to think about. As mentioned Emma Rose Millar has some upcoming novels, which you should be on the lookout for. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this segment of the Writer’s Block.