Interview written and conducted by Jewell Nicole
I had the pleasure of meeting NYT Bestseller, Emily Colin for the first time and having a wonderful chat with her about her life and her books.
She is a wife and a mother of a 16-year-old active boy who does martial arts with parkour. With the release of her second book in The Seven Sins series, wrapping a romance writing intensive, and taking care of her son, we had the pleasure of snagging just about an hour with her.
So if you’re into love stories with a supernatural twist, whether it’s YA or Adult, then Emily may just be the author you’re looking for. She writes romantic women fiction with a supernatural twist for adults and YA romantic dystopian and fantasy.
If this is your thing, then stick around because Emily is about to drop some amazing gems that you won’t want to miss out on.
In this interview I asked Emily to give us an overall play by play of the books she writes and here’s what she told me:
E. “Well, I started with romantic fiction and my very first book was The Memory Thief which was a Target Emerging Authors pick and a NYT Bestseller. Then I wrote my second adult book which was The Dream Keeper’s Daughter.
I also have an anthology called, Wicked South, Secrets, and Lies which I contributed to and edited. There is Unbound, Stories of Transformation, Love & Monsters which is also a YA. And most recently, I have my Seven Sins series which is a dystopian series, a trilogy, novella, and short story collection.”
Ah yes, Emily’s second book – Siege of the Seven Sins series releases today, August 3rd. The Seven Sins series has been part of the finalist in the Indie Awards and also received the North Carolina Fiction and Fantasy prize.
Emily also goes on to explain to us how she blended two genres together to make this amazing story, stating that the book isn’t just fantasy.
E. “I call it a romantic dystopian with strong fantastical elements. Because at the end of the first book you get this twist and you realize that the world that you’re in is not the sci-fi world that you see in a lot of dystopian books and there is a whole fantastical element that really builds up in the second book.”
While we usually say that your book is not for anyone and every one, this story has a little bit of something for everyone and we certainly can’t argue with what the readers have to say. Emily pointed out that it’s exciting to hear what her readers take away from her stories and that she likes the fact that because it’s blended you never know what to expect.
I went on to ask her what are some common traps persons could face as an aspiring writer and she had quite a lot to say on that matter.
E. “There are so many things. We are all on the journey together and I’ve found myself struggling with them at times. One of the most damaging things is to compare yourself to other writers. Maybe you’re writing the same genre or at the same time and they may be further along in their journey and you may wonder why haven’t you accomplish this or why are you not like this. My advice is to keep your eyes on your own paper and because we as authors are on our own journey.”
Emily went on to mention that there is more than enough success to go around and as long as you focus on your own journey, and keep working, your success will come. She stressed the importance of not worrying that your work isn’t perfect and not getting discouraged because your work looks nothing like your favorite writer’s.
Emily said, “You’re not seeing what they spewed out the first time they wrote. Everyone has to start somewhere. So be kind to yourself. We do have magic moments in our writing journey. But a lot of it is the boring butt in the chair stuff and you’re not feeling like writing but you going to do it anyway.”
But that’s not all she shared on writing advice. Emily had quite a lot of additional advice she wanted aspiring writers to know.
E. “Trust your process because it’s not the same as any other person’s process. I have wondered why my process couldn’t look like someone else’s. Some persons wake up and write at five in the morning, others dictate their words and others vomit out a messy first draft. And I’ve tried that and it didn’t work for me and I took it personally and I felt like it’s me, it’s my fault, I’m not a good writer.
Then, I took this amazing class called Strength for Writers by Becca Syme and the biggest take from that is that the same strengths and weaknesses we bring into everything we do, we bring into writing. So I hate early morning writing. I edit as I go and the next day, look at what I wrote the day before.”
She urged aspiring writers to take the time to figure what their process is and then own that process. She said that writers need to realize that they’re going to be most successful when they go with their own process.
Emily even added that if your life circumstances don’t allow you to write every single day then don’t force yourself into the mold.
The third piece of wonderful advice that she gave was writing what inspires you while simultaneously being aware of the market. While some writers would say write because you want to sell, others would tell you to write for yourself.
Emily mentioned that if you’re trying to make money as an indie author but also to find your readership, your readers need to know what to look for. She stated, “When writing, familiarize yourself with what the market would bear, what’s selling, what tropes look like, what deals are going through publishers weekly now, what people are reading and clamoring for, and then tell the story you want to tell. Don’t shift your story to write to a trend because a trend would be there and gone.”
All in all, she advised indie authors to not compromise their visions but also to not make more work for themselves because the marketing aspect will fall heavily on indie authors. So to wrap up the advice in a nicely wrapped package, here’s what Emily had to say.
E. “Read tons of books in the genre you write. You want to be able to reach your readers and you need to know what they are reading. Be true to your vision. Write what you want to write. Be aware of the market so that you understand where the story fits and you’re not creating double work for yourself.”
I think those are some serious words we can live by. I went on to ask her what was the best money she ever spent as a writer and her response may surprise you.
E. “Before I used to work in publishing and I was familiar with the editorial side of things and I wrote non-fiction. So when I started writing fiction, I had gotten stuck in the middle and I didn’t know what to do. Then I got mail from UCLA Writers Extension Program and they had this class on what to do when you get to the middle of your novel and you’re stuck. This is what I needed but the price I couldn’t afford.
So the next day the mailman came again and I got mail from the mortgage company and I thought what did they want now. And when I opened it, it was a return on escrow for the same amount of money as the class. So instantly I thought this is meant to be. So I applied for the class but it was full. Then one person dropped out and I got in. This class really transformed me and Caroline Levitt became my mentor and I hired her to be my editor and wrote my first book The Memory Thief that hit NYT bestseller status.”
Definitely, the best money spent, yet Emily had further spending that she treasured. Among those was her investment in MTMC Instagram tours which allowed her to get her novel out there and she was able to meet amazing bookstagrammers from all over the world and have the ability to forge lasting relationships with them.
Emily said that people cannot read what they don’t know to exist and so she thinks that any investment that allows a person to have long-term relationships with readers in any way is the most valuable thing.
In summing up her response to our question she mentioned, “Any investment that is really going to improve your craft, broaden your network, or really move the needle with sales is worth it.”
And I couldn’t agree more. Moving on in our interview I asked Emily how many unpublished or half-published novels did she have and I also found this answer to be surprising but also clever.
E. “I have one novel called the Future Behind Me which is just terrible. I wrote it in between my first two adult books. I still love certain aspects about it but overall the plot wasn’t there and the character development wasn’t there either.
I have a manuscript that I started in 2019 and I was diagnosed with breast cancer so I had to put aside the book. But then when I came back into the world of writing I was on a deadline for book 2 of the Seven Sins series.”
So as a published author she really only has two unpublished/half published books, which I found quite impressive, although she did state that she may have more in the future.
I went on to ask if she ever Googled herself to which she responding that has but only to check her SEO and to keep track of all the interviews that she has done because she is working on making a collection of them on her website.
When asked about bad reviews and whether she reads them or not, Emily mentioned that she thinks bad reviews are damaging to her and she would read ones where readers like the book but also have honest criticism.
I think we can all agree with Emily when she compares her books to a baby and says that sending your book out into the world is like sending your kid out to school for the first time. She states, “As writers, we all have a soft center even if we feel good about the book we write, we write it to connect with readers not just ourselves, otherwise we would have written journal entries.”
We took a little break from the interview as Emily gave me a behind-the-scenes into the office area where she has her plotting board based on Save the Cat Beat Sheet that gives her a heavy visual way to plot out her novel.
Some other tools in her arsenal are her trusty notepad and spreadsheet.
Back to the interview, I asked her what her favorite childhood books were and this was her response.
E. “I have two answers because I never have one answer for anything. Madeline L’Engle’s – A Wrinkle in Time because it’s the first YA-ish book and sci-fi. It took the idea of a kid being bullied for being smart and turned it around in that they become the heroes in the story.”
She felt like the book had worked on so many levels and the sci-fi element made it fascinating.
She further mentioned, “And then for my birthday, my friend’s mom bought me these two books, Ann of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon. It matches my name Emily Ann. I love Emily of New Moon because it was the first book I read that had a supernatural element to it. The girl who loved to write like I did had lost everything but she felt this profound connection to nature.”
Emily further went on to share that she does read in the genre that she writes, which is so vital and she even shared with me a few books that she had recently read. She stated that she reads widely, with her editor’s hat on and even her writer’s hat on.
She mentioned that she reads a lot of contemporary romance and urban fantasy and I asked her to share some of the books she enjoyed and here’s what shared with me.
E. “I’m about to read Witches Steeped in Gold by Shannon Smart. I recently read Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. I have also read Becoming by Michele Obama. I read The Epigenetics Revolution as part of my research. I really liked Children of Blood and Bone. I like Cassandra Claire even though she’s highly controversial and everyone complains about things about her.”
Emily stated that she reads for enjoyment but also if she knows that an author writes a particular thing really well then she likes to study it.
To wrap up our interview I asked Emily to share with us some elements that are becoming cliché in her genre and well she had loads to say.
E. “The Bella Swan is one of my least favorite. She doesn’t think there is anything special about herself, she doesn’t think there has been anything special, she doesn’t think she’s particularly pretty and then all of a sudden she steps into this world and everybody around her either hates her or thinks she is the most amazing thing in the world.
And yet she seems to have no personality of her own except the one that was projected onto her and she’s simultaneously the point where everything pivots. It really bothers me because I think it’s a tremendous disservice to female readers.”
She also stated, “Mainly because you have this idea that you’re only of worth when a certain spotlight shines on you and I think it’s damaging to have this idea that you’re basically an empty shell and your value consist of what’s projected onto you.”
The profound question was asked, “If you took away Edward and Jacob, what would be so great about Bella? She stated that Bella, herself will be the first one to tell you, nothing. I think it’s a cliché that’s really upsetting.”
Emily also went on to state that she thinks writers have to find a new way to do the ‘whole dead parent’ thing. While in real life many teens are dealing with having a parent or guardian to whom they are responsible there is a tendency where all the parents are dead in YA novels.
And she believes one of the reasons why YA has become so popular is because of that whole new societal structure. Emily further mentioned that she isn’t a big fan of instant love without reasons and that while her book portrays seemingly instant love the characters are drawn together for underlying reasons that are revealed in the book.
Some additional clichés for her were, the girl’s life not starting until the boy arrived and the clear side-kick characters that don’t feel 3-dimensional. She reveals that she wants writers to take the familiar tropes and make the characters 3-dimensional with an original storyline.
In her closing words, she wanted all writers to know this by stating, “Every piece of writing counts.”
We had a blast with Emily Ann Colin, NYT bestselling author, and dog lover. As was stated before, if you’re interested in romantic women fiction with supernatural twists and YA dystopian fantasies then pick up any or all of Emily’s novel.
Also to add to your TBR pile, Siege of the Seven Sins series which releases today, August 3rd.
Interested in finding out more about Emily, then visit her website and follow her on social media at Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Want to receive a bonus story from Emily? Then join her VIP list and snag a coveted spot in The Cozy Corner.