Some of my most creative thoughts happen when on a dog walk, as do my best conversations with my dog-walking buddy. So I thought I’d invite some of my author friends along to join me and my girls and see if I can find out a little more about them and the book they’ve just released.
‘My girls’ are Poppy and Ruby –
Joining me today in her walking boots is Emma Gray, who under the pen name of E J Greenway is the author of Party Games, a tale of Westminster skulduggery, and has come to chat to me on the release of her second novel, Power Play. Before we set off here’s a little bit about her.
Emma is author of Party Games, a tale of plotting and skulduggery at in heart of Westminster, published in September 2012. The sequel, Power Play, is now out after a very busy two years! Emma has written political fiction since the age of 11, when Margaret Thatcher’s spectacular, almost theatrical, fall from power captivated her. There is always a human story behind the policies, and where better to write about personal success and failings than with a Westminster backdrop? Emma lives in Winchester with her husband, two children and a very feisty guinea pig.
Hi Emma, thanks for taking the time to talk to me today, I know you have plenty to do on launch day so I’m delighted you’ve squeezed me in. I hope you’ve had a good journey here and you’re ready for a hike across the fields of sunny Cambridgeshire?
Definitely – getting out from behind my computer is just what I need, so thank you for inviting me along!
I know we’ve only just set off Emma but I’m keen for you to tell me all about Power Play. Is it a standalone novel or a sequel to Party Games? If it’s a sequel, and this is a subject close to my heart, how easy did you find it to know how much backstory or reminders to put in?
Power Play is set at Westminster, but could easily be based around any highly charged, high-pressure working environment (think Mad Men for politicians!). It continues the story in Party Games (so yes, it’s a sequel) but I introduce new characters (ahh, the sexy yet arrogant Marcus, the morally conflicted Matthew and the beautiful, wronged Sasha are among my favourites) and my plot has far more meat on its bones. Party Games was the introduction, whereas Power Play packs a punch, showing what happens when power begins to corrupt when others are complicit in one person’s dangerous agenda.
Although Power Play is a sequel, I’ve done my best to make it stand-alone. Sequels are such a balancing act, as I’m sure you’ve found too! You don’t want to bore the reader with too much repetition of book one, but at the same time you want to add in reminders creatively, so it’s not pure narrative. I could add my reminders in through a mix of narrative, news articles and speech, giving background to the cliffhanger at the end of Party Games while adding to the continuing story. It’s going to be even harder with the third in the trilogy!
How do you manage to fit in the process of writing around your working and family life?
I commute to London so I can spend a good hour writing a day. My iPad has been a Godsend, as I built up many valuable hours that way! Fortunately I have an understanding husband who could keep the kids away from my (usually Sunday afternoon!) writing sessions, but they’re getting older now so understand. They have their own social lives which are far better than mine anyway, so finding writing time isn’t usually too much of a problem!
I know you’re an indie author Emma, but we all need help at various stages of writing and I’d like to know more about the team you have behind you. Who helps you pull your books together until they’re ready to be published?
I have of course had beta readers to help after my first draft, but my biggest thanks go to my proofreader Susan Buchanan, whose incredible patience and professionalism I couldn’t have done without (http://perfectproseservices.com/) , my dedicated book cover designer Cathy Helm (http://www.avalongraphics.org/) who has done an amazing job on both of my books, and finally Amazon e-book formatter extraordinaire Yvonne Betancourt (http://www.ebook-format.com/) .
And huge thanks go out to my family, friends and twitter friends (thank you, Georgia!), because without encouragement to write and get to that all-important last sentence all the practical help in the world would be for nought!
Power Play, along with Party Games, is based on the politics of Westminster. Which character in your books do you most related to and why?
Ooooh, what a question! If you’d asked which is my favourite character (see how I’m getting that in there!) I would have to say Matthew Gaines, as he is the most ‘real’ of all my characters. He has terrible flaws and knows he’s being manipulated by my main antagonist Colin Scott, but he can’t help the dangerous path he’s going down. At the same time I just can’t help liking him, so I hope the reader will feel the same! As for who I identify with, that’s tough, as they’re mostly hard-nosed political operators, which certainly isn’t me! I suppose Anthea is the nearest – she has to struggle with wanting a family and wanting a career, but that’s the only similarity. Her confused love triangle certainly isn’t like my own life, I’m far too boring for that!
A few quick fire ones.
Night owl or early morning lark?
Probably a night owl. I don’t often do writing at night but I’m into gaming and can play Guild Wars 2 for a number of hours straight without noticing the time..!
Slippers or stilettos?
Having said ‘night owl’ I’m not a partying type! Slippers definitely. Not with Ovaltine though, more likely to be a big bar of Dairy Milk! I’ve never warn stilettos!
Which superpower would you like to have? And Why?
Teleportation. It would cut out that horrendously expensive South West Trains season ticket!
What piece of advice would you like to give your 16 year old self – if you were given the opportunity to use a time machine!?
Probably live a bit more before you settle down, go travelling (I’m not counting the 4 months I lived in Washington DC!) and don’t spend far too much on credit cards by your 20s!
I believe that perfect days are unplanned, BUT if you were to plan your perfect day what would it look like?
Oooh, erm, well I’m duty-bound to say spending it with the kids on a lovely day out somewhere. Actually recently we went to a lovely ruined monastery called Netley Abbey, and that was indeed completely unplanned as we were passing it and nipped in. But it was fantastic, really idyllic and we could have stayed all day. We were so taken by surprise with it and it felt perfect while we were there. So does that count?? I certainly think it does!
Other than that, either a full day writing with amazing ideas so I make brilliant progress with my next book, or a whole day kicking ass (basilisks, centaurs and the like) in Guild Wars 2. Or half a day on each? Now that WOULD be my ideal day!
Thanks for joining me Emma and I wish you every success for the sales of Power Play – I’m looking forward to reading it!
Thanks Georgia, it’s been my pleasure, but now I’m exhausted now after all this walking, so let’s go to the nearest cafe for tea and cake!
Oooh excellent idea Emma – let’s go!!
You can find Emma here:-
Follow her on Twitter at @emsie1979
Emma’s blog is here (where you can find introductions to her characters)
And the links to her books are:-