EMLYN CHAND INTERVIEW
Did you always want to be a writer? If so, what medium did you start with? Poetry, Short Stories, Novellas, Novels??
I was born with a fountain pen grasped firmly in my left hand, at least that’s what my Twitter bio says. But seriously, I do believe writers are born into the craft—we haven’t got much choice, but it’s a great calling to have. As a child, I always had a story to tell. I also loved illustrating my own books and comics. I did this for my younger brothers when I was 9 or 10. The series was called Spot and Dot and was about a cat and a dog. I wrote one about Spot coming home from the pound and needing to get a bath and another with a sequence of dreams that Dot the cat might have—she woke up in ancient Egypt and was revered as a Goddess; she found herself in a giant room filled with yarn balls, and she somehow ended up inside an aviary exhibit in the zoo. They were so much fun to create, and my younger brothers loved them.
What was the inspiration for your book, Farsighted?
Everything started with a single image—my face in these tacky oversized sunglasses reflecting out at me from the car’s side mirror. I was daydreaming while my husband drove us across Michigan for my sister’s wedding. Something about my image really struck me in an almost horrific way. I felt the glasses made me look blind but found it so weird that there was still a clear image within them; it seemed so contradictory. At the time, my book club was reading The Odyssey, which features the blind Theban prophet, Tieresias. I started thinking about what it would be like to have non-visual visions of the future and began forming a modern Tieresias in my mind. Lo and behold, Alex Kosmitoras was born. I didn’t want him to be alone in his psychic subculture, so I found other characters with other powers to keep him company. Thank God for my poor fashion sense.
How does your experience as a medium impact your writing? Are your stories based on true experiences that you have had??
I’m not a medium. I often joke that I have psychic powers but only when I’m in India. I’ve been able to predict some truly random events during my visits in Delhi, but I think that’s just because I don’t talk so much and instead really pay attention to my surroundings.
What is your favorite genre to read and why?
I LOVE YA—I read it, write it, love it! It all comes down to the enjoyment factor. I like the vulnerability and changeability of the characters. I love the ease of language and the connection that is created by writing in first person point-of-view. Nothing quite compares.
Do you prefer to be indie published, self-published, or traditional published?? Why?
I actually wrote a blog post explaining why I prefer indie or self-publishing (that’s here). Basically, the industry is not only changing – it’s changed. I’m not really sure there is any benefit to being traditionally published anymore, especially if you’re an author who has the know-how and financial/time resources to A) professionally edit your books, B) get a stellar cover designed, and C) market your work. Another reason I’m all gaga for the self-pub world is because it’s what I preach through Novel Publicity. I spend all day trying to convince writers that the indie path can work for them. By choosing that route for myself, I am showing my belief in that statement; I am practicing what I preach. Yes, I have a literary agent and a condition of our contract was that I’d be allowed to self-publish Farsighted. I want the hands-on experience. I want the control. If this works out for me; I’m pretty sure I’ll stay indie forever!
Did you ever experience a major life changing event that impacted your writing?
I met my husband, Hitesh. He’s from New Delhi, India. The culture has had a profound impact on my writing. I love creating Indian characters too (like Simmi).
If you could be any book genre, which one would you choose and why?
You know what? I’d be YA, because friends are made, adventures are had, lessons are learned, loves are found, and endings are generally happy. Almost any other genre is too dangerous to live inside!
Name a song(s) that define(s) you as a writer.
It’s an old one, “On the Street where you live” by Nat King Cole. It’s a song about love but can be applied quite aptly to the love of writing. My favorite line is “people stop and stare, but they don’t bother me for there’s nowhere else on Earth that I would rather be. Let the time go by, I won’t care if I can be here…”
If the world was on the edge of extinction, how would you survive??
I’ve actually watched quite a few survival shows on Discovery, so I feel like I would have a good working knowledge of what to do. I also have the good fortune of being married to a man with a doctorate in engineering—technology, check. I’m good with animals and with finding strange, creative solution, plus we have a killer attack parrot named Ducky and a Golden Retriever who is big and strong and will do whatever it takes to make us happy. End of the world? Bring it!
What advice would you give to other aspiring writers like myself??
My advice is this: Have fun with your writing. Don’t put pressure on yourself or your story and don’t try to fit either into some type of mold. Not every work HAS to be published, but every work will teach you something, and it will make you a better writer. Find the joy in writing, and you won’t go wrong.
What other projects do you have on the horizon??
Farsighted is a 5-book series. Each book will be told from a different character’s point-of-view, so in book #2, we’ll actually be able to see what Grandon looks like! Next up is Open Heart. I hope to have that ready by the middle of next year.
Tell us about 5 books that changed your life in some way??
I always credit Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson as THE book that changed my life. It opened my eyes to the world that could exist if only I was willing to create it—I think it’s what encouraged me to be a writer in the first place. Others that have had a profound impact are: Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, and Anton Chekhov’s Seagull (Okay, that last one is a play).
If you could time travel, what time period would you go to and why??
I’d love to go back to 19th century Britain and see the setting of so many of my favorite literary tales, like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and the whole host of Dickens.
And a fun one, what would you do if there was a zombie apocalypse?
I would train a flock of parrots to attack on command (I already have one who will do it). I will keep the birds swarming around me wherever I go. The zombies won’t have too much interest in them since their brains are so small, but they can pack a very powerful bite!
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