Interview with Emma James

November 14, 2017

"What is life if you can't dance like nobody is watching? I sing like nobody is watching, doesn't mean I'm any good at it. But it doesn't stop me from belting out a Bon Jovi song. Life is too short for regrets. Stand up and be heard; live in the moment and don't fear the 'what ifs'.

And that's how I write.

Come walk through my fictional door and leave your reader inhibitions boldly behind ready to take a journey and escape with me. Come dance with me through words. Every page turned pulling you deeper into my fictional worlds. 

I want my words to excite the reader with twists and unpredictable outcomes, because these things challenge me and excite me, as a reader and writer.

Writing in both contemporary romance and dark suspense romance, the characters I write about will earn their HEA. I want the reader to believe in that love and be cheering them on, lost in their world for days or even weeks after turning the last page. 

The only thing better would be to magically get sucked inside the pages physically.

Just imagine."


Now, on with the interview...


ME: What is your favourite childhood book?

EMMA: Many of Enid Blyton’s books I read as a child snuggled up in bed, and I’ve kept them all, too.


ME: What is the first book that made you cry?

EMMA: Really slobbering cry… Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. 1.00am in the morning, blubbering away for 14 pages.


ME: Is writing your primary 'job' or do you have another source of income?

EMMA: Writing is my day job, but I really should be out in the work force and combining both.


ME: Do people around you know you write romance/erotica and what do they think about it? 

EMMA: Sure do. They love that I am being ‘me’ and support me. They know writing is my passion.


ME: Do you believe in writer’s block? If not, why not? And if so what suggestions do you have to start the juices flowing again.

EMMA: Of course it exists. I have so many ideas bursting out of my brain that I need notebooks to contain it all. I think there is a level of block to a small degree when we are writing away daily and sometimes we have to get up and go do something else for a while. I am not a fan of writing rubbish, just to get word count for the day down. If I’m not feeling the flow, I get up and do something else, while still thinking about the scene, and then usually I get something hitting my brain and I go back and write. I am certainly not stuck for book ideas. I am more worried about getting hit by a bus before I can get them all down onto paper and released.


ME: Oh, don't think like that, and please don't get hit by a bus! On that slightly morbid note, let's move onto your process. Are you a plotter or fly by the seat of your pants kind of writer?

EMMA: I plot. Always have. I get an idea and I write thoughts down in a notebook for that story idea. I will be writing a current WIP and any ideas for any stories that hit my brain, get written straight down and worked on as thoughts come to me. A Little Faith took me two years from idea to release, but during that time I was noting every book in the series and the spinoffs and some standalones. The whole idea for the five book Hell’s Bastard series came to me while writing Hope Is Lost (Men of Ocean Beach #2). I got those thoughts down and continued noting whenever plot ideas came to me. There is a certain amount of flying by the seat of your pants once you get into the story, because original ideas can organically change for the better. Writing is a strange beast. Characters can talk to us and change all the plotting we have done.


What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

EMMA: I research a lot! Like loads! OMG. Hell’s Bastard series I had so many things to research and it shows in the plot. The same with Men of Ocean Beach series. I have never been to San Diego, Ocean Beach (real place), but I wanted to make sure I had a lot of the ‘real’ OB right. I had a reader go on vacation with her family and she went to the places I talked about and took photos and showed me. I am a HUGE believer in doing the mundane job of research, because you don’t know who is reading your story and you can’t half-bake it. My editors got in their car and videoed parts of OB for me. I had already handed in my work for them to edit, but they thought it would be fun to show me what Google may not have shown me. 

The last thing I researched was hover augmentation systems on helicopters. I needed to be able to keep the helicopter steady and on auto pilot so to speak, so I Googled if such a thing existed. I needed to know if a single pilot was forced to fly a helicopter and then had to rescue somebody with a winch, was this possible. It does exist. #win. Made for a great scene.


ME: Would you rather write standalones, standalones with connections to your other works, or multi book series with no true conclusion until the very end?

EMMA: As per my backlist, I do enjoy an ongoing series, which can’t be read standalone. But I want to write it all, crossover into other genres and also write standalones. I don’t believe I have to be pin holed into writing in one genre. I currently have the freedom to write how I like. Standalones are coming in 2018, and I am very excited to release them. Again… ideas that came to me while writing HB and MOOB, and time has now allowed me to expand on those ideas. I like to tell trusted readers my ideas and bounce thoughts off them. I do enjoy complicating my day by crossing over characters from one series to another as well. It challenges me as a writer and makes me enjoy the process even more.


ME: Where do your story ideas come from?

EMMA: Somewhere in my head they spring up and alert me. Not sure how they pop up, but I get a nugget, then that nugget becomes a whole breast piece of chicken, and then it becomes the chook. All I need is a nugget and then I write it down and swirl it about, then more thoughts come organically and soon I have a pretty good base for a story to get its wings.


ME: Hmmm, I get the feeling you like chicken... Do you ever base your characters, events or locations on real people, events or places?

EMMA: The first chapter of A Little Faith was indeed based on a real event. Only Australian readers have picked it up and we talk about it in PMs. It was something that really stayed with me, still does, but that was the only part of the book. It is the foundation for the whole series and the men, their flaws, their pain, their second chance. It is a very emotional scene. I did an enormous amount of research and I have spoken to many readers who in some way were affected by what happened.

In Hell’s Bastard series I have a made up town in Louisiana, but it is loosely based on a town in the area, but just so I could know how far away I had the town from New Orleans and weather pattern and things like that.

Men of Ocean Beach, Joe’s Bar is based on Tony’s Bar. Coyote Cooter’s Bar and Grille is based on Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth (Joy Is Found). My US based editors actually questioned me if a real bull riding ring would be in a bar and grille. I replied with the link to Billy Bob’s Texas and they didn’t question it again.


ME: Is there a character in one of your books loosely based off yourself?

EMMA: All the MOOB men have a little of me in them. Keanu is my funny bone and uses humour as a weapon. Retro likes older, vintage things. Harley is the protector, looks out for those around him. I like all the women to be strong, no matter what life has thrown at them, because I am a strong person. Life can deal some pretty tough blows.


ME: Indeed it can. What process do you use for selecting the names of your characters?

EMMA: I like different names and then I do things like matching a female first name with the lad she will end up with and his surname to see if they gel. I have gone as far as to work out Slade and Phoenix’s surnames and how they would look on a sign for a PI business together. Hehehe. Cooper and Malone has a nice ring to it. (little exclusive tit bit there)

Retro was aptly named because his character was set in my mind to like wearing vintage T-shirts. Phoenix got her name because I wanted a strong female name that would represent her character well. Plus hearing Slade call her Firebird is kinda fun. I spend a lot of time trying to get first and last names right. Holland was such a fave name for one of my male characters, because I wanted to have a name that Retro could poke a bit of fun at. When he calls Holland—Amsterdam—it just makes me smile. They have a different friendship. Retro doesn’t like to admit he likes Holland. Text was taken from a PNR series I was originally writing and the name was perfect for Jase’s mute character. He texts what he wants to say, or gives the bird, whichever he needs to do.

For Hell’s Bastard series I always had Edge picked, but the female name was so hard for me to come up with. Katrina, one of the lovely readers and blogger at Page Flipperz gave me Whisper. It was perfect. I felt the connection straight away and that name actually evolved her character into something so much more. She also gave me Torque, the Prez for Lion’s Den MC.

Freedom On Two Wheels, a motorbike business in Joy Is Found, I had a little trouble thinking up the name. I asked in my closed group and a reader came up with Freedom. I expanded on that and it became Freedom On Two Wheels. Names and places are very important to me.


ME: Who has been your most difficult character to write so far?

EMMA: Jase aka Text. He is mute and he stays that way for four books in MOOB series. I have released three. Readers PM me because they want Text’s first words out loud to be ‘I love you’, but I tell them that is too cliché. Something powerful has to have that man talking again. I know what it is. It might not be what is expected, but it is the push he needs to talk. Everything about Text takes a lot of thought on my behalf. His inner monologue can be funny and it can be so pain filled. His actions can be hilarious…but also filled with so much hurt. He is going to crush me by the time I get this series finished. Emotionally he is my most difficult character to write.


ME: Have you ever killed off someone who pissed you off in one of your books?

EMMA: Never. I would not give them my time or validate their importance by doing that. People don’t generally piss me off to that extent. I just shake my head, laugh at the silly and walk away. I am not into conflict or dramalama. I like being mellow and knowing that one person or a group have not got that power. Life is easier without that stuff. I believe in the power of zen and also karma can sort that shit out.


ME: What was your hardest scene to write?

EMMA: Haven’t written it yet. It will be Text and Faith, for sure.


ME: Does writing energize or exhaust you, and why?

EMMA: Both. I am not me unless I am writing, but any writer will tell you writing is exhausting. Your brain is switched on concentrating. Your fingers are pounding the keyboard for hours. It’s not just writing it is the whole package from start to finish of releasing a book, and then what comes afterwards. Writing is a multitasking gig.


ME: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal, and why?

EMMA: Buddha. I like to keep life good and allow zen time. Be happy with what you have got, but working hard can open up doors.

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”


ME: You enlighten us even in a brief interview :) Time for some advice to the aspiring novelists out there. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

EMMA: Don’t listen when somebody tries to tell you, you can’t do something. Could have saved twenty odd years of wondering.


ME: What are common traps for aspiring writers?

EMMA: Write for the love of your story, not for money. Icing comes later.


ME: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

EMMA: Good editor. Not a person who says they can edit, but a professional editor with a good reputation. They are different.


ME: Great stuff, Smurfette! Thanks, for your time, and we can't wait to see you at #RTC2018



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