miércoles, 24 de abril de 2019

Leticia Lara interviews Emma Newman

I have the distinct pleasure of publishing Leticia Lara's interview with the great science fiction and fantasy author Emma Newman. You can also read the interview translated into Spanish at Leticia's blog, Fantástica Ficción. Hope you enjoy it!

Leticia Lara: If you are able to, would you mind letting us know if you've ever been contacted by a Spanish publishing company to publish your books in translation? What would be your sales pitch for your Split Worlds Series in Spain? 

Emma Newman: I have not been approached regarding a Spanish translation of The Split Worlds series. If I were able to pitch it to a publisher there, I think I’d say;
The Split Worlds is a completed urban fantasy series filled with mad sorcerers, evil faeries and feuding dynastic families vying for power. It explores personal freedom, social responsibility and the way that patriarchy can destroy the lives of both men and women. It also has a talking gargoyle and a kickass feminist heroine.

Leticia Lara: You write fantasy and science fiction. Which genre do you prefer to write? Do you use a different approach with each one?

Emma Newman: I don’t think I have a preference; for me the story-telling is the most important thing, rather than the genre that story happens to be in. I love different things about both. In science-fiction I really enjoy looking at current technology and thinking about how it could develop into the future, and how those changes impact upon the human experience.

When I write fantasy (and I have only written urban fantasy so far), I enjoy thinking about how magic influences power structures and the impact that would have on society and everyday life.

Leticia Lara: You are well-known as a writer and also as a reader of audiobooks. Is it very different to perform your own audiobooks in contrast with those written by other authors? 

Emma Newman: When I narrate my own books there is very little prep to do beforehand! I already know the story and the characters, and which accents are required to perform it. I love having the opportunity to perform my own work, as it means I can portray the characters exactly as I imagined them.

When I narrate books written by other authors, there is a lot of work before I even get to the studio. I read the book through, making notes about what happens in each chapter, and detailed notes about all of the characters. I look out for words that I am not sure how to pronounce and highlight dialogue that needs to be read in different accents. If there are characters who speak in accents that I am not able to perform, I need to acquire that skill. That can be a lot of work.

I enjoy audiobook narration very much, as it is challenging and interesting work. It’s like stepping inside the book. It is also very tiring!

Leticia Lara: Do you read your sentences aloud while you are writing to have an idea of how it will sound as an audiobook?

Emma Newman: I always read my work aloud as a fundamental part of my writing process. I think it is the best way to smooth the prose, and to get a sense of whether the dialogue sounds realistic. Sometimes the things characters say seem good on the page, but then when you read it aloud, you realise that no-one really speaks like that in real life!

Leticia Lara: In a recent newsletter, you told us that you were thinking about self-publishing new instalments of the Industrial Magic series. What can you tell us about this?

Emma Newman: That’s the plan! At the moment I am focusing on producing audiobook versions of the first two novellas (which were published by Tor.com), which I’m doing in partnership with the recording studio where I do most of my narration work. Once those are done and released, I’ll be writing the next novella in the series and plan to publish it later in the year.

Leticia Lara: I have eagerly read the three published books in the Planetfall Universe series. They are so different from one another but they also share some characteristics. How did you plan the series to develop this way?

Emma Newman: To be honest, I never planned a series at all! When I wrote Planetfall, I knew it was a stand-alone novel, and I had no idea if anyone would want to publish it. When Ace/Roc bought it, they asked for a second novel. I had some vague ideas about a baby left behind by one of the colonists in Planetfall, and I wanted to explore what the Earth they left behind was like. 

Planetfall was such a success that two more novels were bought, and by that point I’d had an idea for a psychological thriller set on Mars, and once that was written, I knew what I wanted to explore in Atlas Alone. As they are all set in the same universe, it made sense to have connections between the books in the form of common characters, and for important events to have ripples that affect all of them. It’s been a lot of fun tying the books together in a shared universe, but having the freedom to write stand-alone novels. 

Leticia Lara: Many of the characters in the Planetfall Universe series struggle with mental disorders (anxiety, depression…). I was specially touched by the postnatal depression in Before Mars. How did you manage to write such complex personalities with these problems?

Emma Newman: It’s a combination of drawing upon personal experience and doing a lot of research. I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder many years ago, and while it is not the same mental illness as Ren has (the protagonist in Planetfall), there is enough of an overlap that I can write about common elements with authenticity. There’s a scene where she has a panic attack that many people have commented on as being hard to read, as it is so realistic because I wrote what I have experienced myself. As for the other aspects of Ren’s illness, writing those needed research and empathy.

I also suffered from post-natal depression, so again could draw upon my own memories of that time when I wrote Before Mars. That was really tough, actually.

Leticia Lara: In After Atlas we can see some of the problems that continued surveillance and the loss of privacy can cause in a society as well as the power of gigantic corporations. Were you trying to write a “cautionary tale”?

Emma Newman: That was certainly on my mind, although the thing that I was really concerned about at the time of building the world of After Atlas was the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) deal that looked like it might be agreed at the time. I was really worried about how that could have given corporations the power to sue governments, and in the historical timeline of the Planetfall novels, the TTIP was agreed and corporations used that power to cripple governments financially so they could effectively commit a coup and take over all aspects of society, leading to the ‘gov-corps’ of After Atlas.

Thankfully the TTIP didn’t get through in the real world, but things have become worse since then in other ways. My novels are political, as science-fiction always has been. I do want people to look critically at the way things are now, and writing about how things could be if they carry on in this way, is my way of drawing attention to them.

Leticia Lara: There is a lot of expectation about your next novel, Atlas Alone. As the “end?” of the Planetfall Universe series (so to speak), what can we know about the book?

Emma Newman: I don’t see it as the end of the series, as I’d like to write two more novels set in that universe, but I may take a little break from the series before I do.

The protagonist of Atlas Alone is Dee, Carlos’s best friend from After Atlas. It follows on six months after the end of that novel. It’s all about recovering from trauma, immersive gaming and revenge.

Leticia Lara: Do you like going to literature festivals like Worldcons? What do you prefer to do in these places?

Emma Newman: I do! I have been to several Worldcons and am looking forward to the one in Dublin this year. 

As someone who finds crowds difficult, and who is quite shy, I do find them hard work, but worth it. I have many friends that I only get to see at these events, so it is lovely to catch up with them, and also with industry professionals like my editors and my agent. 

I like to keep busy at them if I can, and am always very pleased to get on the program, as I see those events as a way of giving back to the community. Whenever I can, I run my workshop on writing and anxiety, which lots of people have found helpful. It’s also wonderful meeting people who like my work.

Leticia Lara: What can you tell us about your new projects?

Emma Newman: I have started to write regular short stories set in the Planetfall universe for my newsletter subscribers, which I am really enjoying. 

I recently took up painting, and to my surprise, have sold some of my first ones! I have my first exhibition coming up at a UK convention which is so exciting.

As for my next novel, well, I can’t quite say what that is yet, as I am waiting for some news. But whatever happens, I do plan to write more Industrial Magic novellas and I’m also planning a new YouTube offering. I will certainly be busy!

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