About Emma Gates:
Award-winning writer Emma Gates was born in New York and spent her childhood in England. She earned a BA in Spanish/Latin American Studies from Indiana University Bloomington, and an MBA with concentration in Arabic/Middle Eastern Studies from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. She worked for three years in Mexico and five in Saudi Arabia. She’s an international trade and telecoms specialist currently living near Chicago with her family and two inscrutable cats.
“I try to write what I want to read — novels that are dense, ‘chewy’, full of ideas, which transport me to different places while taking me deep into the hearts of characters whose lives immediately engage and move me profoundly. Because I’ve lived many years outside the States, I’m interested in how Americans interact with people from other countries, whether here or there.”
What inspires you to write?
Interesting Q … I can’t really pinpoint an answer since I’ve been writing from the time I first held a pencil. Teachers always asked ‘Is this really YOURS?’ Writing is a form of seeing, for me – sometimes seeing through or beyond or under – although even if I lost my eyesight I would still be hearing characters relay their travails and joys forever. I’ve led an unusual sort of life which has inspired much reflection.
Tell us about your writing process.
Often characters make themselves known to me as a situation in my own life or in the world unfolds. I get glimpses of them, then follow them as if a cinematographer, recording their moves, sensations, and inner lives (if I’m especially skilled). I’ve never used an outline or character sketch, although I have interviewed them and do have notes with questions about why they do what they do/feel the way they feel. I take snapshots through research of time/place/political scenario (most of my novels reflect sociopolitical realities of their era).
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters talk to me all the time, and reproach me when I’m not addressing their issues by writing 😉
What advice would you give other writers?
Listen to those voices in your head or dreams which insist on being attended: go ahead and write out where you think it might all lead since they’ll steer you in the story’s direction. Get out of your own way and let them drive the first draft before you allow logistics to correct the narrative. After the initial spree your characters enjoy, look it over some time later, maybe with a couple of trusted writer friends; edit where meaningful and pay close attention to grammar, spelling, pacing, plot. Be an obsessive reader of good literature. HAVE FUN!!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’ve written for many years, yet never attempted to publish until I was diagnosed with a stage 4 illness in 2013. My writers’ collective encouraged me to polish the four most ‘literary’ works, and through their auspices I found an indie press in Chicago who saw merit in my novels. New authors should make sure their fiction is well-read by writing friends and then should take advantage of the happy situation we’re currently in where small press and self-press is not only acceptable but increasingly becoming the norm. It must all start with a really good story … don’t just go for the vampire du jour. Write from your heart and from your own experience. Get lost in the novel and when you come up for air, see how it reads for trusted others who are keen readers.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think we live in interesting times (as the saying goes)! The digital revolution puts artists in charge of distributing and getting paid for their own work: but success depends, as always, on the quality of that work. Reader engagement will forever depend on writing excellence.
What do you use?: Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: literary fiction, thirller, romance
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print