Debut author, Emily Kerr's novel was published yesterday, so we thought we'd catch her and pop her in the hot seat for a few questions.
Hi Emily. Congratulations on the publication of Who Does He Think He Is? Please tell us all about it.
Who Does He Think He Is? is my debut romantic comedy and it’s published by Crooked Cat Books. The main character, Lady Aurelia Osbourne-Lloyd has long wished her bank balance was as big as her name. But her home, Leydale Park, is more of a pile in a state than stately pile, and with her father off ‘finding himself’ in Thailand, it’s up to her to turn the family fortunes around by entertaining demanding tourists. When a Hollywood production company chooses the estate as a location for a Regency movie, a whole new level of chaos enters Aurelia’s life. On top of that there’s the added distraction of dishy leading man, Xander Lord, who may have an ulterior motive for wanting to get close to her…
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
I find inspiration from all kinds of places. Sometimes I’ll overhear a random snippet of conversation and it can spark the idea for a story, or I’ll read something in the news or hear a random fact and they’ll get me thinking. I always carry a notebook with me and scribble these things down. I know they’ll come in handy one day!
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I don’t really have an ‘average’ writing day as I have to try and squeeze my writing in around my day job. I’m a journalist and work quite crazy hours (as a colleague once said, it’s more like a lifestyle choice than a career!) so it can be challenging to fit everything in. However, I’ve developed something which I call the ’43 minute rule’ to keep myself in line. I realised that the average length of an episode of the TV shows I love to watch on Netflix was around 43 minutes. I decided to ditch the 43 minutes of Netflix watching, and spend that time writing instead. I find if I turn my Wi-Fi off, put my phone on silent and really concentrate for 43 minutes, I can get a fair bit of writing done. And more often than not, I’ll get really into my story and carry on scribbling away even when the 43 minutes are up.
What book means the most to you?
This is a really tough question! Am I allowed more than one?! I return to Persuasion by Jane Austen over and over again. I admire Anne Elliot’s quiet strength, and Captain Wentworth’s letter gets me every time. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers is another favourite. I first read it when I was at university so it always takes me back to that happy time. The protagonist Harriet Vane is also a superbly drawn character, and I am completely in love with Lord Peter Wimsey. And for something completely different, a cartoon book of the Greek myths means a lot to me because it first sparked my fascination with the ancient world, and I suppose was an early influence on my choice to read Classics at uni.
Which female writer has inspired you?
I grew up in Yorkshire not far from Haworth and so the Brontë sisters have always inspired me. From their small village, they wrote stories that have a far-reaching impact. They didn’t let society’s expectations hold them back.
What are the best bits, worst bits and most surprising bits of being an author?
The best bit of being an author is the actual writing! The characters in my story become as real to me as my own friends and family, and I find myself thinking about them and in fact missing them when I’m not writing about them. The sense of camaraderie among authors is also wonderful. I can’t believe how generous and supportive other writers have been towards me. As for the worst bit, I suppose it’s the fear that comes in sending your work out into the scary big wide world of publishers etc and waiting to hear back.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I spend a lot of time daydreaming about my characters, putting them in different scenarios in my head and seeing what happens. That means when I sit down to write the first draft, I generally have a sense of where the story is going, and what needs to happen when and why. However, apart from maybe a few scribbled notes to remind myself of these things, I don’t have a formal plan written down. I just tend to dive in and allow the story to evolve. I like being surprised by the things the characters end up doing! I get more disciplined during later drafts and will take quite a few passes through the manuscript ruthlessly cutting, re-writing etc before giving myself some time away from it working on other projects, so I can return and start the editing process with fresh eyes.
What was your journey to being a published author?
I’ve always wanted to be an author, and some of my earliest memories are of sitting in the back of the car on the way to primary school asking my mum to spell out words for the stories I was writing. Ever since then, I’ve tended to have several writing projects on the go at once. I had a terrible habit of writing thousands of words of one book, then moving onto a shiny new story and not finishing it. Joining the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme encouraged me to focus on one particular story, my book Who Does He Think He Is? and actually finish it. The advice and support from my reader was invaluable. I entered writing competitions and placed or was shortlisted in several. That success helped me to find the courage to submit my book to publishers.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Just go for it! Don’t allow the fear of not being able to do it take over and stop you from trying. Get the words out on the page and don’t worry too much about it. Once that first draft is done, you can go back through and re-write and edit to your heart’s content, but you need something to start with. I would also recommend the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme as a wonderful way of getting constructive advice and guidance from published authors.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m writing another romantic comedy. This time the story is set in one of my favourite countries, Greece. The main character Isabelle Sutton has always fancied charismatic TV archaeologist Ben Timms, but when she gets her dream job working for him on his latest documentary series, she soon learns he’s a very different person off screen…
Thank you, Emily!
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