Interview with Emma Newman

Well! After a quiet week on the blogging front, things are picking back up again in fine style. Today, I’ve got a real treat of an interview for you – none other than Emma Newman, author of the Split Worlds series, has been kind enough to answer some questions for me! I did a fair amount of squeeing over this one, but let’s see what you all make of it, shall we? 

Hello Emma! First off, thank you kindly for your time…

Thank you for having me!

My first question is partly for propriety, and because I’m just that curious – you’re fond of tea, as your fans might be aware. How do you prefer to drink it?

Strong but with lots of milk. I would say I like it like I like my gentlemen, but a) it makes an awful sentence with all those likes in it and b) it would make no sense whatsoever. I like bog-standard Tetley or PG Tips day in day out, but will always pick English Breakfast Tea when given a choice. It is a constant source of disappointment that I don’t drink black Earl Grey, depriving myself on a daily basis of saying “Tea, Earl Grey, hot” whenever I make a cuppa. Tragic.

Mmm. English Breakfast…

Ahem. Right! Now that’s on record, let’s talk a bit about your books. You have a new one – All Is Fair – coming out, which is the third of your Split Worlds books with Angry Robot. It’s been read, reviewed and loved to pieces here, though I’m quite sad that the adventures of Cathy, Will and company seem to be over! How pleased are you with how their stories turned out now that their end is in sight?

I’m very pleased – and was quite surprised by how things turned out in the end – but that’s part of the joy of writing! I knew some of it, don’t get me wrong, but once you put characters into a world and they start interacting with each other, rather than just the plot you’ve got mapped out in your head, really interesting things can happen. Right up until I wrote the last three chapters of All Is Fair I really wasn’t sure how things would shake down with Will and Cathy. Even when I wrote a particular paragraph from Will’s POV (sorry, can’t be more specific because spoilers!) I was really quite shocked. In a nice way.

I love all of the prominent characters in these books, but I’ve got a big soft spot for Max, the Arbiter with a bit of an unusual ‘personality quirk’… Is there a character you liked, or enjoyed writing, above the others?

I always found Cathy the hardest but most rewarding, that’s for certain, but I’m not sure if there’s one I enjoyed writing more than the others. Oh, no, hang on – that’s a lie when it comes to book 3. It was Rupert, Sorcerer of Mercia. He was huge fun to write. Is it bad for me to confess that I love him? Are authors allowed to do that these days?

(No it’s not, yes they are, and confessions are encouraged when one visits here*…)

One book format that your books in particular are making me eager to get further into is audiobooks – the samples I’ve heard for the Split Worlds books are wonderful! As with the question above, is there a particular character whose voice you found most enjoyable when narrating?

Lord Poppy. His was one of the most challenging but most enjoyable. He’s mad as a bag of cats, which always helps, but I enjoyed the way his voice has to be almost melodic in the way it goes up and down in a rather strange way. Why does it do that? I have no idea. It just does.

A definite must, then! Excellent.

Another project of note that you’ve worked on is the Three Wishes campaign. How well has that been going, and are there any fulfilled wishes in particular that have impressed you?

I haven’t been able to devote as much time to that as I think it needs, which is a shame. However, the best ever wish fulfilment happened whilst I was at Worldcon. One of the wishes was made by a jewellery designer who wished she could have one of her creations worn by someone at the Hugos, preferably Mary Robinette Kowal, of whom she is (quite rightly) a huge fan. Well, Mary commissioned two pieces from her – a necklace and hair adornment and it made me, very, very happy. That was *exactly* the kind of thing I was hoping for. I have to confess that my heart breaks every time a new set comes in which are impossible to fulfil and usually about looking different or being thin.

Now let’s talk a little bit about your podcast, Tea and Jeopardy (which inspired the tea-related question above!). It’s something I look forward to with each new episode; how did the idea for the podcast come to you?

I was brainstorming names with my husband in a café and wanted something tea oriented, for obvious reasons. I started with “Tea and Sympathy” as a kick-off phrase that had the wrong sentiment but the right sound. I can’t remember which one of us came up with Tea and Jeopardy, but once it was said the ideas for the format just exploded and we ended up being very, very excited.

I really didn’t want to just make another podcast featuring clever people talking quite seriously about books and geekdom. There are many, many people doing that brilliantly already. So I set out to create something that was different yet still gave guests the chance to shine, with an added dollop of silliness. Because goodness knows we could do with a little bit more harmless fun in these times. We write it together and have a lot of fun doing so. And we always write it over cake and a nice cup of tea/coffee, which seems fitting.

Can you drop any names for future guests we can look forward to finding in the Tea Lair?

Well, my next guest is Joe Abercrombie (that might have gone out by now) and then Danie Ware will be in the tea lair. The amazing Bill Willingham has said he’ll be on, but he’s a busy chap so I’m not sure when, as have Seanan McGuire and Gail Simone and other marvellous people. I’m desperately excited.

Good grief, so am I!

Lastly, let’s return to the Split Worlds once more – will we get to see more stories set in this world in future, or are you happy enough now to move on to other things? And if you plan to move on (or not!), what teasers might you be able to divulge? (Insert shameless enthusiasm and sly digging here…)

I’m currently writing an entirely unrelated book that could not be more different to the Split Worlds! It’s sci-fi for one thing, is a stand-alone and is written from a first person perspective. I won’t say any more than that, as it’s a personal policy to never chat about my current work-in-progress in any detail.

But there is more planned within the Split Worlds too. An audio play for one thing, more gaming and I’m hoping (more than that – crossing all fingers and toes!) that Angry Robot will commission another novel in the series.

Well! That all sounds absolutely fantastic to me. Now, I don’t know about you but all the talk of tea has me thirsty… Thank you very much, again, for answering my questions – and best of luck with the latest book release!

Thank you for having me and for the love you’ve shown my books. It means the world to me.

All Is Fair is out in the US and in ebook format on September 24th, and in print in the UK on October 3rd. Check out my reviews of all three of the Split Worlds books:

Between Two Thorns 

Any Other Name

All Is Fair 

* I even have a comfy chair in here.

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