I’m thrilled to have author Emerald Barnes join us today. Emerald is the critically acclaimed author of “Piercing the Darkness,” a young adult novella described as a “Thrilling psychological drama,” that, “Leaves you wanting more!” Emerald is stopping by on her blog tour for the launch of her new young adult novel, “Read me Dead.” It sounds like an awesome novel, and I was dying to interview her!
AR: I love your titles! How do you come up with them?!
EB: Thanks! I don’t know, honestly. They just kind of come to me.
Piercing through the Darkness was always that to me. It was never anything else. I saw this street lamp, the only light in the darkness, and my main character, Kandi, just running towards it, trying to free herself of the darkness surrounding her. Back then, it was very literal in the short story, but as the novella grew, it was her metaphorically finding herself free of the darkness overtaking her.
Read Me Dead was a little harder to pinpoint. I had wittily tagged it as “The Article” while writing it, but I wanted something more interesting. I thought of one line in my novel, “You might as well have written my obituary,” Alex says, and Read Me Dead was born from that line.
AR: What is “Read Me Dead” about?
EB: Read Me Dead is about my main character, Alexia “Alex” Wheaton. She just wants to live a normal life. She wants to worry about what dress to wear to the homecoming dance and which boy she wants date. But as the sole witness to her parents’ murder, her life is far from normal.
When an article about her parents’ death is written, stating that she has seen the murderer after years of bearing that secret, she is now thrown into a world of fear, where she’s afraid that his next victim will be her.
She’s in a race to save her life and bring her parents’ murderer to justice.
AR: Who is the book’s audience, and what will they find there?
EB: My book is generally written for Young Adults. I find that I can relate to them more on a reading level, but it can be enjoyed by adults as well, as most of my beta readers were adults and loved the book.
But, in the book, they will find that Alex is a relatable character. She’s just a girl wanting to be normal, but she unfortunately finds herself in a horrible situation, but it’s how she handles that situation, I believe, that will be so relatable. My goal for young adults reading the book was to find a character that they would be interested in reading about and actually feeling as if she was real.
AR: YA has taken the world by storm as a genre. What are your thoughts on why, and why now?
EB: It’s amazing at how YA has taken the world by storm! I think that it’s so popular now because we can re-live our young adult lives vicariously through each story that is told. It doesn’t hurt that films from popular YA books are coming to theaters world-wide! The YA genre has gone in so many different directions now. There weren’t many books back when I was in high school in the YA genre that I enjoyed (or thought I would enjoy), but now, high schoolers and adults alike can enjoy new, entertaining literature told from the point of view of middle grade to high school main characters! I know that I can’t get enough of that genre!
AR: What’s your approach to crafting your stories?
EB: Would it be bad if I said I don’t have an approach?
I’m a pantser at heart, writing only by the seat of my pants. But, eventually, I have to tell myself that I need to plot out something. So, I’ll sit down and write by stream of consciousness what all I want to see in my stories. From there, I take it chapter by chapter, writing out each scene and bringing to life what I believe will work best for the story I’m telling. After my first draft is finished, I take a break for a week or two to wrap my head around my story, and then I begin edits. I will edit two or three times before finally deciding my story is good enough for the masses.
AR: I’ve noticed that if one looks at all of a writer’s oeuvre, there’s an overarching unity, and that each separate work is part of a whole. What trends do you see emerging in your work?
EB: I couldn’t agree more with that statement! I think mostly in my work, I see a theme of the damsels in distress types who eventually have to come to terms with facing their darkest secrets and pasts head on, and it makes them stronger.
AR: What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned on your journey as a writer?
EB: Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that you don’t have to do this on your own, and that having fellow writer friends is what will keep you sane in this otherwise insane profession.
At first, I believed that being a writer was solitary, and in essence, I believe that it still is some, but there are people out there who understand what you are going through when you’re about ready to have a fight with your characters for them doing something completely uncharacteristic and you having to re-think your plot. And, these fellow writer friends will help you face that head-on. They’ll help you through the writing process, offer invaluable feedback, and then, they will be generous enough to help you with promotion, marketing, etc when you finally finish the novel you wanted to chunk across the room for being so difficult. Writing no longer has to be a solitary experience.
AR: You have a B.A. in English, with an emphasis on creative writing. Tell us about some of the things you learned in your writing classes that have helped you.
EB:I do, and it helped me with a general background of what to do and what not to do in stories. My Fiction Workshop class was the best at this because we all were able to critique each others’ works. I still remember a lot of the comments written in the margins of my short stories. “This doesn’t work.” “Too much dialogue.” “Show more. Don’t always tell.” These are small comments, sure, but you learn from your previous mistakes, and when I edit, I think of what they would say about it. I also remember how my professor would mark out entire pages and say, “Rethink your beginning.” I still use that to this day. He also said something along the lines of “Grab the reader’s attention, but you don’t have to punch them in the face.” Don’t you just love that?
AR: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
EB: Believe in yourself and don’t give up. And when you don’t give up and finish that manuscript. Edit. Edit. Edit.
AR: What’s ahead for you?!
EB: Something new, I must admit! I’m dabbling in the YA Paranormal genre now and straying a bit from the suspense genre (but only a bit!). I have a trilogy in process called, Knight’s Academy, that deals with Vampires, Werewolves and the protection of humans.
I also have some ideas floating around for a sequel to Piercing Through the Darkness.
Thanks for having me on your blog! I wish you all the best. xoxo
AR: The pleasure is all my mine. I’m looking forward to diving into Read Me Dead!
You can follow Emerald and purchase her books at the following links:
More about Read Me Dead
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Piercing Through the Darkness Buy Links: