Our Writer of the Week is debut author Emma Dee. Emma’s story, “Lofty ideas”, appears in Special 249, on sale this week.
There is a truthfulness to your characters’ feelings in “Lofty ideas”. Do you find this an easy process to write?
It’s not always easy, but it’s so important to put yourself in the shoes of every one of your characters – especially those like Maggie and Jayne who are in opposition for much of the story. Because if I don’t believe in them then who will? I knew I was on the right track when I found myself with a lump in my throat as I typed.
Everything I write has to feel real to me; if I’m not rooting for my characters then I haven’t given them enough truth.
Humour shines through the story, too. How important is capturing humour in your fiction?
Humour is such a huge part of life. If you can’t see the funny side of things then you risk ending up pretty miserable. Humour can help us cope with the most enormous emotions.
Your first published “Friend” story. Do you have plans to write more for the magazine?
Absolutely. Like many readers, I grew up with the “Friend”. My beloved gran had a subscription and, as a child, I would prop myself up on my grandad’s armchair and look at the pictures. As a young adult, I would read the various cuttings and stories gran enclosed in her letters.
I know she’d be so proud if she could see me now. In fact, she would probably buy up every available copy of Special 249 and send “Lofty Ideas” to all of her friends.
If you could have dinner with one famous author, past or present, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Jane Austen. I would love to sit down to a TV dinner in front of a soap or reality show in the hope that it would fire up her searing observational wit. I would also ask for a few pointers on developing secondary characters that are simultaneously real and ridiculous. I mean, that shouldn’t even be possible, yet she manages it multiple times in every single one of her novels.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
Well, I’m currently sat at the kitchen table, laptop open next to a bottle of olive oil and a playdough spaghetti maker. Our kitchen is chaotic and cluttered but it’s also the centre of our home and where I’m happiest. A lot of my inspiration comes from conversations had whilst seated around this table with family and friends.
P.S. What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?
Write. Sounds obvious but it’s surprising how many aspiring writers don’t. Or don’t often. That’s why it’s probably one of the most popular answers to this question. It’s very easy to think, oh yes, one day I’ll be the next Jane Austen… It’s the knuckling down bit that’s tricky.
But it really is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave me. I still remember the first time I actually sat at the kitchen table and wrote the bones of a short story. I found it last year in the depths of my laptop. It was pretty terrible but, because I’ve written practically every day since, I was able to fix it.
Now, another year later, it is being published.