Thursday, February 27, 2014

Adventuring with Martha Wells

Today the wildly talented Martha Wells is here to answer a few questions. Her second Emilie book, EMILIE & THE SKY WORLD is out March 4 from Strange Chemistry. Book 1, EMILIE & THE HOLLOW WORLD was one of my favorite books from last year. A rousing Verne-esque adventure with a young capable lead, this was the book I wanted to read when I was a child. I immediately bought the kids their own copy. 

In her newest adventure, Emilie takes to the skies and deals with family as well as a new menace.

The blurbage: "When Emilie and Daniel arrive in Silk Harbor, Professor Abindon, an old colleague of the Marlendes, warns them that she's observed something strange and potentially deadly in the sky, a disruption in an upper air aether current. But as the Marlendes investigate further, they realize it's a ship from another aetheric plane. It may be just a friendly explorer, or something far more sinister, but they will have to take an airship into the dangerous air currents to find out. Emilie joins the expedition and finds herself deep in personal entanglements, with an angry uncle, an interfering brother, and an estranged mother to worry about - not to mention a lost family of explorers, the strange landscapes of the upper air, and the deadly menace that inhabits the sky world."

This series remains one of my favorites, not just Young Adult, one of my favorite series period. I find Emilie completely refreshing. She is capable but not infallible. She has a lot of baggage, but we get to see her work through it. This is also a series that does not rely on romance, which is a nice change.

Now on to the interview!

KF: Thank you so much for joining us!

MW: Thanks for interviewing me!

KF: The first and second Emilie books both felt so much like the childhood fantasies I had after reading Verne and Wells or watching movies based on their books. I always wanted them to add more girls to the mix. Butt-kicking girls. Did you have similar thoughts when you were a child?

MW: Yes, I did. Growing up in the 70s, it wasn't easy to find children's books that had swashbuckling adventures with female protagonists, and that's what I really wanted to read. That's why I started reading more adult SF/F so early, where writers like Andre Norton did write adventure stories with women main characters. I also loved those old movies, like the 1958 "From Earth to the Moon" which would show up on TV occasionally, but the female characters were either absent or were just accessories to the male characters.

KF: What were some of your influences? Did you consciously want to write about strong female characters or was that just the story that developed (or both)?

MW: Big influences for me were writers like Barbara Hambly, Judith Tarr, Tanith Lee, Andre Norton, Diane Duane, and Phyllis Gotlieb, so I think I just naturally leaned in that direction.

KF: You've tackled an iconic character, Princess Leia, any other famous characters or worlds you would like to visit as a writer?
MW: I'd really like to write some Doctor Who, but even though I'm a fan of the series (I started watching back in the Tom Baker days when the episodes were rerun on PBS) the canon is huge and I'm not sure I know it in enough detail to tackle it.

KF: What interested you about writing Young Adult? How was that experience different from writing adult books?
MW: I wanted to write the kind of book I really wanted to read when I was younger. I basically approached it just the same way as I do my adult books, except Emilie was much younger and less experienced than the characters I usually write. I'd never written a character's first adventure before, and I wanted to do that with her.

KF: The Emilie books have a lot of great action scenes. How do you approach action scenes - does it just flow, do you do a lot of research, do you act out any fights?
MW: I've done research on sword fighting and knife fighting, and some martial arts, and I watch a lot of fight choreography. Also I've been writing them for about twenty years now, so the experience really helps.

KF: This book touches on more of the societal issues than book 1 for me, and I felt that it worked well happening in this book because Emilie has had the horrible experience with her family and the supportive experience with the Marlendes to compare. Did you always intend to have Emilie explore her feelings and anger in this book? 
MW: Yes, once I knew I was going to write a second book I definitely wanted to continue that theme and have her explore her feelings about what had happened, and to confront some members of her family about their behavior. I wanted to try to deal with it realistically, but also try to give the character and the reader some closure. (That's something we often don't get in real life, so it's nice to be able to show it in a story.)

KF: Emilie has been to the center of the world and into the sky, where might she go next?
MW: I'm really not sure. The way her world is structured, there are a ton of possibilities.

KF: What projects do you have on the horizon?
MW: I've been working on the last of four novellas set in the world of The Books of the Raksura, and those will be coming out in a paperback collection and in ebook later this year and next year. After that I have a new book idea I'm anxious to start working on.

KF: Sherlock, Buffy, Firefly or Doctor Who?

MW: I like all four, though probably Doctor Who is my favorite right now. I also like Elementary and Sleepy Hollow a lot.

KF: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!

EMILIE & THE SKY WORLD  Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound

EMILIE & THE HOLLOW WORLD Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound

In case you were curious, the Leia book: RAZOR'S EDGE: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Indiebound

Martha Wells:

Strange Chemistry:

[received an ARC to review]
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