Eve, welcome to the YA Lit Mag! We are excited to have you as one of our first author interviews, so let’s get to it!
Olivia with YA Lit Mag: Eve, what were the first sparks that turned into Emma’s story? What sets her adventures apart from other books-come-to-life stories like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Inkheart, or Lost in Austen?
YALM: Aside from Jane Eyre, where did you pull your greatest inspirations from–in life and in fiction–for A BREATH OF EYRE?
EMM: Oh, wow. Definitely my students. I teach high school English, so I’m always picking up snippets of conversations, listening to the rhythms of dialogue in the hallways, or finding dramatic fodder for my stories. My students are so smart and funny and, for the most part, idealistic behind the cynical façade. I learn a lot from them. I also draw on my family dynamics. Like any family, mine is lovable but flawed. I like my main characters to be firmly grounded in a rich family life before plunging into their adventures. Other than that, I try to take inspiration from the writers I admire, whether it’s literary goddesses like Brontë and Austen or contemporary masters like Jandy Nelson and Laini Taylor.
YALM: Emma is experiencing love and lust for the first time, chasing after her unattainable old friend Gray Newman. Then there’s the brooding Mr. Rochester in her Jane-life. In what ways are the two young men most alike? Most different? And do you think either would believe they were the love interest in a novel?
EMM: Rochester and Gray both belong to that alluring category of men who are mysterious, brooding, and haunted by their pasts. Emma sees beyond Gray’s bravado and comes to understand his vulnerable side just as Jane does for Rochester. Gray can come off as cocky, but I think he’d be surprised to find he was the romantic lead in a novel. Rochester, on the other hand, would eat that news up!
YALM: Emma’s mother is described as an ex-debutante who left behind some secrets of her own after her death. In fact, it’s her college roommate who gives Emma the fateful copy of Jane Eyre. What more can you tell us about this mother/daughter relationship?
EMM: Actually Emma’s stepmother is the ex-debutante type. Emma’s mother was an artist and writer, a free spirit, but a bit of an enigma. Since she died when Emma was only eight years old, Emma has romanticized the positive aspects of her mother (her joy for life, her affectionate nature) and blocked out some of the negatives. Discovering the truth about her mother is one of the mysteries of the book.
YALM: We’ve all wished at some point or another that we could actually be a character in the books we read. When you were a teen, what other books beyond Jane Eyre did you want to live in? How about today, are there contemporary YA novels you’d enjoy wandering about?
EMM: As a kid, I fantasized about getting lost in Narnia with Mr. Tumnus or talking to a robin redbreast with Dickon in The Secret Garden. By high school, I was going through my 19th century British phase, so you could have sent me into virtually any Jane Austen world and I would have been happy, especiallyNorthanger Abbey as I had an affinity for the Gothic. I’d love to spend a long weekend cozied up to a fireplace in the Shire of Middle-earth and maybe spend a Halloween at Hogwarts! For contemporary novels, I could wander any waterfront setting with a swoon-worthy love interest—The Summer I Turned Pretty andAnna and the French Kiss come to mind.
YALM: Emma’s story isn’t over after A BREATH OF EYRE: it is the first in the UNBOUND trilogy. What can you tell us about Emma’s up-coming adventures, where she travels into The Scarlet Letterand The Phantom of the Opera? (As a fan of the classics since 8th grade, I can’t express enough how excited it makes me to think of Emma inhabiting Christine Daaé’s roller-coaster life!)
EMM: The second book, inspired by The Scarlet Letter, has Emma growing up quite a bit as she navigates her way through secrets and scandal. The third book will be loosely based on The Phantom of the Opera and will take place in Paris. Since I haven’t written it yet, I’m as excited as you are for this adventure!
YALM: On your site, you mention a love for The Great Gatsby. Have you considered working on a 1920’s YA novel, book-hopping or otherwise? (Also, thoughts on the up-coming movie adaptation?)
EMM: As much as I love the fashions and glamor of the 1920’s, reading The Great Gatsby every year (I teach the book to my 10thgrade class) reminds me what a frivolous and soulless time it was for those with money and leisure time. So much restless wandering, drinking, and philandering. I’d love to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. And I’m cautiously optimistic about the new Gatsby movie, although (don’t kill me) I don’t think Leonardo is right for Gatsby. At all.
YALM: All right, last one! A BREATH OF EYRE debuted on April Fool’s Day! If you could pull a fun practical joke with Emma who would you prank, why, and what would the two of you do together?â€¨
EMM: I’m not a prankster by nature, but if Emma and I were to pull a practical joke, we would probably play it on Emma’s roommate, Michelle. Almost her entire wardrobe is red, so I think we’d go in one day and replace all her clothes with pink ones. Michelle is so not a girly girl so she’d hate that! But we’d have a good laugh about it afterward.
YALM: Thank you very much, Eve! And again, from YA Lit Mag, congratulations on your first foray in the YA world! We can’t wait for the full UNBOUND series!
Praise for A BREATH OF EYRE: “Captivating and heartrending… Definitely one for the favorites shelf.” –Kelly Creagh, author of Nevermore
“A rich, wonderful, smart adventure, steeped in romance. I fell into this book in the same wayEmma falls into Jane Eyre and I didn’t want to fall back out again.” –Lesley Livingston, author of Once Every Never and the Wondrous Strange trilogy.
For book details click here