1. Hello, Emily, what a pleasure to have you on Fullness of Joy blog for this interview today! To start this off (because... we have to start somewhere, right?), would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself? Hobbies, personality, tea or coffee, least favourite household chore, cats or dogs...?
Thank you so much for having me, dear Joy! As for myself: well, I am a writer, of course. I am a dancer. I dabble in photography. Books are my dear friends, New Zealand wildly beckons me, and Narnia will forever be implanted upon my heart in the form of an obsession. I dislike cleaning the kitchen on most days, and I think I prefer cats over dogs. I know I prefer coffee over tea. I am a pessimistic optimist, a peppy introvert, and a dreamer.
2. At what age did you first start writing and develop a love for wordcrafting? Was there someone or something that influenced you to start this journey?
I think I was around the age of ten when I began to actually enjoy writing and put some time into it. My first “chapter book” was thirty handwritten pages long, contained practically no plot, and focused intensely on the names of the classmates, the way the desks were arranged, and the endless options of coloured folders and backpacks when school supply shopping. Important stuff, y'all.
Then came a lull for around a year or two, until I was fourteen. I attended a tutorial which Abigail J. Hartman attended, and in stumbling across her and her book, the spark of that writing passion flared up to a whole new level. Needless to say, my journey had begun.
3. Without giving too much away, could you be persuaded to tell us a bit about your newly released novel, Cry of Hope?
The long version: When a voyage to the New World is thrust upon young, unwilling Hope Ellison, her carefully built ideals begin to slip from her grasp. Clinging to the tattered shards of her once contented life, she embarks on the perilous journey with her family, caring not for the reason they are taking such risks and fearing the fate for her future. Yet, even her fears are unprepared for the trials ahead, and soon she comes face to face with choices that will define her view of life entirely.
The short version: When a voyage to the New World is thrust upon an unwilling young girl, she must overcome the trials and tragedies that threaten to steal the hope standing just outside her grasp.
It really stinks when you prefer the short to the long, and yet it turns out to be far too short for a sufficient summary . . .
4. About the title Cry of Hope – did you get this line from a song or a piece of poetry, or was it simply born out of the novel itself? What is the history behind the title?
The title was tricky. The first title was Meet Hope (that version was written when I was twelve), the next was Hope for America (same age, I believe), then came Journey of Hope, which stuck around for a while . . . and finally Cry of Hope came to be. I love it to this day. You see, I knew Journey of Hope wasn't nearly . . . ah, interesting enough, and so I was flipping through a book of poetry one day, searching for a line that might just perhaps serve as inspiration. Interestingly enough, it wasn't a poetry line I ran across. Rather, it was a single word. Cry. I suppose you can imagine the explosion of fireworks in my head (it rather felt like that, come to think of it). Hence came the title, Cry of Hope. It fits the entire mood of the book very well.
5. Isaac Newton was known to have said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Who have been the literary giants or “Greats” that have inspired your writing and perhaps even your life thus far?
Louisa May Alcott shall always remain on the top of the list. Little Women is one of my very favorite books (I'm most like Meg, for those who are wondering), and I think it was her strong and simple and beautiful style that drove me to bleed a hint of it into my own style. So indeed, I think it is Alcott who can claim that Literary Giant title as far as my writing is concerned.
6. If you could have been the original author of any published book, what would it have been?
This is an interesting question! Little Women would certainly be one of them. The Lord of the Rings is quite a tantalizing one in itself, as is the Chronicles of Narnia. But then, who wouldn't want to have their name attached to those to brilliant pieces of literature?
7. What part of the writing process do you dread the most? As a dual question, can you tell us what your favourite part is?
Ah . . . Writer's Block? Really, I'm pretty sure Writer's Block is what I dread the most. That, and research. Almost always research, or at least such has been my experience thus far. As for my favorites, probably the planning stage and the writing-stage-when-not-
8. Being a homeschooler in a large family, how do you fit writing time with schoolwork, chores and family time as well as other activities?
I write when I wanna, I do school when I wanna, and I spend time with my family when I wanna. As for chores, I kinda do that when I hafta.
Alright, maybe not quite like that. However, our family times are quite relaxed. We hang out together when we want to, however droll that sounds. The dinner table is usually full of loud chatter, however. As for schoolwork, this year for me is a fairly easy year, so I generally make time to write when I am in the mood for it. Though, due to the work toward Cry of Hope's release, I haven't been actually writing much. And chores? Ick.
9. Can you imagine your novel being adapted into a movie? How would you feel about it if they were? In the stuff of your day-dreams, who would you choose to direct the films, and who would you cast for your main characters?
Is it terrible that I was actually hoping for this question? As for actors . . . here goes! (note: this is a dream cast. Just keep that in mind.)
:: Celine Buckens. Give her an English accent rather than a French accent, and she would do very, very well.
:: Jeremy Irvine. This was pretty easy, for I had originally thought of him as closer-ly matching my mental image of Joshua. He's a little too handsome for Joshua, I have to admit, but he would do.
:: It's awful, but I simply cannot find an actress to suit Patience. At least, she doesn't exist in my limited knowledge of actresses. I do, however, have a picture of a girl who is Patience that I snagged off another girl's blog (who, in turn, snagged it off of Pinterest). It fits very well.
10. Your novel deals with the topic of hope, if the title is anything to go by! While writing, did you find yourself learning any lessons or going through any of the journeys/struggles that your characters went through yourself?
Perhaps that God is good—and He loves life even more than we do. That was a particular line I wrote in toward the end, and I think it took me by surprise as I typed it out. It is certainly something bright to think about, however. It's one of those sorts of Truth that just makes you happy.
Those are things that I learned, though the overarching theme of the book is that of hope and that of faith.
11. What kind of scene do you find easiest to write: tragedy, comedy, or drama, romance, action, or static scenes? Do you find writing dialogue or writing description/narrative to be easier?
Probably a sort of sweet, comedy mix. Not necessarily comedy, but the sweet, everyday sort of scenes, in which banter flies freely and laughter abounds. You could call them static scenes, I suppose. Most people would. But they are the scenes that are most pleasant to write, and read as well, I think. They are the joys of life that we, as true-blue humans, like best. Static is good sometimes.
And I think that dialogue is easier for me.
12. Do you have any strange writing habits/quirks (like standing on your head for research or plotting assassinations in the shower)?
You could call this a quirk, I suppose: whenever a promising idea pops into my head, I tend to freeze where I am and stare into space until it shapes into a more substantial form. I think a hint of the hidden Amy March in my nature pops up then, for I do it partly because I feel it appears quite dramatic. It looks very fastidious, wouldn't you agree?
13. Cry of Hope is historical fiction, I presume. Is that your preferred genre to read/write in?
To write in, yes—I believe so. I haven't dabbled much in other genres, so indeed, at this point you could say that historical fiction is my preferred writing genre. I love history, particularly U.S. history. As for reading, I think you could say the same, but it doesn't have to be historical for me to love the book. I adore the characters in J. Grace Pennington's Firmament series, which is sci-fi. And naturally, I quite love Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia as well. (That's just the beginning, by the way . . . )
14. Out of all the characters you’ve created, which one do you connect with and love the most?
But if we are talking about all of the characters I've created, including those outside of Cry of Hope, that would indubitably be Nicki Millwood, my seven year old cherub who loves big red barns and fire engines and does not like oatmeal. She also looks uncannily similar to Little Debbie. And actually resembles Shirley Temple as well.
This is interesting, for I could probably create an entire post on this topic. Most of the side characters are real; I wanted to be very limited in the characters I created in order to stick to historical facts as well as possible. Then, concerning the main overall events, they are true. I believe, as far as timewise-accuracy, the order in which the events appear are mostly true as well. But it is, in fact, a work of fiction, so I daren't tell you to take it as facts down pat to heart on a history test real. (That was a mouthful . . . )
16. Can you quote your most well-beloved line in Cry of Hope? Why do you love that line so?
“As long as we have faith, hope can never die.”
Those words are repeated more than once in the book. It's an interesting twist to the Bible verse that states that “faith is substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It turned out quite fine, if I do say so myself. I'm pretty sure God plopped that idea in my head when I typed it out. I'm rather glad He did. That's the book's Line. As in, if the book had a theme line, that would be it.
17. Have you ever met any people in real life that have inspired you with any of the characters we read about in Cry of Hope?
Not 'specially. I can't think of any one person who became a model for a character in my book. Some of the mild sarcasm in John was inspired by my own older brother, however, and how sometimes Hope would laugh in spite of the vexation regarding that sarcasm. Rather familiar to me, you see.
18. Can you tell us a bit about your new writing project(s) you’re working on now?
It's all rather hush-hush at the moment. However, I'll drop you a couple words about it. I hope to write the next one set during the War of 1812. And the main character shall be a male.
19. Would you allow us a sneak peek, and share an excerpt or two from them? Could you be persuaded to share an excerpt from Cry of Hope with us as well?
As I stated before, my current possible-idea-in-progress is all hush-hush at the moment, so I'd rather not yet share about that quite yet. However, I am quite willing to share an excerpt of Cry of Hope. Here goes!
Hope sighed dejectedly, letting her arms dangle limp over the rail. “How much longer until we reach the New World?” she asked for the first time since their leaving.
John rubbed his face with his hands, shaking his head. “I do not know. I should speculate two or three more weeks, but as I said a long while ago, sea life is always full of uncertainty.”
“I do not like it,” Hope said crossly, staring at the cruel horizon shrouded with gloomy clouds. She shivered as a cold wind whipped her hair out of its knot, sending tangles into her face. She pushed them back impatiently and looked at John.
He was staring up at the sky, concern etched on his face. “I do not like the looks of it,” he murmured, slowly taking Hope's wrist. “I think perhaps—” A sudden flash blinded their eyes, and a crack of thunder swallowed his words.
Hope screamed. The ship began to rock violently, and John gripped her shoulders, saying hurriedly, “Come, Hope, run!”
20. What would you most like your readers to take away with them from Cry of Hope?
A deeper understanding of Christ and His faithfulness, and a longing to know Him. And a love for the characters and story themselves. However, if there must be but one thing to take away, then I ultimately say the former. ;)