Hurray, it's October! Last week I mentioned that for the next few weeks I'd be opening up Wendy's Writing Now to new guests. Today, I offer a warm welcome my first - fellow RNA New Writers' Scheme member and author, Emily Royal. Thank you for taking up the challenge and being first to step into the spotlight, Emily. Let's begin.
Have you always known that one day you would be a writer?
It’s definitely my calling – but I never thought it would actually happen! Mathematics was my strength at school and that’s the career I followed. But I always had stories and characters chattering away in my head so one day I decided to write them down.
Can you tell my readers something about the genre you write in and what made you choose it?
It’s historical/medieval romance, a cross between Game of Thrones and Outlander. My stories tend to be dark and gritty with a bit of suspense and a lot of spice!
Life in medieval times was harsh, especially for women. I love writing stories where a heroine has to fight against her situation and turn the traditional damsel-in-distress concept on its head by showing she can be stronger than the hero, even if he’s a big alpha male.
Can you describe the novel you’re currently working on in one sentence?
Tough question! I’ll go with what I hope will be my second novel, set in the 11th Century, which I’m editing just now. It’s a dark, sexy romance about a young woman with a tragic secret who finds unlikely love with the barbaric man she is forced to marry, until her past returns to haunt her.
Like me, you’re a member of the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. In what way has belonging to this organisation helped with your writing?
It helped my confidence. NWS members get a full critique of a novel and I found the notion of someone reading my work utterly terrifying! But it was great to get confirmation that my writing doesn’t stink, as well as advice on how to improve. Had I not joined the RNA I would never have submitted to agents, let alone found one!
It’s always daunting sending your baby out into the big wide world of agents. How did you prepare for this?
I edited the novel, taking the advice from the critique on board, but kept putting off submitting until an author friend told me to get on with it! So I researched agents known to be receptive to submissions from RNA members, checking out their websites and lists of clients, to see if anyone might be a good match.
Tell me a little bit about finding your agent. Did you always have an American agent in mind?
I’d thought a UK agent was my best chance. But after a couple of months I followed my heart and looked up some of my favourite authors, many of whom are American. There’s one whose writing I love, so I googled her to see if she had an agent, and the rest is history!
Since finding your agent, have you had to do much work on your novel?
Oh yes, they’re very editorial. Their advice is excellent and they always explain their reasoning – which means it’s helped with my other novels, too.
Emily Royal is your pen name. What was your reason for not using your real name?
I wanted to keep writing and the day job separate; my stories are quite racy!
We all know that working with an agent is by no means the end of the journey. What’s the next step for your novel?
We’re nearing the final stages of editing. The plan is to submit to publishers later this month. Having gone through the stress of waiting for responses when I submitted to agents, I’m already getting nervous!
Finally, I must ask you about your unusual pets. Do you really keep snakes?!
Yes – I adore snakes. We’ve got different types: Royal Pythons, Boas, Cornsnakes and a Burmese Python. They’re all non-poisonous, very friendly, love being handled and are great with the children. Most were adopted from our local animal rescue centre. I nearly always have one draped over me when I’m writing and one will be making a guest appearance in a future novel!
An actuary by day and writer of gritty, dark & sexy romance by night; Emily Royal lives in rural Scotland with her family. She joined the RNA in 2015 to pursue her passion for writing and uses any surface she can find including aeroplane tray tables, her kitchen table or lap, usually with one of her snakes round her neck.
She can be found on twitter at @eroyalauthor and Facebook at www.facebook.com/eroyalauthor.
Emily is represented by Browne & Miller Literary Associates and is currently working with them to prepare her debut novel for submission to publishers.