Emma Woodcock's new novel, Darklands, "draws on fairy tale folklore as well as ideas of parallel universes to imagine a world similar to our own, but in which technology is viewed as outlandish and miraculous, while people routinely use magic to do everyday things." You can read more about Darklands on Emma's blog. You can get Darklands at Amazon or Amazon.UK. And you can follow her on Facebook too.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What else do you do besides writing?
All I ever wanted to do was write books, but the need to make a living kept getting in the way. I have variously worked as a potter, librarian, and most recently web designer. By living on twigs and acorns, I have managed to survive working only part time for the past three years, so that I could finally have time to write that book. Everyone tutted, shook their heads and sucked their teeth – and when the economy immediately nose-dived, their misgivings seemed justified. But it was the best decision I ever made. Even if my career as an author comes to nothing, I am so glad that I've given it a proper chance.
2. How did you first get into writing?
I have been writing (mostly unfinished!) stories for as long as I could scrawl crayon letters. I have a dilettante's natural curiosity, and love that I constantly need to research subjects as diverse as medieval mining technology and bleeding-edge theoretical physics.
3. Tell us about your latest book.
I have just published Darklands, a young adult fantasy in which geeky Sophie falls out with her best friend, precipitating an adventure spanning centuries and parallel worlds. All she wants is to find her way back home, but on the way she unravels a centuries-old mystery, discovers the skeletons in her own family's closet, and comes face to face with an ancient evil.
4. Is it part of a larger series?
Nope. Though I feel that I might like to revisit some of the characters in short stories some time – like Michel Faber did with The Apple, following The Crimson Petal and the White.
5. What was your inspiration for your book?
I was near my home in Derbyshire, walking through a beautiful, sunlit meadow full of wild-flowers, and I was struck by the idea of the incongruity of something dark, sinister and inexplicable occurring in that golden setting. The influence I had most strongly in mind while I wrote (and endlessly rewrote) the prologue, was the film Picnic at Hanging Rock. Though in general, my biggest influence is the late and dearly missed Diana Wynne Jones – for my money, the greatest children's fantasy author.
6. What motivates you to want to write? What do you enjoy about it?
When I'm stuck on a bit of story that just won't go, I take off for a long walk. Sometimes I think about the story problem; sometimes I think about other stuff, but it always helps. That's just one reason being an author is the greatest job ever. How many other jobs require a regular hike?
7. Do you have any advice for new writers about perfecting their craft?
Attention to detail. The explosion of self-published eBooks is fantastic and liberating in so many ways – but there's a danger that the process is so easy people are inclined to rush into it before their book is truly ready. Get some honest, ruthless opinions before publishing. Make the necessary rewrites. Your book deserves to be as good as it possibly can be.