Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Emily: Skyrim! The genesis of Wicked Saints was long and convoluted but it all comes down to an evening when I was in college where I was playing Skyrim instead of doing homework and thought ‘this is a neat atmosphere. I should write a book.’ More specifically, I’ve always been drawn to Eastern Europe, especially Russia, and it just made sense for a book about religion and monsters to be set in a fantasy world based on two countries where both those things factor heavily into their culture and folklore.
What character do you most relate to and why?
Of my trio, Serefin is the one that I always say is the most like me. I think it’s because I, also, am perpetually exhausted all the time? He thinks the same way I do so his voice is the easiest to write. But there are little bits and pieces of me in the other two as well. Nadya got all my complicated feelings about religion and faith and Malachiasz got my anxiety and all my incredibly destructive finger-picking habits. They’re terrible and I feel bad for sticking them on him but they fit so well with his character.
Why do you feel young adult books are so popular and have such a voice right now? What’s your favorite young adult author?
YA literature portrays a spectrum of voices that all focus on a time in a person’s life where there is a lot of change happening. It’s different, of course, in fantasy when the stakes are vast and far reaching, but YA fantasy especially allows focusing on that time of change. Specifically for Wicked Saints, it let me dig into a time in a person’s life where their faith and worldview comes into question — when they’ve only ever known the way they’ve been brought up and suddenly are faced with a wider world that isn’t quite so cut and dry as they had been led to believe. My favorite young adult author is — the queen — Leigh Bardugo. The Grisha Trilogy came out at a weird and pivotal time in my life and I always feel like I’m understood when I’m reading her writing.
Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
It’s a dark fantasy set in a fantasy Eastern European world about a girl who talks to the gods who is forced to flee the monastery where she grew up when it’s attacked by the enemy prince. While on the run she meets a trio of refugees, including one particularly terrible blood mage boy, who convince her to help them travel to the enemy kingdom to try to assassinate the king and put an end to a holy war. It’s weird, it’s sometimes silly, and it veers onto cosmic horror.
What’s next for you in the book world?
Book two! It nearly broke me writing it and I’m very excited to share it. It’s weirder than book one, incredibly cerebral and psychological, and just plain bizarre. I also lean way into the cosmic horror elements which was so much fun to write.
What’s your favorite writing method that you follow for inspiration?
I’m a very visual and auditory person so I make incredibly elaborate pinterest boards and playlists. Aside from video games, a lot of Wicked Saints was inspired by metal music and when I’m feeling plain old stuck I turn to that to get me through the mire. Mostly, though, I don’t really have a method, I just throw words on a page and hope for the best (and revise… so many times.)