Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Emery: My readers, becoming a mom, and a podcast about Sylvia Plath. It clicked for me: the work I connected with as a teen was often informed by motherhood and uncertainty and bodies. And I was right, as a young person, to see the complexity and humanness- even when that writing was dismissed/ignored throughout my education. So, I tried to let uncertainty be a central conflict in my own work.
What character do you most relate to and why?
There’s a part of my teenage self, for better or (often) worse, in each of the characters. I relate to their heart-on-their-sleeve bravado and their overthinking and their anxiety and their love for each other.
Why do you feel books with powerful and relatable characters are so popular and have such a voice right now?
I think the idea of what is powerful and who is relatable (and to whom?) has been a major question in the YA sphere in recent years. Marginalized creators (and publishing pros and educators and booksellers) and the We Need Diverse Books movement have been spurring conversation and making work that expands the field closer to what it should have always been.
Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
In many romantic stories, the credits roll after the couple finally gets together- as they did in my first book about Paige Hancock (The Start of Me and You). In its sequel, The Map from Here to There, I wanted to explore what happens after happily ever after. All the same issues are there, the same character flaws, the same dynamic- what now? This book is about a senior year and figuring out what to hold onto- in friendship, in your passions, in your idea of yourself- as you try to move forward.
What’s next for you in the book world?
I’m writing a YA book that, while still contemporary, is higher stakes than my usual oeuvre and full of revenge.
Who is your favorite writer right now and why?
Helen Oyeyemi. Her work is always distinctly her voice & POV- and yet, it always feels surprising to me, too.