Book Chat: EM Greville
EM (Em) Greville is an award-winnng author of short fiction, freelance editor and former English teacher, with an MA in Literary Criticism. Em can now add 'published novelist' to the list of her achievements, with the arrival of Raine in the Underlands, the first book in her Lorekeepers series. I'm rapt to welcome Em to Book Chat.
Thanks a million for dropping by to Book Chat, Em! Congratulations on the publication of Raine in the Underlands. It’s such a richly-imagined page-turner, and I’m excited that there are further adventures to come!
Firstly, I’d love it if you’d share a little about your journey towards publication. Has the love of reading and writing always gone hand-in-hand for you?
Thank you for letting me drop by!
I’ve always read, ever since I was a little girl books have been my escape and my special place. I know first-hand how important the friends and guides you find in books can be. I’ve also always made up my own stories, as most avid readers do. Raine is the next step on my journey after studying English at uni, teaching English, working in newspapers and then editing. Everything I’ve ever done has involved words in one way or another! I don’t think there was ever a chance that I wouldn’t end up writing novels!
What draws you to fantasy as a writer?
On one level I simply love the pure escapism of fantasy. There’s a huge part of me that wishes dragons were real and wants to fight monsters. Just to prove the point, I love fencing (the sword fighting type, not the boundary type) because I secretly think (or hope, maybe) that one day I’ll need to fight off some awful creature.
On a deeper level, fantasy for children is a brilliant way to explore big feelings and heavy topics in a way that feels safe, and fun.
Tell us everything you’d like us to know about Raine in the Underlands!
Raine in the Underlands is as if someone had dropped the Chronicles of Narnia in a big, bubbling cauldron of How to Train your Dragon and fished it out using a spoon made from Nevermoor.
It’s a fast paced, funny, quite silly but sensible in the right places, journey of self- discovery and acceptance, wrapped up in magic, mayhem, and a little mystery.
I’d love to know about the approach you took to drafting Raine in the Underlands, as well as where the character of Raine came from. Was the drafting a linear process for you?
You couldn’t get less linear than my writing process for this one! I wrote Raine over many years, while I had baby after baby (I’m a mum of 5), so I wrote in piecemeal whenever I was able to carve out a bit of time here and there. The first draft looked nothing like the finished book as I really learnt as I went along. Raine wasn’t much like Raine in the first few drafts either, but as I watched my kids grow, I added bits and pieces of them to round out the character. She reacts just as I know my own kids would react, it’s quite useful!
One of the many impressive aspects to Raine in the Underlands was the depth and deftness of the world building. What advice would you offer to other authors as they build the worlds of their stories, whether from scratch or by augmenting the so-called real world?
Thank you! My biggest tip is to keep notes of everything. The history of the world, the background of your characters, the nature of your magic systems, absolutely everything. Because you will forget things and write in mistakes or plot holes or things that just don’t make sense if you don’t have all the details somewhere. And don’t be afraid to go as far as your imagination will take you. It’s the little things I’ve found my readers love best, like fairy food tasting disgusting and cyclopes being scared of trolls. And the gassy dragons, they’re everyone’s favourites!
I’m always intrigued by authors who feature supernatural magic in their stories. How did you approach writing the rules for the magic in Raine in the Underlands, in terms of what magic can and can’t achieve, and who can harness its power?
It’s a very traditional magic system in the first book, with inherited magic and birthright. Which is done very deliberately so that these concepts can be turned on their heads in the next two books. I can’t give too much away, but nothing is as it seems!
There are two magical elements, a witch based one and non-human one, which come together at points so making sure one didn’t outshine the other was imperative. My biggest question in harnessing magic is free will, what will you use it for? It’s a very interesting thing to consider.
How do you think your MA in Literary Criticism and experience as an English teacher have informed your writing, or helped your process?
I think any background in analysing texts will help your own writing, especially in working out themes and motifs. In terms of picking out inconsistencies and errors, I’m not sure it helped at all! Being so close to the story and reading it so many times often means you can’t see what’s working.
Teaching English, especially my years as an ESL and Literacy teacher definitely means I have a decent grasp on grammar and punctuation, which my editor was pretty grateful for!
What’s next for EM Greville?
Well, I never really know what I’m going to do next! But I’ve got lots of projects I’m working on, I just don’t know which one will be the next thing yet. I’ve got Raine in the Dark (Book 2) nearly finished, I’m working on a completely different upper middle-grade manuscript and I’ve got a couple of picture book manuscripts to tinker with!
Where are the best places for readers to find you online and get their own copies of Raine in the Underlands?
You can find me at https://emgreville.com where you can also find a free monthly writing prompt, extra resources, and buy a signed copy of Raine in the Underlands in time for Christmas. Or it can be ordered through your local bookshop or anywhere you buy your books online.
Many thanks for a great chat, Em. I'll be watchcing the interwebs very closely for news about Raine in the Dark!
Thanks for your time! Great questions! :)
A very great pleasure. Till next time!
This post is part of a blog tour for Raine in the Underlands, presented by Books On Tour PR & Marketing. Please keep following Em's journey on all of the fine blogs and sites below.