Friday, April 19, 2013

Interview 20: Emma Ennis

Greetings humans, half-breeds, and everything in between. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview my new friend, Emma Ennis. She is visiting the ECS as a guest and sharing loads of interesting insights into her work. Be sure to look around and see what she has to offer. Here are the results of our interview. A good time was truly had by all, and here’s how it went down.

Hi there Emma! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ECS Universe. Don’t worry about the darkness, your eyes will adjust.

So tell me, who is Emma Ennis?
I am an aspiring author, struggling with a demanding social life and the necessity to perform 'real' work in return for cash. Despite said hectic social demands, my love life is nonexistent, but I do cohabit with innumerable moggies and mutts. From Ireland, living in Norway; I like reading, writing, but not arithmetic. I enjoy dabbling in various forms of extreme sports for the heck of it. I have futile hopes of someday living off the sweat of my fingertips and writing until senility takes over, and even then I plan to make a pretty decent stab at it. You've been warned.

You are quite the character and very lively. I can tell already that this is going to be a very entertaining interview.

So whacha got for me today?
Red wine and words. Of course the former not literally. That's the
title of my book – Red Wine and Words. It's a collection of sixteen short stories ranging from horror to humor, fantasy to suspense, psychological horror to mystery and tragedy. In a nutshell – eclectic. It's gotten some pretty good, non-coerced reviews so far, and I've been flattered (and not to mention a little dubious) to be compared to more than a few big names. The book comes 'highly recommended' and has been described as a 'chilling collection' with stories that remain with the reader long after they've finished.

I must admit that I really like this title, though it doesn’t make me think of short stories. I applaud those who can put together a collection such as this. I’ve been trying for a while and am still trying. Kudos!

So who’s starring is this 2 dimensional script read of Red wine and words?
Well as I said, Red Wine and Words is a collection of unrelated short stories, so there's a large lead role cast. I'll just give a few examples.

Ewart Boone is the main man in 'Frozen Outpost,' the third story in the collection. He's an all-American guy, in love with his childhood sweetheart, and is sent out into the snowy north to set up an outpost. But there's something else out there that wants Ewart, something that lumbers straight from the realms of lore.
Nathaniel, or Nate, is the protagonist-come-antagonist of 'Tainted Wings.' He's not the most honest, or polite, and he most definitely is not into cuddling kittens. In fact, he's not even human. He's a tempter, whose job it is to lure the good and innocent off their righteous paths. But when his friend enlists his help to rescue his beloved, Nate must dig deep to root out that other, in some ways more disturbing, side of his nature.

'Cornflower Blue' is a tragedy following Calvin and his fall into love with a distraught woman who he finds standing barefoot in the snow on a street corner one day on his way to work. The woman goes to that corner at the same time every morning, to stare at a poster of a missing boy. What is it that bedevils her so, and is she too far immersed in her nightmare for him to rescue?

Wonderful descriptions and quick peeks into some of your characters here; you definitely have my attention. You weren’t kidding about the multi-genre nature of this collection. I believe you may truly have something here for everyone. Nice job!

Past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?
As you might be able to tell from Red Wine and Words, I don't have any set genre so to speak. If something grabs me and speaks to me, then I must write it, be it horror, tragedy or romance. Most of what I write has some kind of psychological aspect to it, and many of my pieces deal with love and loss.

When I sit down to write something that has been on my mind it's a long process before I actually type the first words. Plot is central to my writing. No matter how deep your characters or how colourful your descriptions of the scene, in my mind if the story doesn't have a strong plot then it just feels hollow.

So I will research the time and place, which usually results in a virtual folder full of images and links. I will give each character their own page where I jot down names, relationships, appearance, personalities etc. Then, the plot. This could take up five pages, or a whole notepad. I detail it like a flow chart, each scene in its own little bubble which links on to the next. Outside of these bubbles may be little notes regarding scenery, dialogue etc.

When I'm writing I prefer silence. I know of some authors who like music in the background, but not I. What with work, social duties, and the annoying persistence of real life, the writing usually gets bundled into one tiny time slot, so you may see me typing with one hand while I shovel dinner into my mouth with the other. But this is only if I'm really stuck for time. Mostly I prefer to have both hands
and all brain cells on the writing process. That's not to say I don't like the odd glass of wine as I scribe, but I prefer to lay off the sauce for editing. As Hemmingway said: 'Write drunk, edit sober.

I've just finished a novel that is set to be the first in a trilogy. The plot is quite complex as it deals with a conspiracy of sorts and mixes Christianity with the supernatural. It still needs another edit before it's finalized, but I'm thinking of holding it back until the other two are finished as I don't want to miss anything.

In the meantime, while this is left to stew, I'm working on editing and completing the second collection of short stories. I felt Red Wine and Words could use a little sister to play with.

Everyone has their own creative ways of planning and plotting their stories, I think yours is the most visually creative I’ve come across so far. It’s cool to hear that you’re working on novel series and a companion for Red Wine and Words…There you go keeping yourself busy ;)

What author(s) has most influenced your writing? Why or how?
I am a sucker for the classics, probably the hopeless romantic in me
rearing its simpering head. There are some books that have never left me, despite the fact that it could be ten years or more since I last read them –
Wuthering Heights, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m not sure if I could say that the authors ‘influenced’ me as such, but I have always wanted to write a love story so tragic, a horror so subtle, or a drama so gripping as these.
I have on more than one occasion, had my work compared to H.P Lovecraft, although I have to confess that I’ve never read any of his stuff, and now I’m afraid to in case I lose that ‘thing’ that associates me with him.

In a similar though different manner, I have also been compared to the great Mr. Conan Doyle. I have read most if not all of his Holmes books, so maybe some of these stuck and came through in my own writing. Whatever the reason, I am proud and humbled to have my name mentioned in the same sentence.

I find that I’m influenced by other writers in terms of being inspired, but not actually by honing in on their techniques and skills, though I’d sometimes like to. I write the way I write and maybe that’s just how you are too. It’s nice, and not to mention freak’n cool, to be compared to the likes of Lovecraft and Doyle, but one day, just think, others will be compared to you.

Whose brain are you just itching to scratch?
Oh, so many, so many. You, or I, could be sorry you asked that! I guess I’d have to start with Edgar Allan Poe; the man was a genius. His stories have that quality of horror that is just so hard to find these days – such darkness, such despair - I’d love to get some tips and pointers from him.

I would like to sit down for a drink with Ernest Hemmingway. This man too, was a genius in my eyes. How he could pack so much into the tiny story ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ just fascinates me. I dream of being able to recreate that someday, some time.

Just lately I've discovered Charles Bukowski and I have to say, he blows me away. Now and again I come across a quote on the internet and I know instantly it's him. He's got that no-nonsense, and oftentimes vulgar (which I love), way of driving a point home. This man doesn't need a thesaurus; he can make one word paint a thousand pictures.

Then of course there’s Johnny Depp, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish. I hear he’s single these days?

Love Poe, like Hemmingway, and heard of Bukowski; I think these would be a few good brains to scratch…I have feeling though, it’s not Johnny’s brain you want scratch, but that’s ok. He’s a little crazy, but on him, a little crazy looks really good.

Who is so you and why?
That’s a tricky one. And it really depends on where I am in life. Everyone knows that when they are heartbroken or pining for someone every song or every role of the miserable damsel seems to be written just for them.

Sometimes I feel like Bridget Jones [book, movie]with the whole
‘dying alone in my apartment and getting eaten by dogs’ lifestyle. But most of the time I’m convinced I’m the main character in a
Truman Show kind of scenario. Some coincindences are just too coincidental. And that’s all well and good – makes for some interesting story ideas - but if this really is the case then I gotta break down a set wall and find the f@&*er who’s responsible for my script!

I feel you with that last comment. If I’m stuck in a reality show, I’ve got a bone to pick with my writer, director, and most of all my producer. Being Bridget Jones wouldn’t be all too bad, she did have a few loyal friends to help through her tough times and that’s got to count for something.

What’s your ideal reading spot for your next highly anticipated read?                   
One of two places – snuggled up in bed at the end of a long day, with my kitty washing herself at my feet, or curled up on the sofa with family members or friends doing their own thing in various other parts of the room; everyone safe, snug and content. That, right there, is a little slice of heaven to me; companionship without the need for conversation.

I personally need to feel the physical book in my hands. There’s nothing like getting a new book and feeling the cover – embossed or not? – and the pages. Is the print small or large? Is there a picture of the author? Can you smell that – ink and paper, a scent new yet at the same time ancient and unforgettable. I love the weight of a hardback, but the ease of a paperback. Nothing is missed – I read the back, I stare at the cover to make connections between the image and the story inside. Foreword, biography, introductions? Doesn’t matter, I devour them all.

I don’t own a Kindle or any other brand of ereader and I hope to get through life without ever owning one. How could it ever surpass the magic of the above? I do have Kindle for PC, but only because since I started writing I have made a lot of writer friends, and sometimes some of these friends will send me their books in full or sections for reviews or beta reading. It’s just easier to exchange electronic copies. And it would not be very flexible of me to insist they send me whole manuscripts or expensive published copies via snail mail.
At the minute I’m reading The Black Death of Babylon by Edward J. McFadden. I’ve only started but I’m stuck into it. Unfortunately this is a friend, so it’s one of those electronic ones I don’t get to snuggle with, but the next physical book, hmmmm, I’ll probably go back to Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. Sleepy Hollow is only one of numerous short stories in the book so I had taken a break from it for a while, but it’s calling me back. After that I’ve just got to get into some Neil Gaiman stuff. I’d always thought of his books as similar to John Grisham type court dramas, but a friend set me on the straight and narrow a few months back, and my curiosity a-tweaking.

Everyone has a preference when it comes to how they want to read. Some people refuse to go digital while others can’t remember what print looks likes. I figure as long as people are reading, let them have their preferences. It’s nice to live in a world with choices like these. I myself read whatever I can: on the PC, e-reader, hardcover, paperback, even audio…Your little slice of heaven sounds extremely nice and pleasant.

What was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?
I started reading at an early age, and most of it not very appropriate reading. I would see my sister at it the whole time, and used to mimic her. Eventually I started to take in the words I was looking at. I well remember attempting Anne Rice’s Servant of the Bones when I was way too young.

But before books of my own age, there was The Beano comic. I ate them up. I loved Friday’s when mammy would come home from doing the shopping with Tayto crisps, chocolate bars, and the latest edition of The Beano. My favourite issues were always the ones with freebies included, like whoopee cushions or yet another chocolate bar.

A woman after my own heart, I can’t believe you enjoyed reading these comic books, but truly think it’s cool. I’m a big kid and still read my favorite comic books- Now, young lady, what were you doing trying to read Servant of Bones when you were a pre-teen? LOL!…Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?


Alright then, here we go.

If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I have two here, one a guilty pleasure, the other a pure pleasure. We’ll start with the former and hopefully I can cover up my shame with the latter. The first is ‘The Last of the Mohicans.’ Gulp!
Though the movie does stray considerably from the plot of the book (which I also loved) it still gets me every time. A great love story and a beautiful romance – I will find you, Cora! – coupled with a truly goosebumping soundtrack.

The second – Pan’s Labyrinth. I love the dark fairytale element to this movie. You’ve got the childlike awe of fairies, with the terror of the Pale Man. Fantastical and horror, all rolled into one. The world we live in encompasses both ends of the spectrum – good and evil. But evil in a monster with eyes in his hands, who eats babies for supper is just easier to understand than the evil in someone who is built exactly the same as us. This brings so much uncertainty in and of humankind. A world where evil is evil and good is good, and you don’t have to question it - that’s a perfect and exciting world.

That’s phenomenal! I have met very few people who have seen Pan’s Labyrinth and even fewer who liked it or understood it. I think it’s a great movie. Aside from all the depth and meaning the movie has, it’s worth seeing just for its stunning imagery and visuals. The Last of the Mohicans isn’t too bad either.

What makes you geek out?
Playstation. I love gaming but I’m more into the platform,
storymode type of gaming than online gaming. Two-player is great fun if the game has a collaborative option such as Special Ops and so on, but in storymode I like to complete the game myself. I have annoyed many people with my OCD approach to gaming. I like to explore the environment, do all the side missions, climb things that were never meant to be climbed. In my mind someone somewhere had a vision, they sat down and drew it; it’s only right that I should take the time to appreciate it rather than charge straight through from start to finish.

On the ‘geek out’ note, the highlight of my year was the release of Max Payne 3. I’ve only been waiting, like, forever!

A female gamer, wow- and you’re grown! I just don’t see how some lucky person hasn’t scooped you up yet. My husband still can’t believe he found a woman who loves comic books as much as he does…For the record, I like your OCD approach to gaming and think it makes perfect sense that you’d not prefer online gaming.

When the soundtrack of your life is playing in your head, what songs express your glee and what songs bring out your rage?
I’m kind of an old style gal when it comes to music. I’m not so much into the new stuff that defiles our speakers nowadays. Give me Nirvana over Lady Gaga any day. Metallica or Guns N’Roses over whomever the hottest rap/dance artist is these days.
That’s not to say I’m living in the past. I do love The Kings of Leon, and Muse are really growing on me. I think the problem is that Norway is a little behind in the charts, so when I got here they were starting to play all the songs I was already sick of so I stopped listening to the radio.

My all-time favourite song? Probably Heroes by David Bowie (or anything Bowie really,) or maybe Promontory [<= listen] from The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack. Flipside? If you play Gangnam Style I will rip you a new one.

I, once again, completely understand your feelings; Gangnam  Style has to stop. Being a music lover I find that I can relate to most people’s sense of what is good or bad music, unless they just don’t like music, which some people don’t. Again, I’m glad we live in a world with so many options.

What’s the most fun experience you’ve ever had, to date?
Holy hell, there’s been so many. Though I suppose most of them would be more memorable than just fun. Anything extreme gets my adrenaline pumping. There’s nothing like finding a quality piece of off-piste to bring a smile on my face (and usually, due to the temperatures and the downhill speed, some excited dribble also.)
I’ve been quading, wakeboarding, cliff-jumping, kayaking, rafting, bungee jumping, abseiling, and flying in a wind tunnel, and though most bring a grimace of fear at the same time as a smile of delight, I have the most fun when I’m testing my boundaries and facing certain fears of impending doom. That’s not to say I’m going to go looking for the biggest spider to cuddle – that fear shall forever remain un-faced.

The simplest fun though – that’s always got to be hanging out with my nearest and dearest. No matter where we are or for what reason, we always manage to have good, (oftentimes) clean fun. Months could pass in between these gatherings, but we can still slip back into the banter as though it was yesterday.

You are quite the adventurer. While my husband enjoys bungee jumping, going on a roller-coaster is the extent of my extreme thrilling. I love that your best moments are any that are spent with the people you care most about. I guess in the end, a fun time isn’t that fun it you’re by yourself. 

Remind me again how I was lucky enough to meet you?
I’m always trying to keep up with the latest social networking doohickeys all the cool kids are using. I may be a little slow on the uptake, but I get there eventually. As time consuming as it is, I think it’s probably necessary to promoting myself. Recently I registered with LinkedIn, joined the Book Marketing forum, and it was there that I met you. The rest, as they say, is history!

And what a wonderful history it is and will continue to be. I’m so glad we had a chance to get to know each other. Thank you for stopping by to share a little with my followers, and yours, this week.

Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?
Crazy cat lady? Running around in diapers with my sisters in an assisted living home? No seriously, the dream is to be a recognized writer. I don’t mean that I strive for fame and fortune (I prefer to keep my mug away from microphones and stages; interviews, readings, launches, etc. terrify me) but just enough so I can write fulltime and not have to spend hours of my free time every day promoting myself when I could be writing.

I truly see this happening, I’m just not certain of the timeframe and I’m not best known for my patience. I have any amount of really cool ideas for novels and I plan to keep writing until I run out of these ideas or until somebody comes up and begs me to please, for the love of all that’s holy, stop torturing humankind with my drivel.

Outside of writing - travel, travel, travel. I plan to move myself home to Ireland later this year, set up a base camp, then head to The Philippines, Malaysian Borneo and Indonesia to volunteer in an animal shelter, on an organic farm, and teaching English to underprivileged kids respectively. I'll have to make some pit stops at home and Norway now and again to gather up funds and show my face, but from this year on my tour of the world begins.

Of course I’d also love to meet the man of my dreams who’ll sweep me off my feet and take me away from all this rather than just to bed, but that’s all in another day’s work!

Ok humans, half-breeds, and everything in between, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from Emma Ennis, check out these great links:
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