Saturday, May 03, 2014

Emma Pass (Awesome Women)

Today sees the return of my Awesome Women feature with an interview with the super lovely, Emma Pass. Emma is the author of two UKYA novels, ACID which was published last year and The Fearless which came out last week.

Both books are tense UK-based thrillers and if you haven't already read either of them then perhaps you should do something about that!  To find out more about Emma Pass or about ACID or The Fearless, do visit the following websites for more information.  And thank you so much, Emma, for taking part!

Can you tell me a little something about yourself?

I grew up at an environmental studies centre near London, surrounded by animals and mad scientist types – the perfect childhood for a very imaginative child! I realised I wanted to be an author when I was 13 and wrote my first novel in maths lessons with my notebook hidden under my work. I studied fine art at university but when I graduated I decided it was time to get serious about writing. These days, as well as writing books, I work part time in a library and live with my husband, who's an artist, and our crazy greyhound G-Dog.

Did you have a role model growing up?

My parents. My dad, an entomologist, ran the environmental studies centre and he and my mum, who's a botanist, both taught there. There's also a very creative side to what they do – my mum is a botanical artist and my dad is a photographer, specialising in close-up images of plants and animals. They have always done work they loved that's very different from ordinary 9-5 jobs, and always encouraged me to be creative, so I was determined that, when I grew up, I would end up doing something I loved too. 

Who do you look up to now?

Too many people to name! I find anyone who is brave enough to follow the path they want to take in life, even if it's difficult or risky, incredibly inspiring. 

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was little, I wanted to be a cartoonist or a musician. But I always loved writing stories, too – it just took until I was a teenager to realise that writing books could actually be a job!

Tell me something about the women in your life who have been an influence on you?

I come from a family of very strong women, all of whom have influenced me in one way or another. As my husband says, you wouldn't want to mess with any of them!  

Who is your favourite fictional character? And why?

My favourite fictional character is probably Emily Byrd Starr from LM Montgomery's 'Emily' books. Anne Shirley (from Anne of Green Gables) is her better known character, but I always found her a bit saccharine. Emily is much more realistic and fiery – and she's a writer! What's not to like?

Is there a fictional character that reminds you of you?  And if you could choose to be best friends with a fictional character, who would it be?

Again, it's probably Emily. Even though the books were written and set in the Victorian era, I really identified with her. If she was a real person, we'd definitely be friends.  

What were you like as a teenager and how did you cope with all the changes that occurred?

I think people thought I was a bit odd. I loved writing and books and I didn't care about being fashionable at all. I was bullied at school and wasn't very happy there, so I used to escape into my imagination at every opportunity. Writing and reading helped me survive.

Which book would you say that every teenager should read and why?

I don't think I can name one specific book. All I would say is, find the books you love and read and re-read them. Books helped me cope with all the ups and downs of being a teenager better than anything else. 

If you had any advice for yourself as a teenager, what would you say?

Hang on in there. It gets better. And one day – sooner than you think – you will find people who accept you for who you are.

If you could choose to have a girly sleepover with any fictional characters, who would you choose? 

Hmmm… Emily Byrd Starr (of course!), Lyra from His Dark Materials, Sia from Kate Ormand's forthcoming debut Dark Days and Eve from Roy Gill's Daemon Parallel and Werewolf Parallel. Plus loads more – but it would end up being a ridiculously huge list if I named them all!

Of the issues and concerns that women are faced with today, what's the area you most like reading/writing about?

My husband and I have decided we aren't going to have children – not because we can't or because we don't like them (I actually enjoy working with kids and teens more than adults!), we both just feel that it's not for us. Yet there is still enormous pressure from society for women to have kids, and if you decide not to it's sometimes seen as a bit of an odd choice. So I'm very interested in reading about the issues surrounding that – although I haven't written about it yet! From a writer's point of view, I love to write about independent female characters who can rely on themselves first and foremost.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

This might sound like a cliche, but I think it's really important to be yourself and do what you want to do, not what other people think you should do. You only get one chance at life, so make the most of it!

Thank you for having me, Clover!

Thank you so much for that, Emma. I thought they were brilliant answers!  The Fearless was published by Random House on the 24th April! 


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