Can you describe A House Afire in 7 words or less?
Unconventional is the norm in this house.
(I was going to just say, "Nope.")
Where did the idea for the book and fire breathing girl come from?
The idea for the book came from a lot of things, but I think the fire-breathing girl part came from an urge I had to get back at a bully. Not necessarily a typical bully, but a general feeling of powerlessness around certain people when I was a lot younger. A girl who had no reason to be afraid seemed so appealing. But once I started writing about Phyllis, it turned out she had just as much, if not more, to be afraid of as the rest of us. Phyllis's name came from Philadelphia, Sid showed up when I started writing about Phyllis, the Aunts were inspired by the movie "Arsenic and Old Lace," and Quincy, Phyllis's closest friend in the house, came out of nowhere. I love the idea of a house full of people, a tiny community in which everyone is comfortable being themselves and where sometimes things get a little out-of-control.
There are so many different characters in A House Afire, so how were you able to create so many unique characters, while not having one personality overpower another?
I think most of the characters in the book are pretty strong, each one in his or her own way. They're all assertive, vocal people, who have been through a lot and have had to protect themselves for one reason or another. They have ideals to defend, and they each have strong senses of who they are. And in the house, everybody's little idiosyncrasies kind of bounce off of each other. They characters are very defined in my mind and their personalities are quite different from one another. I guess what keeps them from overpowering one another has to do with their differences, their senses of humor, and the sense of familial friendship that most of the inhabitants of the house have. They're different ages, they come from some completely different and often odd walks of life, but it turns out that they still all have a lot in common. And some of them have too much respect for each other to try and overpower one another.
What has it been like self-promoting your book?
It's been a lot of fun. Writing and talking about books really is something I've always wanted to do, so it's amazing to be able to do it and say that it's a part of my career! It's also nice to be able to do it on my own time, and talk to people personally. It's a very good way to start for me, because I still have a lot to learn. That said, it's probably not the way to go for someone who needs a full-time career, and it can get expensive- it's not for everyone. But for me, it's been a good experience.
A House Afire is quite a hefty read. Did you plan the story out ahead of time or did you just run with it?
I wrote out some foundational scenes first, mainly encounters I saw between Phyllis and Sid, and then kept moving through the rest of the characters and saw what they all had to add to the story. I planned out most of it, but you may have heard from other authors that sometimes characters don't let things go as planned. Also, it's my first book- I'm sure with experience I'll be a little better at trimming down stories, and once I experience more I'll have some more concise stories to tell. But honestly, I really didn't ever want to trim this one down...I had a lot of fun writing it and I wanted to make sure I fully got across the atmosphere of the house and the personalities of the characters.
Do you have any favorite books or authors?
Oh yes, yes I do. Right now I'm loving Laurie R. King, who writes the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mystery series. I might enjoy her Sherlock stories even more than Doyle's! I also love Kirsten Miller, who wrote the Kiki Strike series (amazing, amazing books). One of my favorite books is "Necklace of Kisses" by Francesca Lia Block. And some other YA authors I really love are Lauren Myracle, Carolyn Mackler, and once upon a time, Christopher Pike.
Are you currently working on any new ideas or do you have some ideas for the future?
I'm working on the next book about Phyllis Sorin, little by little. And I have some other ideas that I've been scribbling down from time to time. We'll see what happens.
If anyone wants to pick up A House Afire, where can they do so?
The best places to find the book right now are on the internet- Barnes and Noble's website and amazon.com. Also I'm very open to mailing free copies for those willing to review the book on blogs, so if you're interested leave me a comment and we'll talk.
Lastly, is there anything else you'd like to add?
Thank you so much for interviewing me and reviewing my book! You asked some very good questions (I'm finding that most book bloggers are pretty good at that). I had a lot of fun answering them. Also, for those interested in the book, check out my blog! (emmakinna.blogspot.com) It has a lot more information about the book and me, and right now I'm posting some original excerpts for a reading I'll be doing on April first. Feel free to leave a comment if you'd like to chat, I'm happy to answer questions and talk about books!
I just want to thank Emma for being so kind and sending me a copy of her book to review and for such a great interview. Take a minute and check out her blog. If you have any questions or comments, she is super quick in getting back to you.