Today we have Emory Skwara on the blog. He is the author of Numinous and Of Song And Singularity. He is offering his books for free right now so don’t forget to visit his website!
- When and why did you begin writing?
Well, first off, thanks so much for having me. I appreciate the opportunity. I started writing in high school with a hand-me-down laptop that a friend gave me. It wasn’t much good for anything except word processing. That it could do very well. Anyway, I had been reading and watching a lot of fantasy and science fiction at the time and felt inspired to write my own short story. It was a jumbled mess, but out of the experience came a new desire to keep trying. The more I read from various authors, the more I wanted to keep writing. Authors like Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Franz Kafka were my rock stars in high school.
- Tell us about your latest book ‘Of Song and Singularity’
Of Song and Singularity is my second novel. It’s a young adult science fiction about a teenage girl named Wrenna who lives in a utopia. Sophia, a powerful, synthetically intelligent being, governs and controls the utopia, making it possible for humanity to thrive and live without want. However, Wrenna’s perfect world falls to pieces when Sophia announces “The Exodus Act”, a new initiative to relocate the populace to another unknown location. Wrenna’s father isn’t convinced this new place leads to anything good and tries to escape with Wrenna. Wrenna is swept into a story of horror, adventure, and ultimately survival. I wrote Of Song and Singularity in the first person and really tried to get into the head of a teenage girl who had everything literally taken away from her and how she might act and grow in such a situation. I also got to play around with the concepts of artificial intelligence and where humanity could go in the future, but a lot of that is in the backdrop. If you love dark science fiction adventure type stories, then you’ll probably like this.
- You said in one interview that ‘Numinous’ started with a cat. Are there cats in the book? (They are in mine) What about owls?
Yeah! It’s funny how inspiration strikes. Numinous was a drawn out process that took a little too long, to be honest, but a cat started it all. “Numinous” has one cat. I can say later books in the series will feature more, but Numinous (The first book in the series) starts off with Blink going on a bit of an adventure to bring back two children (the main characters). He’s not the main character, but he plays a very important part in the narrative. The title of my book “Numinous” is actually the name of the owl (also the same owl on the cover of the book). The owl plays an even bigger role overall. I have always loved anthropomorphic characters while reading books whether in Greek myth or the Chronicles of Narnia. So, I couldn’t help but want to include them in Numinous’s mythology.
- Tell us more about Numinous. It certainly is a bulky book. How did you go about writing it?
Numinous is my debut novel. It’s an urban fantasy centering on the lives of Lily Blackmoor and her brother Sebastian. It was written over the course of several years. If you include the pre-production stage, where I wrote my notes, it was much longer. The manuscript had several titles, but I finally landed on Numinous when I was finishing up the first draft of the manuscript. I liked the idea of writing a massive epic tale including a lot of different characters kind of interweaving into each other’s lives, but surrounding around one or two main characters. I think because I wrote the story with each chapter coming from a different character perspective, the book drastically increased in size, but there is also a lot going on! It’s a bulky book, but I don’t think it could be any other way. I wrote it whenever I had free time, mostly focusing on word count more than anything. As the project grew in size, I knew I needed a better program to organize everything so I got Scrivener to help with keeping things in order. It helped make me more productive, too.
- Of Song and Singularity is in a slightly different genre than Numinous. Why did you decide to jump over genres? Any advantages/disadvantages that have come with your decision?
It’s a big change even if it is going from Fantasy to Science Fiction. Well, first, I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like to get pinned down in one cage too easily. I know some authors relish sticking in a certain genre, but I love expanding my horizons and playing in different sandboxes. I like the challenge. I also love reading all sorts of genres. I have a wide palette and I’d love to write several other genres (and I have) outside of Fantasy and Science Fiction. In this specific case, however, I jumped over to science fiction to write Of Song and Singularity because I fell in love with the concept and idea, and I wanted to flesh it out and see where it went. Also, I had just finished Numinous and felt like it would be good for me to make a change before I go back to writing my sequel. As a writer, you can expand your readership by find people who enjoy science fiction, but not fantasy, or whatever genre you’re changing, too. You can also show you’re more versatile as a writer. I think it helps set good ground work for a future career in the genres you want to write in and for your reputation as an author. From what I can see right now, the disadvantage of switching genres (especially for new writers like me) is that you’re almost guaranteed to start from scratch with getting readers. Some will follow you down the road, but a lot will not, and you’ll need to work a little harder to find new people to read your work. That can be challenging. For me, I rarely think in terms of “Will this get me more readers?” but rather, “Am I inspired and excited about this story?” Anyway, I have future plans to expand into other genres including Horror and maybe General Fiction, but overall my mainstay will be Fantasy and Science Fiction.
- Tell us about your favorite character in your books in twenty words
Wrenna. I hate picking favorites, but she challenged me as a writer and I loved how she evolved.
- Any incident in your life that directly influenced your fiction?
Absolutely, so many things directly influence my fiction, from my world- view and philosophy to my family and kids. Though nothing directly ever happened to me and I said, “I better write about that.” I like working with imagination and asking “What If” questions and exploring from there. Life incidents are bound to sneak in.
- Which are your three favorite books?
This has changed a lot over the course of my life. Again, I struggle picking favorites. I’ll stick with fiction books, even though you didn’t qualify that. First, Phantastes by George MacDonald was profoundly inspirational for me. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it. Second, 1984 by George Orwell is not only the dystopian cornerstone, but also an incredibly well written book. Third, The Stand by Stephen King truly showed me how big, epic, and grand a post-apocalyptic book could be, but also how great the idea of good versus evil could feel in a modern setting.
- Which are your best marketing tactics so far?
Crying under my bed. Just kidding. I’m not sure I’ve found the magical unicorn of marketing tactics yet, but if I do, I’ll be sure to tell everyone. Honestly, I’m not the greatest marketer. Some authors have a great skill at marketing, but it just isn’t mine. My introversion tends to get in the way. Anyway, I digress. I’d say stay engaged with your fans, build a specific strategy that you feel might work, act on it, and put yourself out there the best you can. Be patient.
- Do you ever plan to co-author a book?
- Tell us about your life other than the writing part. What is your day job?
I live in the cold, wintery state of Minnesota. I have two kids that are the absolute best, an amazing girlfriend, a great family, and good friends. I work full-time in Insurance. That’s all that needs to be said about that. Ha!
- Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m currently running a Holiday Sale on my website: http://www.emoryskwara.com/holiday-sale
If you live in the continental United States, you can order the paperback copy of Numinous for only $9.99 (40% off retail). The ebook copy of Of Song and Singularity will be $0.99 for a limited time as well. Lots of other specials and deals will be coming soon.
If you’d like to get a FREE ebook copy of Numinous, sign up to my newsletter at my website: http://www.emoryskwara.com/newsletter
I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact me at the following places:
Thanks again for having me!
A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” releases shortly. Click here to download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free.