Friday, July 3, 2015

An Interview with Author Emma Lindhagen


Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Emma. Please, please us a little about yourself and your writing.

First of all, thank you for giving me this opportunity! To tell you a little about myself, I’m 27, born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, where I live with my boyfriend. I work part time as an administrator and am currently studying towards a BA in Arabic with Middle Eastern Studies, with a focus on Arabic Linguistics. I love languages and learning in general, and I consider myself a bit of a geek. Outside of work, school and my writing, I enjoy hanging out with my friends and talking for hours on end, binging on TV shows, taking walks, drinking tea, playing The Sims 2, doing my nails and organizing things! Seriously, give me a bag of mixed beads and some containers and I’ll be happy as Larry.

I’ve liked writing for as long as I’ve known how to hold a pen, and I was 11 when I first decided I wanted to be an author “when I grew up”. During my adolescence I spent countless hours doing text based role playing, primarily in a Harry Potter fan-RP setting, and wrote dozens of first chapters that never got a second chapter. Eventually I started doing NaNoWriMo regularly, which led to finally learning how to write more than a chapter of the same story, but even so it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I really started taking myself seriously as a writer. Teaching myself that writing is something I’m allowed to put a lot of time and effort into, even when I have assignments to work on, rather than just a hobby was what led me to finally publishing my first book, a novella called Going Home in the winter of 2014. I am currently in the later stages of editing its sequel, which is called Dress Rehearsal Rag and will be available in digital formats in early-mid June. I write in a range of genres but, with some exceptions, my stories tend to fall somewhere under the “speculative fiction” umbrella.

You appear to be a quite busy person, Emma. How do you prioritize so that you manage to find time for writing?

I do tend to be happiest when I have a lot of projects going, though it does get a bit much at times. The two keys to finding time for writing, for me, are permission and planning. The first is mental and emotional. I’ve come to a point where I’ve realized that I’m permitted to prioritize my writing, as long as my bills are paid and nothing in the kitchen is sprouting legs. I’m allowed to put writing before schoolwork, social activities and other projects, when I feel that’s something I need to do. That perspective is becoming easier and easier to maintain, but I still need to remind myself at times.

The planning part is more practical. I use various apps and systems to keep track of my plans on a long term basis (months and years) and a short term basis (weeks and days), and I use to-do lists religiously to schedule all my projects, including writing, into my daily life. On Mondays I post an update on my blog about what I’ve been up to in the week before and what my goals for the coming week are, and usually once I’m done I’ll assign the goals on that list to different days of the week. Planning helps me keep focused and keeps me from losing track of my writing amid everyday activities.

In what languages do you write, and work to have your works published?

Although Swedish is my native language, I mostly write in English. I’ve always been very fond of the language and enjoyed expressing myself in it, so I started writing poetry and some fiction in English when I was about 13. Around that age I started spending time online, making friends in other countries and of course the lingua franca then was English. The people on online messaging boards or websites like deviantArt were my first audience, so it felt natural to produce things in English. I was also very into text-based roleplaying, and through that I was writing interactive (fan)fiction in English, sometimes for hours every day, for several years. I think that’s why at this point writing fiction in English comes more easily to me than writing it in Swedish; those muscles are just more toned.

And then there’s the question of the market and who to sell books to. There’s no escaping that you reach a larger audience with English. That’s not to say I never write in Swedish, but since it’s more practical from a market perspective to write in English and I find it as easy, or perhaps even easier than to write in Swedish, I have decided that I will only write longer works in Swedish if I have a concrete reason (such as a story being set in present-day Sweden). I plan to write a YA fantasy series in Swedish at some point, set in a small Swedish town, but that’s still in the “simmering” stage where the idea isn’t ready to be worked with yet.

Once in a very blue moon, I write something in Arabic, which is a different experience altogether because my level is obviously not as high in that language and my vocabulary is very small. It’s challenging, but a lot of fun.

What is one place in the world that you would like to visit and why?

Oh gosh, that’s a hard question! There are a lot of places I’d like to visit, but I think right now New Zealand is on top of my list. The main reason for that is that most of my closest writing friends happen to be there, the people I consider to be part of my writing “tribe”. These are people who have been very supportive of my writing, and great sources of inspiration and friendship and it would just be so lovely to be able to go on a writing retreat or something with them. I met most of them during Camp NaNo a couple of years ago, when I somehow became the one Sweden in a cabin full of people from NZ and Australia.
Second on my list are the mountains in Lebanon.

That sounds like a great choice, Emma. What works have you had published to date and what are you working on now?

I published my debut novella, Going Home, in December 2014 and my second one, Dress Rehearsal Rag, which is a sequel to the first, was released just a few days. They detail the lives of a group of people, particularly my main character Orryn, who live in a dystopian society where sameness is valued and originality is frowned upon. The books are very relationship-focused, however. So as you can see, I’m quite new at this! I did publish a poetry book in my teens, too, but that’s not currently for sale anywhere.

Everyone has to start somewhere and it appears that you’re on your way.

Final Question: If you could have one individual (famous, infamous, or otherwise) read one of your works who would that be and why?

That’s a tough one! I’d probably wait a few years until I’ve got more works to choose from. But if that’s not an option, I’d send a copy of Going Home to Leonard Cohen. Both books in this series are named after songs by him, after all.

Makes sense, Emma. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and share your thoughts.

If you’d like to learn more about Emma Lindhagen and her works, check out these links:

Twitter: @EmmaLindhagen

Books on Smashwords:

Books on Amazon:

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