When Emlyn's not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm Novel Publicity. Emlyn enjoys connecting with readers and juggles all of the social media platforms. Put a question or two to her here and she'll answer: whether about the craft of writing or the business of selling, she's a woman with a lot of experience (and patience!).
What inspired you to write your first book?
Everything started with a single image—my face in these tacky oversized sunglasses reflecting out at me from the car’s side mirror. I was daydreaming while my husband drove us across Michigan for my sister’s wedding. Something about my image really struck me in an almost horrific way. I felt the glasses made me look blind but found it so weird that there was still a clear image within them; it seemed so contradictory. At the time, my book club was reading The Odyssey, which features the blind Theban prophet, Tieresias. I started thinking about what it would be like to have non-visual visions of the future and began forming a modern Tieresias in my mind. Lo and behold, Alex Kosmitoras was born. I didn’t want him to be alone in his psychic subculture, so I found other characters with other powers to keep him company. Thank God for my poor fashion sense.
How did you come up with the title?
Finding a title that accurately captures the story and has variegated meaning is incredibly important to me. I like to have my titles picked out before even beginning the first drafts of my works. Titles shape the stories a great deal, and Farsighted is no different. It’s a book that, among other things, is about the ways we see the world around us. Take Alex’s blindness, his psychic powers, his misunderstandings, and we have “Farsighted.”
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing this story to life?
I spent about three months trying to talk myself out of writing Farsighted. It’s too ambitious, my inner critic pointed out. You’ll never get it done, not in the way it deserves to be done, it pressed. But there was another part of me that couldn’t resist; I knew I had to at least try before giving up. I started by reading tons and tons of books—I read about world folklore and superstitions, religions especially Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Sikhism, psychic powers, the occult, blindness, and even Nostradamus. I learned how to cast runes and perform a ten-card Celtic Cross Tarot reading. I had nightmares for several weeks, but then they eventually stopped, and I started writing.
What did you learn from writing your book?
By the time I’m finishing with any particular story, my characters become real to me; they become my teachers. Sometimes I consciously try to be more like the characters I admire. What would Shapri do? I ask myself if I need to be more assertive. How would Alex ask in this situation? I ask when I need to be brave. And sometimes I get the opportunity to work out my own issues via my characters. In, Open Heart, the second book in the Farsighted series, the main character has an eating disorder, which is incredibly hard to write about since I also have body image issues. Throughout the course of the novel, the character learns to accept herself as beautiful. In that way, I’m trying to be more like Simmi and treat myself better.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
My advice is this: Have fun with your writing. Don’t put pressure on yourself or your story and don’t try to fit either into some type of mold. Not every work HAS to be published, but every work will teach you something, and it will make you a better writer. Find the joy in writing, and you won’t go wrong. And, oh yeah, unlock your inner uniqueness!
Em says she emerged from the womb with a fountain pen clutched in her left hand (true story). Since then, she has always loved to hear and tell stories. Visit EmlynChand.com for more info on our all around girl. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!