Unleashing Your Indie with Emlyn Chand
Contributor
Written by
Mohana Rajakumar
March 2012
Contributor
Written by
Mohana Rajakumar
March 2012


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!

 

 

 

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Comments
  • Marie Kinneer

    It's a mystery how something compelling is born in our heads and we have no choice but to write it. I have told my writing group (Clarkesville, GA Writing Society) that my characters interact in my head for months before I put the first word to paper. The plot seems to form through the characters--my outline and intention ignored. I don't want to write. I must.

  • Tina L. Hook

    Love this. I'm trying to do a better job of following my joy in my writing. Hopefully, my second novel will write itself faster since I won't be wasting any time figuring this out.

    Enchanted by Starlight

  • Emlyn Chand

    Hi everyone. Thanks for all the lovely comments. Clearly, I need to do a better job keeping up and engaging (oops). 

    • Cynthia, Rachel, Debdatta, Lauren - I love you all! Thank you for the unyeilding support in pretty much everything I do ;-)
    • JM, you totally meant that pun, but that's okay. It's a good one!
    • Patricia, I'm a bit of a website snob. I always prefer to see highly customized looks. I've been known not to use a business, because their copyright is outdated. My suggestion would be to play around with Wordpress (or find someone who is familiar with it) to customize with a new header and widgets. I also always like bullet-point lists for submission type items. Remember, you asked :-P
    • Delin, always great to meet another research dweeb. Sometimes, I think that's the most exciting part of the whole writing process.
    • Caroline, congrats on LIE! Yup, as writers, we have to be experts at rationalizing our quirks. It's the only way to *appear* sane.

  • Very interesting -- especially about your characters becoming your teachers.  When I was writing I had my characters "speaking" to me -- my debut YA novel, LIE, has 10 distinct first person points of view.  I think if I had thought of them as "teachers" vs. "voices" in my head -- I may have gone less crazy.  Though the result worked -- LIE was published last fall my St. Martin's Press -- I may have had more fun your way!  I am going to check out your blog-- and novel --Farsighted.  Truly, the author of LIE.  

  • Laura McNeill

    Always enjoy hearing from the Indie Expert!

  • Delin Colón

    I love your passion for research - and I share it. Terrific interview!

    Delin Colón

    author of "Rasputin and the Jews: A Reversal of History"

  • Patricia Florio

    Very interesting observation on how we write the things that we write.  My first book published at the end of the summer last year was based on my childhood.  But more than that, it was also an observation of how paybacks are a bitch.  And out of that came "My Two Mothers". 

    My question:  I'm leaving you my blog site.  I'd love tohttp://patriciaflorio.blog.com/2012/03/22/april-15th-deadline-sound-familiar-east-meets-west-submissions/ know your opinion.  If you were an unpublished writer, (or published) would you submit your work here. 

  • JM Cogdell

    Great article, I really enjoyed her insight. No pun intended.

  • Hey Emlyn... Great interview... Seems like I'm stalking you here too ;)

  • Rachel Thompson

    I agree with Cynthia -- Emlyn is amazing and IDK how she does it all! Her business model is something we should all aspire to and I've read Farsighted and loved it. In fact, I chose it as one of my top three favorite books last year. I encourage everyone to read Emlyn's Novel Publicity blog and get to know her. She's a fountain of info and incredibly smart. It's not fair, really. :) 

  • Cynthia Hartwig

    I love Emlyn's Novel Publicity blog. She Writers need to follow it for smart, up-to-date info on getting the word out about your novels and memoirs. Emlyn has figured out a cool blog tour that seems to be working gangbusters for her authors and I encourage all of you who have blogs to check out whether being on the tour makes sense for you. Kudos to Emlyn for being able to run a successful business AND write. (She never sleeps, apparently.) :-)