Author Wednesday time once again. Today I welcome one of my eNovel Authors at Work members. She’s EM Kaplan, the author of the humorous Josie Tucker mystery series. But today she’s here to talk about her epic fantasy series, Rise of the Masks. The first book in the series, Unmasked, will be free on Amazon February 25-29. Check her out!
Hello, Emily, and welcome to Author Wednesday. Since this is your first tour of duty on my blog, let’s start with some general tidbits about your writing life. Do you have any writing rituals?
I’d love to have a quiet space—one of those trendy “she-sheds” (which is a terrible name, but marginally better than girl-cave). They are detached spaces, perfectly decorated, separate from your house and usually in a lush garden. Yeah, that’s a nice dream. Usually, I am sitting at the dining table surrounded by kids’ homework, junk mail, and leftover randomalia (I just made up that word). The dog (a.k.a. my officemate) sprawls at my feet, groaning with boredom. The TV blares Japanese cartoons from the other room while I wrestle with twisty plots and unruly characters. I should get some noise-blocking headphones, but sometimes I do need to referee arguments or snack-block my hungry teenagers when it’s too close to dinner.
I sent my husband the link for the she-sheds, but so far he hasn’t kept up his end. They are amazing, but you’re the amazing one if you can write amid the chaos. Hats off to you. Now that you’ve told us about your reality, what’s the vision you hold in your head as you the writer?
Picture this: I’m at the premiere of my third book to be made into a movie. I haven’t written the screenplay for it, but that’s all right—I trust Diablo Cody completely. She did a fabulous job with Juno. I step onto the red carpet, and Entertainment Weekly asks me what designer I’m wearing. I say, “My sweatpants are by Target. And my slippers are bunny.”
All right then. You’ll make a splash. Can’t wait to read the reviews of what you wore to that one! Now back to your actual writing. Do you have a favorite character that you created?
Aside from Josie Tucker, who is probably my favorite fiction-child, I love both Mel and Ott, from Unmasked and Unbroken, equally. Mel is logical, over-sensitive, and almost magical in her ability to sense things around her. Ott, on the other hand, is one hundred percent rogue. He puts the swash in swashbuckling.
You’ve written books in two distinctly different genres. What are you going to do next? Are you planning to continue writing in the same genres?
That is a very good question. Rise of the Masks is set to be a trilogy, but whether there are more books about Mel and Ott after that, is up to readers. My mystery fans are more vocal about their affection for Josie Tucker. My fantasy fans are devoted but more introverted in their support. In other words, any readers out there who want more Mel and Ott, please let me know—in the form of a review, for example. (That probably sounded snarky, but I’m being honest.)
Speaking of reviews, let’s talk about the inevitable for a minute. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?
One of my best fans of Unmasked said that in some ways, the writing reminded her of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which is an amazing YA fantasy book by Laini Taylor. That compliment was thrilling to hear.
Give us the one sentence pitch for Unmasked.
When monsters invade a castle of young women, young Mel, a mystic girl disguised among them, discovers she may hold the secret to their survival.
How long do you estimate it took you to take Unmasked from an idea to a finished, published?
You’re going to laugh. Unmasked took me thirty-two years. How is that possible? I wrote down the seeds of the story when I was ten. I have a notebook full of hand-drawn maps and an outline of the basic plot in my ten-year-old handwriting. Then one year, I was looking for an idea for NaNoWriMo, and I found my notebook in a storage box. I didn’t finish writing Unmasked that month, but I did finish it. Is it the same story I first thought up when I was ten? No. Like me, it grew up.
That’s amazing. I can’t imagine anything I wrote at that age could be made into a novel. I recently read my diary from sixth grade. Embarrassing — I had so little to say about life and the world. Do you listen to music while you write?
For Unmasked, I listened to a lot of the band, Muse. If music had genre categories like books, Muse would fall into Fantasy/Scifi, without a doubt. For the sequel, Unbroken, I listened to the soundtrack from Game of Thrones.
How does your immediate family feel about your writing life?
My husband is author JD Kaplan, who writes contemporary or urban fantasy. His mother, Esther Kaplan, is our professional editor. You might say, book production is a family business here. Although writing is completely separate and individual, we share marketing tips and experiences.
I love it. It will be interesting to see what your kids do. I can’t imagine that you have any with your busy life, but what do you do during your down time?
I recently became a certified dance fitness instructor, which is really weird for an introvert like me. Click here to read my blog post about it. I’m certified to teach CIZE Live, which is the new program from Shaun T and also MixxedFit, which is explosive dancing mixed with bootcamp-inspired toning. Imagine hip-hop moves and music with a nice, heavy beat.
I want to take your class. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you a bit better. You’re one cool woman and author!
About EM: I’m EM Kaplan—but you can call me Emily. I’m a technical-writing, hip-hop-dancing, dog-belly-rubbing mom of teenagers. I write a series of humorous mysteries that features an amateur detective and food critic named Josie Tucker. I also write a lesser known epic fantasy series called Rise of the Masks, the first of which is Unmasked, which happens to be free on Kindle February 25-29.
Links to books and social media sites