Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Emily A. Steward author of Penelope Gilbert and the Children of Azure. Hi Emily, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Well, I was homeschooled growing up, and I loved it! I was very much a tom boy and I was able to spend a lot of time exploring outdoors and letting my imagination grow. I first started writing in kindergarten, and it’s been a passion of mine ever since. I now live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our three busy, and boisterous little girls.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I plan on writing and publishing as many novels as I can. I already have another finished novel that I’m revising and several more started, including a middle grade story along the lines of a more contemporary Harriet the Spy.
Which writers inspire you?
Any writer who can come up with wonderful, fantastic worlds I find inspiring. J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and J.K. Rowling come to mind. I’m also really inspired by the works of Roald Dahl. His books are just so imaginative and I love all the quirky, fun characters he’s created.
So, what have you written?
Besides my debut novel Penelope Gilbert and the Children of Azure, I’ve also written a Middle Grade mystery/horror book that is really close to the final draft, as well as a few short stories and a poem published in a small community college magazine. The poem is called, ‘The Old Brown Roof.’ It earned me the award of Editor’s Choice.
Where can we buy or see them?
Links coming soon.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Penny’s home life doesn’t leave her feeling very special. Her parents are mad scientists and are so caught up in their experiments, they hardly acknowledge her existence. Her vivid imagination helps her cope, as she dreams up exciting scenarios and adventures where she is the hero. One day after a crazy day at school, she transforms into a shiny, red stapler and discovers she’s more special than she ever imagined.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m wrapping up edits on my middle grade mystery/horror novel, and I’ve begun work on the second book in my Penelope Gilbert series.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
I would love for a young Michelle Trachtenberg to play Penny, my main character. But since I misplaced my time machine, I would have to say maybe Rowan Blanchard, the star of Girl Meets World.
When did you decide to become a writer?
Before I even knew what a writer was, I wanted to be a story teller. As early as the age of three, I was making up tales about bunnies, witches and (nice) evil stepsisters. At bedtime, I would make up my own bedtime stories and tell them to my mom and brother until they fell asleep, then I’d keep telling the story to myself until I eventually drifted off too.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I am a full time stay at home mom. I try to cram in writing whenever I have the opportunity, but it’s very sporadic.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
My writing revolves around my kids nap and bedtimes, so it really depends on how well they comply with those. Also, I try to set aside a full day each week to get out of the house and really focus on writing.
Do you write every day, or when you have time?
I try to get at least something written each day even if it’s just a sentence. As long as I’m progressing, I consider the day a success!
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I work with a very loose outline. I’ve tried to plot things out and work out all the details ahead of time, but sometimes my characters just do not want to cooperate. I really do best when I just create characters, throw situations at them, and see how the react. It’s fun because I never quite know what’s going to happen next myself. It keeps things interesting.
If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?
Penelope Gilbert and the Children of Azure is the first book in a planned trilogy. The series takes place in our world, and also in the world of Azure which is hidden in the clouds above. Penny discovers the land of Azure quite accidently as she searches for her kidnapped classmates. It is a treacherous place filled with mechanical beasts, floating islands, and air pirates. The series will follow Penny and her friends as they explore Azure and look for a way to destroy the evil that threatens their family and friends.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I love to read whenever I get a little downtime. I really like J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Lemony Snicket, Lewis Carroll, and L.M. Montgomery. My all-time favorite author would have to be Roald Dahl. He is so imaginative and I love his characters and the quirky sense of humor in his books.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I kind of jump around a little. I really need to sit and finish one before moving to the other. As it is, I think I’m reading about 5 or 6 right now. The ones I can recall are, Gregor the Overlander, Tunnels, Insurgent, the Scorch Trials, and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d tell myself to chill out and not fret about the future, because everything is going to be great! I’d also say, “Hey self, you know that stubborn streak you have that sometimes gets you in trouble? It’s going to be your greatest asset as a writer when those rejection letters come pouring in. So don’t give up! Oh, and if you take a wrong turn while driving, just turn around. Don’t keep going the wrong way and hope to find something familiar. That never seems to work out.” I’d probably also encourage myself to write more while I have all that free time, because time is really in short supply now. I didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘busy’ until I had kids.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Good question. I’d have loved to have written Harry Potter or The Hobbit. Both Rowling and Tolkien were so influential for their genre and I really admire them for that.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Listen and learn from other people’s feedback on your work, but ultimately trust your gut. Don’t get discouraged when you run up against harsh criticism. Use that criticism to fuel your fire. Edit like crazy and show them you do have a story worth sharing that only you can tell. And those rejections you have piling up in your inbox… they really are subjective. Somewhere, someone is looking for your book, it just needs to fall into the right hands at the right time.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Book Links: https://www.amazon.
com/Penelope-Gilbert-Children- Azure-Steward-ebook/dp/ B01LTGUPC6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8& qid=1473377424&sr=8-1& keywords=penelope+gilbert
Lastly, how's the whether?
The weather is feeling a bit temperamental, but it’s trying very hard to maintain a sunny disposition.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Thank you so much for having me, and for taking the time to host me on your blog!
Penelope Gilbert and the Children of Azure
By Emily A. Steward
When 13 year-old Penelope Gilbert accidentally transforms into a stapler during math class, she’s sure she’s going crazy. But she’s not imagining the men in black suits now patrolling the halls at school, nor is she imagining the new substitute teacher who orders the class to take a special new test. A test that requires blood. Hunted for her powers, and torn from the life she knows, Penny is swept up into a world in the clouds where magic meets machine and pirates rule the sky.
Author Bio:Emily Steward spent the better part of her childhood dressed as a ninja and trying
to convince others to call her ‘Ace.’ When she wasn’t saving the world from evil samurai, she
could usually be found in the branches of a tree reading a good book. She now lives in the
Pacific Northwest with her husband, three daughters, and dog Bentley. Though she seldom
dresses as a ninja now, her adventurous spirit remains as does her love of tree climbing and
reading good books.
Excerpt:“Come on!” she yelled to Haldor who was wriggling out from under the spider corpse.
She ran to the spot where she saw the creature enter as Haldor hurried to catch up. She scrambled
through the brush until she came to a stream. There she saw the spider. He was across the water
under a large tree.
Above him were several objects swinging in the breeze. It took her a moment to realize
that they were rotting bodies strung up by their necks. Their unseeing eyes stared eerily into the
darkness. Upon closer inspection, she saw that there were at least thirty of them. She wretched
silently as she tried to think of a way for Crane to not become one of them. The spider was
already trying to wrap a strand of webbing around his neck.
A thought occurred to her. An outrageous, outlandish thought. I can do this, she assured
herself. She tried to picture every last detail of her slain foe—every creepy crawling, hairy, shiny
detail. Penny could feel the energy pulsing through her. Her hands were no longer her own. Her
teeth had become fangs, and her eyes were the eyes of a killer.
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Buy Links: Coming soon