Emily McKay loves to read, shop, and geek out about movies. When she’s not writing, she reads on-line gossip and bakes luscious deserts. She pretends that her weekly yoga practice balances out both of those things. She lives in central Texas with her family and her crazy pets. Though she’s never been much of a joiner, she somehow still managed to join multiple group blogs. (A pathological need to be part of any group of that wants her? Best not to analyze this too deeply). You can visit her at the Jaunty Quills, Harlequin Desire Authors, or Peanut Butter on the Keyboard. She also co-writes young adult rom-coms as Ivy Adams.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did you decide to write The Farm?
As much as I love Twilight and the like, I grew up with scary vampires and I wanted to create a world where vampires were scary again. Also, my version of vampires just make sense to me. If there were really creatures in the world who were stronger, faster, and smarter than us and we were their food, they would be farming us, not falling in love with us. Come on, when was the last time you flirted with a hamburger?
Do Lily and Carter end up together?
Oh, come on! You know I can’t answer that!
Is there going to be a sequel?
Yes, I’m working on The Lair right now and it’s slated to be released in November 2013. There’s also exclusive content available online via twitter, blogs and by becoming a member of my street teams. So be sure get the whole story!
Why did you decide to write a character on the autism spectrum?
It’s always hard to pinpoint how and why certain elements come into the story. Honestly, I can’t tell you why I decided to have Mel be on the autism spectrum. In my earliest drafts of the book, Lily was alone at the Farm and Mel didn’t exist at all. That version of Lily was very isolated and in turn, unsympathetic. She needed a sibling. She needed someone to protect. I knew right away that I wanted Mel to be dependent on her, but to also bring a lot to the table also. I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, she totally swiped that from The Hunger Games.” But actually I didn’t even read the Hunger Games until after my book was completely finished. However, I was completely inspired by Simone Elkeles’s Perfect Chemistry. The relationship between Brittany and her sister, Shelly, is so complex and layered. Watching Britany interact with Shelly is instant insight into who she is as a person. I knew I needed a lens through which we could see Lily’s vulnerabilities. At the same time, I wanted Mel to be her own person and to have a unique view of the world. In a lot of ways, Mel became heart and soul of the book.
Do you have a child or other family member who’s on the spectrum? What kind of research did you do to write Mel?
I don’t have a child on the autism spectrum, though I do know several families who deal with those challenges. When writing Mel, I did a lot of research and then I filled in the blanks in ways that worked for the story. I’m always the first to admit that when it comes to research, it’s important, but it gets you only so far. At some point, you have to serve the story rather than the science. I would never claim to have created a perfect representation of what goes on in the mind of an autistic person. The term autistic covers a lot of ground. Plus, Mel lives in a world where paranormal gifts affect people’s abilities. The most I can hope for is that I created a character who is engaging and though provoking. But that’s my hope for all my characters, not just Mel.
I want to be a writer. What advice do you have?
I know lots of people say this, but keep writing. Also, study the craft, learn who you are as a writer and what your process is, and find lots of beta readers and fellow writers to hang out with along the way. When you’re looking for a critique partner, find someone whose opinions you respect and who has about the same level of writing/experience as you. That way you grow together as writers. You’ll both end up stronger writers and you’ll have great friends to boot. I have some articles about writing on the For Writers page of my Emily McKay site.
Keep in mind, it’s never to early or too late to start writing seriously. If you know it’s what you want to do, start today. Christopher Paolini started writing those Inheritance books when he was fifteen and had a deal with a major publisher by the time he was twenty. Kody Keplinger, author of fabulous YA books, wrote her first book when she was a senior in high school. On the other hand, Alan Bradley, author of the acclaimed Flavia de Luca series, started his first book when he was sixty-nine. So if you want to be a writer, what are you waiting for? Be a writer!