It’s August. Times are crazy, and life is drastically different from a year ago, but I am very happy to report that I have just finished reading my 57th book of 2020. Yay! Celebrate the little wins, right??
One of the books I read earlier this year was Emmie and the Tudor King, and I had enjoyed it more than I expected to! A story that combined time travel, star-crossed lovers, and a fictional sixteenth-century king… Perfect!
When I heard that the sequel Emmie and the Tudor Queen was coming out this month, I hoped and wished that I could get an advance copy, and I am eternally grateful to author Natalie Murray for giving me one!! Not only that, but she also accepted a request for an interview! *jumps and dances*
Me: First of all, I loved Emmie and the Tudor King, and am delighted to hear that the sequel, Emmie and the Tudor Queen, will be out this year! Congratulations!
Natalie Murray: Thank you! ☺
I loved so many elements of the story – the story setting, the time travelling, the romance, the mystery and the suspense…! So, the first question is of course, what inspired you to write this story?
The idea for Emmie and the Tudor King came to me in a dream. Several years ago, I dreamt that I was inside the opulent chamber of a handsome Tudor king, but I wasn’t from that era; I was from the twenty-first century and just visiting the king for a day because I could travel back and forth between the two periods. Strange, right? That inspired me to write a story about a modern-day girl who falls in love with a capricious sixteenth-century king, which of course invites plenty of star-crossed-lovers drama (my favourite trope!). The mystery and suspense part of the story followed on from there.
Did you have to do a lot of research for this book? In your opinion, how important is research to creative writing?
Let’s just say that if I’d known how much research would be involved in writing a novel set more than 400 years in the past, I might not have ever started! The Emmie books have required a monumental amount of research, but luckily, I adore learning about sixteenth-century England, so it’s been time-consuming rather than a tedious chore. It’s an interesting question you ask about the importance of research to creative writing because when I wrote Emmie and the Tudor King, I wrote most of the story before completing the lion’s share of the detailed research. I did it that way because I didn’t want ‘fun tidbits’ from my research driving the plot; I wanted the romance to motivate the story and researched the parts I needed to afterwards. While I’m still pleased with the outcome, I’m not sure I’d do it that way again because reading about a historical period can also inform and inspire the characters’ journeys in other ways.
Do you have a favourite character, and why?
This is a tough one! I feel most loyal to Emmie, and I’m a touch in love with Nick, but I think that overall if I had to pick a favourite character it would be Emmie’s best friend in the Tudor world, Alice Grey. I adore Alice’s wit and spunk – especially for the era, although I don’t find it unrealistic and I have been careful there – and her steadfast devotion to Emmie probably saves Emmie’s life on more than one occasion.
If there was something you could go back and change in the story, what would it be?
I don’t think I’d change anything. That’s not because I believe it’s the perfect story, but it’s the story that’s now been told and to change it would feel like a betrayal of Emmie and Nick’s choices, if that doesn’t sound too bizarre. (Us writers take these relationships quite seriously!)
Can you share your writing process with us? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I usually plot the first half of a novel fairly tightly and then loosely plan the second half, but allow and expect changes to take place. While I’m always in charge of my characters, however rebellious they may be, I’ve come to learn that tightly plotting the second half of a novel can be a waste of time for me, because I like having the freedom to explore dynamics that emerge without feeling like I’m lost on a tangent. However, I always know the ending before I even begin a book. So, I always know where I’m heading.
Is there any particular reason that you are focusing on YA fiction?
I’m a die-hard romantic and knew that I wanted to explore the romance genre, but I didn’t want to write adult romance – I seek to relive the innocence of first love, first eye gaze, first skin touch, and those sorts of electrifying first moments. While first love can happen to people at any age, of course, it typically occurs in the late teenage or young adult years, and that’s what I wanted to revisit and capture. To me, it’s one of the most powerful feelings I’ve ever experienced, and it’s not easy to translate such breathlessness onto the page, but I try my best.
There are many who dream of writing a book, but may not know how or where to begin. How did you get started in your creative writing journey?
It really happened by accident and after many years of avoidance. I’d been a professional non-fiction writer for years and people kept asking me if I’d ever write fiction (as I am also a lifelong devourer of novels). My answer would always be “No way!”. It was just something I never considered; perhaps I feared it would be too hard. But then I fell pregnant with my first child, and I became sick for months and unable to do much except binge TV series while tapping away on my laptop. Quite organically, I began writing short stories about some TV shows I was watching at the time. As soon as I started writing fictional scenes between two characters, something ignited in me that I’d never felt before, and I became utterly compelled to write more stories. After that dream I had about the Tudor king, I decided to try to write a full-length novel. That was just the beginning of a long and steep learning curve!
What was/is the biggest challenge for you when it comes to writing?
I seem to have made friends with the time commitment that writing a novel requires (which cannot be understated), so I would have to say the plotting. Seasoned authors make it look incredibly easy, but it’s actually incredibly difficult to come up with a compelling storyline that will keep readers turning the pages across more than eighty thousand words. The hardest part for me is getting that solid plot down on the page that’s satisfying enough to leave the reader wanting more rather than adding the book to their ‘DNF’ pile. Before I write any book, I sit down for weeks with the story skeleton, trying to come up with even more complications for my poor characters. ☺
Any tips to share with aspiring authors?
My biggest tip is always this one: Just finish the book. I know from direct experience how hard it is to get to ‘The end’. It’s multiple marathons, across many months (sometimes years), usually with no recognition, money, or other compensation. While your friends are out having fun and you’re sitting alone, bleeding out of your fingernails at the keyboard, it’s too easy to give up. The problem is that the only way published books get written is they get written. You must. Not. Give. Up. I also feel that no number of writing classes will teach you what you will learn from finishing an actual novel, even if that book isn’t yet (or even ever) publishable. Just finish the book. Keep going, in slow increments if you need to, and you will get to ‘the end’, I promise. What you will then have are two things: A complete manuscript to go back and revise (which is when the magic happens and the book starts to really come together), and the equivalent of forty thousand writing degrees (well, in my humble opinion). ☺
Any tips to share with aspiring authors who are also mothers with young children? 😀
Awuh! All I can really say is that I completely understand how hard it is. I went through many months where I was waking up at 4am on weekends to write before the household woke up, and I’ve also had to write very late at night at times. Just write 100 words here, 100 words there – whenever your adorable but utterly demanding family allows it. As long as you’re adding to the manuscript each time, then you are closer to your goal, and you will reach the end. It does help if you can find some childcare for a few hours each day, which is what I ended up doing. It’s pretty rewarding when your child picks up a book that you wrote with heart-shaped eyes and tells you how proud they are of you.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all my questions!
Thank you so much for having me, Natalie!
If you haven’t read Emmie and the Tudor King, you should be able to get it from Amazon or Book Depository.
The sequel, Emmie and the Tudor Queen, will be out on 25th August 2020, and it is as captivating as ever. (You can find my review on my Bookstagram IG @hercreativeescape or Goodreads). You can also pre-order it from Amazon or Book Depository.
To learn more about the books and/or about Natalie Murray, check out her website.
Happy reading guys!