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Author Name: Emjai Colbert
Website:
www.emjaicolbert.com
Genre: contemporary paranormal
Latest book in shops now:
If Tomorrow Never Comes from Cerridwen Press

Before we begin this interview, I need to check that you’re still grounded and that your head isn’t swollen from your success, so with that in mind, what was the last thing you bought at Wal-Mart, and do you know how much a loaf of bread costs?

Between Wally World and Super Target what don’t I buy? Groceries, paint, cat food, tires. Bought a really great summer weight sweater there for under ten bucks this week, we don’t get that cool here in the fall so it’s just right. Bread??? Depends on the brand. I buy store brand for the kids at 79 cents a loaf.

What were your favourite books as a child?

The OZ series, Charlotte’s Web, Nancy Drew. Typical girly books. Oh and The Old Black Witch picture book with the blueberry pancake recipe on back. I still have it though it’s missing the last two pages.

{Wasn’t Charlotte’s Web amazing!}

What does a typical day as a writer consist of?

My day in general or my off days as a writer?

Both please!

Up at six get the kiddies off to school. Back to bed at eight. Up again at eleven, usual get the day started routine. Morning walk. Run the errands. Ebay deliveries to the post office, shop or clean or whatever has to be done before the kids get home.

Two thirty to three thirty – Pick up kids from three different schools listen to them bicker after number three gets in the car for the seven minute drive home. Run herd on homework and chores and baths while preparing a wonderful scrumptious gourmet meal.

Kiss the husband good bye (he works nights) plant the kids in front of the TV until quiet time. Fuss at them to actually read a book during quiet time. Force them to go to bed at bed time. Me time is limited to Law and Order SVU or CSI depending on the night.

Then it’s check the eBay listings (mine and others) prowl the boards and blogs I visit. And then, I will peck out a few pages between eleven pm and the hubby getting home at one. Catch up with him on his day er.. night and pretty much pass out cold around two just so I can get up in four hours to do the whole thing over again.

Of course I play spider solitaire on pogo until my eyes pop out those nights I’m avoiding writing.

{Whew, I’m exhausted after all that!}

Name your top five favourite books of all time.

Toughie…hmm. Harry Potter #3 and #5 loved them all but those are my faves. The Harper Hall Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey. Gentle Rouge, Johanna Lindsey. All of those mentioned above plus too many more to name here.

Which authors are you glomming at the moment? (reading a lot of?)

Mary Kay Andrews. I loved her mystery series under Kathy Hogan Trocheck but her wacko Southern chick lit books are hilarious. Who else? Rita Mae Brown’s, Mrs Murphy books, love that cat. And pretty much what ever I pick up that isn’t in the genre I write in as I’m on a reading kick right now could be anything.

Do you have other close romance writer friends, and if so who are they?

My best pubbed friend is Candace Sams who also writes as C.S. Chatterly. She is pretty much my sounding board about all things cop related and the one I trust for the best bitch sessions usually about the squawking in the various writers’ orgs.

When did you realise that you wanted to write books, and who or what inspired you?

When I was in 8th or 9th grade I read S.E Hinton’s The Outsiders. This was as the movie was being released (had a big thing for Patrick Swayzee though he was OLD).
I found out she was seventeen when she wrote the book and that’s when it clicked in my head, I can do this I want to do this I write or make up stories in my head all the time, I….. was bashed in the face with laughter by my best friend when I dared share my dream, I still hear the laughter ringing even now twenty years later.

I resurrected my dream when I was twenty-five after two back to back difficult births (my youngest are eleven and ten) I was in pretty bad shape. I couldn’t stand up straight for about two years even after the surgery I needed. My activities were limited and I’m not a big TV fan so I read until I hated every book I picked up {K: Oh I’ve been there too!} and then I just started writing.

I wrote my first book in three spiral bound notebooks with a pen. It’s still there BTW hidden in a trunk in my room.

As a newly published writer, can you tell us a little about your journey to publishing heaven, and what important things you’ve learned so far about this industry?

Let’s preface this by saying that I received a reply from Pocket Books yesterday rejecting a proposal I sent them. This is important to know for two reasons. One: the editor didn’t bother to mention what book she was rejecting nor did she enclose a copy of the original query letter. And Two: I haven’t actually sent out query letters in two years.

I suspect it was for If Tomorrow Never Comes, but I can’t remember that far back. My journey through the publishing world has been quite frankly, scarily frustrating. I can’t count the number of rejections I’ve received, most of them like the above mentioned: A form letter from an editor who couldn’t be bothered to even read the query just take the enclosed envelope stuff the form letter and zap two years later it comes back.

However they are not all like that. I’ve gotten to know several editors who liked my work just to be shot down by the top dogs. I have been with RWA and learned what they have to offer, my local RWA chapter was invaluable mostly because I met Candace Sams who was then barrelling her way through newbie-dom.

What I’ve learned about the industry is that it helps to KNOW someone high up. After that you’re on your own. Study the market, know what sells, I almost sold a western historical but the market crashed around me. I still love that book and I will dust it off when that market comes back.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t. Grieve the rejections for an hour and then move on to the next editor or agent. And most importantly if it matters enough you’ll keep going you only fail when you give up. I haven’t given up yet and it’s been eight years and one sale.

{Wow, it’s great that you hung in there!}

If you could have a one-to-one conversation with a famous historical figure, who would it be with and what would you talk about?

This one is difficult. There are so many people I’d love to talk with. Hitler, Napoleon, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Mary Todd Lincoln. I’m sort of drawn to the wackos I’ve always wanted to know what makes them tick more than ordinary people.

Mark Twain would be a great interview because he was as controversial in his day as he is in ours not many people can tweak noses a hundred years after death but he does.

My living historical figure is Bono (his legacy will make him great long after death so he fits …don’t laugh) again because he knows how to tweak noses. Love the tweakers good or bad because they make the world change.

What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your writing?

To touch a heart. I know that sounds corny but I think I am tortured by my characters for a reason and if one person comes away with a smile on her or his face then that is why I do what I do. That and for the HUGE pay checks ;-)

Has anything a reviewer or reader said or written about you changed the way you write?

Honestly no. But I’m still very new, with only five actual reviews so far. I have had editors that twisted me around by my hair to write what they thought was THE perfect man ulitmately I had to just stop and think “do I want to be published so badly that I am allowing this person to tell me my characters stink because they don’t act like mysogonistic A-wads?”

Notice I’m not published by that company though I could have been years ago. I write what the little voices in my head tell me to write and I try very hard to be true to them with hopes that a reader will appreciate them. If not then I hope they enjoy the next book be it mine or another author’s.

When was the last time you went overseas and where did you go?

I’m from Florida does the Bahamas count as over seas? Senior trip late eighties we cruised to Nassau. I’ve been meaning to do it again but haven’t had the time. My dream trip is to Ireland. Aah one day…

Who are your favourite romance hero and heroine of all time?

Rhett and Scarlett. I’m Southern so there’s no getting away from them.

What kind of characters would you say you typically wrote?

Typically? Boy usually late twenties early thirties and Girl mid twenties to early thirties usually they live in the South but are not always Southern.

After that there’s nothing typical from one book to the next. I’ve written gun toting western outlaws, snotty rock stars, construction guys, cops, models, witches, cross dressers male and female, country music stars, and culinary chefs.

Nope, nothing typical about the people who tramp through my brain any given day.

If only one person could read your book, who would that be? (as in the person who you would want most to read your book)

My husband has always been the first reader and sometimes the only reader and I don’t think that will ever change even if he reads my books to find out how I “killed him off this time”. My husband has always been my biggest fan, he encouraged me when no one else would and he keeps me from hanging it all up.

If you had to pick, who would you say has been most influential within the romance genre?

Influential for me or to the genre? To the modern contemporary genre there’s only one answer do I even need to say her name… the big NR, though there are authors I think are better she is the one who sets the level and still can draw me in wit her stories.

To me I cut my first grown up teeth on Johanna Lindsey and Virginia Henley both of whom I think shaped the historical genre for today. Yes Kathleen Woodiwiss is great but I’ll stick to Lindsey and Henley as my motivators.

What was the last movie you saw?

Grown up movie: the hubby made me watch Hitch last night, which I liked but didn’t love, Will Smith was adorable and Eva what’s her name is beautiful. Guilty pleasure movie: Blade one and two today on TV because I dig vampires and swords and it’s October and well enough said.

{Blade sure is popular with you authors!}

Name your top five favourite romantic films.

Is it embarrassing to say I’m not a chick flick kinda girl? I’m an action adventure kick butt kinda girl. So these are as close as I can get:

1. Romancing the Stone for Kathleen Turner’s shy romance writer turned adventurer

2. The Mummy with Brandon Frasier and Rachel Weiss for their wonderful chemistry and the great one liners.

3. Parent Trap both versions love Haley Mills in the original and the adults in the second can we say Dennis Quaid is yummy?

4. Undercover Blues again Dennis Quaid and Kathleen Turner even though the movie is stupid as all get out I still love it. And the one genuine (no I don’t count Romancing the Stone…too many guns) chick flick in the lot.

5. Practical Magic though I hated it the first time I saw it, it grew on me big time.

What was the last book you read?

Cat’s Eyewitness Rita Mae Brown

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Seeing the look in people’s eyes when I tell them what I do. Knowing they are thinking two things: how much was my advance and do I practice the love scenes, in that order.

What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

Writing in general, beginnings middles and ends specifically. I hate being a slave to the voices but when they talk I have to write. The first line of any book is killer, the middle hump is killer and most endings are stupid insipid crap which I have to write about five times before I get them close to right.

Have you any advice to aspiring writers who haven’t been published yet?

DON’T GIVE UP!!! Learn to write a killer query and synopsis. Allow no more than one hour to mourn the rejections then move on. Submit, submit, submit.

IF you are able to break through decide where you will compromise and where you won’t, but be prepared to start back at square one at any time. Don’t expect a ton of money unless you’ve killed somebody, slept with someone famous, or were a president or pope. But mostly DON’T GIVE UP, you only fail when you give up.

Finally, when’s your next book due out, and what’s it about?

Unfortunately due to three hurricanes and one disastrous computer crash this year I’ve had precious little time to write. My editor is expecting my next book by the end of this week after that it’s a wait and see thing. It’s a cop meets witch, cop thinks witch is nuts, cop discovers his part in an ancient curse, witch goes missing, cop discovers he can’t live without witch, and that he is the only one with the power to save the witch.

Title is yet to be determined but working title is Thrice Upon a Dream.

Hey it’s October, I’ve got witches on the brain!

Wow, sounds fascinating! Thanks for taking the time out Emjai, that was one of the most interesting interviews so far!

That’s it for now folks, next week, we have author, Toni Blake!