Hello everybody! Today, I couldn’t be more thrilled to share my interview with Emma Carroll, whose books I’ve been raving about constantly since I started this blog. Her new novella the Ghost Garden is out tomorrow, and I highly recommend it. Onto the post!
1. Hi Emma, thank you so much for being here! First of all, can you please describe the Ghost Garden in 5 words?
Thank you for having me (those aren’t my five words, btw!)
The Ghost Garden in five words… Summertime, war, premonitions, ghosts, friendship
2. The Ghost Garden has a really brilliant, spooky fabulism element to it in that there have been some very odd coincidences in the garden, and the same is true for quite a lot of your books in various different ways. Have you ever had an experience where you’ve thought you’ve come into contact with magic or the supernatural?
I’ve always been fascinated by the supernatural, and ghost stories are one of my favourite genres to read. I’ve had a few spooky experiences, yes- one I still remember really vividly was when I was a small child. My favourite cousin had gone home after staying with us for a few days. When I got up the next morning I saw her coming up the stairs towards me, still wearing her nightdress. I remember searching the whole house for her, absolutely convinced she’d come back to stay. My mum was very freaked out!
3. I also love that it takes place right before the beginning of the first world war, because I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in that exact time before. Do you have any recommendations for some other books set in time periods or locations within those time periods we don’t often get to read about?
I think the summer of 1914 is so powerful and evocative a setting because it’s the moment before everything changed. It’s often portrayed in literature and film as a sort of golden age, an innocent time before the horrors of WW1, and for civilians at home, the impact on social structures, the economy, the role of women etc. Books that immediately spring to mind are The Skylark’s War by Hilary Mckay, Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nichols, The Clockwork Sparrow Series by Katherine Woodfine, Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. Also books by EB Nesbit eg The Railway Children are set during this time. For adults, The Great Lover by Jill Dawson, which is a fictionalised story about the war poet Rupert Brooke, and is incredible.
4. On kind of a similar note, and also because you’re the queen of historical fiction, I wanted to ask if there’s a period of history or a setting you’ve not yet written about that you really want to in the future?
Ooh, interesting question! My favourite time in history would be a toss-up between the early 1800s and the 1920s, though I appreciate that’s not what you’ve asked! Maybe something medieval, that’s proper ‘Arthurian Legend’ old? I’m also fascinated by journeys so maybe a story about a shipwreck or a trek across mountains- not sure on the era, though!
5. One of my other favourite things about your books is that you’ve written so many incredible characters that I love beyond words. What tips would you give to writers when creating characters, both in terms of their protagonist and their secondary cast?
Thank you, that’s very kind! I think any protagonist needs to have strengths and weaknesses, and that somehow, the strengths develop during the story, and the weaknesses are addressed. Also, think about what they want, and make sure this is front + centre of the plot. Secondary cast members will also have their own arc. Their strengths + weaknesses might support and/or create conflict with the main character. It’s also vital for your cast of characters to be diverse and suitably representative.
6. Also on the theme of characters, which of your characters would you say is most like you, and who would you say is the most different? And which of them would you most like to be for the day?
The one most like me is probably Tilly Higgins in Frost Hollow Hall- ie a bit hot-headed and bolshy, but very loyal. (a typical Aries, really!) Most different to me is probably Louie in The Girl Who Walked On Air because I HATE heights, and don’t always like being in the spotlight. For the day, I’d quite like to be Lil in ‘Secrets of a Sun King’ because she gets to go on a ‘once in a lifetime’ adventure with her best friends.
7. What is your writing routine usually like? Do you have any unusual habits or quirks in the way you work?
I’m not a morning person, so tend to start work after lots of tea in bed, followed by a slow breakfast and a quick dog walk. Most of my writing these days is done in a little box room at the back of my house. This year we’ve redecorated it (all those Zoom calls made me realise how grubby it was looking!) and I’ve bought a proper writing desk and an armchair. So , it’s now the nicest room in our house! When I’m writing I like lots of tea, a dog or two for company, and I often burn essential oils- geranium, frankincense + orange are my favourite oils together. I also set my phone for 30mins in order to do timed writing sprints: this is especially helpful if I’m staring out of the window too much, or checking twitter every five mins.
8. Finally before our quickfire round, are you able to tell us anything about what you’re working on at the moment and/or will be releasing next?
After ‘The Ghost Garden’ I’ve two more books out in 2021. The first is with Faber, out in September, and is called ‘The Week At World’s End’. It’s set in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis and is about two best friends who find a runaway girl in their coal shed. So, expect The Beatles, President Kennedy, nuclear weapons and ban the bomb protests. In November, with S&S my first festive picture book is coming out: ‘The Night At The Frost Fair’ is a shorter version of the story I wrote for the Winter Magic anthology, with amazing artwork by Sam Usher. So a busy year!
Favourite ice cream flavour? Chocolate.
I’ve no idea. I’ve never read Harry Potter (don’t hate me!)
Book you’ve reread the most times?
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Top 3 reads of 2020 so far? The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, Monsters of Rookhaven by Padraig Kenny, Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan.
Top 3 most anticipated releases for the rest of the year? The Queen of Pram Town by Joanna Nadin, A Tangle of Spells by Michelle Harrison, Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie Sue Hitchcock
Thank you so much for reading! Are you a fan of Emma’s books? Are you planning to pick any up? I’d love to hear in the comments!
6 thoughts on “Author Interview: Emma Carroll”
Great interview Amy. I’ve definitely got some Emma Carroll to catch up on but I’ve loved everything she’s written so far! Looking forward to her Cuban missile crisis book too!
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Me too, especially as the Beatles are mentioned in Emma’s description x
Aah, how exciting for you yo get to interview one if your absolute faves! Great to read as ever. I still have a lot of hers to read too!
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It was literally a DREAM getting to write this, I’ve never ever been more excited about a post ever and I’ve hardly told anyone in case something went wrong 🙈😂 x
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Aaaaah! I’d have been the same. It’s a great post and I know it will have been amazing for you to get to do it!
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