Monday, February 22, 2016

Emma Woods: Author Interview & Spotlight

Shifter Month continues at Fantasy Fun Reads. This week please welcome Emma woods, author of
Beasts and Savages.


Lea Corre was taught to value community, family, and the hunt. Her blood stems from a long line of proud hunters. When Lea's monthly changes come and she prepares for her own hunt, she questions the brutality and morality of the deadly custom. As she uncovers dark secrets and delves into her mother's broken past, she determines she will make her own fate. Along the way she encounters Tanner, her intended prey. His village has decided to take a stand against the tyranny of women. When Lea's prey becomes her captor, she learns more about their lives, the world, and herself. In the end, Lea must choose between two worlds, in which neither she belongs.


After breakfast, I wandered the house and tried to read. The craving grew. I couldn’t sit still. Watching the clock was agonizing, but I couldn’t help myself. By eleven, my gums ached. At eleven-thirty, I couldn’t take it any longer. I filled the metal water bottle, and Nana followed me to the basement. She kissed my forehead and wished me luck before I stepped inside.
I flipped the switch outside the door and the hum of the lights echoed through the room. I set the water bottle down on the bench. I felt panicked. The walls were closing in on me. Immediately, I regretted my decision to come down early.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The wanting deep in my core exploded and my hands ached. The pain in my gums sharpened. I tasted blood and licked my teeth. My canines had dropped. The florescent lights hurt my eyes, and I made a mental note to bring sunglasses next time. After about an hour, the hum of the lights had given me a headache.
There was an audible pop in the room followed by intense burning in my right hand. I squeezed my left hand over it and yanked it back. A welt on my left palm was going numb. I had poked myself with one of my own bristles. Several fiery pangs on my hands sent current after current of pain up my arms. I knelt down and placed my palms flat on the cool floor, gritting my teeth so I wouldn’t scream.
Once the pain began to wane, I opened my eyes and inspected my hands. Hard brown bristles spiked out of the tops of them. When I flattened my hand, they lay flat against my skin. I made a fist. The short spines poked up into the air. My nails had hardened and grown to fine points. Blood welled on my thumb when I pierced it with a nail. I stuck the wounded thumb in my mouth. The metallic taste came at the same time as a flash of red.
I pulled my thumb out of my mouth and stood. A red fog invaded the corner of my vision. I closed my eyes and shook my head, willing it away, but the fog grew thicker. The hunger deep in my core called to the mist. As it clouded my vision, the red beckoned the want. I rubbed my eyes with my palms, careful not to poke myself. Nothing would erase the soupy haze.
I sat on the bench and tried to think of a way to stop the red clouds in my eyes. My mind moved slowly and words would not come. Several frustrating minutes passed. I clenched my fists tightly. I needed to think and the only word that would come to me was red. I clenched harder, until my nails threatened to punch through my skin. My vision flashed and for a moment the world was nothing but hot embers of anger.
There was a burst of pain in my hand and the rage subsided. The fog thinned. Pain. My agony had lifted the haze. I stabbed my hands and arms with my nails, relishing the clarity that came with each puncture. The sleeves to my green cotton tunic had snags, puncture holes, and blood marks from my wrists to my elbows. Finally, the fog was nothing more than a red mist in the corner of my eyes.
I wanted a way to remember how I felt while changed, a way to record this event so that I could remember it and be prepared next time. I held up a bloodied index finger and began to write words on the wall: hunger, pain, anger, red, fog.

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I’m a small town girl from the Midwest, and the oldest of four. Our house was crazy most of the time, with kids playing everywhere, so when I wanted to escape, I’d find a quite place or slip to my room and read. I was a book nerd/marching band geek, and Girl Scout and wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I went to college to become a teacher, but fate had other plans. I think if I would have taught, I may not have taken the initiative to write and publish, so in a way, I’m happy where I am. I’d like to think that writing has always been and interest, or even a hobby I’ve had for most of my life. Does that make me a lifetime writer? I don’t know, but I didn’t decide to become a published writer until about nine months ago. I write mostly YA stories, because they are my favorite to read, and I love writing because it is my escape. I have all these stories playing in my head. Why not write them down and share them with the world?


1. It looks like your book touches on several different genres in the young adult category including dystopian, science fiction, & fantasy. What books & authors influenced you to choose to write your own?

I’m a huge fan of dystopian works, and I have been since I read George Orwell’s 1984 when I was 16. I’d like to think that Lois Lowry’s The Giver, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, Veronica Roth’s Divergent Series, and about a hundred more impacted my decision to write a dystopia. The first fantasy novel that struck a chord with me was A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle, and while I wrote Beasts and Savages, I was reading The Mortal Instrument Series by Cassandra Clare. And of course, I’m a Harry Potter fan. If you’re a Potterhead, too, you’ll find my not-so-subtle nod to J.K. Rowling.

2. What are you currently writing? Is there a sequel in the works?

I’m finishing up Savage Revolution, book 2 in The Beastly Series, as well as jotting down ideas for other books and some short stories. Here’s a tiny little tidbit of Book 2:

Corre grabbed my wrist. “Wait. You don’t know what you’re doing. Let me see…” He took my knife, inspected it. “You can’t throw this. It’s made for stabbing and cutting, maybe skinning. See the serration halfway down the blade? Plus, it’s not correctly balanced. The handle is too heavy. It’ll wobble, sink to the ground in half the time.” He picked up one of his knives. “Look at mine. No serration, and the handle is smaller, the shape more streamlined. It glides through the air.” Corre held it up as if he was going to throw it, but placed it in my palm. “Use this one.”
“I thought you said…”
He shrugged. “Do you want to learn or not?”

3. Did you try and find an agent or publisher first or did you always intend to self publish?

I didn’t try to find an agent, though there were several people who suggested it to me. When I started this journey, it was about finding a way to publish a children’s book series I wrote with my daughter, and to encourage her to keep drawing. She wants to be an illustrator when she grows up (She’s 7). It quickly turned into my passion, and though we still create together, I’ve changed from, “This is something fun to do” to “This is what I love to do, as much as I can.”

4. What have you learned since publishing your first novel that you wish you knew when you first started?

Oh, if only I could list all of the things I’ve learned. When I started writing Beasts and Savages almost a year ago, I knew nothing about being an author. My biggest regret is waiting until I had the first draft written before joining writing communities and writer’s groups on social media. I still learn something everyday, and now I’m a member of a wonderful, supportive community that spans the globe.

5. It looks like your book blurs the lines between heroes and villains. Is that something you were aiming for when you decided to write it?

Yes and No. When I first started, I had clear villains in mind. But I’m a pantser, and as I wrote scenes, the characters came to life and took over. Despite the shape-shifting females, my characters are human, and what’s more terrifying than a villain that can hate just as passionately as he can love.

6. Your book has received some really good reviews. What would you say to potential readers to encourage them to give your book a try?

If you’re looking for another run-of-the-mill dystopian, this story is not for you. If you want a female protagonist who gives everything up for some romance, this isn’t for you, either. But if you’re ready to fall into a world upside down from our own, and meet characters that evoke both love and hatred, give Beasts and Savages a try. After all, women can’t really use our beastly powers to rule the world, can we?

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