This is part of a new series of interviews featuring indie authors. These interviews will drop once or twice a week. If you’d like to be part of this series, please contact me at Sarah (at) bookwormblues (dot) net. Please support the authors by clicking on the affiliate links in the interview, spread the word, and, of course, buy their books.
We’re all in this together, you know?
About the Author
Elisabeth “E.M.” Hamill is a nurse by day, unabashed geek, chocoholic, sci fi and fantasy novelist by nights, weekends, and whenever she can steal quality time with her laptop. She lives with her family, a dog, and a cat in the wilds of eastern suburban Kansas, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse.
Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first. How about you tell me about your books.
My very first self published full-length novel was the urban fantasy Nectar and Ambrosia. It’s a snarky look at gods and religion and what former deities are doing now that they aren’t allowed to be worshipped anymore—mainly, they sit around in a bar and bitch about how they used to be somebody. That’s okay for some, but for others, the anonymity is driving them insane and they’ll do anything for attention…even start a war with the current supreme deity and His angels.
My most recent book was with the indie press: Peacemaker, the second book in my Dalí Tamareia Missions. Dalí is a third-gender spy/former ambassador who is on a mission of vengeance to take down the terrorist who killed their family. These are space opera thrillers with sex, drugs, and aliens, a lot grittier than my urban fantasy.
Sarah’s note: I’ve actually just started reading these books and they are ROCKING MY WORLD. Read them. Seriously.
What makes you and your books unique? Shine for me, you diamond.
I try to write inclusively since I am bisexual and genderqueer, and all my books have representation of the LGBTQ community. The snark is strong with me, so no matter how serious the subject, there’s plenty of dark humor and slapstick. Dark slapstick.
What are you working on now/any future projects you want to talk about?
Currently I’m working on the third book in the Dalí Tamareia Missions, Third Front. Once that’s done, my attention is going back to the Amaranthine Inheritance world that spawned Nectar and Ambrosia. Puck has been bugging me about a couple of things I need to get out of my head, and trust me, Puck does not like to be ignored.
Sarah’s note: I *loved* Nectar and Ambrosia. I cannot wait for more in this world.
Let’s celebrate. What’s one of the best things that’s happened to you as an author? Don’t be shy.
Seriously, the fact total strangers have read my books or listened to the audiobook and liked them just blows me away, and that is the absolute BEST thing ever. Beyond that, my flash fiction “Dragon Slayer” won second place in an annual anthology contest this year, over entries from some personal idols whose books I fangirl all over and who are extremely successful traditional authors. It was a story that meant a lot to me as a cancer survivor and as an oncology nurse. I almost spontaneously combusted from joy that it resonated with the judges. Lastly, it looks like Peacemaker might make the semi-finals in an indie contest sponsored by Publishers Weekly, and that also blows my mind.
Let’s talk CRAFT
What about self-publishing appeals to you? Why did you choose this particular path to publication?
I’ve done both self-publishing and traditional with an indie press. I’m a little bit (okay, a HUGE) control freak and suffer a lot of anxiety in the traditional vein. The entire process makes me want to pull my hair out because except for the writing part, everything’s out of my hands. I love being able to co-design my cover with the artist and have total say in choosing my own publishing timetable, the narrator for an audiobook—everything. I have a professional editor with whom I work who knows how I write but keeps me in line with industry standards. I still would like to be traditionally represented and published some day and have the support and connections which ideally come with that, but in terms of satisfaction, I will continue to self-publish as well.
Tell me about some of your personal writing pitfalls and what you do to avoid them.
The best thing I ever did was purchase an AutoCrit membership. Their software picks out repetitive words, filter words and adverbs, flags areas where your narrative drags—all sorts of cool stuff. It’s become a valuable tool in my arsenal. My characters tend to shrug, sigh, and breathe a lot, so it’s helpful to catch as many of those things as I can before I send things to my betas.
When does research matter, and how do you incorporate it into your books?
Research matters to worldbuilding—not because you’re going to regurgitate it whole, but because you’re going to use it to craft a mood and a place that is as real and believable as possible. For my sci fi series, I’ve researched faster than light travel, genetics, our solar system’s moons and planets, atmospheres, and gravity. I also researched addiction, organized crime, and martial arts. For all that information, I haven’t focused on every detail, only used the information to embellish and create an accurate, dramatic narrative.
Let’s talk about sensitivity readers. Have you ever used them? How do you go about doing it? When and why?
I have used sensitivity readers—the small LGBTQ press I write with employs them on every manuscript, and I am grateful for the privilege of having a fairly diverse group of beta readers. Any time one writes from outside their own experiences as a human being (such as from a trans character’s point of view) or from the viewpoint of a person outside their race or culture, a sensitivity reader must be hired. There are professional sensitivity readers out there who should be paid for their time, and their input and assessment must be respected.
Time to talk about BOOKS
Tell me about the most recent book you’ve read.
The most recent book I read was an ARC of Bloodlaced by Courtney Maguire, kind of an anime-flavored vampiric delight. The imperial Japanese setting and the Youkai were a new take on vampires and supernatural creatures for me. The main character, Asagi, is a gender-fluid individual and I liked her a great deal.
Let’s throw some light on diversity. What are some books you love that feature diverse characters, diverse authors, etc.
I have pretty much fallen in love with everything I’ve read by KJ Charles, who writes historical M/M romance in so many different genres. Her worldbuilding and storytelling skills are just *dies of envy*. My latest obsession of her books are the Will Darling Adventures, set just after WWI in England and they are a blast to read.
S.A. Collins’ Beware Mohawks Bearing Gifts was a very cool romantic fantasy (and the best use of a pun in the title of a fantasy novel) set in an alternate universe where there is a sovereign First People’s Nation on the North American continent rather than what exists now. The prose is very old-fashioned and reminds me of late 19th century pulp novels. The author himself is a gay Native American.
I will freely admit I need to branch out in my author diversity—while I read a great number of books by LGBTQ authors, my list of books by authors of color is woefully small. I’ve read a few of N.K. Jemison’s books. If anyone has any sci-fi or fantasy recommendations by marginalized authors, feel free to send me note via Goodreads or my WordPress page.
Hobbies & All Things Weird
Tell me about something in your life that brings you joy. What is it, and why?
I’ve always loved walking in the woods, especially in autumn when the leaves are drifting all around like bright snow, and the wind rustles the trees. That’s my favorite time of year, but I love tracing the same paths from early spring all the way through the year to watch the change of the seasons. The silence quiets my overactive mind, without distractions and demands and deadlines hanging over me.
What’s a hobby you had as a child that you no longer do?
As a kid, I collected rocks and minerals. I was really into it for a while, even subscribed to a rock collecting magazine! My parents ended up using a lot of them in their landscaping when I was growing up. I noticed at my mother’s house just a few days ago that she still has the “hamburger rock” I found in the river when I was probably in kindergarten. As I got older, I stopped picking up rocks (though I do sometimes bring home souvenirs, like some ocean-rounded stones I picked up on the beach in Dover, England).
What’s your favorite food from a country you do not live in?
Oh my gosh. There are so many. When I went to Japan *mumblemumble* years ago, I discovered daifuku mochi, which are delicious little rice buns full of sweet red bean paste, and dumplings called gyoza. I can eat my weight in gyoza. My Vietnamese classmate’s grandmother used to make us the best spring rolls I’ve ever tasted. My friend’s Filipina mother in law introduced me to the magic that is lumpia and I was instantly hooked. Apparently I am a dumpling addict.
What’s your favorite swear word and why?
Fuck. It has so many uses and variations. It is a verb, a noun, and an adjective all at once. The perfect swear. You can whisper it or scream it and it is completely satisfying.
Any final thoughts?
You’re never too old to follow your dreams.