Author Spotlight: An Interview with Emily Layne


Author Emily Layne

Emily Layne’s debut novel, These Wicked Waters, from Owl Hollow Press came out last week. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to ask what has gone into making These Wicked Waters come to life, and hear about the other exciting projects Emily is working on.


Can you give me the one line pitch for These Wicked Waters?

Sure! Stuck working at her mom’s island resort over the summer, the last thing sixteen-year-old Annie expects is to find herself at war with an ancient enemy lurking in the ocean’s depths.


Is These Wicked Waters the first book you wrote? If not, tell us about your others!

These Wicked Waters was actually my FIFTH book! And I swear the four before it will never see the light of day! I consider them a great learning experience, especially when it came to querying agents. The books all included fantastical elements: elemental beings, time-travel, and even a duology retelling of Alice in Wonderland!


How did you capture the first words for These Wicked Waters? Was it a specific spark?

This is always an interesting story to tell. Back in 2015, I was on a cruise ship with my friends, sailing toward Freeport, The Bahamas. Except we never got there. The ship caught fire sometime after 2 AM. We were roused from our beds and rushed to our muster stations. While staring out at the dark Atlantic, lifeboats lowered in front of me, an idea sparked (not the best timing, of course): what if something darker lurked beneath the waves?


Luckily, we didn’t end up having to get into the lifeboats. The ship was able to dock in Nassau and we were able to take flights home from there!


If you had to choose three words to describe These Wicked Waters, what would they be?

Betrayal, sisterhood, sirens!


Let’s talk about Emily.


Like Annie, do you harbor an inner Nancy Drew? Rabbit hole lover, or no?

I’d like to imagine that I have an inner Nancy Drew and that I’d dive down the rabbit hole without a second thought… But I’m more likely to Google the heck out of something first! Before I followed the rabbit, I’d research: “White rabbit with watch good bad?” or “How deep are rabbit holes?” Haha!


What makes you sit down at the computer/notepad and start writing? What motivates you? Do you have a time of day which is a sweet spot for writing?

I’m a very goal-oriented person. When I’m writing, I pick a date I want to have a book finished by, and I push and push, until I reach that goal.


I wish I could be a night owl writer. There’s something so tantalizing about staying up into the early hours, weaving a story into words. But I’m usually in bed by 9pm, haha. The best time for me to write is usually first thing in the morning because it gets me into a good mindset for the rest of the day.


What does your writing day look like? Is writing your 100% day job? Or are you moonlighting. Or multitasking?

I’m happy (and so lucky) to say that writing is now 100% my day job! I worked full time and part time while I moonlighted as a writer. But now I write 100%! My schedule is a bit of a mess right now since I’m working on moving into a house, but typically I’d like to be writing from 9am until lunch. An hour break for lunch and then writing again until I stop for the day around 3 or 4pm!


What is your process? One manuscript at a time? Twelve spinning plates? Pens and Pencils only? Corkboards and index cards? Laptop on a floaty?

I used to only work on one manuscript at a time, but since I signed with my agent, I’ve had to go back and forth between books. Sometimes I’ll have to check myself when hopping to another manuscript! For example, one of my main characters is mute. When I switch to another book, I have to remind myself that this specific character can speak!


Whiteboards are my dirty little secret. I love them. If I could have a room of whiteboards, I would. A whiteboard, a pad of paper, and a laptop are my writing essentials!

Do you have a favorite genres(s) you like to read?

I love YA Fantasy. Especially YA Fantasy with darker elements.


Would you share a favorite book series? Feel free to choose more than one!

My all-time, will read over-and-over again favorite book series are the Old Kingdom Series and the Green Rider series. Both are fantasies with unique worlds.


Now for the bonus round, some fun Emily facts!


Beyond writing, can you tell me about your other loves?

This list could go on and on but I’ll keep it short! My #1 loves are my husband, yet-to-be-born baby (due January 15, 2020!), and my adorable (mostly troublemaking) goldendoodle puppy, Bea. My material loves are all things: books, warm sweaters, trees, and mochas. I love me some mochas!


What are you reading/watching on TV right now? Why? If you don’t ever watch TV - then last movie you saw? Or both?

I’m in-between books and TV shows right now! One might call it a rut. Usually when I watch TV, it’s on Amazon Prime or something like that so I can binge the show until I get sick of it, haha. The last movie I watched was Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I loved the first movie, but the sequel didn’t quite hit the mark.


Here’s a free travel voucher and a magical time watch. You can go anywhere on Earth and get back before anyone misses you. Where are you going, and why?

I'd probably stick to this time period since I've written a time-travel novel and know how tricky the past can be. The one place I would love to visit would be the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. I love the sheer majesty of them and, when the fog is just right, the haunting mystery. My husband and I have Ireland on our "one day" bucket list, so this voucher would definitely come in handy ;)


Favorite writing snack?

Ooh. This is a tricky question. I love any kind of writing snack, but the saltier, the better. I also feel like a cup of tea or coffee is also a requirement. Though most of the time it cools before I’m able to drink all of it!


I need to know one thing about you that will make me remember you. Go.

I wrote These Wicked Waters in fourteen days.


You’re hosting a famous person brunch and get to invite three dead or living guests to hang out with you for an hour. Who is coming?

Oh man. The pressure! I’d like to invite Lucy Maud Montgomery, Martha Washington, and Garth Nix. I’m not sure everyone would get along, but it would definitely be an interesting brunch!


One last question before I let you get back to work. Would you share a crazy or funny childhood memory without having to think about it. The first thing that pops into your head. Go.

When I was six, I got my thumb stuck in a vacuum cleaner (trust me, it’s entirely possible). To this day I have a jagged scar on my right thumb.


Pssst. Secret Bonus Question. What are you writing now? Come on, tease us!

I’m going to pretend it technically counts as “writing.” My current WIP, TO KILL AN EMPRESS, has been on hiatus for a looong time now. But once I’m settled into my house, I plan on picking it back up. TO KILL AN EMPRESS is a desert-based YA Fantasy where women are bound to monstrous creatures, Rihimani, in exchange for power. Except, after a century as slaves, the Rihimani are ready to take their revenge, hell-bent on killing as many humans as possible. Through a series of catastrophic events, my main character, Tirsa, ends up being the only one who can stop the Rihimani, but by the time she does, it might be too late.


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