Interview with Emma Carroll
Why did you decide to become an author?
I’d always loved writing, but never had the guts or the motivation to try it seriously. Then in 2009 I went on an Arvon Foundation course with my students (I’m a teacher too) and the bug took hold. A few months after that, I enrolled on the brilliant MA in Writing For Young People at Bath Spa Uni. I haven’t stopped writing since.
How do you balance writing with other things in your life?
Good question! One thing I’ve learned this past year is how much time writing a book takes, especially when you’re under contract (not that I’m complaining!). I work part-time as a teacher, and have recently dropped my hours further to fit the writing in. I don’t have children and do have a very understanding husband who gives me space to write and makes me cups of tea when I need them. It’s still hard sometimes to make sure you have a proper day off though- and you do need it!
What is your favourite thing about being an author?
Gosh, all of it. It’s been my dream job since I was little. I love writing first drafts, when you completely lose yourself in the magic of the story. I love editing. I love working from home with my dogs snoozled up next to me, and I really love meeting people who are interested in books and writing too.
What are your favourite books?
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte because its so dark and the characters are real anti-heroes. Any book by Sarah Waters- they’re all wonderful. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey- the writing is so good it makes my scalp prickle.
Are there any books/authors that inspired you to write?
My love of stories set in the Victorian era was definitely influenced by Sarah Waters, and by Philip Pullman’s Ruby in the Smoke series. I also love the narrator’s voice in ‘The Observations’ by Jane Harris.
Describe your book in one sentence.
A Victorian ghost story.
Where did you get the idea for Frost Hollow Hall, did anything inspire you to write it?
The story started as a scene on a frozen lake. I’d been thinking about a time in my childhood when I’d skated on frozen floodwater. I also had this character in my head, a working class girl with a strong voice who wanted to be heard. We were then set an exercise in our MA class to write about crossing over into a different world. I wrote about a girl falling through ice.
What made you decide to write a ghost story?
I don’t honestly know. It just sort of… well… happened. That’s what I love about writing- it takes you in directions you don’t always anticipate. That said, I love ghost stories, and there’s something about the C19th that lends itself so well to the genre.
What would you say makes your book unique and worth reading?
That’s a mean question! I wanted to write a good old-fashioned romp of a story, with strong settings and characters, a little bit of spookiness, and little bit of gentle romance. My narrator is feisty but likeable (I hope) with a unique voice.
Is there any specific message you wanted to convey in the book?
Without giving too much away, the story deals with grief and recovery. It also considers our expectations, how so often we want what we haven’t got, rather than appreciating the things that we have.
What are your plans for future books?
I’m about to start the edits on my second book for Faber, which is about a girl who walks the tightrope in a Victorian circus. The ideas for my third book are taking shape as we speak. It is based around the story of the Cottingley Fairies, but might include a modern day character too.
Do you have any hobbies and Interests unrelated to books?
Um… errr…not really! Other than walking my dogs, eating my husband’s delicious dinners and being idiotic with my friends.
Would you ever consider putting these into any of your books?
Never. No-one but me would be in the slightest bit interested.
If you could meet any one author (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Sarah Waters. Just to breathe the same air would be amazing, right?
Tell us one interesting fact about yourself.
I don’t like birds. Dead ones make me feel physically sick.
What is your favourite food?
It’d be toss up between my husband’s homemade pasta, and peanut butter, marmite and cucumber on toast.
What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?
Travelled through the Amazon on the roof of a minibus with a sack of live chickens for company.