Interview with Emma Chase
I’m thrilled to welcome my friend, Emma Chase, author of one of my all-time favorite contemporary romances—Tangled—as well as numerous other great books, including her outstanding Legal Briefs Series. Emma, you had me at hello with Drew in Tangled. Part jackass, part adorable, part sexy beast… I remember reading Tangled one afternoon and having the room go dark as I devoured it. When my husband asked what was for dinner, I told him to pretend I wasn’t home. I was VERY busy reading your book and laughing my ASS off! Tell me about where he came from and what it was like to write his character. Did you laugh nonstop while writing him?
Emma: Thanks so much for having me here—it’s great to chat with you! Part-jackass, part-sexy beast is one of my favorite topics!! So…Drew…I love this question because my answer is a great example of a “happy accident” and how they can lead to some fantastic story developments.
The basic idea I started with for Tangled was this guy who had the whole world at his feet—personally and professionally. At the time, there were a lot of stories that included leading male characters who had dark, difficult pasts, but I was more interested in a character with a stable background who was cruising along, living an awesome life. Until…a strong, beautiful woman comes along and turns every aspect of his life upside down.
And here’s where the “happy accident” comes in—because when I first started writing Tangled, it WASN’T from Drew’s POV (crazy, right??). It was actually in the third person perspective. Although I was enjoying the story, it felt very slow to me—really wordy and weighted down. So, almost as a character study, I wrote the bar scene—when Drew and Kate first meet—from his POV. And boy was it fun!! The character just completely came alive in my head and all the little asides, and advice to the reader felt so natural and refreshing. I had such a good time with that scene, I decided to continue the whole story from Drew’s perspective. By then I’d realized that HE was as much “the story” as the actual plot.
When I was growing up, I was close friends with a group of guys who were super funny and loyal and absolutely shameless in every way (sound familiar?). A lot of the conversations and experiences I’d had with them through the years found their way into Drew’s character. And YES, Drew absolutely made me laugh my ass of constantly! It actually felt like he had taken up residence in my head, so even though I was the one typing the words, I never knew what he would say next! Which obviously made for an exciting, hilarious, writing experience—and I think that really translates onto the pages of Tangled.
Marie: I love a good “happy accident” while writing, and I know exactly what you mean. I wrote first-person present tense in the Quantum series for the first time last year, and it was such a revelation to me as someone who was a late adapter to first-person reading. It’s so much more immediate and intimate for the author and the reader.
Back to Drew and Kate…. I loved when she told him he was driving her crazy and he says, “Crazy? Like you want to rip my shirt open again?” and she replies, “No. Crazy like the itch of a yeast infection that just won’t go away.” OMG—so funny that I still remember that line YEARS after I read the book for the first time. I absolutely love books like yours that make me laugh and smile all the way through. I have to ask if we will see more of Drew and Kate in future books or if you are done with the Tangled Series.
Emma: Yes! I agree, there’s an intimacy in first person present tense and an immediate emotional investment. I think it’s a great way to grab readers from page one. Although, I’d love to write a story in third person at some point. Because the narration in first person always has to match the voice and personality of the character, I’ve found descriptions and even word choice can be limiting at times.
As for Drew and Kate…hahaha—that line is one of my favorites in the whole series!! It makes me giddy that you enjoyed it too. Besides just being really funny, it showed that Kate could hold her own against Drew—go toe to toe with him and give every bit as good as she gets. They’re such a terrific match in that way.
I think, when it comes to a series, it’s important for a writer to know when it’s time to let a character or a storyline go—and allow it to live on in the imagination of readers. It can be difficult to know when that time is, particularly with characters who have come to feel like our closest friends.
Do you feel that way too?
For me, Drew and Kate’s love story concluded in Tied. It was such a satisfying ending, and it left them exactly where I’d pictured them being from the very start.
BUT…I’m not totally done with them yet!
I have three stories outlined for the children from the Tangled series—Mackenzie (Alexandra & Steven’s daughter, Drew’s niece), Rain (Matthew & Delores’ son), and James (Drew & Kate’s son). The kids are all grown up—and every bit as hilarious and outrageous as their parents. Drew and Kate will feature prominently in those books, a few chapters will even be from Drew’s POV (because writing in his head is just too damn entertaining for me).
That being said, the actual writing and publication of those stories are a few years off. I think when it comes to characters we’re first introduced to as children, timing is super important. I want to give my readers a chance to feel that time has actually passed before they get to know these characters as adults.
In the more immediate future—like early spring 2016—I’ll be publishing SIDEBARRED, a Legal Briefs Novella!! I’m SO excited to share this story because all the characters from the previous books get page time and it’s filled with all the funny, heartwarming moments that readers have come to expect from this series. Like I was saying earlier, it’s good for a writer to know when to put their characters to bed…and Stanton & Sofia, Jake & Chelsea, Brent & Kennedy—and all the McQuaid kids—just weren’t done with me yet. 🙂
Marie: I’m so excited for the children of Tangled and more from the Legal Briefs characters. I’m not a good author to ask about ending a series. I’ve never done it successfully. I thought I’d ended my Treading Water series with book 4, Coming Home, in 2012 but my readers are still telling me otherwise. I have four other series going—one with 15 books, one with 10, one with 7 and one with 5. So, in a word, I suck at ending series. But hey, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? J What’s a typical day-in-the-life like for you as an author? Readers love to hear about our writing routines.
Emma: Ha! I forgot to add that as long as there’s story to tell (that’s why there’s a Legal Briefs Novella coming) authors should write, write, write 😉
As for a typical day in the life of me as an author—my schedule has changed from what it was in the early days. When I was writing the Tangled Series books, I worked almost exclusively at night. During the day, I was focused on my two kids, keeping up with the house, errands—and then when everyone was asleep (except me and the dogs) and the house was still, I’d write. I was living on only about four hours (or less) sleep a night, but it worked for me!
With the Legal Briefs Series and my current books, that wasn’t working anymore, lol. I need my sleep—I love my sleep. So, these days, I get the kids on the bus to school, and head right into my office. I stay there from 8:30am until 3:30pm every day. If I need inspiration or a break, I’ll take a quick drive in the car or run on the treadmill.
If I’m on a roll, writing-wise, I’ll stay in the office longer and I’m lucky that my kids are self-sufficient enough now to come home, check in with me, and be good for a while on their own. Unless I’m really excited about an idea or a scene, I put the laptop away by 5pm and give my attention to my family. Although I will jot down dialogue and plot notes, whenever they come, day or night!
What’s your day like?
Marie: Let’s hear it for self-sufficient kids! I’ve always worked at home, from the time my youngest was a baby (almost 18 years now) and my kids were always very self-sufficient and knew early on what kind of blood should involve mom (the spurting kind) and what kind should not. 😉 Like you, I used to write at night. I would put in a full day at the day job (at home) and with the family and then write after things settled down at night. Since I started writing full time in 2012, I write best in the morning these days, so I try to seize the day early and get as many words on the page as I can before I run out of gas mid-afternoon. Sometimes, when I’m in the last half of a book usually, I’ll write at night, too, but I find I’m often too tired to write at night these days. The old gray mare ain’t what she used to be! HA! I’m going to be 50 in June, so I’m allowed to say stuff like that now. 🙂
This has been soooo much fun! I’m glad we got a chance to chat this way. Thanks for spending some time with me and my readers. I can’t wait to tell them all to go read your books!
Emma: Thank you for having me, Marie! Being here with you and your readers has been wonderful! Xoxo
Go check out Emma’s Tangled and Legal Briefs Series. You won’t be sorry! Hope you enjoyed my chat with Emma. I hope to invite some of my other author friends to come visit us here from time to time.