The books are a huge amount of fun, and are part of the new spearhead of British urban fantasy, along with Paul Cornell’s London Falling , Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers Of London series and The City’s Son by Tom Pollock. Emma’s been working in this world for some though, having produced a score of Split Worlds short stories that appeared as guest posts on numerous blogs prior to the novels. Now, with two of those novels out and a third being worked on, I talked to her about the Split Worlds series, how she writes and the fantastic idea of crowdsourcing wishes.
Do you write to music? If so what?
“I wrote my first three novels (only one of those has been published) to music. It was Hail To The Thief by Radiohead. The setting was post-apocalyptic London and it just fitted the mood perfectly. The books grew out of a roleplaying game I GMed and I used to listen to that album as I prepped the sessions, so I think there was an element of conditioning there too.
“I've tried to play music whilst writing the Split Worlds stories and novels but haven't been able to find anything that worked for me, so I ended up writing them in silence. The same for the novel I'm writing now. I do edit to music though, usually James Brown. It keeps me cheerful.”
Tell us about the Split Worlds and the short stories you've been doing.
“You know, I've been asked to do this so many times now and I still find it hard! The Split Worlds series (currently three novels and 55 short stories) is urban fantasy with a dash of noir. The series follows several people tangled up in the machinations of the Fae and Sorcerers who have conflicting ideas about how humanity should be treated. It's set in modern day Bath, London and Oxford, and also the magical reflections of those cities in the Nether, and then also Exilium, a prison created for the Fae. It's got magic and politics and duels and nice cups of tea.”
ow that Between Two Thorns is out, tell us a little about the sequel.
“It follows on directly from the events of Between Two Thorns , so it's the kind of series that has to be read in order. It's set in London and its reflection, Londinium, so there's a whole new set of social rules for Cathy (one of the protagonists) to get to grips with as she tries to escape. More is revealed about the mysterious Agency, and William Iris is given a seemingly impossible task by his family whilst poor old Sam gets sucked further into the world of the Fae.”
How much does where you live influence what you write?
“Quite a lot it seems! That first series I mentioned came to me whilst commuting in and out of London; if there's ever inspiration for a post-apocalyptic setting it’s the urban decay you see on the train into the city early in the morning.
“I now live in Somerset and have enjoyed several day trips to Bath, making the setting of the first novel in the Split Worlds series no coincidence. It was walking around the city and imagining what it would have been like in its Georgian heyday that helped to brew the idea of the split between Mundanus (the normal world) and Exilium with the Nether between them. The Nether reflection has many similarities to Georgian Bath.”
You're running a fascinating side project at the moment. What is crowdsourcing wishes?
“Well, it's an idea that grew from my love of the three wishes trope in fairy tales (something I wove into Between Two Thorns too), mashed up with the crowdsourcing power of the internet. Simply put: people make three wishes on their own site, following these instructions and then I link to them from the hub on the Split Worlds website and encourage everyone to try and make each other's wishes come true.”
How's it going?
“There's been a lot of interest and enthusiasm which I've been delighted to see. Quite a lot of the wishes are impossible for other people to make come true and at first this frustrated me because I couldn't see a way to help. Then I relaxed a bit and thought, hell, people can wish for whatever they like – it's not my place to dictate anything and they know that when they post them up too. I'm just hoping more will come in that I can help to make come true!”
Can anyone put wishes up?
“Yes! Absolutely, as long as they follow the instructions in the post, they're included.”
Have any come true yet?
“I know that a few are in the pipeline and someone has reported back to me that I've helped make one come true, which is fantastic. My favourite wish-granting-in-progress is that someone wished her jewellery (she hand-makes it) could be worn by someone at the Hugo Awards. Someone (who wishes to remain anonymous) emailed Mary Robinette Kowal about it who went over to the wisher's site and got the process started. That's exactly the kind of stuff I'm hoping to see more of.”
• Emma’s a fantastic author, and a phenomenally busy one too. She’s just launched her own podcast, Tea and Jeopardy . A series of chats with authors like Chuck Wendig, Sarah Pinborough, Paul Cornell and SFX 's own Dave Bradley , it’s a combination of fine conversation, good tea, excellent jokes and full on geekery. Excellent fun.
• On top of all that, Emma’s been running a series of secret objects in posts about Any Other Name and this one is no exception. Somewhere in this article is a link. Click on it and you’ll be taken to a secret page on Emma’s website where you can find the object.
Any Other Name is out now in paperback, audio and e-book worldwide. Signed copies are available from Toppings Books in Bath and Forbidden Planet . You really should pick it, and Between Two Thorns up, they’re excellent.
• Release date: 28 May US/Canada paperback, audio and e-book worldwide; 6 June 2013 UK paperback. Signed copies will be available from Toppings Books, Bath and Forbidden Planet.
• DRM free e-books of both are available from the Robot Trading Company