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  • Writer's pictureJessica Julien

Through the Wringer with Emma Hamm

Hi Emma! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today. As a USAToday Bestselling author who is self-published, it's an absolute honor to have you on our blog this week. Your work is mainly focused on retellings and dark fantasy which I love and something we, at Parliament House Press, find comfort in too. I've read some of your work and it is right up my dark and twisty alley, so I am really looking forward to getting to know you better.

You draw a lot of inspiration from Grimm Fairytales and other classics we all know. What about those stories draw you to them?

When I was really little, my dad always read the original Grimm Fairytales to me before I went to bed. I still have the original, green leatherbound edition that was printed in the 1960s, and something about the fairytales just made me fall in love with them. Not the Disney version, but the real dark, gritty originals that had a lesson to tell. So I've been dreaming about the Robber Bridegroom and Bluebeard since I was really little. XD Maybe that's a bit morbid, but the darker the stories the better!

What was the first retelling you wrote and why did you pick that one to begin with?

Heart of the Fae was my first retelling, and it's a Beauty and the Beast story. I've always been enamored with the stories of a beastly character who becomes more and more human through love and kindness. It's a fine line to walk. The whole Stolkholm Syndrome vibes can be really difficult to navigate. But I also wanted to make sure my beast was more than just a bad attitude to explain his surliness. Eamonn is a beast who will never be anything but that. His disfigurements appear to be forever, and he's been removed from this throne. An entire future thrown out the door, so he's struggling to define himself. I think that's what sets him apart as a Beast. There are layers to him, more than just "ugly".

Which one of your books has been your favorite to write so far?

It's a tie between the Faceless Woman or Curse of the Troll, for very different reasons. In the Faceless Woman (FW), there's so much magic and dark creatures. Worlds filled with creepy faeries who are half-human half-beast, blood magic, and witches who curse rather than heal, those are my types of stories. I love exploring the dark and evil side of stories while revealing they aren't actually that bad. Giving nightmarish creatures a bit of... humanity? Or at the very least giving the creatures who go bump in the night a story. I've always sided with the monsters haha.

Curse of the Troll, however, is a deeply personal story. The main female character has been tragically abused throughout her life, and is going through this journey of self discovery realizing she can't just blame everything on another person. That sometimes, there is accountability that needs to be taken. So through this journey of finding herself and her strength again, while also admitting she was wrong, she meets this super patient, kind, and very untraditional male love interest. Who says the guy has to be this big brawny alpha? Maybe sometimes what you need is a really sweet dwarf who might be short but he sure can pick you up when you need to feel small.

If you were cast as one of your main characters, which one would you choose and why?

Aisling haha. She's snarky, she's witchy, but she does have a heart of gold for people she loves. She's also introverted like me and a little standoffish. Not because she's not friendly, but because she's shy. I just adore her character and the growth she shows through the book!

Which antagonist has been your favorite to create? Why?

Nadir from Seas of Crimson Silk. I loved writing him because he was both the antagonist and the protagonist. He was the bad guy but also the love interest. He was a king, but also a stubborn child. The book isn't comfortable to read, and it was never intended to be comfortable, and I think that's what makes it such a wonderful story. 

He has so much growth in the books. So much aging to do and learning how to not just be a complete child. There's a lot of amazing things that happen and a lot of super frustrating ones too. I think every antagonist needs to have good and bad to them. The bad guys aren't just evil, they have a reason for it. 

You are a self-published author and a USAToday Bestseller, congratulations! Can you give us a brief overview of your journey so far?

I was one of those people who wrote on online forums and writing communities way back in the day! I actually started writing with other people when I was... idk maybe 14? And then I will never forget someone said we wrote in RPG forums because we couldn't write books on our own. I'm not a person to back down from a challenge haha. So that was when I wrote my very first book, The Goblin Bride, which you can't find published anywhere because I took it down. Don't look for it!

After that, I realized I just had a lot of stories to tell. I needed to write and my brain didn't feel correct if I wasn't getting the stories out. Never in a million years did I believe I'd be a full time author, let alone a bestselling author. I just wanted to write, make a little bit of extra money, and see what happened.

My next series, the Series of Blood (currently republishing, slowly), was an exercise in learning.

Then, the Otherworld Series showed me that I could be a full time author. I could write my stories, focus on really honing my talent, and voila. Now I'm here. Sometimes it really does take that ONE series that changes everything for you.

What advice can you give to other writers who might be interested in self-publishing?

Write every single day. You think I'm joking, but I'm really not. It doesn't matter if it's 10 words and you delete them tomorrow cause they aren't good. Write every single day because that's the only way to get a book completed. Finishing the first one is the hardest. It's training your brain to finalize a story all the way to completion without help. You CAN do it, and you will.

Self publishing isn't for everyone either. Make sure you do a lot of research. It's not just writing a book, hitting the publish button, and then raking in the money. You will work 12 hour days. Your phone will be glued to you, and you will be a ball of stress all the time because people are judging something you created from the heart. You will cry with your first one-star review. You will contemplate quitting many times. But eventually, you'll become an expert in marketing, design, copy-editing, blurbing, sales, social media marketing, and you'll realize it gets a whole lot easier. Promise.

What are some challenges you’ve faced being a self-published author and what can others learn from your journey?

Being self-published or owning your own business is stressful. You have to hope you make enough money to pay the bills that month. You have to pivot when marketing trends and strategies change. You have to understand that reviews aren't' meant for you, but if you do read them, they'll sting. I think the biggest challenge for me though was finding reliable people to work with. 

With the rush of indie authors came a rush of everything else. Illustrations. Editors. Marketers. There are a hundred people trying to take advantage of you and one who can actually give you good advice. That's why I always say vet anyone you work with. Do the research yourself first and THEN choose who you pay. I've wasted thousands of dollars on the wrong people because I have to learn the hard way. 

Don't be me. Make sure you have a quality person you're working with haha.

Whether as a reader or a writer, how do you see the world of publishing and books changing in the future?

My answer as a reader and a writer is the same. I think with indie publishing and the way marketing in GENERAL is going, consumers are going to have a lot more control over businesses. I don't think it's far off to consider authors and readers to be part of the cohesive unit. I already research what my particular readers want, and that's what I provide them with. Do I write my passion projects still? Of course I do. But I also realize those are very niche audiences and not everyone wants to read those. So I also make sure to poll my readers. 

Do they want Fae? Do they want monsters? More beauty and the beast esque stories? Strong women? Unusual relationships? Etc etc. 

Publishing is about adapting quickly and efficiently. No one wants to wait 2 years for a book to be published anymore. Publish faster, write to market, and know that your audience is SO MUCH MORE important than your ego or what you want to write. 

Thank you again for allowing me to chat with you, Emma! I'm so thankful for your advice and encouragement. This has been fun!

Thank you so much for having me! I so appreciate being interviewed, and I can't wait to see what's next in the blog!

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