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Emma Newman Interview: The Split Worlds Series, Writing, Tea, and More

Emma NewmanOn the eve of her February 23 re-release of her Split Worlds series, I caught up with author, narrator, and host of the Tea and Jeopardy podcast, Emma Newman to talk about her path to publishing, her writing style, finishing the Split World Series, her motivations for writing this story, being married to a novelist, and tea.

And in case you’re unfamiliar with the Split World Series, let me catch you up. Between Two Thorns, Any Other Name, and All Is Fair, the first three books of the series, will be re-released as ebooks tomorrow.

Long ago, reality was split apart: Exilium, a beautiful land that is home of the frightening and powerful Fae; Mundanus, the regular world protected by sorcerers and Arbiters from Fae magic; and the Nether, a sort of stagnated, in-between place where the Fae-touched society live for centuries in a patriarchal, magical reflection of Mundanus. Cathy, the daughter of a powerful Fae-touched family, has escaped to Mundanus and found freedom in this new world, no longer bound by the customs of the Nether—until she is forced to return to the Nether, reengage with customs she detests, and be married to an up-and-coming gentleman. Although she longs for that freedom she tasted in Mundanus, can she perhaps bring revolution to Nether society? That is, if the Fae, sorcerers, and elementals don’t upend the Split Worlds first.

Diversion books will release book four, A Little Knowledge, and re-release the print versions of the first three books on August 2, 2016. The final book, All Good Things, will be released in August 2017.

Be on the lookout for a review of the Split Worlds trilogy and a giveaway of an ebook copy of the first book in the trilogy, Between Two Thorns.

One of the quote I hear a lot is “There are as many paths to becoming a writer as there are writers.” But it seems like the Split Worlds series has really had a unique path that you don’t hear often. Could you speak a bit about that journey?

Yeah, it’s a bit of a crazy journey when I look back and think about how this series has come to be, and what it went through—it’s quite weird. Planetfall, having just come out, was a very, very normal path to publication in comparison.

I was originally going to self-publish the Split Worlds because my first experience with publishing was quite unpleasant. My very, very first book that was published was a young adult novel, and things went rather paisley with the press that was involved, which was a small, independent press—and led to many years of stress.

And I thought I’m just going to do this by myself. Loads of people seem to be doing it by themselves. And I can just control everything. And nobody will mess things up for me, and I’ll do it my way. I did lots and lots of research, and I realized that if I was going to self-publish, I wanted to do it properly. And to do it properly I would require the money to be able to do it properly, of which I had none. And also I wanted to create a lifestyle in which that was my priority, and at the time I was the sole breadwinner of the family, and it was just impossible for me to give up my job and just write. I had a young son at the time, and my husband [Peter Newman] was a full-time dad. And it just got to a point where the day job I was doing was making me so miserable.

And I kind of stumbled into this universe that went on to become the Split World series by running a game for Pete because we are role players and also writing some serialized fiction that was going really well. I just thought this is it. I’ve got a really good feeling about this. I really want to do it.

Then just out of the blue one evening when I was working, I suddenly thought, hang on a minute, I’m working in my day job for a company which has had investment, and this is something which is very common in some areas of the business world—where someone will have an idea, and they will go and find someone to fund their idea, and it isn’t even anything that exists, it’s just intellectual property, and they are given the money and the space and the time to develop it, and there’s no guarantee on any kind of success. And I saw that there was quite a parallel between that and running a successful self-publishing operation.

So I got in touch with a friend who is very, very, very clever in business things, and I said, “Look, I’ve had an idea which I think is really stupid because nobody else seems to be doing this. So either nobody has thought of this, or a million people have tried it and realized it’s stupid, and you just never hear about it.” So I ran it by him, and he said, “Actually, this sounds awesome.”

So the next morning I went up to London. He was very kind, and he listened to my idea and all the ways that I planned to market the series and do all the stuff. And he said, “I think you’ve got something. I’ll help you create a business brief.” So he helped me translate my hand-wavy, arty, kind of writer-fluff into the language of business. And with that, I went on to find an investor.

I was very honest with him, and said this could totally fail, but here are all the reasons why I don’t think it will, and these are all the ways I’m going to try to make sure it is a success. The investor said, “Yeah, okay, I’ll give it a go.” So I was able to quit my job and focus completely on the series.

Between Two Thorns (cover 2)I wrote the first book and was setting up everything in place, getting all of the team together I needed to make it professional, to look good: a proper editor, a proper cover designer, everything a traditional publisher would use. Then I went to a book launch for Adam Christopher—he had commissioned me to narrate something he had written, so I went to support his launch. I was in the bar talking to Paul Cornell, whom I had met at a convention a few months earlier, and I told him about this thing I had done. He said, “You should tell Lee over there what you’ve done.” That was Lee Harris, Adam’s editor. I said I can’t possibly do that because this is Adam’s launch, and I’m not going to try to impress an editor at someone else’s launch. That just seemed hideously crass. So I said at some point in the future, I’d tell him.

The rest of the evening was lovely, and it ended up being just me, Adam, Lee, and a few others. And Lee went off to get his train, and he missed it, so he came back. So I asked Adam if he minded if I talked to Lee about this, and he said he didn’t mind. I told Lee, and he gave me this look like I was insane. He said, “Look, I’m curious. Can I see the book you’ve written?” I said sure.

So I went back to my best friend’s house. I said, “This really weird evening just happened to me, and this editor of this press I really love has said that he wants to see it.” She said, “Something amazing is going to happen. You have to send it to him.” I did, and he loved it. A few months later, he said, “I really love this book, and I know you’ve got this other plan for it, but I would really, really love to publish this book and the series.”

In all honesty, I didn’t know what to do. I had worked so hard to create this life around writing. I went and had coffee with Adam at a convention and told him I didn’t know what to do. I’ve always wanted to have a traditional publisher. I didn’t have any interest in the self-publishing side of it—it was more that I wouldn’t have to depend on anyone else. He said if I could make a career of this, then it was probably the way forwards.

So I told Lee that I’d have to think about it, and that weekend, I got in touch with my investor, and he was very cool about it. He said, “I always thought this would kind of happen.” We had discussed exit strategies, and we came to an arrangement, and I went and got published traditionally instead. It was so bizarre, and I almost didn’t go to that book launch because there were gale force winds that day.

One of the thing I really like are your characters. They have such strong points of view—so strong that they acted almost like blinders. It was fun to watch those blind spots break down over time as they grow in their different ways. For novels that are only 400 pages each, I was very impressed with how much you packed into each one. And this is all a long way of asking how you plan your novels. What is your process like?

I would like to be able to say that I just gathered up all my short stories and put them together, but the world and the principal characters all changed quite a bit in some respects between the stories and the novels. The shopkeeper never changed—the first story I ever wrote in the Split Worlds was about the shopkeeper, and he has just remained a constant throughout. But Cathy was in the serialized fiction, and her situation has changed a lot.

There is a massive difference between haphazardly writing a 1,000-word story as week and sustaining a narrative across five novels let alone one. But I basically knew the big, five-book story and the background. One of the first things I had to get straight in my head —and this is coming from a roleplaying background—was working out the different power factions and how they could balance each other so you could have realistically have two power blocs that were completely different, diametrically opposed, and yet be as powerful as each other so that you could never have it all fall apart somewhere down the line. You have to have a really solid foundation for internal consistency especially when there is magic involved. So I did a little bit of thinking about how Fae magic and sorcerers’ magic worked. And it’s all tied into the origin of the Split Worlds, which hasn’t made it into the books yet.

Any Other Name (cover 2)I had an inkling of some of the things I wanted to explore, but not strongly. I did not sit down to write an urban fantasy series about feminism and the patriarchy. I’m kind of glad I didn’t, because if I had that as my agenda, it may have come out as if the characters were mouthpieces. It’s not message fic in that way. It was more of an organic process where the themes came from.

When it comes to writing the books, I have an idea of what the main plot arcs are for that novel and the major pieces of information that will have to be revealed at certain points for it to hang together. Then I look at each of my main characters and say, okay, at the beginning of the novel they’re in this place, and I think by the end of the novel they are going to be here, how are they going to reach that point, and what happens to them along the way. Then I take about five chapters or so and bullet point what will happen in each one, and then I write them. When I get to the end, I return to my bigger plan of what should come next and compare the two.

The way I see this is like agile coding in the technology world—you can have agile coding or waterfall. With the waterfall approach—I hope I’ve got my terminology right—is the normal approach, when someone goes to a web company and says, “We want you to build this massive, massive website with a backend database that runs our entire business,” the coding company can say, “Yes, what do you need it to do?” The client will tell them, they write it all down, and they design the thing, they build the thing, and they deliver it to the client. And the client invariably says, “Yeah, that’s cool, but all of this other stuff? That’s not how we use this. This doesn’t quite actually do what we know we asked for, but we didn’t know what we actually wanted—we didn’t know the language you use.” So 60% of what you’ve built doesn’t work in the way the client requires.

Whereas if you have an agile coding approach, you take the brief from the client, you break it down into phases and say, “Okay, we’re going to build this first phase.” Then you show the client and say, “This is only 20% of the functionality, but does this do what you think it should do? And is it how you imagined it would be?” And the client can say no when you still have 80% of the stuff yet to build, and so you can tweak things, redesign aspects, and then go into phase two. That is exactly how I write the Split Worlds novels.

Because one of the things that is a product of having four POV characters and a very, very complex world—worlds—is that I can only hold so much in my head at a useful level. So for example, I will know Cathy will find something out at some point. What I may not know is the exact order in which she will find something out compared to somebody else, so I may think she may know something when it comes time to write a scene, but it may not have quite worked out that way. Then I just have to tweak and say as a result of this, this other person will make this decision which is gonna screw things up. “Oh, awesome! Let’s go with that. Let’s see how badly he screws that up.” “Oh my God, that’s really bad.” There’s a fluidity to it, but I’ve always got my eye on the wider plot arc.

I’ve heard writers say that when they’re writing a book, the characters take over. I don’t feel that way about my characters. I always feel very in control of what is happening because I’m the writer. But I can understand people talking about it in a way that sometimes when you end up in a scene in the room with that character, you suddenly think, actually, they’re not going to do that thing I want them to do. It’s only a result of not fully understanding everything they know and everything they feel by that point of the novel because you haven’t written it yet. You can’t predict everything. So there have been times when I’ve got to a scene, and I genuinely don’t know what is going to happen. I just have to feel my way through and see how the conversation plays out, and that keeps it exciting.

I’m just coming to the end of writing book four, and I know how it’s going to end in 10,000 words’ time. I’m not entirely sure about how exactly a couple of critical conversations are going to go, so I’m still really excited, even though it’s really close to the end. That keeps it fresh when it’s been in my head for years and years.

That’s one of the things I really enjoyed: when characters had incomplete information—without getting into spoilers—in particular William. It was fascinating to watch him do terrible things sometimes, wonderful things sometimes, and still really like him as a person even though he had done these terrible things.

All is Fair (cover 2)Thank you. Yeah, Will is one of my favorite characters to write because I’ve come to feel that with him, Cathy is the very obvious feminist, yet for me, Will serves a critical function in the novels: the male side of patriarchy and how it can be just as destructive for a man as it can be for a woman and how he is very much a product of his society and, yeah, often does terrible things.

By the time you get to books two and three, I’ve had people say to me there’s a particular scene in book two where he does something with Cathy where people have screamed at him and thrown books across the room. I’ve saw this Twitter conversation where five different people were ever arguing whether Will could ever come back from having done that thing. That was great because some people really liked him, and others said he could never come back from that thing. But you could understand why he would do that, and that’s the thing about patriarchy: it exerts such a toxic influence on everybody, not just the women.

I also like how you twisted very traditional tropes. Cathy gets three wishes but it’s a terrible thing, not a good thing. And I figured they would determine the pacing of book one: a wish to end act one, another to end act two, and a third to wrap it all up. But before I blinked, she had already burned through the first two wishes.

Yeah, she screwed that up really well. Funny enough, three wishes is something I played with in the serialized fiction. Some of it was the same, and some of it was very, very different I’ve always loved that, and I’ve always loved fairy tale and how it is something we are so comfortable with. It’s so deeply rooted in our culture, and being able to play with that and say even if you had been trained to be careful with wishes, it would be so easy to screw that up.

This whole thing with books having structures and acts—I don’t write that way. I probably should, maybe, I don’t know. But I have very firm ideas about what should happen when, and I have my own instincts for pacing that I adhere to rather than any other strictures about how a book should be organized. Which is good in some ways—like you said, you expected the book to be one way, and it wasn’t at all, and that’s refreshing. Sometimes you can also make a rod for your own back.

I was just laughing with Pete this morning because he was saying there was so much in the Split Worlds: “You could have written a whole book just about Max and the gargoyle—a whole series—just talking about how Arbiters and sorcerers work. But you did all of it in all of the books.” And we were laughing at how I made a rod for my own back.

You have a world where there are very powerful sets of magic, and in theory, someone could come in and curse and charm their way to anything they wanted, but the characters suffer from these societal pressures and rules of decorum. I realized these are powerful forces and separate counter-forces to magic. Did you almost see it as a counter-weight to a magic? Or am I interpreting your book in a certain way?

Planetfall (cover)[Laughs] Well, everyone can interpret the books in whichever way they like, and I love that. Funnily enough, someone wrote a review saying how they loved how I reformed the Eden myth in Planetfall. And Eden didn’t occur to me at any point during the writing or publication of Planetfall. But they had crafted an entire review examining how clever I had been doing this.

Rock on! You can see whatever you like in it, I’m just really glad you enjoyed it. But that is so not what I was doing in that book.

With the manners and societal and pressures, there was no conscious decision for that to be a counterweight to the other forces at play. In brutal honesty, you saying that makes me think, “Hey, yeah, that kinda does, that’s kinda cool.” But it wasn’t a conscious thing on my part at all. But it was a conscious decision to examine how different things can form prisons and how society and the expectations that society places on people and the way that they behave are the most powerful and insidious prisons—because Exilium is a prison and the Nether is a prison and all of these layers of expectation and pressure are just types of chains.

That’s one of the things Cathy explores very overtly. She’s always railing against it. Indeed, she escaped a prison and was then dragged back. And then you have people like Will who is playing the game and doesn’t feel like it’s a prison at all. But I still see it as that.

I think the pressures of the manners and everything like that serves that purpose as far as the theme, but also I wanted to examine how a society which didn’t have any other external forces upon it could stagnate: the reason why the Nether is still very rooted in the 1700s, 1800s, 1900s is there are no other things, no other machines, no wheels turning—how these things stagnate and become toxic is something I wanted to explore. There’s stuff that comes out in book four, which I am really excited to be able to write, because I’ve always planned it that way, and I really hope there will be readers who read one scene in particular and say, “Oh, God, okay. Now I understand why this thing has been this way for three books when it has been in plain sight the entire time.” But then again, maybe not. You can only hope.

I heard in another interview that one of the motivating factors for writing this series was getting sufficiently angry about how women are treated in society, and wanting to cover these issues of feminism and the patriarchy. Between Two Thorns came out in 2013, and you’re working on books four and five now. Because you’re such a big gamer, did things like Gamergate—not that I expect them to make an outright appearance, but did they affect your plans for books four and five?

Yes, immensely actually. I said to a friend not long ago that book four would be very different if I had written when I wanted to write it two years ago. In some ways it wouldn’t, but there is one particular plot thread that wouldn’t have the shape it has now.

And the last two years have been such a shock. I’ve been aware of insidious sexism for years now, and that’s one of the things I wanted to do with Cathy—part of her development is realizing she is not alone. She is realizing there is an entire other world of people also getting upset that Lucy kind of points out to her. But she keeps screwing up—even if she has the best of intentions, she doesn’t always get it right.

And I wanted to reflect the experience of when, as a woman, you become aware of stuff in the world that maybe you weren’t aware of when you were young. And various things keep happening, and suddenly it’s like The Matrix: hang on, wait a minute, there is actually a completely different world for men than for women, and at some points we can cross over and it’s awesome, and at other points it is very stark and unequal.

The whole Gamergate thing made me realize the depths of hatred some men have and how overt it is. I was used to the insidious stuff. Having this kind of thing play out in front of me in Twitter in what was a fun, safe space to me, and seeing people being given disrespect, rape threats, death threats. Hearing about two or three people who were physically attacked in the real world because they are a woman in particular kind of job, it really, really opened my eyes.

So yeah, it most definitely fed into book four. The first three books are Cathy running away and then thinking no, I’m not going to run away; I’m going to stay and fight. And the end of the third book is her finally getting to a place where she can do something. Book four is what does she do? And how does that play out? It’s very Empire-Strikes-Back-sy. It’s dark, and it isn’t easy and really bad things happen. It’s been really interesting exploring things I’ve seen play out over the last couple of years play out in a book. Not directly as you say. It’s just one aspect of one plotline.

I think the internet is going through a really difficult time, and the early days of any kind of online network are early adopters and people of a particular kind of type inviting people into their network. But some platforms have become so ubiquitous that you have so many more people coming on board and the red, velvet rope you may want around your online space just doesn’t exist anymore. Everybody’s piling in, so the online world is becoming a crowded bar at 11 o’clock at night, where I would not normally go there. And it’s really scary, but I am in some ways also glad this has been exposed and many people who might not have believed it when it was insidious and under the surface now see it so stark in front of them that they can’t deny it.

Looking forward to books four and five, do you want to give us any hints? Are we going to learn a bit about the Fae’s attempt to bring about the Kwisatz Haderach or more about the Elemental Court?

A Little Knowledge (cover)[Laughing] Yeah, the Elemental Court is definitely going to be featured. Sam is coming into his own in his new position. It’s very hard talking about the fourth book in a series. You’re constantly thinking everything I say now is a spoiler. I don’t really know how to navigate this. There’s also the person behind the deaths at the Chapters and the sorcerer plotline. We see how Cathy tries to change things and how society reacts and the different pressures that are upon Will that he outlines in the beginning of the series I think in book two he says that the higher up the ladder you go, the fewer people can tell you what to do. And there are some very powerful people who have very strong ideas about the way they want things to go.

I’m just coming to the end of book four now and I’ve enjoyed writing it so much. Every now and then I think should it be this much fun? Have I done something wrong? Is this allowed? But after writing Planetfall and After Atlas, which are very serious, very difficult sci-fi books, coming back to the Split Worlds is like Cathy says, “wearing a t-shirt after you’ve been wearing a corset.” It’s just so relaxing and enjoyable. So yeah, those are the sorts of things we’ll see in book four, and then there is a whole other book behind that one coming along as well.

It’s kind of scary, I have to admit. There are fans of the Split World who adore this series and have waited a long time for this book. I’m really nervous about how they are gonna react to all these things that happen in it.

I’m a big fan of your podcast, Tea and Jeopardy, and I know when you have guests on, you tend to reach out to Twitter to see if anyone has questions for your guests. So I did the same thing with the Fantasy-Faction staff.

Ah, so this is what it feels like!

Yes! And Marc, the Fantasy-Faction founder, wanted to know if you and your husband Peter have joint writing hours or brainstorming sessions? Do you serve as beta readers? Is it good to have peer pressure in the house—hit your word count so you can play video games later, that sort of thing?

Well, kind of all of that. We do work very closely with each other on each other’s projects. Pete just put on Facebook literally today how glad he is to live with another writer because he got himself tangled up in a plot knot. We had a cup of tea and a chat, and then he went off merrily to write.

The last month has been total bliss actually, because we have both been in the first draft phase, and the first draft phase is my favorite time. I love writing the first draft, hate editing. But the first draft is just—oh!—I wish I could just write first drafts all year round and never do anything else. He’s been writing the first draft of the third Vagrant book as well.

So what’s been really nice is that every day we both have word targets, and when we complete a scene, we will have a break and read each other’s scenes to the other. And reading the scene you’ve just written aloud is the first part of our editing process where we can kind of hear if something sounds right or if the dialogue is clunky or whatever. Then we give feedback to each other immediately like, “I wasn’t sure what was happening there” or “Would they really say that” or “Does this make sense?” Then we can make those corrections immediately, which is great, especially when you’re under the kind of pressure you are at this stage in our careers when we have contractual deadlines. So that’s great.

And every now and again, especially when writing the fourth Split Worlds book, I’ll say to Pete that I need another planning session, and it’s like the agile coding: I’ve completed 20,000 words, and now I’m looking at the plan, and seeing that there are going to be changes. And I just need someone to kind of talk it through, like a soundboard. Sometimes you just get too lost in your own details that you can’t really see a solution. So for Pete, I’m his perspective, and I’m way back from the trees, and I can say, “You’re in this part of the wood now, and you need to head in this direction,” and he does the exact same thing for me in the Split Worlds. So we know each other’s worlds so well and so intimately, even though we don’t write them and don’t make the final decisions—they are very much our own work, but we do support each other very closely in the creation of them. And it’s really fantastic.

In the other stages of the process, where I’ve done my polishing of my first draft, or I’ve done an edit following my agent’s comments, I might ask Pete to read the whole book through, and then we can get a pacing perspective. And I’ll do the same thing for him. When the page proofs come through, we read each other’s page proofs because we spot different errors to each other. So we support each other at every stage of the process, including the critical time when the book is about to come out, and you start freaking out about everything—everything! And if there’s a review that comes up, I can run upstairs to Pete and say, “There’s a review that’s come up, and I don’t know what it says.” And he says, “I’ll read it for you, babe.” And he’ll come down to me, and he’ll say, “There’s a review that’s come out, and I don’t know what it says.” And I’ll say, “I can take a look at that for you, baby.” And we help each other through the scary promotional aspects as well.

When we married each other, we were teachers. And it was only a couple years into our marriage that I started to really, really work seriously on my writing, and it was several years after that I said to Pete, “I think you’re a writer, Darling, and you need to work on this instead of roleplaying games.” And he was like okay, I’ll try. And now he’s a professional writer. We came to this after we married, and we discovered this kind of symbiosis, which works brilliantly. So yeah, we do work kind of closely with each other.

And it’s funny, you know. Sometimes we’ll joke that “the solution to that problem was awesome, and you better credit me for that!” But we do it so often for each other that it all cancels each other out. It works out great, and I can’t imagine it being better than this, to be honest. I’m really, really so lucky.

This is my last question, and kind of a silly question. I tend to have everything with coffee. I drink coffee by the gallon. So, as someone who is very ignorant of tea, how would I go about making the perfect cup of tea in your mind?

Tea and Jeopardy (logo)I don’t know if I should admit this publicly, but I always start my day with coffee. Then I move onto tea, and I will not drink any more coffee. Lots of people seem to assume that I’m into really fancy teas, and that it’s all really kind of elaborate? But I’m not posh enough for any of that. I just really like a solid, English Breakfast tea or a very standard domestic tea like PG Tips. I’m the only tea drinker in the house, so I don’t make pots of tea—I make pots of tea only when we have guests. So I only make one for me in the mug, which I know is probably not the best way.

But I just boil up the kettle, pour it onto the tea bag, leave it for three minutes, take out the teabag, and add just enough milk to make it the same color as—oh, I don’t know—a young woman’s cheek. You know, that kind of blush—what my face looked like 20 years ago, that kind of pale color. Depending on who else is coming to the house, I know what kind of tea they like, and whether they like it to look like an acorn or whether they want it to be so strong you can stand up a spoon up in it. You learn that there are such a wide variety of the ways people like their tea. I’m quite good at remembering how everyone wants it.

The three-minute rule is generally the only thing that I get fussy over because it really does change the taste of the tea. It tastes much better that way.

So no sugar or sweeteners?

None in tea for me. But Pete, like about three times a year, will say he fancies a cup of tea, and he always has two sugars in it, which I just—ugh—it just makes me wretch. [Laughs] But, you know, to each their own. It’s not a divorceable offense. I let him off for that. It’s funny. Over the years I’ve kind of trained him really well to make tea for me. I don’t think I’m fussy, but he says I’m so fussy. But he’s so well trained now that I don’t notice. He’s learned my hierarchy of tea mugs. I have my favorite one and my second favorite and my third favorite. And I think I have a fourth, and after that, it’s just the rest, it doesn’t matter. If my favorites are in the dishwasher, I don’t care which one I have, but if my favorite is in the cupboard, I have to have it in my favorite cup. I must be a nightmare to live with. So yeah, that’s how I approach tea.

Well, thank you very much. You’ve been very generous with your time, and I really appreciate it.

It was my absolute pleasure, and I’m so relieved you liked the books.

Oh, very much so, and I’m looking forward to books four and five.

Lovely. Thank you so much. Take care.

Between Two Thorns, Any Other Name, and All Is Fair, will be re-released as ebooks tomorrow. A Little Knowledge, and the re-released print versions of the first three books will be out on August 2, 2016. The final book, All Good Things, will be released in August 2017. You can read more about the Split Worlds series and Emma’s other novels on her blog or you can follow her on Twitter @EmApocalyptic.

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  1. […] Emma was also interviewed by Fantasy Faction yesterday, where she talks about how the Split Worlds was born and its strange journey to publication, her “agile coding” approach to her characters, feminism, and the tea-drinking habits of the Newman household. […]

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