Emma Pullar is a writer of both dark fiction and children’s books. Her picture book, Curly from Shirley, was a national bestseller and named Best Opening Lines by NZ Post. Emma also writes twisted tales under the speculative fiction umbrella. Her debut novel, Skeletal, was published in Autumn 2017. It’s part of a duology and Book Two will be published soon, Summer 2018. As a citizen of both Britain and New Zealand, Emma Pullar has a unique take on the world. Her uniqueness is evident in the stories she crafts.
In fact, if you’re a fan of horror, dystopian, sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal, Emma Pullar has a lot of unique stories she wants to share with you. Her favourite authors are CS Lewis, Roald Dahl, Suzanne Collins, Stephen King, Julia Donaldson, Dr Seuss, Phillip K Dick, JK Rowling, George Orwell, L V Hay and GX Todd. In fact, it was in Lucy V Hay’s online writing group, Bang2Writers, where I first met Emma. What a pleasure it was to interview her. I have admired her forthright demeanor and driven work ethic for years. It’s time for you to admire her along with me.
JON MEYERS: Hi Emma, thank you so much for granting me this interview. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of your straightforward attitude, and unwillingness to ever give up. Tell me a little about your writing process. Not the nuts-and-bolts of it — but the emotional component of it. Describe how you feel ten minutes before you actually sit down to write — and the shift that happens as you write the first word, the first sentence, the first page.
EMMA PULLAR: Hi Jon, thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog. Well, what an interesting question. To be honest I hadn’t thought about what happens directly before and as I begin to write. After I’ve dropped the kids to school, I come home and make tea and toast. I can’t write anything before that. I have the same breakfast every morning before I write. Tea because I’m British and it’s what we do and NZ Marmite on toast because I’m also a Kiwi and can’t stand UK Marmite. After that I check my emails and then I’m ready to write.
I start by reading back the paragraph I wrote the day before and once I’ve done that I’m in the zone. The real world is forgotten and I’m standing next to my protagonist experiencing everything with her/him. I often feel like a puppet and the words are coming from somewhere else – a separate consciousness or something strange like that.
When I write at night, the process is different and more often than not I can only write longhand. Sun up is for the keyboard, sundown belongs to the notepad. I hope that makes sense.
JM: Thanks, Emma — THIS is fascinating. I’ve never heard anything like that. So cool. Plus, I was actually going to ask about longhand vs. typing — and you kind of already answered that. Very cool.
JM: My next question has to do with the “business side” of the business. Tell us how you feel when you’re talking to your agent (and how you got that agent in the first place), how you feel when you’re in a meeting, etc. What’s the process you used when you were starting out? Did you send out ten queries or one hundred? How did you know where to send them? Stuff like that.
EP: I met my agent in a rather unusual way. I had a baptism of fire into the writing industry when my first publisher embezzled my royalties which were meant to go to charity. I was informed that out of the $17K my picture book made, $11K (after publishing expenses) should have gone to my chosen charity but instead the publisher put the money back into her business. She bit off more than she could chew and then folded the publishing house, owing money to authors and printers.
I can forgive a lack of judgement, we’ve all made mistakes in our lives that we wish we had handled differently but she cut communication and sent out a seven page document in which she blamed the authors for the failure of her business and tried to discredit me.
I’d met a few of the other authors at a meeting before the publishing house went bust and we formed an online support group after we found out the horrible truth.
One of the authors caught my attention. He was friendly, talented and had a string of books published already. He’d found himself an agent and kindly put in a good word for me. I’m forever grateful to him, and even though I was not at all ready to be published, Vicki (my agent) saw my potential and took me under her wing.
Finding an agent is tricky. I’ve crossed paths with a few (online and through pitching opportunities) and my work wasn’t right for any of them but when I met with Vicki in London (she lives in New Zealand so our conversations are mostly by email) I instantly liked her. We get on extremely well and have a friendly, laidback working relationship.
Vicki is open to me networking with publishers alongside her efforts to find the right deals for my work. I have a few exciting projects Vicki is passionate about that are currently on submission. Fingers crossed we’ll see a deal for them soon.
JM: Yes! Awesome. I love your answers by the way. I love interviewing fascinating inspiring women!!! Talk to my readers about you, Emma Pullar, and your life, pre-Vicki, pre-published, pre-Skeletal — as compared to Emma Pullar today, post-all-those-things.
“At thirty-one, when my youngest daughter was only a few months old, a deadly earthquake devastated our city and killed 185 people. That natural disaster triggered something inside me. “
— Emma Pullar
To answer the question of how life compares before I became a professional storyteller and now … although seven years on, we’re still struggling to get over the mess that earthquake left our lives in, I’m now doing what I should be doing — what I should have been doing all along. I’m peacefully walking my path, my career unfolding like the petals of a rose. Sunshine and room to grow provided by the amazing people I have met along the way: my agent, publisher, mentor, readers and my writing buddies. I’m grateful to finally be doing what I should be doing, as opposed to doing what others expected of me. As a child, I wanted to be a dancer, a writer and Prime Minister. Having ticked off the first two, I have no interest in doing the last one. I much prefer being ruler of my fictional worlds, though I must admit, I’m not always in control of the story, the characters often surprise me.