Emily Gale is one of Australia’s most admirable and influential children’s and YA authors. And no, I’m not just saying that because she agreed to my interview. I’m saying that because of what she’s achieved, continues to aspire to and because of the person she is – thoughtful, charming, kind and a darn good writer. Her most recent book I’m Out With Lanterns, is one of my favourite YA books and her campaign to raise money to help repair the devastation of the 2020 bushfires —’Authors for Fireys’, was not only inspirational but raised around half a million dollars! She coordinated this campaign with fellow author Nova Weetman (the one on the right of the picture), and the two are currently contracted for a co-written middle grade time-slip novel.
RM: Hi Em, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Given the current climate which has been really tough for everyone, what are you most exited about right now?
EG: I am most excited to begin edits on the novel I have co-written with Nova Weetman, which is a middle-grade time-slip that features a real person from Australia’s sporting history (I’ll leave it a bit mysterious!). We’re with a new publisher and of course a new editor for this novel and it’s always nerve-wracking and thrilling to receive notes from someone you haven’t worked with before. Jane Pearson at Text is our editor and we have admired her work for years so we’re both feeling very positive.
RM: What are you currently reading?
EG: I’ve just finished Rebecca Stead’s new middle-grade novel The List Of Things That Will Not Change, which is as perfect as everything Rebecca Stead has ever written. I’m now halfway through an advance copy of a crime thriller called I Shot The Devil by Ruth McIver, the Richell Prize winner from 2018. It’s excellent. My reading during isolation has been as varied as ever but I have particularly appreciated the middle-grade I’ve read over the past few weeks, especially the very funny As Fast As I Can by Penny Tangey.
RM: What author do you wish could be your mentor?
EG: I admire so many people but I would really love to know more about how Jaclyn Moriarty works, because I find her to be a very original and fearless writer who always delivers in the resolution of her stories.
RM: What does literary success look like to you?
EG: I think my idea of literary success changes all the time, which is the nature of the beast. You’re up, you’re down. I try to appreciate every up, but sometimes you are down for a long time and it’s difficult to remember how lucky you’ve been. I’ve had a lot of luck and see myself as some kind of publishing limpet, so I’m always worried that it’s all about to run out.
RM: What did you edit out of your YA book I’m out with Lanterns?
EG: I certainly edited out a lot of words, a lot of scenes, in order to make it more of a palatable length for the readership, but I wouldn’t compromise on the number of characters telling the story. That was always the point of it for me. Multiple POV isn’t for everyone but once I’d accepted that, I felt free to be ambitious and I have no regrets.
RM: Naming your book I’m out with Lanterns pegs you as an Emily Dickinson fan, so are you watching the new series Dickenson staring Hailee Steinfeld? If you are, yay or nay?
EG: I’m actually saving it as a reward for finishing the new draft of my middle-grade novel! I have a very rewards-based process . . . So I have avoided all reviews.
RM: What are you most proud of as an author?
EG: I’m proud of myself for having moved to a new country and established myself as a writer here. Although I came with a lot of privilege and there’s no denying that, it was also a case of immersing myself in Australia’s literary history and publishing industry, as well as the emotional work that many expats will identify with.
RM: And now, a quick This or That to finish off.
Physical book or ebook? Physical – I only use ebooks for emergencies.
Coffee of tea? I love both but if I had to choose, loose leaf tea, very strong.
Scones or Cake? This is just cruel. Cake.
Fantasy or Contemporary? Contemporary with a twist of Fantasy, on the rocks.
Sport or Music? At last, an easy one – music.
You can learn more about Emily on her website http://emilygalebooks.com.