Q&A with Emily Skrutskie

skrutskieinterview.pngIf you aren’t sure who Emily Skrutskie is, we would like to point you toward our reviews of The Edge of the Abyss and The Abyss Surrounds Us. If you are looking for more information you can always visit her website and glimpse her bio. If you are looking for even more information, we have great news! Emily stopped by and answered a few questions for us about her writing, her reading, and some quirky questions about her process.

In both The Abyss Surrounds Us & The Edge of the Abyss, Cas has some world-shaking revelations, but she still tries to remain true to herself. What sort of difficulties did you run into when pitting Cas against the truths she once knew?

My biggest struggle—something I really had to lock down in revisions—was making sure that Cas’s journey was consistent from chapter to chapter. I actually had a document on the side where I wrote down exactly what Cas thought and believed in each chapter so that I could make sure the logic flowed naturally without any gaps.

The series deals with a lot of ecological and social issues, which definitely mirror our world today. Were there any specific events in the real world that inspired the world of The Edge of the Abyss and The Abyss Surrounds Us?

Nothing springs to mind immediately. The ecological themes in the book come less from any one inspiration and more from a logical projection of what we might be dealing with more than a century in the future, as well as the fallout of having MASSIVE super predators in the ocean.

Cas and Swift have many relationship issues, and we were happy to see that none of those problems stemmed from homophobia or societal expectations. What inspired you to write a LGBTQ romance without the influence of those outside forces?

When you’re a sci-fi writer, you get to choose what the future will be. And this is the future I will always choose.

In a post on YA Interrobang you talked about your “lost” prologue. Could we see that prologue?

Understand that I’m doing you a favor when I say… nah. It’s old writing, it isn’t very well developed, and I didn’t really write it for an audience. I promise I can give you better than that.

Was there anything you had to edit out of the story that you wish you could have kept?

I’m a chronic underwriter, so I actually never edited anything out of TASU/TEOTA. Every revision was about beefing up the story and fitting more into it.

What are some writing rituals you go through before sitting down to write? And if you don’t have any, why?

I pre-write throughout the day, keeping a notebook at my side during my day job so I can jot down ideas and plan out what the day’s work will look like. It ties into my habits as a plotter—on a broad level, I plan out my stories, but I also micro-plan how I’m going to tackle each beat.

What was the weirdest thing you needed to research for the story?

I had to figure out how to kill an octopus. Fun fact: when you google “HOW TO KILL AN OCTOPUS,” it autocompletes to “HOW TO KILL AN OCTOPUS WITH YOUR TEETH.” Which wasn’t really necessary for the story, but hey, now I know!

What was the first scene you thought of and how did you know the story was worth exploring? (We’re especially interested in this one since you’ve said you are a planner and not a pantser)

The scene that really stuck with me when I was first synthesizing this idea was the fall of the Nereid. I could see the movie of that moment in my head right away. More than that, I could feel exactly what Cas was feeling as she was being marched onto the Minnow. Having such a visceral sense of that moment was one of the things that first rooted me in the story.

What was the book that made you a reader? What was the book that made you a writer?

Reader: Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George—it ignited my tiny brain’s obsession with kids hacking it in the wilderness.

Writer: Eragon, by Christopher Paolini—reading that book as a kid, knowing it was written by a kid, made me believe that I could do it too.

What are some books you’ve faked reading?

I pretended to have read Heart of Darkness two separate times at two separate high schools. You just cannot make me read that book.

What is one book you are an evangelical for?

Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle, starting with The Raven Boys. They’re my absolute favorite books, in part because they feel like they were made specifically for me. I love Latin, love driving, and grew up in the backwoods of Virginia, so reading those books feels like coming home.

What books have you bought for the cover?

I bought it for a host of other reasons too, but have you seen just how shiny the cover of Timekeeper is?

What are some of your favorite lines from books?

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 

What book would you love to read for the first time again?

Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo. I love twisty heist books, and my least favorite thing about them is learning the twists and never getting to experience them fresh again. I would kill for a chance to go into those books blind one more time.

Is there publishing professional (editor, marketer, designer, publicist, etc) who has influenced your writing life?

Most obviously my first editor at Flux, Brian Farrey-Latz, who totally upended my senior year of college and got my whole career going when he offered me publication for the duology. I wouldn’t be here if Brian didn’t choose to take me on.

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