Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a British-Australian cat lover and consumer of too much coffee. Educator and mum by day, writer by
night anytime I can get free. I’ve been writing on and off since I was a child, but in mid-2019 I started a blog to keep myself accountable—and it’s worked so far.
Can you tell us anything about your novel?
On Solar Winds is about a graduate cyborg space librarian on a journey of self-discovery. Diverted on the way to her first job, Cassia Tan ends up on a ship of smugglers, assassins, aristocrats, and an alien who needs her help to stop his planet from being destroyed. To do so will mean risking her job and her life—but with newfound friendships and a species’ fate at stake, it will be up to Cassia to decide what kind of person she wants to be. On Solar Winds is a cyberpunk space opera adventure, comparable to Mass Effect crossed with A Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet. It’s an adult scifi with YA crossover appeal.
Who first got you into reading?
My parents were always big readers. I remember my Dad reading me The Lord of the Rings—with all the voices—when I was five or so. Now that was a bedtime story. I’ve never looked back.
How was the feeling of writing the final sentence on your novel?
In a word: satisfying. Getting to that first endpoint was so gratifying—I proved to myself that I could finish a book! Of course, I then had to go back and redraft… and redraft and edit. And re—you see where I’m going. I do think that the initial ‘last line’ remained the same, though.
Querying a novel has been described as a Sisyphean task. How do you keep the drive? How important is your support network?
How very true. You have to be prepared for the long haul, and that’s not just months but years—decades, even, for some people. Every day there are new stories of authors who are making it, and that’s what keeps me going. I have to believe in myself, something I have struggled with. But I do have an amazing network of supporters, online and in person, who help to hold me up when things are tough.
Do you use any online resources to research agents?
Yep—some of my go-to’s are Manuscript Wishlist, Agent Query, and Publishers Marketplace. I use Query Tracker unpaid, though I have heard their premium features are really useful. And I love social media for connecting me with the querying community. It’s a great place to ask about agents and publishers—and to research them, as well. Most agents have their own websites or pages with their wishlists and submission details. If not on their agency pages, you can sometimes find these via their social media presence. I also look out for blog posts summarising agents who are currently open for submissions, especially in my genre.
What are you looking for (in terms of agent)?
It has to be someone who loves the story and wants it to succeed. I’m sure that’s what agents would say, as well. As for working style, I love feedback, even if it’s ‘you really need to rewrite xyz’. As a teacher, I know that the way to improve is to keep learning, keep practicing, and take constructive criticism on board. It can only help. That said, I wouldn’t want to work with someone whose ideals lie in a wholly different direction to my own.
How useful have you found social media? Are the communities helpful?
Social media is a blessing and a curse. The writers and writing communities I have met via Twitter and Facebook have been, on the whole, extremely supportive and uplifting. I am on a few Discord and Reddit writing groups. My beta readers are all people I have met online. The problem, of course, is I spend probably too much time networking, chatting, and doomscrolling… when sometimes, I really should be writing.
Do you have anything you want to plug?
Australian sci-fi and fantasy! I get the feeling that other Western countries don’t see us as great producers of speculative fiction. They’re wrong, of course—there’s so much coming out all the time from some extremely talented writers, and I just want the world to take notice. I’d also like to shout out to the amazing diverse and marginalised writers whose work deserves a greater platform—and I do hope that is changing in the industry. On that note, I’ve been reading some amazing stories recently by Grace Chan, Xue Xihe, Geneve Flynn, Elaine Cuyegkeng, and C.H. Pearce. Go read their stuff! And look out for Grace’s book, Every Version of You, out next year with Affirm Press. I’m so excited. If you want to read some of my fictional words, check out my blog at www.emmalouisegill.com. I share stories and/or writing thoughts weekly. Also talk way too much over on Twitter @emmagillwriter.
Thank you very much!