Emily Sue Harvey: A Q&A with Michelle Devon

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Emily Sue author photo Thirty Author Interview Questions:
Interviewer, Michelle Devon

Author’s note: Warning! This may be more than you EVER want to know about me. Read at your own risk!

Let’s start with a short (150-250 words, give or take) so that the readers can get a general feel for who you: 

A. Before writing novels,  I acquired dozens of credits in anthologies and magazines, including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Chocolate for Women, From Eulogy To Joy, A Father’s Embrace, Woman’s Day, True Story and others. My articles on renewal have appeared on dozens of heavily trafficked websites, including Dr. Laura’s. My first novel, Song of Renewal was released July 14, 2009. Five more have followed.

My latest release, COCOON, is now available at all online bookstores, including www.amazon.com  and Barnes and Noble. All my books are download accessible.

I write to make a difference. Next to God and my family, writing is paramount to fulfillment. I don’t wait for inspiration. I sit at my computer come rain or come shine, and the words always flow. They come from a heart crammed with life’s experiences, both ecstatically high ones and those unbearably difficult. I have survived incredible devastation, intact. My stories reflect this inner-spirit that never gives up. My website, www.renewalstories.com, features stories of renewal that will move and inspire any heart.  Author website: www.emilysueharvey.com.

Question #1: What compelled you to write your first book?

A. Grief and therapy catapulted me into writing. After the accidental death of our eleven-year-old daughter, Angie, I was advised to write down my feelings. This purging therapy, combined with my college, senior English writing course, saved my sanity and convinced me that writing was my niche in life. That semester’s work evolved into a manuscript—entitled: A ROSE IN TIME–that served its purpose for that time in my life. Years later, many of those passages served as fodder for dozens of stories, articles, and novels.

Question #2: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

A. Not until after Angie’s death did I ever consider writing.  I’d planned to teach secondary English.

Question #3: Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

A. Between contractual obligations, I’m currently working on an Inspirational nonfiction book of my own stories (with a few exceptions) entitled: BREAKING THROUGH THE CLOUDS and am not yet sure who will publish it. Will have more info later.

Question #4: Have you ever won any writing awards? If so, what?

A. One of the first things I did when I discovered that writing was my life’s purpose was to join Southeastern Writers Association. During the first workshop years, I accumulated twenty writing awards in Fiction, Nonfiction, Novel,  Short Story, and Inspirational. Since 1986, I’ve served on the SWA Board of Directors and as President in 2007-2008.

Question #5: How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

A. Surreal. Like…wow, am I dreaming?

Question #6: What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

A. Joy. Grief. Melancholy, anger…powerful emotions draw me to my computer. But the main force is sheer discipline. I just do it!

Question #7: What one thing are you the most proud of in your life?

A. I think that finding spiritual peace and joy at an early age was the wisest choice I’ve ever made. With that faith foundation, everything else eventually falls into place.

Question #8: What about your family? Do you have children, married, siblings, parents? Has your family been supportive of your writing?

A. I come from a large, tightly knit family. My three married children and their spouses and kids have been my greatest cheerleaders.  Lee, my high-school sweetheart, is the hero in each of my stories and the wind beneath my wings. As hokey as that sounds, it’s absolutely true.

Question #9: The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

A. Both. Sometimes I relate totally with my characters’ emotions, while at other times, I have fun pretending to be the opposite of what/who I am.

Question #10: Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?

A. Cec Murphey  and Dr. Dennis Hensley have been my mentors, along with a host of others. Being a part of Southeastern Writers Association for over twenty-five years provided opportunities to network and be mentored, an awesome advantage.

Question #11: When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book? 

A. My first love affair with reading was with Charles Dickens. I especially loved “A Tale of Two Cities.” Then came “Heidi” and Nancy Drew books. Usually, I digested most anything I could get my hands on.

Question #12: What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

A. That’s a tough one because I’m a voracious reader, even when I’m working on a project.  Favorite authors are any who write really well and leave me feeling better after having read their story.  I migrate quickly toward Pat Conroy, Cassandra King, Dorothea Benton Frank, Fern Michaels,  Nora Roberts and Ann Rivers Siddons. Ask me a month from now and there will be others.  Genre? Romance and mainstream fiction lead the pack.

Question #13: Hey, let’s get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you? 

A. Emily Sue Harvey’s books convince us that no matter how hopeless things seem– we can choose to be overcomers. That the resilience of the human spirit is miraculous. Emily Sue Harvey made a difference!

Question #14: Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now – city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?

A. I grew up in a mill village called Startex, the setting for one of my published  novels entitled Unto These Hills. It’s one of my favorite stories which, personally, I think would make a great movie. Now, I’ve moved back to Startex, living in a village two-story, refurbished by my greatest fan and hero, my husband, Lee. Would I rather live elsewhere? Nah.

Question #15: Do you have any pets? What are they? Tell us about them

A. Fifi, a little blonde Chihuahua with the face of those beautiful white seals, is the other female in my husband’s life. After swearing that he would “never” have a dog in his house, he ended up being putty beneath her little paws. She is sweet-natured, not as temperamental as most of her breed. Her dark brown eyes adore us beyond words and her flirtatious attempts to draw attention bring us bountiful  entertainment.

Question #16: Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?

A. When I’m working on a project, everything happens in my office. My desk remains cluttered, like a war zone. The clutter is NOT to be touched by anyone else because it involves research, notes, photos and etc. and regardless of the appearance, there IS a method to this particular madness. Soft music, easy listening or light classical helps me maintain a level of equanimity as I work.

Question #17: Do you watch television? If so, what are your favorite shows? Does television influence of inspire your writing?

A. I watch the Inspirational channel ( Dr. Quinn, Little House on the Prairie, Matlock, The Waltons), Investigation Discovery, Hallmark, Lifetime Movies, Turner Classic movies. And yes, I purposely fill my mind with uplifting family friendly shows because they do trigger my inspirational gene into action.

Question #18: What about movies? Same as above. 

A. I watch Movies when I’m not reading at night. A recent one I watched, August Rush, influenced and inspired me. I love Dances With Wolves because of the emotional impact, as well as the magnificent music.  I also love goofy movies like Napoleon Dynamite and  Liar, Liar. My taste in movies travels the gamut from Wuthering Heights to Dumb and Dumber. As long as the films are well done and make me feel better after having seen them.

Question #19: Focusing on your most recent (or first) book, tell our readers what genre your book is and what popular author you think your writing style in this book is most like.

A. COCOON, my latest novel,  is a mainstream fictional novel.  Lou Aronica, my publisher, says that my writing reminds him of Ann Rivers Siddons and Jan Karon, two seemingly opposites. Interesting and complimentary. Style? I try not to emulate other authors except in the area of evoking emotions, such as Rivers Siddons does, and Norah Roberts and many, many more wonderful writers do. I’m predominantly ALL Emily Sue.  Through years of learning and honing, I’ve discovered my own voice and style.

Question #20: How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)?

A. Song of Renewal took four months to write. I “got ‘er done” that fast because I was on a contract/time schedule. My first actual finished novel (years ago) took much longer, about two years to complete. That title is Through A Glass Darkly, not yet published. I have had much more practice since I wrote that one so the process is now more efficient.  I can write a book in less than six months.

Question #21: Is there anyone you’d like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?

A. The late Nelle McFather, my author friend from Southeastern Writers Association, was always ‘there’ for me through the years. In fact, I must credit all SWA writer friends, who have always boosted me along over rough spots and celebrated with me the pinnacles.

Question #22: Is there any one particular book that when you read it, you thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I’d written that one!”?

A. All the time. Hey! I’m human. 

Question #23: Thinking about your writing career, is there anything you’d go back and do differently now that you have been published? 

A. Lots of things I’d do differently but I figure God already had it all figured out. Major publication happened when it was supposed to. By the time my talent was being recognized, I was prepared for success. So I have no regrets. 

Question #24: What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by your writing?

A. To help readers see the proverbial light at the end of any tunnel. If anything I write inspires anyone toward self-realization and a better way of life, then I have succeeded in making a difference.

Question #25: How has having a book published changed your life? 

A. There’s a sense of fulfillment now that I cannot adequately describe. It’s just that.  Self-realization and fulfillment.

Question #26: Have you ever had a character take over a story and move it in a different direction than you had originally intended? How did you handle it? 

A. In every book that happens. I just “go with it.” That’s the way the best stories evolve.

Question #27: Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

A. Strong moral fiber is THE most important aspect of my writing. I try to balance realism with morality. I never do gratuitous or graphic sex scenes, yet the reader experiences in my stories genuine romantic passion. Nor do I do profanity. Rather I occasionally use mild expressions of anger or frustration, mostly Southernese non-cuss language, i.e. doggone, dadgummit, heavens to Murgatroyd and etc. I feel that everyone, Christans included, deserve excellent, “flavored” literature to read  without tiresome religious clichés and predictability.  I strive for my stories to appeal to all readers at large, yet be family friendly. I am convinced that there is, after all, an audience there to tap into them.

Question #28: It’s said that the editing process of publishing a novel with a publisher is can be grueling and often more difficult than actually writing the story. Do you think this is true for you? How did you feel about editing your masterpiece?

A. This may sound weird to some but I LOVE editing. Over the years, my eye has trained to see words and passages a certain way and to easily shift text to more strategic positions. Sometimes this amazes even me. This is something I thoroughly enjoy.

Question #29: Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than you had imagined?  

A. Yes. I thought I would be over the top excited and in a sense I am. But the fairly long time frame from the book’s completion, to publication, to its release date has fed it all to me in increments, thus, keeping my feet firmly planted on the ground.

Question #30: Now, use this space to tell us more about who you. Anything you want your readers to know. Include information on where to find your books, any blogs you may have, or how a reader can learn more about you and writing. 

A. For more info as to my doings, check out  Facebook’s Emily Sue Harvey Fan Page.  My books may be ordered at any online bookstore, including www.amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. Author Contact information: email, emilysue1@aol.com and  www.emilysueharvey.com .  Website Renewal articles may be accessed by entering Emily Sue Harvey, author, into the Google search.

Besides Song of Renewal, I have five more Story Plant books, Homefires, Flavors, Unto These Hill, Space and Cocoon. I will keep readers posted on my website as to upcoming publications.  In the meantime, happy reading!


COCOON front coverEmily Sue Harvey is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month for August. This means we are offering sensational deals on all of her works. You can learn more at our website.

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On August 1, 2013
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