The Coffeehouse: India Emerald

In this second installment of The Coffeehouse, I interview indie author India Emerald.  India Emerald weaves short stories with a magical theme to them. Her writing spans several genres including Fantasy, Magical Realism, and occasionally Science Fiction. She is the author of The Mages' Stones Trilogy (2016), The Mages' Stones: Dragons Blood Jasper (2016), The Mages' Stones: Amazonite (2016), The Mages' Stones: Aventurine (2016), The Tale of Rigby Hall (2016), Water Lilies (2016), and The Battle for Goblin Bridge (2016). India frequently works with crystals both in her stories and her everyday life. She first caught the writing bug during middle school winning a local writing award. This spurred her on to write her first Space Opera at the age of 15. When India isn't writing or reading, she feeds her unhealthy obsession with video games and in particular RPGs. She lives on the edge of the Black Forest in what should be a gingerbread cottage, so she could eat sweets all day.


Where are you from? What do you do for a living?

I'm from the UK originally, but my home is in Germany now and I love it here!  I'm surrounded by fields which is perfect for walking and coming up with stories. My professional titles are currently “Toddler Wrangler” and “Wordsmith”.


What got you into writing in the first place?

I've always loved words, when I was very young I used to make up little songs to entertain myself. As I got older that turned in to writing poems and short stories, then plays. I got a little distracted by storytelling through performing arts for a number of years, but I still wrote during that time. By the time I did my performing arts degree, I had shifted back to poetry again. After my degree I went back to writing stories again, just for myself, and then six months ago I stopped being afraid and start putting my writing out there. I love writing short stories and whilst I'll never say never to a novel, short stories are my passion.


Are there any authors that have had a significant impact on you? How have they affected you?

Margaret Atwood is one of my favourites. I think she writes both dystopia, and female characters incredibly. Indie authors have had a significant impact as well. Their capacity for support is inspiring, I've made some wonderful friends through my writing.


What do you do to brainstorm new ideas?

Walking gives me the time to sort through the silt to find the gold. If I ever get stuck, I go put my shoes on. Some ideas come to me whilst sleeping, my brain never misses an opportunity it seems.   


How do you go about starting a new story?

First I decide if there's enough potential for a short story or if it's more of a flash fiction piece. Sometimes an idea feels self contained and that will stay that way, rather than force it. Those pieces will be freebies. If it feels like something “short story sized” then I will plot it out. The over-arcing plot for The Mages' Stones (TMS) has been in place from the start and it has always been a seven part collection. As much as I'm tempted to write more TMS, there are other stories to tell. That said, there is always an element of room to grow a story, TMS6 was originally going to be a different character altogether but a happy accident helped it move “sideways”. The plot is more or less the same, but the lead character decided to be someone else.


In your Mages' Stones series, the stones themselves are like characters. Was this intentional from the outset? Or was it a "character" that evolved over time?

It was a deliberate choice, yes, the stones all have their own personality. Mages are formally trained and “joined” with their stone and marriages are also referred to as “joining” in TMS. The idea is that your Mage Stone brings out the best in you, your inherent gift, in the same way your life partner should.



Your Booksie profile says that you work with crystals in your everyday life; what kind of impact has this practice had on your writing?

In crystal healing, every crystal has a function e.g. Rose Quartz is known as the heart healer. I tend to feel that the “belief” in that function helps it materialise, some people call it the placebo effect, others manifestation. Working with crystals gives me the knowledge as to which crystal would be good for what talent, in terms of research. For the more “ethereal” part, having the crystal I'm writing about close to me helps me focus on it. If I get stuck I can just muse upon it and it will start the flow of writing again.


Is there any chance of a Mages' Stones book in the works?

I'm a big gamer, so I treat my short stories much like they do in the gaming world. You can get the stand-alone stories, like you would a base game. I also offer a Collectors' Edition (all the stories together with extra content), which is similar to getting the base game plus DLC. The Mages' Stones Trilogy has the first three stories, as well as brand new content that gives readers an extra peek in to the TMS world. And when TMS finishes, all seven will be available with even more extras. The Mages' Stones Set will be out at the end of September.


If you had to choose a Mage Stone of your own, which one do you think you would pick?

I would probably pick Rose Quartz because I'm a hopeless romantic, but as Mistress Morgana would say “you don't choose the stone, the stone chooses you”.


Though not your genre of choice, I could not help but have a silly grin at the end of Water Lilies. Do you see yourself writing outside of the fantasy genre anytime soon?

I've always gravitated towards the “other worldly” in my writing but pinning down a genre is tricky, if I'm honest. TMS is set in a world like ours but where magic is every day, although I wouldn't call it “Magical Realism” as such. I haven't published any Science Fiction as yet, but I do write it.  So I expect I'll publish in that genre at some point. Water Lilies is the nearest I've come to writing Romance but it still has a hint of my brand in there. It was based on a dream I had and was one of those rare moments where I had to get the bare bones down before I forgot them.



You have seven publications up on Amazon. Tell me about the process of self-publishing your work.

I love being self published so much, I haven't even tried to send my writing to traditional publishing houses. It isn't easy, you do a huge amount of work, but I relish all the different “hats” I wear on a daily basis. Pressing the button to self publish is the simple bit, and that comes after drafting/editing/proofing/finalising. The best bit is that I get to have final say on my covers, and I do all my own networking and marketing. It's awesome!   


What is the biggest challenge you face as a writer, and how do you overcome that challenge?

Personally, the most devastating challenge was the dreaded PC crash. When you invest so much in words, losing them is a gut punch. At the start of TMS7 I lost 600 words, it was the first 600 of the story and I was on fire that night which made it all the worse. I hadn't taken an external back-up as I thought it was too early, so I've learned a good lesson there. Luckily I have back-ups of most of my work, so I was back up and running by that evening for all my promotion images etc. Sitting down to write after that was exceptionally difficult because I felt so low about what I'd lost. In the end I had to accept that it was gone and keep moving forward with the writing. By the next night I was back in the zone again and it was full steam ahead.


How do you know when a story is done?

First draft “done” is usually when the last sentence drops. Every part of the story is told and one sentence will just say “The End”. TMS6 was the exception to that. The last sentence happened and I knew that was the finish, but I needed to go back and insert a section that added an extra dimension to a character. Final draft “done” is when I can't see any more to work on.  I will have edited for spelling/grammar, done another edit to reduce vocabulary repetition, and a final edit for flow. Then it goes to the secret reading team for their fresh eyes and input. After that it comes back to me for the last draft and then publication.


How do you define success? In writing and everyday life?

For writing, I'd say feeling proud of what I've written. I learn something new with each story I write and that helps with a sense of achievement. For everyday life, being healthy and happy.


If you could give one message to other writers out there, what would it be?

The magic formula is... {this message will self-destruct in 5 seconds}



India Emerald is an indie author with publications on Amazon. You can follow her on Twitter @india_emerald or Facebook.