I stumbled across E.M. Castellan’s website, and I loved the premise of her books, particularly LILY IN THE SHADOWS.

Title: Lily In The Shadows

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Status: Complete at 71,000 words

Pitch: 1862: When dark magic throws London into chaos and puts her job at risk, a flower girl with no time for nonsense investigates children’s disappearances and terrorist attacks before society collapses and she loses everything.

Interview Questions:

Your website bio states that you are repped by Erin Niumata of Folio Literary Management. How did you find Erin as your agent, and what do you like most about her?

Erin is actually the one who found me! I was querying LILY and I took part in a Twitter Pitch Party (#PitchMas) in July 2013. Erin requested my query and first chapters, then later on she asked for the full manuscript. My querying process was quite lengthy but successful in the end, since Erin offered representation in January this year. What I’ve liked most about her so far is how much she believes in LILY’s potential. It’s always hard to judge the quality of one’s own writing and it’s incredibly uplifting to have someone as experienced as Erin believe in it.

I’m glad you found an agent that’s such a good fit for you and your work! And I love the premise of LILY IN THE SHADOWS. Where did you get the idea from and what do you want readers to take away when they’re finished?

Although I love Steampunk literature, it has glamorized the Victorian era, with heroines in beautiful dresses, innovative gentlemen, steam-powered inventions and afternoon teas. I wrote LILY because I wanted to write the story of an obscure 19th Century flower girl, with no special power or talent, who tries to save the city of London from chaos and magical destruction. Lily lives in Whitechapel, she is partly deaf and she has no hope of ever marrying a king and becoming a princess in a fairy tale. But to me, it doesn’t mean her story shouldn’t be told. Every girl matters and her actions can change the world, even in the shadows.

A great lesson for all girls! You also write at There And Draft Again – A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers. What has this taught you and what are the advantages to joining a “fellowship” of writers?

My goal when bringing together this “fellowship” was to connect with other unpublished Fantasy writers. The idea behind this project was to record our roads to publication, whether we chose to self-publish (like Mara, Rachel or Kathi) or to follow the traditional route (like Jessy, Kate, Raewyn and me). We post twice a week and we share our writing tips, reading recommendations or advice to use social media. It’s allowed us to meet other writers online and to build a little community within the big writing community.

Those communities are so important–and vital. You mentioned that you work at a full time job. How do you balance writing with day-to-day tasks, and if you have any recommendations for writers juggling full-time jobs?

Juggling is the right word here! It sometimes feels like I’m ALWAYS busy. I work an average of 55 hours a week at my day job, and I fit writing in when I can: mostly in the evening and on Sundays. I usually manage to set aside one hour for writing on weekdays, and on Sundays at least half a day. I try to make the most of the time I have to write: I put on music, tune out all distractions, and I write. I don’t have a set word count per day, but I try to work on my manuscript a little bit every day: my goal is to go to bed knowing I’ve made some progress on my Work In Progress, even small.

Sounds like a great process! What do you know now about the writing business that you wish you’d known sooner?

I wish I had known about the online writing community sooner. I’ve been writing for years, but I only started my blog in March 2012, and joined Twitter a few months later. The support – and helpful advice – I have found online has been amazing, and I wish I had taken advantage of it earlier. Writing can be a lonely business, I can only advise everyone to reach out and connect with other writers.

To find out more about EM Castellan, click the links below:

EM Castellan
YA Fantasy writer, worlds builder & insatiable reader


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