Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Emilya Naymark

Emilya Naymark was born in a country that no longer exists, escaped with her parents, lived in Italy for a bit, and ended up in New York, which promptly became a love and a muse.

She studied art and was lucky enough to illustrate numerous publications before transitioning to the digital world.

She has a particular fascination with psychological thrillers, crime, and suspense. All the dark stuff. So that’s what she writes.

In her other life, she is a web developer and designer, an illustrator, and an artist.

Naymark's new novel is Hide in Place.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I think coming up with Hide in Place, the title, took longer than writing the novel. I’m kidding (not really). What I really wanted to call it was Minor Threat, but that would have been impossible—first, because it’s the name of a very famous punk hardcore band, and second, because it refers to my secondary protagonist, Alfie, the minor in the book. That title wasn’t thrilling enough. It wasn’t about my undercover detective. It implied something minor.

I recruited an army of friends and acquaintances to come up with a title for me. Dinner conversations, lunch conversations, Facebook threads, dozens of suggestions sent to my publisher. Nothing. When my agent suggested Hide in Place and my publisher accepted it, I was so happy I could have danced on the ceiling.

It's a great title because it refers to the way all the characters are playing a role. My undercover detective adopts alternate personas, my teenager tries on different behaviors to see which fits. My confidential informant hides in plain sight, and my detective’s ex-partner hides everything.

What's in a name?

Sometimes it takes me a really long time to settle on a character’s name, and sometimes the character is born fully named. Laney Bird and her son Alfie came to me right away. Laney means “bright, shining one,” and Alfie means “wise counsel.” I always intended Laney to be extremely good at her detective work, though she can be utterly clueless in her personal life. And Alfie, though he’s clueless in his own way, is determined to find his place in the world and goes about it in, what I think is, an intelligent way.

I do have a funny story about one of my supporting characters, a detective in the small town of Sylvan where the story takes place. I originally named him Rob, but then changed my mind and renamed him Ed. Here’s a piece of advice—when you rename your character via a search and replace function, make sure you turn case sensitivity on, or you will end up with a manuscript full of pEdlems. Just sayin’.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

I think my teenage self would be pleasantly surprised I wrote a novel at all, since as a teenager my goal was to become a famous artist (though even then I suspected commercial art was more my speed). Having said that, I happily dabbled in writing as a teenager and won a place in a NY city-wide playwriting competition in high school. My reading and writing tastes at the time tended to science fiction, horror, and existential avant garde, but I liked thrillers as well.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

The beginning came to me right away, and I knew the ending as well. However, there are endings and there are endings. There is an ending to the story itself, and there is the last chapter. Those are not always the same thing. I had to add an extra chapter after I thought I was done because I didn’t quite complete the full circle of the story.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Laney shares my complete devotion to my child and a tendency to romanticize the people she loves. Alfie shares way more traits with me than is comfortable to reveal. In order to properly get into a character’s head, I need to be able to identify with at least some of their personality traits. I couldn’t write someone alien to me.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Family, of course. Everyone I write about is either me, my family members, or my friends, cut up, thrown into the air, and reassembled into something new.

Music! Although I need absolute silence when I write, music has had more of an effect on my creative output than anything else I can imagine.

In Hide in Place, Alfie develops an interest in fire. He studies it, respects it, plays with it. This interest would never have occurred to me if I hadn’t been a rabid Rammstein fan.

Laney listens to classic rock and Alfie is a musician himself with a wide-ranging knowledge base of everything from classical, to Big Band, to dancehall and EDM (much like me).
Visit Emilya Naymark's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hide in Place.

My Book, The Movie: Hide in Place.

--Marshal Zeringue