Saturday, November 12, 2022

Emily J. Edwards

Emily Edwards earned her degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and took the long road to becoming an author, working for over a decade as a wine and spirits journalist, radio producer, and creator of the podcast, F*ckbois of Literature. She currently resides in Connecticut with her husband, and several quadrupeds.

Edwards's new novel is Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man.

My Q&A with the author:

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

I think my favorite part about the titles of my first two books, but Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man in specific, is that they’re present-tense action titles. The title of the first book is also a bit of a spoiler, but the key essence of a mystery novel is that the mystery will be solved, so it’s not that spoiler-y. Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man is a given– but the core of any mystery novel is asking “How?” And even though there is absolutely no reason why it does this, it feels extremely old fashioned and of-the-time. I don’t think anyone is going to pick up this book and expect a modernly-set story. Something about the snappiness of the title lets you know that this is an historical mystery.

What's in a name?

If Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man was just called “Girl Friday Mysteries,” I don’t think you’d be as compelled to pick it up. You need to know who Viviana is and how she’s living with that absolute millstone of a name. You know everything about her– based on the name. I have a long-running joke about having an alter ego named Viv, a kind of little old lady who can hold a drink and a cigarette all in the same hand, wears too much leopard print, has four-pack-a-day smoker’s voice, and just is a bit of a mess. She’s my Viviana, only older. Viviana Valentine is just “too much,” and she doesn’t care one fig that she is!

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

Teenage me was pretty depressed, and I think she would’ve been incredibly surprised that I finished writing 80,000 words! Kids have a tendency to quit on projects, because something that takes a year takes 1/13th the life of a thirteen year-old, you know? So I had a tendency to drop projects quite a bit and walk away. But once you get to be in your mid-30s, what is dedicating five years to getting a book off the ground? Literally nothing. Being in your 30s is the best.

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

I’m so steeped in film culture, after having gone to Emerson College and living so many years in Los Angeles, that I always have my “opening shot” in mind when starting a new book. I need my characters to be in action. The other part about mysteries is that the ending is where you tie up all your loose threads. Unfortunately, I’m a bit scatterbrained (I’m a pants-er not a plotter!) and endings are the place where you need to make sure nothing got left out. That’s the hardest part for me!

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

Viv is so much more confident than I could ever be. I’m much more like Dottie, one of Viviana’s housemates, who is a quiet, bookish elementary school teacher. Dottie is how I would fit into the murder mystery– giving sage advice to the person going off on an adventure. And telling them to be careful!

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

The visuals of noir movies obviously play a huge role in the book, but also, jazz music. I’m not the world’s most voracious jazz cat, but I just love the aesthetic of it and what it meant, politically, in the post-War years. The year 1950 was much, much more tumultuous than most people think it was, and that chaos of bebop and mid-century jazz just feels so accurate, looking back!
Visit Emily J. Edwards's website.

My Book, The Movie: Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man.

--Marshal Zeringue