Hello, I'm Rebecca Scarberry, author of MESSAGES FROM HENRY and RAG DOLL. I'm Scarberryfields on Twitter. As you all know, my blog is devoted to interviews with authors. I have now interviewed another multi-published author, Stifyn Emrys, (@StifynEmrys on Twitter). I have enjoyed learning more about him and certain you will also.
Scarberryfields: Can you tell us a little about your nationality?
Stifyn Emrys: I like to joke that I’m half-Californian and half-British. I was born in California, but I’ve been to Great Britain three times and my mother’s side of the family has a hefty percentage of Celtic blood. I also enjoy British humor and writers from the U.K. (J.R.R. Tolkien and Neil Gaiman are two of my favorites). My pen name is Welsh, which is fitting since I’m a great lover of dragons. Stifyn is the Welsh form of my given name, Stephen; Emrys means “immortal,” and I thought it was fitting, as authors’ works tend to outlast them. It’s also one of the names for Merlin.
Scarberryfields: When you finish writing a story, do you miss the characters?
Stifyn Emrys: Not really. I can always go back and reread the story. Besides, the characters all come out of my own head - which, presumably, will remain attached, enabling me to visit them whenever they’re feeling hospitable. That said, I’m only part way through the series (I’ve completed the first book, Identity Break, and a novella, Artifice), so we haven’t gotten sick of one another just yet.
Scarberryfields: While writing, if you need help with punctuation, grammar, etcetera, where do you turn?
Stifyn Emrys: I’ve been an editor myself for about 25 years, so I’m comfortable around words. I got into journalism with the idea of writing books in my spare time, and I’m just now getting around to it. My wife, Samaire Provost, is an author herself (“Mad World: Epidemic” and “Mad World: Sanctuary”), so she serves as my editor/beta reader. If I’m struggling for the right word, I won’t hesitate to check out my trusty Thesaurus.
Scarberryfields: With the number of hours spent writing, do family members support you or complain about the time spent away from them?
Stifyn Emrys: My office job at the local newspaper keeps me busy with four 10-hour shifts a week, and I write in my spare time. I don’t set word-count goals, but most of my time away from work is spent either writing or promoting my books. I’ve published four non-fiction books, a novel, a children’s story and a novella since July 2012. My wife is fully supportive. It’s great being married to another writer, because each of us understands the other’s dream - it’s a dream we share.
Scarberryfields: For research sake, do you travel to any of the places you mention in your books?
Stifyn Emrys: I love to travel, but I don’t think I need to travel. One huge advantage of the Internet is that it brings the world to your doorstep. “Identity Break” is set in the San Francisco Bay Area, about three hours north of my home, and I’ve visited the area a few times, but if I’d never been there, I think the story would be just as effective. I believe the main ingredients in a good novel are an interesting plot and characters that connect with readers. The setting is secondary. To put it bluntly, people relate a lot better to other people than they do to settings and descriptions, no matter how beautifully they’re drawn.
Scarberryfields: When you’re writing, do you shut-off all social networks?
Stifyn Emrys: I tend to go back and forth. My main reason for being on social networks is to promote my books, and I spend a good portion of the day connecting with others online. Most of the interactions have nothing to do with my writing, but most of my online contacts know I’m a writer, and that helps with marketing. Today, for instance, I’ve written a bit on a forthcoming non-fiction project, but I’ve also done a lot of online work - including this interview. It’s all part of the big picture. Whether I’m writing or getting the word out about my books, I’m doing what’s necessary to succeed.
Scarberryfields: Did you use any family members as Beta readers for your stories?
Stifyn Emrys: Yes. My wife, Samaire.
Scarberryfields: Do you feel social networking is a good tool for marketing your books?
Stifyn Emrys: Absolutely. I’m following what I call the George Takei model. I interviewed him after a recent performance of his stage musical, “Allegiance,” and he told me he started his Facebook page to promote the musical. Most of his posts have nothing to do with the musical itself, but he draws people into the page with humorous and topical posts. He’s also got a lot more name recognition than I do, but I like the idea: keep people entertained, introduce yourself to them and allow them to become familiar with your work.
Scarberryfields: What is the last book called that you completed and published?
Stifyn Emrys: I published my novel Identity Break in February and the novella Artifice in March. If you like twists, you’ll like Identity Break. Some people have compared it to The Twilight Zone and The Matrix, and there’s a definite Orwellian backdrop to it. One of the taglines I use for the book is “You won’t see it coming.” I like surprising readers. It’s a way to keep them engaged in the storyline, but the characters have to be strong, too. I used a multiple-first-person technique in Identity Break that allows readers to get inside all the main characters’ heads. Artifice expands on the story but can be read before or after Identity Break. It won’t ruin any of the surprises if you read it beforehand, and it will throw some light on the plot if you read it afterward.
Scarberryfields: Where can readers go to find your books?