If you have been feeling a lag in motivation in your writing life, you need to read this interview with Emelie Samuelson. Emelie is humorist, YA novelist, and all-around inspiring woman. She lives in the small town that the Gilmore Girls‘ Stars Hallow is based on. Read on to learn more about how and why she picked up and moved to this town. You’ll be inspired to follow your dreams.
What do you write?
I have my own blog, Awkwardly Alive and Pleasantly Peculiar, on which I share weekly stories about my many embarrassing moments in life, and I also just finished the first draft of my first novel. Now I’m in that dreadful editing process. The two projects are different enough, though, so my brain is never bored. The blog is all about the comedy and the novel is, well, not.
Can you tell us a little more about your first novel?
My novel is a psychological one, dealing with a teenager with schizophrenia, although I think it’s more about the characters than the illness itself. I think it will be marketed to young adults, which is great because that’s a genre I’m incredibly comfortable with. I’m pretty inspired by the Y.A. authors (but would never dare to compare myself to any of them because they’re too brilliant and I am…me.) Rainbow Rowell, John Green, and David Levithan (just to name a few, although there are a least half a dozen more). I like when authors of that genre can write books for teens that don’t over-dramatize things. It’s important to me that teen fiction is respectful towards what teenagers go through and what they feel. Whether or not my book will accomplish that, I have no idea, but I’m really hoping it will.
How do you write?
I try and wake up every morning at 5am to write. This winter has been rough on that schedule, but for the most part, I stick to it. My brain is fresh in the morning, unlike when I get home from work and all I want to do is veg out on my couch with a book or my Netflix account. My mornings tend to go like this: Wake up, coffee, read a chapter from a book on writing (Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird is my favorite. I highly recommend it.) to get my mind in the writing mode, drink more coffee, WRITE, drink coffee, WRITE, DRINK ALL THE COFFEE, WRITE!! And then I eventually get ready for work and do some reading, take the dog for a walk, etc. Sometimes, if I’m working on a specific project, I’m really strict about what I write, but most mornings I just let myself do free writing and see what comes out of it. I do most of my writing on my laptop because generally my mind is running at a million miles a minute (all that coffee!) and the only way I can almost keep up is to type, but I try and journal every night with just pen and paper. It’s amazing to see the difference in results. Whenever I write with a pen, I feel much more eloquent than when I’m typing away at my computer. With a pen, there’s no backspacing, so I try and choose my words more carefully because I still want everything to look nice when I’m finished. It’s a great way to wind down at the end of a chaotic work day.
I’m a full-time bookseller at The Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington, Connecticut. It’s a small, independent shop in a small, independent town with no cell phone service or even a traffic light. Don’t mistake this place for a ghost town, though. There’s more happening here than one could ever imagine, and how I ended up here is actually a pretty interesting story: When I was ten-years-old, I turned to my parents and said “I know what I want to do. I want to live in England and I want to own my own bookshop.” I had just seen both Notting Hill and You’ve Got Mail not too long before this, thanks to my two older sisters. I don’t think my parents expected me to be so settled at that age, but I never got over it. I started applying for a job at my local bookshop in Ohio when I was thirteen. Then, when I was 16 and the labor laws allowed it, they hired me. I worked there all through high school and college, except for the year I went to go study in England (See? Determination!), and then I kept working there for a few years after graduation. Eventually, though, I realized that that specific shop wasn’t the end goal for me, so I started looking for jobs. I saw a posting online for a full-time position in a tiny bookshop in Connecticut. I had never been to Connecticut, but it seemed nice. I sent my resume and after three phone interviews, my dog and I hopped into my Jeep and my dad was following us with the uHaul. It’s been about a year and a half since that day and I haven’t thought twice about it. If I could talk to ten-year-old me, I think she’d be pretty pleased with her future self. Granted, I’m living in New England and not the UK, and I’m not owning a bookshop, but I’m still young. Who knows what lies ahead?
Holy heck, I cannot tell you how inspiring this place is. I’m really fortunate to be living in a very literary community. The Hickory Stick has been around for over 60 years and we’re surrounded by amazing writers. I’m still in awe over the fact that I’ve gotten editing tips from New York Times’ Bestselling authors. That’s nuts. Not to mention, spending all day surrounded by and talking about amazing literature makes it difficult not to want to sit down and write. Can it be intimidating? Of course, but that’s when you have to let your ego get just a little bit of the best of you–just enough to convince yourself that maybe you can do this. Maybe.