Seven years in the making, Emma Grace’s debut novel, Match, was started when she was only 13 years old, but has been toiled over with breaks so she could “refine it with a more grown-up mind,” as she worked though college.
At 2PM Saturday, April 15, at the Potsdam Public Library, Emma, a SUNY Potsdam Creative Writing Major, and Hannawa Falls resident, will be reading from Match and and talking about her habits and origins as a writer as well as signing copies of her book, which will also be available for sale.
Writing since the age of eight, Emma discovered her love of fiction writing when she found herself in a writer’s workshop class in school, “which was about 45 minutes a day to work on essentially whatever we wanted,” she said.
“Forty-five minutes didn’t feel like nearly enough for me, so I would snag my mom’s work laptop when she got home in the evening and hammer out some words on a Microsoft Word document,” Emma said. “I was 8 or 9 when I started a story about a boy named Brett (named after my cousin) who lives on an island and has a pet triceratops. It was essentially Pokémon but with dinosaurs, and I think I got about 13 pages done, which is pretty decent for a 3rd grader, in my opinion.”
From the world of books, Emma pulls influence from writers Suzanne Collins (she loves her cliffhangers, she said), as well as the style and imagery of Madeline Miller, and Jon Krakauer’s nonfiction stories about the outdoors.
But it’s actually being in the outdoors that breathes life into Emma’s stories.
In addition to pursuing a B.A. in Creative Writing she is also Minoring in Wilderness Education at SUNY Potsdam.
“I am a huge fan of the outdoors and I love to get outside—I’m a very kinesthetic person and feel my best when I’m doing something physical,” she said. “It may sound strange, but the small degree of bodily suffering that I experience on a long hike is really inspiring. I can head out to the Adirondacks and suffer through a cold, rainy, 10-mile hike and then think okay, how can I use this experience in my writing? Being in touch with my own body allows me to put myself in a character’s shoes and more accurately describe their experiences. Plus, the Adirondacks are simply gorgeous—they’ve inspired more than a few poems.”
Match is the first in a trilogy following Katie Davis, who “has had her whole life planned out for her since birth. She, along with every other citizen of Carcera, is predestined to marry her perfect Match. She knows that she will eventually have two children, and that none of the citizens will never leave the Border, the wall of stone encircling the city. No one could have predicted, however, the harrowing night that forces Katie and her three best friends to flee for their lives only days after their Matching Ceremony.” ~ From the Match website.
Emma said she has been working on Match since she was 13, seven years from “start to shelf,” she said. She used that time not only for the first book, but the second two as well.
“I wanted to wait until I was pretty much through college to publish, so that I could refine it with a more grown-up mind (whether or not that happened, I’m still not sure, but it did go through many revisions!). I also took breaks for other projects, as well,” she said.
During the journey of the books creation, Emma said she wanted to be sure each of her characters had unique voices, which she said was the biggest challenge, with her protagonist, Katie, mimicking her own inner monologue.
“It was tough to make sure that Noah had his own voice, or that Ava sounded unique. In my head, they’re all very different, but translating that to the page was tough,” she said.
In creating the walled in city of Carcera, Emma said she thought a lot about her fears, with the idea of not being able to explore and travel, and being stuck inside a wall her whole life being “enough to make me weak in the knees. So I wanted to dive into that feeling, so I stuck Katie inside the Border.”
When thinking about Matching, for the book, Emma said she was referencing a blog post she saw that read, “’wouldn’t it be cool if when you turned 18, you were given a half-heart necklace, and you had to go on a voyage to find the person with the other half?’”
“And I thought well, what if I took that and totally flipped it? And just like the Border, the idea of being Matched is pretty spooky to me—I mean, if I had to marry someone I knew at 16, I would definitely not be thrilled,” she said. “There’s a lot more to be revealed in the future about why, exactly, Carcera implements the Match system, so stay tuned!”
Spark, the sequel to Match, is in the works at the moment, and while Emma doesn’t want to say too much about the road ahead, she revealed that it focuses more heavily on Chris and his experience in Carcera/the Underground.
“We do see plenty more of Katie, don’t worry, but Chris is gonna get some time to shine, which is really exciting,” Emma said. “I’m having a lot of fun getting into Chris’s head right now—I’ve never written from the point of view of a man before, and certainly not one as complicated as Chris, so it’s a fun and interesting challenge. I can’t wait to see the process unfold with this book just like I did with Match.”
Read more about the new novel, Emma, and purchase Match here: https://www.authoremmagrace.com/match