An Interview With E. M. McBride

C: First, where are you available on the internet so that readers might get in touch with you or learn more about your work?

E:  I do have a Twitter for my fanfiction fans. I am working on expanding on that to reach more readers but at the moment I’m only available on Twitter. I have been working on getting a blog but at this moment it’s still a work in progress.

C: You should let me know when that blog is up so I can tell readers where to find it. So, how long have you been writing?

E: Actually, I’d forgotten that I made a blog (I hadn’t put anything on it when I made it like a month and a half ago… Whoops?) It’s I’ve just started actually updating it. Answer: I’ve been writing since I was in about second grade. I was obsessed with Alaska and sled dogs (no idea why) and so I would write about having my own sled dog team and racing around Alaska.

C:  I was obsessed with Alaska at that age, too. I saw that movie with the planes… I don’t remember the plot, just that it was called Alaska and there were planes and kayaking and the scenery was really pretty. Did Jack London kill your love of Alaska like he killed mine?

E: Was it Alaska? And no, Jack London didn’t. He didn’t really touch my love of Alaska. My love of Alaska was stronger than him.

C: Yes, I think it was! It’s been a lot of years. Speaking of authors, who was the first author or book you recall really influencing your writing or reading habits?

E: I read a lot when I was younger. Sixth grade was a year full of reading everything I can get my hands on. Harry Potter was definitely the first book series that really influence me. Rowling has probably been one of the most influential authors in my life, especially my earlier writing.

C: You write Harry Potter fan fiction. Could you talk a bit about your style, your favorite characters to work with, and how you think that relates to or affects your original work?

E: I find that writing fan fiction is more practice than anything. It allows you to work on your writing skills without having to go through all the planning stages that come with original works. My favorite characters to work with probably have to be Sirius Black, Lily Potter, and Molly Weasley. I like how Sirius is such a loose cannon, the flexibility of Lily, and Molly’s almost overwhelming maternal instincts, something that follows through in original work. My style consists a lot of consistent elements. I try to keep it balanced between the more lighthearted, trivial scenes and the darker, slightly more depressing scenes. I only write in first-person, something I’ve been doing since I was in high school, and something that I do in both my original work and my fan fiction. I like to use strong female characters, mostly because I feel that I can relate more to women and because I don’t find weak characters are easy for me to write about. I use pretty much the same style in both my original work and my fan fiction work.

C: You say it’s hard for you to write about weak characters…. Emotionally weak? Weak in personality? Give us an example of a weak character in something you’ve read.

E: Weak characters for me are those with underdeveloped personalities and lack of sense of self. For example, reading all of the Twilight books was hard for me because Bella’s sense of self was so dependent on Edward. Weak character tend to seem a bit more wooden to me.

C: I’d have to say that’s about the perfect example. So, when you sit down to write a story, what’s the first thing you work on or think of? For me, it’s the characters. I have characters, then I decide how they interact, then a plot and setting grow out of that, etc. Natalie tells me this is weird. What’s your method?

E: I like to flesh out my characters first. Characters are so incredibly important to me. It sounds weird but I have to be attached to my characters for me to write about them. If I can’t attach or connect to my characters then I won’t even try to make myself write about them. I like to do character profiling. Get a sense of the characters and how they interact with each other. Example: If Character A is tightly-wound with a Type A personality then how’s that going to affect their relationship with their sister, Character B, who’s a neo-hippie? I like to know what kind of characters I’m dealing with because has such an effect on every other aspect of the story

C: I completely agree. Can you tell us a bit about the characters you’re currently working with for your original project?

E: Sure. Right now I’m working on a character named Ardara. She’s a bit rough. She begins as very naive. As life goes on and things get a little hairy, she starts toughening up a lot. She actually gets a little too rough around the edges. Pretty much through the books her character development is about finding a happy medium between thinking life is all lollipops and rains and that life is guaranteed misery where everyone you meet is out to get you. Her development is about learning to be a realist rather than an optimist and a pessimist.

Ewan is the main male character. He’s an interesting character. He’s kind of a traditionalist and he’s probably one of the more moral characters I’ve ever written. He’s all about what’s right rather than what’s necessarily realistic. He and Ardara to butt heads a lot because she has a tendency to be more cynical about the world and, you know, why should I care about the world when it doesn’t care about me? He’s more of a “I’m going to do what’s right no matter if I’m doing it alone just because that’s the right thing to do” kind of guy.

Ewan and Ardara definitely have to be the two main characters. Their relationship is a bit tricky. They argue like crazy because they have such differences in their morals and outlook on life. Ardara more just wants to survive and keep the people she cares about alive whereas Ewan is more of a revolutionist. Their interaction is kind of what keeps the books going.

C: Sounds a lot like my stuff. And this is why we work so well together. We’ve got another project that’s on our dockets…. Can you speak briefly to our eventual work on Maybe I Know?

E: Maybe I Know is still a definite work in progress. There’s still a lot of work that has to be done on it before we could even begin writing it. The bare basics, which I doubt will change, are that the character Holly, who’s a bit shy and naive, is dating Heath, who’s definitely not shy or naive. Anyways, Holly kind of starts getting worried that he’s a bit unfaithful. She ends up asking Cherry, a chain-smoking, rule-breaking rebel without a cause, to try and test that fidelity. The plan is completely askew and it doesn’t work out at all like it’s supposed to, which is pretty common in these deals. I write all of Cherry’s point-of-view chapters and you, obviously, write all of Holly’s chapters and we both get every other chapter. It tentatively is going to be based on the 1970’s. There’s going to be a lot of innuendo and angst and twisted humor and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

C: I’m going to throw you a bit of a curveball here and ask you this in the interview because it’s been bouncing around in my head for a while. What do you think about doing an alt historical piece for this, like it’s the 1970s, but instead of the war being overseas, it’s on American soil? Or the Cold War is not really cold? Something like that. How do you feel about alt historical work?

E: Well I love history but I’ve never consider doing an alt historical piece. I love that idea. That has so many possibilities. My brain is actually overwhelmed by all of the potential things we could do for that.

C: I’m so glad! Thanks for taking the time for this interview. Perhaps we’ll do another in the future. It’s been a pleasure.

E: Thanks. It was a lot of fun. Anytime.


About Charlotte Blackwood

Charlotte Blackwood is a self-employed aspiring author working on perfecting her first novella/ first novel. She is a current student at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA. If you're looking for a reading list (someday she'll add her own works to the list), she's currently supporting Anna Karenina, anything by Dickens, anything by Tolkien, anything by JK Rowling, A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Hunger Games.

2 thoughts on “An Interview With E. M. McBride

  1. I don’t think your starting with characters is weird so much as you start with character names. Like…when I build a character I go for personality or significant life experience first, but you grow them out of a word. That’s….pretty impressive actually.

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