Sunday, August 19, 2012

Interview with Emily Tippetts, Chick Lit and YA Author

This week we join Emily Tippetts on Pelican Bluff off the coast of California. The weather is awesome with a cool breeze and degrees in the mid 70s. We've set up several huge umbrellas for shade, and blankets and lounge chairs to relax on. There are coolers filled with cold beverages; bottled water, soft drinks and juice. So help yourself.

Emily is giving away an eBook or a paperback of either her new release Castles in the Sand or a back list book (winner's choice). Details below!
If you've noticed the police gathered a few hundred yards away, don't worry, they're just arresting Alex. Guess Alex was in a really bad mood since he bashed a police car several times with a large rock. 

The winner could find out what happens to Alex!

Reader’s Haven: Hi Emily, thank you for chatting with us this week. The cool breeze across the ocean is very welcomed! Tell us a bit about yourself  that our readers might not know.

Emily:  I started out as a science fiction writer and attended Clarion West Writers Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy in 2001. I’ve sold several short stories to magazines, but decided to write a chick lit book in order to get published in the Utah/LDS market and gain some experience taking a book from manuscript to final. It’s very strange to me that I now make most of my money from chick lit novels, as that wasn’t my original goal. Not that I’m complaining!

Reader’s Haven: What made you want to become a writer?

Emily: It’s something I’ve wanted for so long; I can’t really say what started it. Ever since I knew where books came from, I’ve wanted to write them.

Reader’s Haven: Please share a bit about your new release Castles in the Sand without giving away any spoilers.

Emily: The official launch day for this novel is Monday, August 20th. It will show up on Amazon a few days before, and may pop up on Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and iBookstore a little earlier as well. I hope to have the eBook in stock everywhere by the end of the day on Monday.

Madison Lukas lives in the fictitious town of Pelican Bluffs, which is on the coast of northern California, with her mother, who prefers to throw pots than to spend time with her daughter. When a Mormon missionary comes to town and reveals he is Madison’s brother, she’s shocked. She never knew her mother was even religious. Stranger still, this missionary remembers Madison as this beautiful, amazing girl, while Madison thinks of herself as plain and boring. Her brother’s not going to let her keep thinking that, though.

Reader’s Haven: Do you write under a pen name?

Emily:  Not really. I use two different variations of my name for my two types of writing. For chick lit and YA, I’m E.M. Tippetts. For science fiction and fantasy, I’m Emily Mah. My real name, as you can probably guess, is Emily Mah Tippetts.

Reader’s Haven: What types of hero or heroine do you like best?

Emily:  The ones who fight battles most of us don’t even notice. Without giving too much away, there are several in Castles on the Sand, including people who care for disabled relatives, immigrants who’ve crossed oceans to give their children a better life, and a big brother willing to stick his neck out to remind his little sister that she can demand more from life.

Reader’s Haven: Strong family ties and personalities make the characters realistic. Readers like that. Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

Emily:  If only I had one! Every day when my husband gets home from work, I sit down and write while he cooks dinner and puts the kids to bed. Sometimes during the day I write too, but that depends on what else is going on and whether my kids will let me.

Reader’s Haven: Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Emily:  They all have a romance plotline, but I’m trying to do as many different variations on that as possible. Castles has a love triangle and I try to keep the reader guessing who Madison will end up with.

Reader’s Haven: How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?

Emily:  A novel takes at least six months, often longer. The thing about writing is that you can do a lot of it in your head. Writers who sit down and “just write” have actually done all the plot-breaking and scene visualizations already. Writers who write a ton of drafts are doing the same process, just in a different way. I do a lot of both. Some novels I’ve had on the back burner for so long they seem to write themselves - my last novel, Someone Else’s Fairytale, was that way. Others I have to do draft after draft of. That’s how it was for Castles on the Sand.

Reader’s Haven: Do you have to be alone to write?

Emily:  No. I’m a firm believer in learning to write anywhere, under any conditions, or else I’d never write.

Reader’s Haven: How do you go about naming characters?

Emily: I try to have each character’s name begin with a different letter - this helps readers who are very visual to distinguish them. I also aim to have a lot of ethnic diversity appropriate to the setting. Since Castles is in California, its characters are from everywhere imaginable. When I’m working with an ethnicity I don’t know very well, I use baby name websites. Having said that, I went to the United World College of the Atlantic for high school (“college” is the British term for high school and these schools started in the UK), so my Facebook profile has friend links to a lot of really great, diverse names.

Reader’s Haven: Another resource for names, thank you. Of course we would have to get their permission. Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

Emily: I don’t care too much about the details of what a character looks like, so a lot of that I add in towards the end of the editing process. Their minds interest me a lot more than their bodies, I guess! For Castles, I decided to make a book trailer, so I dug around on Shutterstock for images and that’s why these characters look exactly how they do. Jean-Pierre, for example, was an image before I came up with a name and backstory.

Reader’s Haven: How do you pick locations for your stories?

Emily:  With the exception of Castles, they’ve all been places I’ve lived. I went to law school in LA, where Time and Eternity is set, and even went to church in the same chapel as the characters. I did my undergraduate degree at Oxford, where Paint Me True is set. Albuquerque, where Someone Else’s Fairytale is set, is where I started my law career, so I used my favorite courthouse building, favorite restaurant, etc.

Reader’s Haven: What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?

Emily: Someone Else’s Fairytale has garnered such a wonderfully positive response from readers; I’m going to write a sequel. I’ve mulled over the plot long enough that I think I’ve got one that my readers will like, but they’ll have to take a little leap of faith, going from Fairytale, which is chick lit, to the sequel, which will be more of a police procedural. I expect a lot of my readers to see that and raise an eyebrow, but I hope to win them over in the end.

Reader’s Haven: Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

Emily: My website is, and if you sign up for updates, you can rest assured that you will only get them when I’m releasing a new book, or for other major news, like one of my books being nominated for an award. I don’t update that site often, because I really don’t think people want to know all the nitty gritty details of what I eat for breakfast and who I vote for. I do more updates on, and some of those are more personal. My Amazon Author page has links to all my books, as do my websites and my Goodreads pagePeople can reach me anytime through the email links on my sites or by tweeting at me
My books on US Amazon:
Someone Else's Fairytale | Paint Me True | Time & Eternity

My books on B&N    

Readers, enter to win through the Rafflecopter below. Each entry is a greater chance to win! Winner's choice of eBook or paperback of one book. Good luck.

Read a review of Someone Else’s Fairytale by Haven’s reviewer Lynn Reynolds.

My full name is Emily Mah Tippetts, and I write chick lit as E.M. Tippetts and science fiction as Emily Mah. I got my start in writing at the Clarion West Writer's Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy. Obviously, I wrote before I attended, but that's the first real credential I earned. From there I joined the Critical Mass writers group, an invitation only group that I had the privilege of working with for ten years. My first sales were to science fiction and fantasy anthologies and magazines, including Black Gate and Analog Science Fiction and Fact. I've gotten a few honorable mentions in the Year's Best anthologies for both fantasy and science fiction.

As for my chick lit writing, my first novel in that genre, Time and Eternity, came out in 2008 from Covenant Communications, a small press that caters to the LDS market. My second and third novels, Paint Me True and Someone Else's Fairytale, were first published in ebook format, with print versions to follow.

I'm originally from New Mexico, have a bachelors in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University, and a juris doctorate in business law from UCLA. I also design jewelry (and no, that doesn't fit in with any of the other stuff I've listed here.) Currently, I live in London while my husband does his PhD.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Hi Emily! Thank you again for visiting with us this week.
    Readers, get your entries in the Rafflecopter and good luck! ~Louise

  2. Welcome Emily! We're excited for our readers to learn more about you! Thank you for being our guest all week! Readers, who has questions for Emily?

    Don't forget to see how many ways you can earn more contest entries! Thank you for stopping in!

  3. Thanks so much, guys! And yes, anyone who wants to ask me a question, I'm here :-)

  4. I've already got a copy of Castles in the Sand but I had to stop by when I saw this entry and say how much I love Emily's books!

  5. Thanks, Cami! Nice to see you here ;-)