I am happy to welcome Emma Swinhart as our guest for June 2017. I met Emma last Fall through UT Dallas campus and we connected as fellow writers, so I am glad she accepted to be a guest for this monthly feature.
Emma Swinehart is a native Texan who recently graduated with a degree in Literary Studies from UT Dallas. Since then, she has finished working on her first YA Fantasy novel, and has her fingers crossed that she will be able to get it published soon. She is a Disney fanatic and has been to Disney World and Disneyland countless times. When she is not writing, she is hanging out with her campus ministry friends and pretending she is still attending college. You can follow her on Twitter.
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
SWINEHART: I feel as if Science Fiction is such a part of American culture that it’s difficult to say how I was introduced. It’s a bit like saying “when was the first time you saw Mickey Mouse?” If I had to say that moment I remember being hooked by Science Fiction, it would be watching Jurassic Park. I was five and loved dinosaurs. That’s the earliest I can remember anything remotely Science Fiction going on in my life and it was wonderful.
NG: What place does Science Fiction have in your life?
SWINEHART: Considering I’m a writer and my favorite genres are Fantasy and Science Fiction, I’d say Science Fiction and I are pretty good friends. I can’t write without thinking of what my world is like, and what technology they have, and how the characters must act because they live in such a different culture. So I end up thinking about Science Fiction a lot. I love the philosophical questions it often brings up and the infinite possibilities, which is why Sci-Fi is so inspirational. It’s not a book a person can just put down or take out of the DVD player without coming out with a new perspective on life – or at least that’s what I always hope will happen. I admire the genre.
NG: What are your favorite Science Fiction books and movies?
SWINEHART: Jurassic Park has to be on this list, of course. I was so excited when Jurassic World came out. Trained raptors, guys! Back to the Future is also a favorite. The two book series that really got me loving Sci-Fi are Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and Maximum Ride by James Patterson (not that the last few books are any good).
NG: What do you think of the relationship between Science Fiction and Fantasy?
SWINEHART: The lines blend a lot with Science Fiction and Fantasy. I absolutely love Pokémon, and, despite there being time travel and futuristic technology at times, it’s still Fantasy, but with those occasional Sci-Fi elements. I think that the similarity between the two is that all bets are off the table- anything is possible in both genres as long as it’s realistic for that impossible world. Both genres require a suspension of disbelief and both give the reader or viewer a sense of escape. They work hand in hand, yet they are each still very different and unique. I don’t think they battle against each other at all. Both genres make a person think and feel and, if you ask me, that is what makes them both very important.
NG: Do you think that Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to women?
SWINEHART: I do! As a woman, I don’t feel as if I have any less right to be writing Science Fiction. My favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy book series is the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, a New York Times bestsellers. The four main characters are women. It’s written by a woman who did hundreds of hours of research on how her technology would work. I know there’s prejudice out there, but in the amazing new worlds created by Sci-Fi anything is possible and I see that as welcoming to anyone.
NG: What are your favorite female characters from Science Fiction and Fantasy?
SWINEHART: Hermione Granger. Hands down. I love female characters that are perfectly fine with being themselves and don’t feel the need to live up to anyone’s absurd expectations, including society’s. Hermione always blows me away with her intelligence and compassion. I’ll mention the Lunar Chronicles again. I have two favorites from the series: Cinder for not being the stereotypical girl swooning over the prince and Winter (Snow White) because she has such a big heart. I could go on and on I’m sure, but those are my top three female characters right now.
NG: How did you start writing?
SWINEHART: Maximum Ride was actually the series that made me start writing. I didn’t want to wait for the sixth book to come out, so I wrote my own. After that, I started writing Pokémon fan fiction for fun considering I had free time.
NG: What authors have inspired you the most?
SWINEHART: J.K. Rowling. I could study Harry Potter for weeks on end and still fangirl over how wonderfully written it is. In fact, there’s so much packed into her books that I learn more every time I dig into it. Every time I sit down to plan out things in my story, I turn to articles about how J.K. Rowling writes and am always inspired. And what I love most, besides the characters and how different they are, and the themes, is the depth of her world. She’s crafted a complete world. I want to do that in my writing. Marissa Meyer also inspires me considering she researches so much for a book and combines so many different plots together throughout her novels. I also have to include C.S. Lewis for being the first to gift me with the desire to visit new worlds and yearn for characters like Aslan to exist.
NG: How does your faith influence your storytelling?
SWINEHART: As a Christ follower I want my stories to be full of love. That doesn’t mean everything is flowers and rainbows, or that my characters are perfect, or that Jesus is going to be the main character. But what I do aim for is a story that will build people up rather than tear them down. I would rather write a story about the difficulty of sacrifice and desire to grow than another girl obsessing over her crush. I love romance stories, and I love fantasy- but most love stories are fantasies nowadays. I’d like my characters to find out how to have healthy romantic relationships. I’d like a parent to be able to let their teen pick up my books and know it’s safe for them to read without some explicit scene popping up. And if people want to read that, that’s perfectly fine. That’s their right to and there’s plenty of it out there. I’m also not trying to shove a Bible in someone’s face. What I aim for as a Christian is for readers to ask the tough questions because of my writing and, if the reader is Christian, to be encouraged.
NG: Can you tell us about your writing projects?
SWINEHART: I sure can! In the past few months I finished my first novel, which is not yet published. It’s a YA Fantasy called Drop of Sun. It’s meant to be the first in a trilogy. As I wait to hear back from agents, I’m working on the prequel. Here is a little summary:
Ava is expected to be the perfect princess—prudent, principled, and powerless. Her protective father, King Aerius, expects her to sit compliantly on the throne, suppressing her miraculous powers gifted to her by the Sun. But Ava believes that she is the girl foretold in the prophecy—the girl with golden wings whose powers were meant to be a light in the growing darkness.
When a Bareback, one of the Fallen’s descendants, interrupts Ava’s commemoration and announces that she is needed to save the kingdoms from dark forces, she must make a decision—to live restrained by her father’s corrosive rules or to accept the unsettling prophecy and trust the cryptic Gaige, one of the cursed.
NG: Thank you very much for being with us today, Emma! Best wishes to find an agent and get your book published!