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Interview with Emma Eden Ramos

Emma Eden Ramos is a relatively new-to-me voice in poetry and short fiction, but she’s got such a unique perspective on her stories that make it fresh and memorable.  Her poetry, particularly in Three Women that I reviewed last year, offers well drawn voices and perspectives, and her poems are memorable in the images that they create.  It is no wonder that she brings these same talents to her fiction, including the recently published The Realm of the Lost, which I reviewed earlier this week.

Today, she’s agreed to answer a few questions about her middle-grade fantasy novella, The Realm of the Lost.

1.  The Realm of the Lost is a novella for middle grade readers, and you’ve published poetry in a collection, Three Women.  How was the writing process different for these two genres?  Did one take longer than the other? Was there more editing involved with the novella versus the poetry collection, etc.?

Because Three Women: A Poetic Triptych is prose-like and tells a story, I approached it and The Realm of the Lost in much the same way. When I began writing Three Woman, however, I gave myself permission to be reckless and experimental. While the idea for The Realm of the Lost cycled through my head for about a year before I was able to go anywhere with it, Three Women took two months from start to finish.

Initially, with Three Women, I found myself saying, “This could be a giant failure, but so what? Why not try it out? Be messy!” That frame of mind turned out to be crucial because, while it shifted once I got deep into the writing, it gave me the starting point I needed. I consider myself more prose-writer than poet, so I was reserved about letting go and playing with The Realm of the Lost. Once I allowed myself room to be adventurous (and perhaps even silly at times), The Realm of the Lost began to take shape.

The Realm of the Lost certainly required more editing than Three Women. Whether that has more to do with genre or length (The Realm of the Lost being four times as long as Three Women), I don’t know. I do know that, in both cases, giving myself ample space to experiment helped the story morph into something tangible and, hopefully, soulful.

2.  Mikey, the eight-year-old boy in Realm of the Lost, is exuberant and often acts without thinking, like most little brothers.  Do you have any siblings?  If not, where did the inspiration for Mikey come from? And are their plans to write his own story?

While I do have a younger sibling (a sister), she wasn’t the inspiration for Mikey. Let’s just say that she isn’t the one known for being “overly exuberant” and acting thoughtlessly.

When I first met Mikey, I thought of him as a cross between Dickey from Dickens’ Oliver Twist and the little brother from the 1944 film National Velvet, whose signature line, “I was sick all night!” seemed to fit in with Mikey’s usual impishness.

There will be another Realm story. I can’t say for sure if it will center around Mikey. He is, nevertheless, bound to make an appearance.

3.  Rosario is a mysterious character, but she sort of takes on a big sisterly role with Kat, which is a bit of a role reversal for the protagonist.  Was this intentional and what do you think this relationship teaches Kat about her own life?

While Kat sees herself as “the patient one, the one who takes care of everyone,” she has a tendency to be quick-tempered and judgmental. As is true of many first children, Kat views her younger siblings–her sister Ellie in particular–as a burden. She is too preoccupied with being the bossy grown-up to give herself space to be a kid. When Rosario steps in and not only chastises Kat for being unkind to Mikey but takes on the role of Big Sister, Kat begins to have experiences that allow her to identify with the people she has been so quick to snub.

4.  Tell us a little bit about your process in finding a publisher for your poetry and short stories.  Do you have an organized method? How do you find the right publishers or do you have a network of writers that offer their advice?

Finding the right publisher for one’s work can be a bit like finding the right college. There is an enormous amount of research involved. With Three Women, I was asked by the editor to write a poetry chapbook, so I didn’t end up doing the research that is typically required. With The Realm of the Lost, I kept an eye out for different publishers the moment I had the idea. Stories for Children Magazine, a journal for children’s literature that published one of my stories, had a monthly newsletter that included publishing houses accepting middle grade and juvenile fiction. MuseItUp Publishing was on that list.

There are some fantastic resources out there for writers. Many genre-specific journals have a newsletter or an affiliations page on their website. It is always a good idea to search through names and visit different publishing houses’ websites. I have a list on my computer that I revisit regularly.

5.  Will your next project be middle grade readers, poetry, or something else?  Care to share some tidbits or a title to whet readers’ appetites?

My next book will be for middle grade readers. If I had a title, I’d happily share it. That is still in the works. This book, however, will be a full-length novel. I love novellas and read them regularly, and I plan to continue writing them. But yes, a novel is on its way, so please stay tuned.

Thanks, Emma, for sharing your thoughts with us about your novella, your characters, and the writing and publishing process.

About the Author:

Emma Eden Ramos is a writer and student from New York City. Her short stories have appeared in Stories for Children Magazine, The Storyteller Tymes, BlazeVOX Journal, and others. Emma’s novelette, Where the Children Play, is included in Resilience: Stories, Poems, Essays, Words for LGBT Teens, edited by Eric Nguyen. Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems (Heavy Hands Ink, 2011), Ramos’ first poetry chapbook, was shortlisted for the 2011 Independent Literary Award in Poetry. Emma studies psychology at Marymount Manhattan College.

  • I enjoyed Three Women, and I can see why/how she approached writing Realm the same way. You know I’m a big fan of prose poems! Great interview!
    Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)´s last blog post ..Mailbox Monday — October 8

  • Emma,
    Enjoyed your interview. I have to say that many new authors tend to restrict themselves when they are writing in order to follow specific genres. Glad to see that you allow yourself to explore creatively!
    Cheryl
    Cheryl Carpinello´s last blog post ..Had Your Legend Today?

  • That’s quite a jump. Semi-experimental fiction to middle grade novel. Very interesting.
    Libby´s last blog post ..Meeting Michael Chabon

  • All around great interview and answers!
    Julie P.´s last blog post ..Review: A Wedding in Great Neck

    • Thanks for checking out the interview.

  • What stuck out for me was her comment — ‘I gave myself permission to be reckless and experimental’ — that’s huge — and very striking. In all things, but especially with creative endeavors. I’ve got to get Three Women — it sounds great.
    Audra´s last blog post ..Friday Reads on a Thursday

    • I think being reckless is a good idea when you are trying to be creative.

  • Dana

    Interesting interview! I like hearing about the inspiration for her characters. This book sounds fascinating.

    • Mikey was very fascinating.

  • How interesting that Ms. Ramos took the same approach to writing the poetry and MG novella. I would think the process would be completely different! I guess allowing yourself to be creative and try new things is the most important ingredient in both styles of writing.
    Janel Gradowski´s last blog post ..From The Depths Story

    • I was surprised by that answer as well. I thought the approach would be a bit different.