I'm a board game designer, creator of Heartcatchers, …and then we died, Abandon All Artichokes, and a bunch of prototypes in progress. I write about my daily game design practice (#gamedesigndaily) on Twitter and Instagram. I've spoken about game design and community building on podcasts and at PAX Unplugged, PAX West, SHUX, DreamHack Austin, and Twitch Con. I'm also a science fiction author!
When I'm not toying with mechanics or inventing new post-apocalyptic worlds, you'll find me helping customers find just the right game to play at Mox Boarding House in Seattle.
One of my funniest moments was getting memed by Gizmodo for paddling a hammock boat.
I attended Stanford University, eventually settling on a degree in Product Design (the fuzziest engineering degree I could get away with). In previous lives, I ran the marketing department for an indie video game company, organized events at the classiest pool joint in New York City, and brought together hundreds of designers to be inspired by one another as a community manager for Playcrafting.
Interview on David Kristoph's blog.
DK: Growing up, what are some of the books that influenced you most as a writer?
EL: I read a lot of really meaty novels at a young age - Lord of the Rings, David Copperfield, Wuthering Heights. I was the kid who actually enjoyed English reading assignments. They developed a love of words in my young brain (although I would later learn that the flowery language in literature isn’t a great fit for most modern audiences). The Chronicles of Narnia series was a big influence, for sure. In a sea of wordy epic fantasies, it told fascinating adventure stories with engaging characters that didn’t take a month and a dictionary to get through. And everything by Tamora Pierce put me on track to create strong heroines.
Interview on Through the Gateway
Tell me something cool/crazy/quirky about the book – it can be anything!
I’m obsessed with naming. Almost every name has a convoluted backstory with multiple layers of meaning. Take Kiellen Corr, the heroine of the story, for example. ‘Kiel’ is similar to ‘ciel,’ which means ‘heaven’ or ‘sky’ in French. Kiellen is a pilot obsessed with flying her Mechalarum suit (in the sky). ‘Corr’ is similar to ‘coeur,’ French for ‘heart.’ Kiellen is passionate and headstrong, usually acting on her instincts and emotions. Her last name also evokes the word ‘core’ - after all, Kiellen is the main character, the ‘core’ of the story, central to the the plot and action.
I’m not even done. I could go on, but that’s probably already more than anyone wants to know :)
Interview on The Reading Head
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
That’s a great question! I’d love to see Isabelle Fuhrman play my heroine, Kiellen. She describes her character in The Hunger Games (Clove) as ‘sarcastic’ and ‘vicious.’ Clove is also highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat. Kiellen has trained her whole life to be a warrior. She often lets sarcasm – and her temper – get the better of her.
Interview on Codices
C: Surely there are a few key influences that can be considered pivotal for the writing of “Mechalarum”; can you name some?
EL: Tamora Pierce had a huge impact on me growing up, and her books deeply affected my writing. Her simple, direct style, focus on diverse, bold, women characters, and fast-paced adventure storytelling all found their way into my work.
Weirdly enough, I feel like I was influenced by my favorite movie of all time – “Terminator 2”. There are some key differences between Kiellen Corr and Sarah Connor, but Connor is probably the most similar character you’ll find in terms of personality. The bravery, the unflagging determination, the tendency to give in to sarcasm and anger – all are important traits of both Connor and Corr.
Oh, and “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”! It was the first book that showed me how to weave humor into science fiction.
Interview on Travel Write Sing
Luke: A lot of self-published authors resort to self-publishing after vigorous attempts at traditional publishing. As for you, you researched traditional publishing and decided it wasn’t worth it, so opted for the rigors of self-publishing. Explain yourself here. Should traditional publishers be afraid of authors like you?
Emma: Be afraid, be very afraid! Just kidding, I’m mostly harmless..
I tend to overanalyze my decisions before I take action, which has pros and cons. Before I even considered publishing my novel I took classes, interviewed established authors, attended conventions, and read dozens of articles. The consensus was that it would take one to three years to get an agent (if I was lucky), and one to three years more to get a publishing contract (again, if I was lucky). So I was looking at two to six years from the time my novel was finished to the time anyone would be able to read it. I was far too impatient to wait that long.
In addition, I’d already learned how to do most of the tasks involved in publishing a book. I’d taken graphic design classes in college, and developed marketing materials for my employer. I’d been writing, editing, and doing layout for technical manuals for years. I’d delved deep into the world of marketing, social media, and building websites. I knew it would be a lot of work, but certainly not undoable.