Welcome to Em Dehaney
Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in a town on the River Thames called Gravesend, and now live in a village not too far away. Gravesend is ever present in my writing, and my first novel is set there. It has a rich and varied history, and you may know it as the place where Pocahontas died.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc? I write mainly fantasy and horror. My novel, The Golden Virginian, is an urban fantasy, but I like to research real historic events and base my writing around that. My writing often links the past and the present. I have been a lifelong horror fan, so my writing also regularly veers towards the supernatural and murderous.
Do you have a favourite character? If so why? One of my favourite characters from The Golden Virginian is Ethel Tilley, a 400 year old riverside prostitute. To quote the description of her from the book
“Ethel was both tired and ancient yet playful and fresh. It was as if her mind was stuck being a teenager, but her body was struggling to keep all its molecules together after four hundred years”.
And she makes exceedingly good cakes!
Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? The taxi-driver John Pete. Everything about this character is vile.
“A spluttering cough announced the entrance of a man whose palette consisted entirely of grey and yellow. His skin was a sallow ash, as though no oxygen had made it to the surface since 1975. The whites of his eyes. were no longer white, but a sickly, pale lemon. His shirt was the colour of used dish-water with yellow stains mushrooming out from under the arms. Wispy grey hair was dotted about the sides of his head, the top of which was shiny-bald. A smile broke out on his face, presenting an array of misshapen, rotted tooth stumps.”
Are your characters based on real people? The main character The Golden Virginian, Tommy Tucker, starts life as a lazy stoner with no girlfriend and no job, and he ends the book as The Searcher of The Thames. This was a real role of royal appointment since the 14th century, and in was the precursor to Customs & Excise. The Searcher was given permission by The King to check every ship entering Gravesend for contraband, counterfeits, secret letters and any other prohibited or taxable goods. In my novel, the first Searcher of The Thames (a man called John Page) uncovered a world of magical trade happening in secret under the King’s nose, and so becomes the first tax collector of the magical community in Gravesend.
Pocahontas also features as a character in the opening of this novel, although I have taken some artistic licence with her final hours.
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? As my novels are all based around real historic events, I try and use local resources for my research. Lots of visits to the Gravesend library, plus talking to local historians, is far better than just using the Internet. I like to visit the places I am writing about and feel the atmosphere. The novel I am writing at the moment, The Lady of The Dead, opens with the murder of a Transylvanian Prince, which occurred in nearby Gad’s Hill. This was a real event that took place in 1661, and when I first read the accounts, it was so mysterious and evocative I knew I had to incorporate it into one of my novels.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? Although on the surface The Golden Virginian is about magic, revenge and the journey of the main character, it is at heart a story about family. I don’t think I set out to write a novel about families, but my family is important to me, so it naturally came out in my writing.
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? I am planning to self-publish The Golden Virginian in March 2017 in e-book and print, to coincide with the 400th Anniversary of Pocahontas’ death.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I have not employed the services of a professional editor, but I do have a particularly eagle-eyed and pedantic friend who edits and proof reads for me. I also like to get lots of feedback from different beta-readers.
Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I think the stigma around self-publishing is on the way out. It would be great if people thought about indie-publishing in the same way as indie music – it’s real, authentic and less commercial than traditional publishing and you get full creative control. Yes, its harder work, but you are the one reaping all the rewards. That’s not to say that a book deal with a publishing house isn’t still the end goal, but if I don’t ever get there, I wont feel like a failure as people will still get to read my work.
Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes, all the time. I’ve just read a great supernatural blues odyssey by Richard Wall, and I love the work of horror writers CL Raven and Matthew Cash.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Reviews are vital, especially to indie authors, but NEVER comment on them, whether good or bad.
What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? Writers are all readers. You can’t be a good writer without reading extensively, and giving reviews to a fellow writer as long as you have read the book is fine.
What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Never give up. Finish what you started. You can always edit a bad novel, you can’t edit thin air.
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I absolutely loved the Hellraiser/Sherlock Holmes crossover Sherlock Holmes and The Servants of Hell by Paul Kane. As a fan of both the original source materials, I thought it was a well-thought out book and didn’t read like second rate fan-fic.
Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? My two all-time favourite authors are Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. While King is traditionally thought of as horror and Gaiman fantasy, I feel that they both transcend genre. Whatever mood I am in, there is always a King or Gaiman short story to suit, and I never tire of re-reading their novels.
Do you have a favourite movie? Hitchcock’s Vertigo is a classic, stunning in both style and substance. The feeling of impending doom that runs through the whole film, the music and that reverse camera focus-pull that is now standard visual language for fear of heights, but was created by the master.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I used to belly dance.
Out now: 12Days Anthology featuring my poem ‘Here We Come A-Wassailing’. All proceeds go to The Cystic Fibrosis Trust.