Can you briefly describe the Split Worlds series for readers who are unfamiliar with it?
The Split Worlds series features mad sorcerers, evil fairies and feuding dynastic families. There are effectively three layers of reality; the normal everyday modern world as we know it, called Mundanus, and a beautiful magical version of the English countryside which is a prison for the Fae, called Exilium. Between the two is the Nether, where human families with Fae patrons are engaged in an endless struggle for power. It’s very British urban fantasy.
When I finished book four, I thought there was no way Cathy would be able to change Nether society in just one book, and I had no idea how you’d write that. But then you went and did it with All Good Things! Could you talk some about the process that went into plotting and writing All Good Things?
The Split Worlds novels are a real challenge to write in terms of interweaving the different plots and what the characters do and how they develop. I write character-led fiction, so whilst there is a tonne of plot in the Split Worlds novels, it all has to be driven by character action and the consequences of those actions. By the time you get to the fifth book in a series, you know the characters so well and have a feel for what they will do, along with a sense of how you want to end the series. I knew what would happen in a few key scenes towards the end of the book way back when I was writing the first novel years ago! So it was a matter of looking at where each of the characters were at the end of ‘A Little Knowledge’, thinking about where I wanted the end point to be for each of their character arcs, what I wanted the resolution of the plots to be and then planning about five scenes ahead. I’d write those, look at whether I was still heading in the right direction – or if I had accidentally stumbled into a new direction I preferred!- then write the next five. I never outline a whole book in detail, as I hate to know exactly what happens before I write it. For one thing, I get bored and for another, I find stage planning keeps the book character focused, as I’m not sticking strictly to a rigid plan.
What’s been your favorite thing about writing the Split Worlds books?
On one level there’s a sense of achievement; I have written a five book series, it’s been published and there are fans who love the world and the characters with a passion that delights me. On another level, this series has been with me for a long time and is a vivid place in my mind that sometimes leeches through into my everyday life, which I love. For example; seeing the Wisteria coming out on local houses makes me think of Lady Wisteria and the other Fae. Walking around Bath makes me think of the Nether reflection of the city and what could be happening there.
Above all else though, writing these books led to the running of a Split Worlds Masked Ball LARP (live action roleplaying) event that was the most magical experience I’ve ever had. We brought the Nether to life, people played characters from the books and I made lots of new friends. That’s my favourite thing!
Do you have any plans to return to the Split Worlds? More short stories, perhaps?
There are still lots of stories to be told in the world, so I won’t rule it out. I can still feel a tug towards it. However, I have other books that I am contracted to write at the moment that need to take priority.
Gender, patriarchy, and oppression are huge themes in the Split Worlds books. Which genre heroines would you choose to lead a feminist revolution?
Emily Marshwick from Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky would be very high on my list. Aside from being utterly awesome, she has experienced conflict, stress and loss so she would go into a revolution with her eyes wide open.
Wydrin, from Jen Williams’s Copper Cat Trilogy would also be high on my list too. She takes no nonsense, is a skilled fighter and knows all the best bars. We’ll need a drink when we’re overthrowing the patriarchy.
On a similar note, what are some of your favorite science fiction and fantasy stories?
Aside from the books mentioned above; The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester, Escapology by Ren Warom.
What writing projects are you working on right now?
I have a rule that I never give any detail on what I’m currently working on, because I find that if I talk about it too much, it steals away the desire to write it! However, I can say that I’ve just turned in the last round of edits on my second gaslamp fantasy novella ‘Weaver’s Lament’ that will be coming out in October. The first novella, ‘Brother’s Ruin’ came out earlier this year and it’s a series I think Split Worlds fans would enjoy.
About the Author
Emma Newman writes dark short stories and science fiction and urban fantasy novels. She won the British Fantasy Society Best Short Story Award 2015 and ‘Between Two Thorns’, the first book in Emma’s Split Worlds urban fantasy series, was shortlisted for the BFS Best Novel and Best Newcomer 2014 awards. Her first science-fiction novel, Planetfall, was published by Roc in 2015. Her second SF novel, After Atlas, was shortlisted for the 2017 Clarke Award. Emma is an audiobook narrator and also co-writes and hosts the Hugo-nominated, Alfie Award winning podcast ‘Tea and Jeopardy’ which involves tea, cake, mild peril and singing chickens. Her hobbies include dressmaking and playing RPGs. She blogs at www.enewman.co.uk and can be found as @emapocalyptic on Twitter.