Ten Terrifying Questions with Kate Emery!

by |July 21, 2022
Kate Emery

Kate Emery lives in Perth and works as a senior reporter for the West AustralianThe Not So Chosen One is her first book and was shortlisted for the 2020 Text Prize.

To celebrate the release of her debut Young Adult book The Not So Chosen One, Kate takes on our Ten Terrifying Questions! Read on …

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I am almost aggressively boring: born, raised and have spent most of my life in Perth, Western Australia. I’ve always loved to write so I studied English at the University of WA, did honours in creative writing, and then immediately fell into journalism. But I have always written fiction for fun in my spare time.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was twelve I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a secretary. I got it into my head that this was a very glamorous job to have and that I’d get to wear a pencil skirt with a split up the side, which was apparently my life’s ambition at the time.

By the time I was eighteen – and definitely by the time I was thirty – I wanted to be a writer. The only real evolution was that when I was eighteen I wanted to write the great Australian novel and be hailed as a rare and genius talent. By the time I was thirty I just wanted to write the kind of books that I love to read and somehow figure out a way to get paid for that.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you don’t have now?

That if I didn’t have a book published by the time I was twenty I would have missed my chance.

4. What are three works of art – this could be a book, painting, piece of music, film, etc – that influenced your development as a writer?

Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea series instilled in me a love of fantasy books at a very young age. The Tombs of Atuan (the second book in the series) is a near-perfect standalone book that’s barely a fantasy but is just a gorgeous and sad read.

Lev Grossman’s The Magicians (and the books that followed it) made me want to write urban fantasy. That book absolutely blew me away with its warmth and compassion and humour.

And finally, The Princess Bride, a film that is beloved by every child of the 80s, is a masterclass in how to mix adventure with humour and romance – exactly what I have tried to blend with The Not So Chosen One. The book is a wonderful ride as well but the film is what I fell in love with first.

5. Considering the many artistic forms out there, what appeals to you about writing a young adult book?

Despite a love of reading YA it never occurred to me that The Not So Chosen One was a YA book until I’d finished writing it. That’s despite it being all about teenagers and set at a school. So I didn’t set out to write a YA book, per se, I just wrote a story that happened to be about young people. That said, I do think there’s something special about YA as a genre, where the emotion can be dialled up to eleven and the stakes feel very high.

The Not So Chosen One by Kate Emery

6. Please tell us about your latest book!

The Not So Chosen One tells the story of Lucy, a Perth teenager, who finds out she’s unexpectedly pregnant on the same day she both learns that magic is real and that she’s been accepted to a secret magic school. But magic school, without giving too much away, doesn’t go exactly the way she imagined it, and magic isn’t the solution to all her problems.

Beyond that I’m getting into spoiler territory, so sorry for the unsatisfyingly short plot summary. I hope it will appeal to fans of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians series and Harry Potter but also non-fantasy nerds who just enjoy a good story.

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7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I hope that people finish the book and sit there, staring into space to consider the ending, which is – again, no spoilers – not quite wrapped up with a bow. Then I hope they’ll track me down to tell me their theories.

8. Who do you most admire in the writing world and why?

I haven’t mentioned her as an inspiration yet but US writer Rainbow Rowell is someone I greatly admire, for her ability to flit between genres. She’s written YA and adult fiction and graphic novels and yet she’s always retained her comic style. Possibly I also admire her for being, like me, a journalist who took the plunge into fiction.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

This is revealing myself as a true first-time writer but just seeing my novel in the world is the realisation of my biggest ambition. Holding it in my hands and seeing my name on the cover feels quite surreal.

My next ambition is as simple as getting a contract for another book… and another… and another.

10. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

This sounds like a joke but the best advice is, I think, not to take anyone’s advice too seriously. I used to feel so intimidated reading advice that said you had to write every day or you had to write in a certain environment or write a certain amount every day or week. That’s not been my experience: most of the time I only have time to write for a few hours a week, so that’s what I do.

Thank you for playing!

The Not So Chosen One by Kate Emery (Text Publishing) is out now!

The Not So Chosen Oneby Kate Emery

The Not So Chosen One

by Kate Emery

Get to know the author of The Not So Chosen One.

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