Today I’m excited to host E. M. Hamill for a little one on one chat! Hamill is author of award winning Sci-Fi adventure Dalí (which I loved) and the newly released fantasy, Nectar and Ambrosia (which I also loved). Reading through the author notes on Nectar and Ambrosia, it seems this book had a long and winding road to publication. Can you tell us a little about this story’s journey?
This book started as a really bad short story I wrote after Florian introduced himself in a dream. In the dream, he was this go-to guy everybody knew could get the gods’ ear if you needed a favor or an intervention, but that’s not how the story turned out. Eventually, I expanded the story to a full novel. I queried the heck out of it and got some really nice feedback from agents, but no one ever picked it up. I won a chance to work with a professional editor, Carly Hayward, in Pitch To Publication and she really helped me work on some of the character development. Though my manuscript wasn’t picked up, I still had hopes for it, but by then I was working on something new and put it away for a while.
What made you decide it was time to finally bring this idea into the world?
I still loved this story and some of the people who read the early incarnation were very insistent to see it in print and didn’t want me to forget about it! I rewrote the story yet again with some excellent input from critique partners. I also increased the LGBTQ rep, because when I initially wrote it, I wasn’t out yet. Now that I am, I wanted it to reflect more of who I was, and hopefully some of the readers who have enjoyed my NineStar published short story “All That Entails” and Dalí can see themselves as well.
Self publishing is an especially stressful endeavor. What made you decide to go that route with N&A?
I have been releasing about a book a year, and didn’t want to miss releasing one this year. I was afraid that this book didn’t quite meet the criteria of my current publisher, NineStar, because even though one of the main POV characters is bisexual, the main pairing is male/female. So I decided to test the waters of self publishing and see how it went. I learned it is expensive, but the level of control I have is attractive to someone like me who has been accused of…erm…being a bit anxious about that sort of thing.
Can you tell us a bit about Star Bard Books? Do you plan to publish more stories under this imprint—from yourself, or other authors?
Yes! I do plan to publish under Star Bard again, probably some short stories. The name Star Bard comes from the fact that I write both science fiction and fantasy, and my first two books in the Songmaker series are about a bard. I’ve toyed with the idea of publishing other authors, but probably not until after I’m done with school.
The first piece I read of yours was Dalí, an amazing sci-fi piece. N&A is quite a departure from that, falling much more on the mythological and fantasy side of the spectrum. Do you have a genre preference? Are there any unique challenges you faced while writing fantasy that you didn’t while writing sci-fi or vice versa?
Thank you! I have been amazed at how much Dalí resonates with so many people. I write whatever inspires me at the moment. I’d been writing a lot of fantasy but I rediscovered my intense love for writing science fiction, particularly space opera, a few years ago when the remake of Battlestar Galactica was on. I probably lean more toward writing fantasy most of the time, but sci-fi was my first real obsession.
Science fiction required a lot more research into real science for me. I wanted to make it feasible but still holding that fantasy edge that Star Wars and Star Trek have. When I’m writing fantasy, I don’t do quite as much research and allow myself a bit more license—it’s magic. It doesn’t need to be logical, but it does need to have a foundation of some sort.
Nectar and Ambrosia was set in a rich and interesting world, and felt more than capable of supporting more stories. Do you have any plans for a sequel?
Oh, I hope so. I plan on Florian being the thread that ties any further stories together.
N&A’s journey was a unique one. How do you usually plan/begin drafting new pieces?
I am a complete seat of the pants writer. I start sometimes with one scene or a character who just starts talking to me, like Dalí did. My first book was a serialized adventure that I wrote just for the amusement of myself and some friends, and I ended up reworking the whole thing to make it a novel.
If you could swap places with any character in the N&A universe for a day, who would it be?
Oh, I’d love to hang out at the bar just to take it all in. I’d choose to be one of the Amaranthine, just for a day. Probably Hermes, because he’s a decent sort and less self-obsessed than the others.
What’s next for E. M. Hamill?
I’m working on the sequel to Dalí right now, tentatively titled Third Front. It’s slow going right now because I will be in school for the next year as I finish my degree, but I’m guarding every spare chance I get to write like an angry Shontavian (which may or may not be a hint. I’m not telling.)
Thank you for stopping by the blog and answering my questions! If you’re interested in E. M. Hamill’s work, links are below. You can also read the first three chapters of Nectar and Ambrosia for free on her site!