Author Spotlight: Emily Thiede
|© Jen Fariello|
June 17, 2022
We are excited to feature author Emily Thiede and her debut YA novel, THIS VICIOUS GRACE (Wednesday Books) out on June 28. Enter to win a copy!
|Cover art by Kemi Mai, designer Kerri Resnick|
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.
Those two questions are very intertwined for me. When I was fifteen, my family moved across the country and then my new town redistricted the following year, so I had the unfortunate honor of being the new kid in school twice as a teenager. Alas, since I was not a YA main character, I did not become the most popular girl in school and there were absolutely zero supernatural love interests battling over me. Instead, I learned how difficult it is to start over and how important it is to find your community, whatever it may be. The intensity of those years changed me forever, and now almost everything I write features characters figuring out who they are and where they fit in the world, which is, in my opinion, the heart of young adult literature.
Congrats on your YA debut, This Vicious Grace! Tell us about it and what inspired you.
Thank you! This Vicious Grace is a romantic young adult fantasy about Alessa, a girl chosen by the gods to save her island from a recurring demonic invasion, but to do so, she needs to magnify a magical partner’s power by touching them… and every time she tries, she kills them. Whoops! When her own advisors begin to debate whether assassinating her might make a new (better) savior rise, she convinces a grumpy outcast named Dante to be her temporary bodyguard, but his own dark secrets threaten to destroy her once and for all. My editor describes it as a romcom being embraced by a dark fantasy, and it’s full of my favorite elements from both genres: high-stakes, magic, humor, pining, banter, and all the feelings!
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
I’ve always loved books and thought it would be amazing to write one, but I mistakenly thought all authors knew their entire story before starting to write a book, so I never actually tried, aside from one terrible Saved by the Bell self-insert fanfic in middle school. It wasn’t until my mother challenged me to do National Novel Writing Month in 2015 that I actually attempted to write an entire novel, but once I finally did, I was hooked, and I began drafting a bunch of ideas, taking classes, seeking out feedback, and making friends in the writing community. In 2017 one of my manuscripts was chosen for a mentorship, which was a fantastic experience but it didn't get me an agent, so while querying that book in 2018, I got into another mentorship program with another manuscript, but both of those projects ultimately died in the query trenches.
In early 2019 I was feeling defeated and frustrated, so I began writing a “just for me” book with all of my favorite tropes and story elements. I had no idea if it would ever be marketable, but I needed to remind myself that I loved writing. So I did. I loved it so much that I was terrified to query it, but I made a short list of agents and braced myself to send it out into the world by fall. Right as I started querying, I heard about an editor from a major publishing house who was switching to agenting, and when I looked at her wishlist, my book had so many of the things she wanted to see. I may have been the first query in her inbox, honestly, but it worked and she offered representation a week later. Together, we furiously revised for a few months, then went out on submission to editors... in March of 2020, right as the world shut down. I thought I was doomed, but somehow, the editor of some of my favorite books plucked TVG out of her inbox, fell in love with it, and offered in a pre-empt. After so many close calls, abandoned manuscripts, and years of querying angst, this turned out to be my unicorn book that somehow found its way to exactly the right people at the right time and I’m so grateful.
What projects are you working on?
At the moment, all my entire creative energy is dedicated to finishing the sequel to This Vicious Grace, but I have another YA fantasy idea simmering on the backburner that I’m looking forward to working on once the sequel is off to copy-edits. I can’t say much about it yet, but it will have all the magic, banter, and romance that readers will expect after reading TVG and I’m excited to get started on it (after taking a little time off to relax and enjoy completing my debut duology!)
What advice would you give your younger self? Is this the same you'd give to aspiring authors?
“It’s okay to not have everything figured out yet. You have so much time.” And it is the same advice I’d give to aspiring authors. I worked hard and excelled in school for years only to realize in my final year of college that I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. As an overachiever, that lack of purpose felt like a world-ending crisis, but looking back, I want to hug that girl and tell her that she has so much life yet to live and it’s okay to put one foot in front of the other for a while even if you don’t know where you’re heading. Dreams don’t have expiration dates, and neither does potential. I worked odd jobs, got another degree, taught for a few years, then decided to stay home with my babies, all before I figured out what I really wanted to do “when I grew up.” Those years weren’t “wasted,” because they made me the writer I am now. So, explore, meet new people, try different hobbies, travel if you can, and let yourself wander aimlessly at times. Life is not a race.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Ooh, that’s a tough one because I am, by nature, a chatty over-sharer, but I bet most people in the book world don’t know that I’m actually a pretty good singer. I survived multiple solos in high school and some open mic nights in college, but I’m still terrified to sing in front of people so few people have actually heard me. I’m like a vocal version of Schrodinger’s cat--lock me in a soundproof room and I can sing well, but does it really count if no one will ever hear it?
Where can people find you online?
People can find me across social media at @ektwrites and on my website at ekthiede.com
EMILY THIEDE is the debut author of This Vicious Grace. A former public school teacher, Emily has channeled her love for teaching and writing into mentoring aspiring writers through the Pitch Wars mentorship program, co-hosting the Basic Pitches podcast, and serving as a board member for Writer House. Originally from New Jersey, Emily now lives in central virginia with her family. You can find more about Emily and her books at www.ekthiede.com and across social media @EKTWrites.
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