In the Spotlight with the Always Impressive Emma K. Leadley
Her short story "A Wail of a Tail", is the first story in our collection and Has all our reviewers raving. We are thrilled this talented author has leant us her words on numerous occasions. Read her short story here
Emma K. Leadley (she/her) is a UK-based writer, creative geek, and devourer of words, images and ideas. She began writing both fiction and creative non-fiction.
Emma has always had a love of putting words together but only more recently developed the confidence for those words to reach further than gathering cyber-dust on her hard drive. Since early 2019, she's had multiple fiction stories published (or are upcoming) online, in eBook and in print, ranging from 100 words to 2000 words. They're mainly speculative tales: fantasy or horror with some science-fiction thrown in.
The biggest surprise to Emma was a new-found love of writing horror: she is a total wimp when it comes to watching anything with even the vaguest hint of horror -- yes, that includes Doctor Who, Stranger Things and Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- unless it's animated or in book form and consumed in daylight with the curtains open.
Have you always written, or was there a catalyst that prompted you to begin this journey?
I’ve always had a love of words and puns, fostered by both my grandmothers. And since I could read independently, I’ve inhaled books. But, writing is something I thought other people did – we had to write a long story at school and I hated it. My writing was stiff, the dialogue, such that it was, awful and I didn’t know about concepts such as ‘show don’t tell’.
In 2012, my now-husband, then-friend, used to come around to my house and use my large dining table to spread out his writing books on. He’d huff, and he’d puff and sigh and scratch his head and occasionally, he’d scrawl out some hieroglyphics onto a page. I’d look at him and think, “how hard can this be?”
Oh, how naïve I was! It’s the most gratifying, rewarding thing to write a story but it can be like pulling teeth at the best of times. I tend to edit as I go, because of my perfectionist nature, and that slows me down whilst I try to think of the perfect word or phrasing.
More recently, I’ve started outlining more before I begin and whilst I still edit as I go, I’m better at understanding it’s a draft and to leave it a couple of days before a final edit. That’s been a hard lesson to learn but incredibly useful in becoming more objective to my work.
What is your favourite genre to read?
As a pre-teen, I’d read Enid Blyton and my favourites were the Magic Faraway Tree series as well as The Tree That Sat Down, by Beverley Nichols, so I guess I’ve always had a love of fantasy. Into my teens, I discovered authors such as Jeff Noon, Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, so cyberpunk and scifi became my go-to. I’ve never read much horror as I get scared too easily, but Clive Barker’s Imagica was a book I read multiple times. Due to ill health I stopped reading for a very long time but started reading far more again in the past year or so. My current favourite authors include Gareth L. Powell, Dave Hutchinson, Emily Tesh, Ben Aaronovitch, Frances Hardinge and Alix E. Harrow. And perennial favourites include Neil Gaiman and Garth Nix. There’s some great work out there.
Do you remember the first piece of writing shared publicly? What were people’s reactions, but more importantly how did you react getting it out there?
Ha! I’m actually known under a pseudonym for writing erotica and have been published under some big names in that genre. (More details are on my blog, for the curious). The first time I received a contract was an incredible high – someone actually wanted to publish my work – and I don’t think that feeling has ever faded. It was difficult to share what I’d done though as so many people disapprove of erotica and see it as a ‘lowest common denominator’. I heartily disagree with that as I believe that any writing that elicits a response is worthy and the more human an experience you’re writing about – whether pleasure, fear or other – the better you have to be as a writer else it isn’t believable. My biggest writing highs are a story being picked out of an anthology as ‘standout’ by Publishers Weekly and more recently, since I started writing speculative fiction, having had ‘A Wail of a Tail’ published by yourselves. I’ve struggled to write more than short flash for a long time and this story has really helped me move my writing on.
What is your workspace like? What kind of atmosphere do you need to write?
Have laptop, will travel. I’m self-employed and work from home, and we’ve just moved to a new house - yay, go Coronavirus timing trying to get in plumbers and builders to make the house useable! – but I have sorted out my office/study. It’s a lovely space but I do see that more for paid work at the moment. Most of my writing seems to happen whilst I’m propped up in bed or on the sofa with my laptop on my knee. I think it’s the psychological difference of being in a different space.
Without giving too much away, tell us about the short story you have featured in “It calls to the Forest”. What inspired you?
My story is based on a creature from North American folklore. I fell down a complete rabbit hole in research as there are many different versions, as happens with such stories over time. I did change a few elements of the story to suit my own taste (for example, the dog must not die) but after writing, ensured that I’d got the main details of the legend correct insofar as that would allow. It was a fun piece to write, particularly when the antagonist is stomping round, singing!
Visit her online at her blog where she talks about writing, books and other topics: autoerraticism.com; her author website for new and upcoming publications, emmaleadley.co.uk; or on Twitter @autoerraticism
Pre-order your copy of "It Calls From The Forest" for only $2.99 on Amazon
Available in hardcover - paperback - eBook