What were your inspirations for writing Small Blessings?
I was interested in examining the unconscious prejudices we hold and the way they shape our lives. Initially I explored this through a short story, which centred on a missing child and two women from opposite ends of the socio-economic spectrum. The child’s shoe was discovered in the suburban front garden of the more privileged women. The genesis of this story was a single Blundstone boot I saw lying in the middle of a freeway. It’s strange how these things unfold…
Many of the characters in Small Blessings have difficult relationships with family, friends and/or loved ones. How did you research that?
Most of this came from observing myself, other people and the relationships around me. The older I’ve got the more I’ve realised that no one is perfect. That we all have ‘battle wounds’ that influence the ways in which we interact with others and the world. I think Small Blessings is about forgiving these flaws, and accepting they are part of what makes us who we are.
Saying this, I did research tangible factors that might influence relationships, including raising a child on the autism spectrum and undergoing IVF treatment. Interviewing people with lived experience helped me understand how my characters might react or feel in certain situations.
The plot of Small Blessings is very well interwoven between the characters. Are you a plotter or a ‘pantser’ when it comes to plot?
I’m a little of both. Usually, I have a rough idea of what the story is before I start. From here I write a synopsis and a chapter breakdown that acts as a guide – or a guide-rope through the first draft. Then I do a lot of character development, delving into my characters’ lives and background so that I get to know them. Inevitably, this all changes as I write and redraft, but it gives me a solid place to start from.
Your characters are incredibly memorable. How do you make the jump off the page and into our hearts?
Thank-you, this is such a compliment! I feel a lot of empathy for my characters. I think about them constantly during the process of writing, and get caught up in their highs and lows. I also interview real people to inform my characters’ experiences. It’s impossible not to absorb the emotions surrounding these stories, and inevitable they end up shaping my characters on the page.
Thank you Emily! You can find out more (including purchase links) about each of her novels by clicking on the covers below: