Talking with Emily Mah Tippets

Two of Emily's Novels

Two of Emily’s Novels

News Flash!  Indies First is a promotion where writers step up to encourage book buyers to support their independent bookstores.  This year’s spokespersons are Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer.  As part of this, I’ll be at Page One Books here in Albuquerque from 1:00 to 2:00 on the afternoon of Saturday, November 29th, acting as a guest bookseller.  Even if  you can’t drop in while I’m there, other authors – and other bookstores – are taking part in the promotion.  I hope you’ll take advantage of it!

I thought it might be fun to introduce the readers of the Wednesday Wanderings to some of the other writers I associate with regularly, both from the New Mexico crowd and elsewhere.

This week I’m talking to Emily Mah Tippetts, author of Somebody Else’s Fairytale and its sequels, Nobody’s Damsel and The Hunt for the Big Bad Wolf, along with short stories that have been published in markets like Analog, and The Black Gate.  Once we’re done chatting, you might like to check out her websites: and

JANE:  So, Emily, in my experience, writers fall into two general categories: those who have been writing stories since before they could actually write and those who came writing somewhat later.

Where do you fall in this spectrum?

EMILY: In the former. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I found out where books came from. There isn’t a time I can remember when I didn’t make up stories, and to put that in perspective, I clearly remember my first day of preschool, meeting my little sister for the first time, and so on. I have a very long memory!

JANE:   You do, indeed!  I know you have a law degree and have been involved in a variety of very interesting projects – including founding an afterschool camp back when you were a Girl Scout.

What made you decide to make writing a major focus in your life?

EMILY:  It was always my goal. I went to law school because it required me to constantly work on expressing myself in writing, and because it can provide a good income. But the moment graduation was in sight, I applied to Clarion West and got in. After graduation, I packed up my things and drove up to Seattle to attend.

JANE: That shows real planning!

I met you through the local SF/F community, so I know that’s one of the types of fiction you write.  What draws you to SF/F?

EMILY: Growing up in Los Alamos where everyone works in science and technology, I guess? I’m not really sure; if my younger self could see me now, she’d probably be a little shocked. The first science fiction movie I ever saw was E.T. and it gave me nightmares for years. Literally, years. So did the sand people in Star Wars. So, I’m not sure how I managed to fall in love with science fiction.

JANE: Are any of your SF/F titles available?

EMILY: I’ve only ever sold short stories in the genre, and yes, they’re available on Amazon. I’m adding each one as I get the rights back.

JANE:  We both have stories in Steve (S.M.) Stirling’s forthcoming “Emberverse” anthology: The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth.  Can you supply us with a teaser for your story?

EMILY: Marc was finally enjoying life. He’d left his backwoods hometown, started building a social life online, and even had a chance at romance with a girl he met on his mission in Chile. His future was bright, until the lights went out for good.

JANE: That sounds interesting…   I like the contrast between “bright” future and lights going out.  The mention of “mission” reminds me…  Steve had already incorporated LDS into the “Emberverse.”  What made you decide to make your character a member?

EMILY: In SM Stirling’s Change universe, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintains order in the Rocky Mountain corridor. While Latter-day Saints have appeared as secondary characters in his books, I figured it would be interesting to show the Change from the perspective of one. I’m LDS myself, so it made logical sense that I tell one of these stories.

JANE: Ah…  A classic example of “write what you know.”  Good use of resources.

 You write in other genres than SF/F.  I’m particularly fond of Someone Else’s Fairytale which turns on its head the hackneyed romance trope of girl meets unattainable guy and, against the odds, he falls for her.  In fact, I wouldn’t call it a “romance novel” at all – it’s a great book about what it takes to make and maintain a relationship.

What other sorts of fiction do you write?

EMILY: I’m not sure how to classify my other fiction. Fairytale is pretty representative of my style; I like to subvert romance tropes. I’m not a fan of love as destiny stories. To me, the best romances explain how it is the characters get to their happily ever after. Because of the ages of my characters, much of what I write would be YA and upper-YA.

JANE: I agree.  Love is important, but it’s what a person does with love that interests me.  A romantic relationship should be the beginning of the story, not the end.

One last question…  You’re a very busy person.  You’re married, have two children in single digits, run your own business, and still find time to write.

What advice do you have for those of us who sometimes find life taking over our writing time?

EMILY: I wish I had some! Honestly, I think it’s a matter of just making use of every second you have and putting things in priority. But sometimes even that breaks down. My business, EM Tippetts Book Designs  is structured so that most of the work (and money) goes to my contractor formatters, who are fantastic. I just manage the files and do the customer service. Whenever I take on something new, I make sure I have a plan for how to make it manageable.

But it’s still a balancing act! I never finish a day having done everything I wanted to.

JANE: Me either.  I’m beginning to wish that I could do without sleep!

Thanks for taking time from your busy day to let me interview you.  Now I’ll let you (and me) get back to work.

6 Responses to “Talking with Emily Mah Tippets”

  1. Paul Dellinger Says:

    “…never finish a day having done everything I wanted to…” And I thought it was just me!

  2. Paul Dellinger Says:

    P.S. I’ve just looked at those web-sites, and was inspired by the synopsis to pre-order “The Hunt for the Big Bad Wolf.” It looks like fun!

  3. Paul Dellinger Says:

    And here I thought “Hunt” was a standalone. But I’m glad to know better, because I’ve just downloaded “Someone Else’s Fairytale”!!

    • Emily Tippetts (@EMTippetts) Says:

      Hope you enjoy it (but no hard feelings if you don’t.) I try to write them so that they can stand alone, but if you really care about spoilers and such, you’ll want to read Fairytale first. And then there’s also a second one, Nobody’s Damsel, and Hunt is book 3.

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