Romance novelist Emily Merrill released her debut novel Mine on the 18th of November. At age 18 she started writing the story of Avery, a young woman entangled in a love that spirals into an abusive relationship. At age 21 she’s released this intense and heartfelt story to the public in the hope that it will inspire women to find their own voice.
A synopsis of Mine:
Avery and Luke are solid. The love they have is the envy of her friends. So when he joins her at university, she’s pretty sure that life can’t get much better. But something is changing and when Avery makes a new friend in the brilliant writer Beckett, she starts to see a new side to the man she loves. A side that scares her. As their relationship begins to spiral, she’s faced with a life-changing decision. Should she fight for her boyfriend? Or should she fight for herself?
Emily has taken the time to answer some of my questions about her road to traditional publishing. From dealing with sensitive topics to the editing process to managing a fulltime job and creative writing, Emily gives a peek into her life as an author and her path towards writing Mine.
Emily Merrill’s Writing Process
Your debut novel Mine recently got published. What have the first responses been like?
The responses so far to the book have been so heartfelt; people really resonate with Avery and her story, and the overall message of self-love and independence. Knowing that Mine is helping other people, and that it’s widening the discussion on domestic abuse is all I ever wanted for Avery’s story. Reading reviews and being tagged online in photos of the book has been overwhelming in the best way. It’s been a rollercoaster of a release week!
Mine is a book that deals with sensitive topics such as abuse. What have your considerations been when writing about these sensitive themes?
I knew I wanted to write about a topic that might resonate with readers. The topic of domestic abuse and coercive control is a sensitive topic as you say, so I spoke to peers, did my research, and watched documentaries. I tried to cover the topic as accurately and as tactfully as possible. Me and my editor were meticulous when it came to checking that the storyline was aligned with the research on coercive control. Writing about a topic that isn’t often discussed in YA was scary, but I have always wanted to write something meaningful. To me, that means pushing boundaries and opening up discussions that might not be widespread yet.
What is your general process when writing a novel?
I would love to say I have one, but every novel has had a different process. For Mine (originally titled ‘Four Years’ when I was writing it) I completely pantsed the manuscript and wrote the story in about six months with no outline. Now, working on books two and three, I’m outlining more. What’s working for me at the moment is being aware of the journey I want my protagonist to go on, and outlining a few chapters in advance. That way, when I sit down to write, I can let the characters drive me, but also have enough notes to get some words on the page. I never edit until the manuscript is done; paying too much attention to detail during the first draft is dangerous for me.
Working full time and writing as a side hustle can be a lot to take on. How do you manage to combine the two?
I write in every spare minute. From the moment I decided that I wanted to write this book, I have made it a priority. Getting up early before work, writing in my pyjamas before I go to sleep. Sometimes I even wake up in the middle of the night with a spark of inspiration and get writing! I’ve always been the kind of person to thrive from a busy lifestyle, so I like to make sure my day is full of productivity. On my days off from work, I get into a routine of getting up early and planning my writing schedule, so I don’t waste precious writing time.
The Road to Publication
You’ve mentioned before that the road to publication hasn’t always been an easy one, especially as a young author. What has your experience been?
I found that my dream of being a young author was met with a lot of rolled eyes and the phrase “come back when you have more experience”. It was something I could never understand. Young people are so emotional and passionate, and writing about teenage experiences when you are a teenager should never be seen as a negative thing. It was hard at times to have faith in my manuscript, knowing that my age was seen as a weakness. It was refreshing when Salad Pages came along, and spoke so openly about their drive to promote younger authors and their unique voices. Young people have so many stories to tell.
For publishing your novel you’ve decided on traditional publishing at Salad Pages. What has your experience been with traditional publishing?
Traditional publishing was always the goal for Mine, and I couldn’t have had more of a positive experience with Salad Pages. The team are so open to my ideas and input, which took me completely by surprise, especially when it came to aspects such as cover design. Salad Pages completely value their authors, and it creates such a wonderful publishing experience. Having an editor was such an eye-opening and rewarding experience, and is another reason I am so glad the book was picked up traditionally.
What to you was the most difficult part on the road to publication?
I think the most difficult part was getting the abuse storyline right. I had many sleepless nights during the editing process, doing extra research and tweaking Luke’s character and Avery’s experiences. Editing was such a valuable experience, and I wanted to make the most of it. Now, looking back on the differences between the first and final draft, I’m so proud of the way the book evolved.
Now, having published your debut novel, what’s in store for the future?
I’m working on two projects at the moment. My goal as a writer is to write stories that will mean something to a reader in the same way that so many books have deeply affected me, so my first project is another book that pushes boundaries and opens up emotional topics. My second project is still a seedling, but is a story that I wanted to have a lot of fun with. It’s a book that I feel like I need to read right now, as well as a lot of my peers. Publishing Mine also gave me the confidence to be completely myself in other areas of book-ish life, so I have a lot of plans for my Booktube channel which I’m excited to pursue.
Plotter or pantser?
I’m a pantser, trying to train herself to be a plotter. Outlining is hard! I never want to let it ruin the magic of writing.
Notebook or laptop?
Laptop. I like to be able to see my word count.
Tea or coffee?
Hot chocolate!! If Avery (the protagonist in Mine) inherited anything from me, it’s that.
Physical books or ebooks?
Physical books. I own a lot of books, and I want to have a library in my house one day. Kind of like the Beast’s library in Beauty & the Beast. eBooks are a lifesaver for going on holiday though!
Mine is out now and is available in paperback for £8.99 at Book Depository, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble and more.
Ordering Mine via the Book Depository link above means I’ll receive a small commission that helps support my blog.