Emmie Mears discusses the Stonebreaker series in this in-depth author interview:
About the book: Where once water was scarce, it now springs from the ground, traversing over land to the sea in the west.
Several moons after the breaking of the stone, life is finding new balance in the Northlands. Carin has made her home in Lahivar with Ryd and Sart, and there they watch in awe as the new river reshapes the very surface of the land around them.
But far to the west, the wave of magic wrought by Carin snapping the first stone traveled fast and crashed into a whole new world—a bigger world, and one full of many kinds of power. A woman bereft of name and love. Another carrying the grief of an island on her shoulders. A herald. A seeker. A forgotten history.
There is a moment at the exact instant the receding waters along the shores of the earth meet the force of the moons above and change direction. The sound races around the globe with the rush of a new kind of waves.
The tide is turning, and it brings change to every land and people.
Tell us about the Stonebreaker series in twenty-five words or less. It’s about the process of recognizing human impact on the planet and taking steps to rectify it, even when it disrupts society.
You use gender neutral pronouns in this series and developed a new vocabulary as well. Why did you choose to do this and was this process difficult? It wasn’t at all difficult to use non-binary pronouns, as I use them in English. I wanted to include it in this world because not only do non-binary genders exist in the “real world” both in contemporary and historical contexts across many cultures and time periods, but because when creating a fantasy world, to me it only makes sense that people could structure their world differently than we do.
I also seldom see language addressed in fantasy worlds when it is a rich, varied, and ever-present part of my life on Earth (I am a fluent Gaelic speaker and also speak three other languages besides English). Language both builds and destroys barriers between people, and engaging with that is important to me. The actual language building was more a fun exercise for me than it was difficult. Different languages work differently, so deciding how the different languages of the book would work together and separately was an exciting challenge.
Your work tends to consist of elaborate worlds, rich characters and landscapes, as well as multiple plots. What is your process in developing your story ideas? I use Scrivener to write, which allows me to keep a binder in every draft that contains all of my world-building information (and I can drag and drop it to new projects, which is a life-saver!). In the case of the Stonebreaker world, the first string I tugged on was the length of a week—five days. I wanted to explore what that could look like and why, and as I tugged on the string, I found more strings, like basing the days of the week around the life cycle of a plant from seed to sprout to bud to bloom to fruit.
I generally sit down and at least hammer stakes in the ground where plot points exist amid the storylines and figure out where the emotional rise and fall exists, and the world-building works in conversation with that. In the Northlands, the glassblowers of Salters work with their glass to capture moisture from the air for drinking water; in Sands, the people know which plants contain enough water to stay alive. The world-building for me is in direct relationship with the environment, the people, and how that effects the plot. I have pages and pages of notes that will never make it into the story.
The series seems to have an underlying theme of environmental consciousness. Was that by design or did it just happen? It was definitely by design, particularly with the growing impact and threat of climate change. The idea that people have broken something for their own profit and comfort and that requiring dramatic, radical action (and discomfort) to fix is something on a lot of minds right now. There is also a slightly more subtle critique of the way humans tend to hoard resources, how we are not satisfied with “enough” and how we, over time, grow to believe that our security is both cause and effect of our moral superiority (ie: if someone has less, they just haven’t worked hard enough). Unchecked, that leads to the kind of greed we see in Wyt, and in our own world.
What is one piece of advice you would offer to a new and aspiring author? The biggest advice I have is based personally on my very rocky publishing journey—if you want to write, find your reasons why and find how the act of creation itself can bring you joy. If it starts being more pain and anxiety than joy, you are allowed to step back for a while. Write some fanfic. Don’t write at all. Write a story for your dog. Whatever it is that allows you to refill your well. Writing for the sake of itself is perfectly valid; writing as a business is incredibly, incredibly difficult. It is a long game. Do what you need to in order to keep yourself healthy.
Who are your literary heroes? Robert Jordan springs to mind immediately, but also Madeleine L’Engle and David Eddings kept me going when I was younger. As an adult, I am really fortunate in this industry to have many heroes as peers who are writing amazing, innovative, heart-wrenching prose and poetry: Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone, Kristin McFarland, N.K. Jemisin, Hester J. Rook, Merc Rustad, Alyssa Wong, Sarah Pinsker, Rivers Solomon, and heaps of others I’d happily have a pint with down the pub and flail at them for how good their work is.
What are your favorite hobbies? I’m a Gaelic singer and also write in Gaelic, and I sing in two of Scotland’s award-winning Gaelic choirs as an alto. I’m also a fluent (most days, ha) Gaelic speaker and have been spending a lot of my free time lately exploring the rich world of Gaelic poetry. I’ve waited most of my life to get to a point where I had an entry point to the wealth of literature and song we have, and it’s been the most rewarding joy of my life these past couple years.
Aside from that, I have developed a penchant for Netflix Christmas films, which I refuse to apologise for, because they are delightful.
Can you tell us a bit about the next book in the Stonebreaker series? The next book will be the conclusion of this story, and if worlds collided in Hearthfire and Tidewater, we’re about to turn that up to eleven in Windtaker. It’s time for everything that’s been sleeping to wake up again.
Read the First Three Chapters of Tidewater
Praise for the Stonebreaker Series:
“Mears has crafted a highly detailed world…will leave readers eager for Carin’s further adventures.” —Publishers Weekly on Hearthfire, book 1 in the series
“This outstanding fantasy novel will resonate with readers in the real world: it could truly be about anyone coming to the realization that their way of life does indeed affect others, even if they don’t realize it, and how important it is to do the right thing, even if that means going against the norm and alienating people you thought were good and wise.” —Booklist on Hearthfire, book 1 in the series
“…a powerful debut to a new series that will grip the reader until the end…different from other coming-of-age stories with its progressive thinking and darker plot line.”
— InD’Tale Magazine on Hearthfire, book 1 in the series
“…very well written…fascinating…keeps the tension until the end.”
— Annemarie Seeger, NetGalley Reviewer on Tidewater, book 2 in the series
“…very entertaining with an ending that I most certainly didn’t predict.”
— Marta Cox, NetGalley Reviewer on Tidewater, book 2 in the series
Available Formats & Purchasing Information
Hardcover: 978-1-948540-02-5, $27.95
Softcover: 978-1-948540-03-2, $15.95
Ebook: 978-1-948540-04-9, $7.99
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About the Author:
Emmie Mears writes the books they always needed to read about characters they wish they could be. Emmie is multilingual, autistic, agender, and a bad pescetarian.
Emmie makes their home on planet Earth, and more specifically in Glasgow, Scotland. They live with two rescued kitties who call Emmie a forever home.
Categories: Author Q&A