Emma Flint was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, lived in Scotland for eight years and is now an award-winning Technical Author in London. She says of her writing, "I want to poke around in the darker reaches of the human mind, and explore what people are capable of under extreme circumstances. I like to linger on physical descriptions, and exploit those tiny essential details that make a character human."
This approach has informed and inspired her first novel, Little Deaths, a heady blend of sex, murder, bourbon, noir and a femme fatale. Set in 1960s suburban New York, it tells a true story with a modern feminist slant.
I’m on my third or fourth draft of Little Deaths depending on what you call a full draft. Here’s hoping it will be ready to go to a publisher in early September. The last draft needed a lot of structural changes and I had to thrash out one of the narrators. My agent read it and said it was nearly there. She’s given me some changes to do which will probably take about 6 weeks. So I should be giving it to her at the end of August.
FINDING AN AGENT
What I went through isn’t typical. I‘ve never written a query letter for example. I did a Faber & Faber course and part of it is that at the end of it you read an extract of your novel (approx. 300 words) to a room full of people invited by Faber – editors, agents and scouts. Before the readings Faber gives the audience your photo, contact details and a bigger extract of your book. If someone likes you I guess they put a big tick next to your photo and email you. Out of that I got 10 queries and my agent saying she wanted to represent me.
There was a publisher but I rejected them because I wanted an agent.
So I met with about 7 or 8 agents. I was incredibly lucky because all but one of them said they wanted to represent me. I know, this sounds like moaning about something that’s not a problem. But I had to pick! This could be the most important decision of my career. Gulp.
A lot of it was gut instinct – how well do I get on with you, how comfortable do I feel? Then one of my friends said, “It’s not just about how you get on with them when things are going well. You’re going to have to be able to tell this person you’re giving up on the book or your draft’s going really badly. You have to find someone who you can basically say no to and who will understand.”
That made it a bit easier. The other thing I looked at was their reputation in the industry and who they worked for. Whether they understood what I was trying to do with the book.
So in the end I went with Jo Unwin because I got on really well with her. The thing which swung it for me was I thought she’s going to be great at selling me and my book.
For 5 years I’ve been working full time and writing the book. In that time I’ve only ever had 3 months off work apart from 2 week holidays. Within those 5 years I’ve had major operations and 2 horrible break ups. Now my cat’s terminally ill. So I resigned from my permanent job and became a contractor because I thought that would make my life easier. I thought I’d earn so much money I could take time off between contracts. Yeah right. But at the same time because I’m a contractor there’s less involvement with my day job so I don’t have to think about politics, worry about promotions.
I’ve also tried to look at when I work best. I would love to be the kind of person who likes getting up at 5am to write. I will never be that person. So I do things during the day to keep myself awake, like taking walks and getting lots of daylight.
Either I get the bus home from work and I write on the bus which is quite soothing. Or I stay at work and write. I try to do the bulk of my writing at the weekends then plan my work for the week.
I am thrilled to be able to tell you that the launch of Emma's book took place in London in January 2017. Her book is making headlines and can be found in book shops everywhere.