By Jeff Salter
I’m pleased this week to welcome a new friend and colleague at Clean Reads — the talented YA author, Emerald Barnes. Turns out we were practically neighbors, though a couple of generations apart… as we were both born in Mississippi. I’ve convinced Emerald to visit today to tell me about her new release and answer a few questions. Here goes:
Emerald Barnes resides in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it. She’s an auntie, a youth leader, a Whovian, a little bit of a nerd, a reader, a writer, and a family-oriented person. God is number One in her life, and she thanks Him continuously for His love and favor. She’s addicted to television and binge-watching shows, and she has a thing for superheroes.
[JLS] — I understand you’ve lived in North MS. I have Mississippi origins myself — parts of that state are lush and beautiful. What’s the view from your favorite part of your house?
*** Emerald — From my favorite part of the house, I can see a beautiful field. There are plenty of trees, and on certain mornings, you can see deer grazing or turkeys out and about. We’re in no short supply of animals where I live.
[JLS] — What was your favorite aspect of high school? Your LEAST favorite?
*** Emerald — Favorite? I was a band geek, and I enjoyed our Friday night trips to football games and competitions. My least favorite? Probably any of my math classes.
[JLS] — Did you go to college? If so, where? What type of jobs have you held outside the home?
*** Emerald — I did. I went to Junior College first, Itawamba Community College, and then I transferred to Mississippi University for Women. I was an editor and contributor for a small, start-up magazine, but I mostly have held jobs from my home.
[JLS] — Your novel (The Hunted) has a very interesting premise. How did you develop that story? Any particular inspiration?
*** Emerald — Actually, inspiration came from a dream. I’m inspired by dreams I have constantly, and the Knight’s Academy series came from it. I had the dream around the time that Twilight and Vampire Academy was popular, so those helped inspire the dream, I’m sure.
[JLS] — Tell us how you “found” Clean Reads? Any special connections with any of the on-board authors?
*** Emerald — I found Clean Reads from another author, yes. My previous publisher closed down, leaving most of us authors scrambling to either self-publish or find another publisher. Laura Marshall messaged me about Clean Reads, telling me that my book would be a perfect fit. It would have, but I decided to self-publish. Not long after, I submitted the first book in my Knight’s Academy series. I didn’t have high hopes they’d want the book, because no one else had wanted it. I suppose I was wrong.
[JLS] — I gather this series – Knight’s Academy – aims at Young Adults. If sales (money) and critics (reviews) were immaterial to you, what genre and length would you write?
*** Emerald — I would still write for young adults. It’s my favorite genre to both write and read. I do enjoy writing Christian fiction, though. So I would probably keep branching out to that as well.
[JLS] — Is YA the same age group you work with at church? What led you to volunteer with programming for young folks?
*** Emerald — It is. I teach ages 12-18 at my church with a co-youth leader. I actually didn’t volunteer, but I wanted to teach them. The associate pastor actually approached me and asked if I would like to be their teacher, and I didn’t even hesitate when I agreed. I feel as if I’m meant to work with kids because of my history. I’ve had a history of bullying and trying to find out who I was, and I don’t want anyone to feel like I did. If I can help one person, then my job is done.
[JLS] — Are your stories “suitable” for reading by the kids in your church group? Is that important? Why?
*** Emerald — Yes they are. It’s very important to me because it’s I believe teens shouldn’t be exposed to too much at a young age. I believe in books being clean, and even I stick to reading clean books as an adult. I feel like too much “stuff” can get in the way of a good read. It’s just not my cup of tea, so to speak. So, I keep it clean for parents who don’t want their children exposed to it either.
[JLS] — Why does “binge watching” – as opposed to one episode at a time – certain TV series appeal to you? Which shows are your favorites?
*** Emerald — Binge-watching is really my means of relaxing each night. I spend all day reading and/or writing as an author/editor, so I need something that will help me wind-down. For me, binge watching is that. I can just watch hours of the same show, enveloping myself in their world for a bit. Some of my favorites to binge are: White Collar, Royal Pains, The Office, Miss Fischer’s Murder Mysteries, The Flash, Arrow, Community, Blue Bloods, and Hawaii Five-0. There are so many more, but these are my favorites at the moment.
[JLS] — Your bio mentions superheroes. Which are your favorites?
*** Emerald — Oh… that’s a loaded question. Captain America, Wonder Woman, Thor, Green Arrow, The Flash, and Superman are probably my favorite at the moment.
[JLS] — Have you ever encountered people who seem unable / unwilling to comprehend that writing is something you are driven to do?
*** Emerald — Oh yes. Most people see it as just a hobby, but it’s something that I’m drawn to, led to. It’s within me, and it’s something that I can’t not do. It’s hard to explain that, though. Most people see it as something that isn’t worthy of time, especially when they find out that I don’t make millions.
[JLS] — If you were not a writer, can you imagine what else you might do to express the creativity within you?
*** Emerald — That’s hard to imagine, but I have tossed out the idea of teaching or being a counselor. I think that either one of those would help me express this creativity. A teacher so I could express my love of books, and a counselor because I love helping people.
[JLS] — Give us at least one example of someone who has contacted you and expressed how much your writing meant to them.
*** Emerald — One lady contacted me after reading my Entertaining Angels book and told me how much I helped her see that God loved her and how important it was to her that she learn how to love herself instead of hating herself. It was one of the most important messages I ever received because that was exactly what I hoped to do. I wanted someone to realize that they were beautiful simply because they were them.
[JLS] — In the interviews & blog questions you’ve handled over the years, what is one writing question which you’ve WISHED had been asked of you… but never has been asked?
*** Emerald — I’ve always wanted to be asked why writing was so important to me.
[JLS] — What’s your ANSWER to that never-before-asked question?
*** Emerald — It’s important to me because it’s part of me. It’s within me to express myself through writing, to help others through my writing. It’s important because it can change lives, and I want to be an integral part of that.
The Hunted: Knight’s Academy Book 2
Myka Williams has been forced out of Knight’s Academy and is on the run, constantly moving to keep the vampires off her trail until Preston’s venom is no longer coursing through her veins. But she isn’t alone.
Brent Jacobson is her protector, training her and teaching her how to be the werewolf she’s destined to be. He’s annoying, stubborn — and hot. But there’s something he isn’t telling her.
Myka has to come face-to-face with the truth of who she really is. Will she find safety, or will she always be hunted?
Help us out by answering either (or both) of these two questions:
Who is YOUR favorite “clean” YA author?
What appeals to you most about “clean” books?