Guest Fox Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Welcome to 4F1H, Emily-Jane

By Jeff Salter

Emily-Jane is a colleague at Clean Reads and she’s observing the one-year anniversary of her first release with C.R. So, naturally, I wanted to help her celebrate.

But, first, I had to track her down! Emily-Jane lives in the country just outside a tiny community called North Gower, which is just south of Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. She says she loves the quiet of the country life as it inspires her writing and allows her more freedom to express herself.

Once I discovered we share an interest in spooks, dreams, and time travel… I just knew I had to ask her a bunch of probing questions. Take a look.

Orford promo

Author Bio:

An avid gardener, artist, musician and writer, Emily-Jane Hills Orford has fond memories and lots of stories that evolved from a childhood growing up in a haunted Victorian mansion. Told she had a ‘vivid imagination’, the author used this talent to create stories in her head to pass tedious hours while sick, waiting in a doctor’s office, listening to a teacher drone on about something she already knew, or enduring the long, stuffy family car rides. The author lived her stories in her head, allowing her imagination to lead her into a different world, one of her own making. As the author grew up, these stories, imaginings and fantasies took to the written form and, over the years, she developed a reputation for telling a good story. Emily-Jane can now boast that she is an award-winning author of several books, includingMrs. Murray’s Ghost (Telltale Publishing 2018), Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads 2018), Gerlinda (CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and several other books. A retired teacher of music and creative writing, she writes about the extra-ordinary in life and the fantasies of dreams combined with memories. For more information on the author, check out her website at:

Interview Questions

  1. Do you prefer to be called Emily-Jane? Or do you equally answer to Emily?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — Either. My mother always wanted people to call me ‘Emily-Jane’, though she never hyphenated the name. Sometime in early elementary school, the ‘Jane’ was dropped. And from then on, I was ‘Emily’. When I started writing, I decided to resurrect my full name and I followed the English/Scottish tradition of inserting my maiden name, ‘Hills’, as my middle name. I hyphenated ‘Emily-Jane’, but not the ‘Hills’ to the ‘Orford’. Complicated and probably totally illogical, but, then again, we creative people have our little perks, don’t we?

  1. I see you’re an artist, musician, and writer — that’s sort of a triple threat, in terms of creativity. How do you determine which medium to use for any particular bit of inspiration? For example, if you have a flash of inspiration about a young girl, an old dog, and an abandoned shack in the forest, during late autumn — how do you decide whether to approach it with visual art, written art, or music?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — I don’t think I really have a system of determining which medium to choose. It calls me. When I need inspiration with my writing, I do my needle-art and collage, it allows my tired brain to relax and become refreshed with new ideas. I compose because I have a passion for music which I have had my entire life. My mother insisted we all learn an instrument and, although I did study the cello for several years, I continued with the piano and ended up teaching piano privately for thirty years. My husband is a retired naval officer and we lived from coast to coast to coast (in Canada). Writing and teaching piano were portable careers as well as being passions. As for which medium for which idea, sometimes it requires all the media to satisfy my creative drive.

  1. The way your bio referred to sickness and doctors, I assume your childhood had more than its share of ailments. Would you care to elaborate on how those experiences helped shape your artistic temperament?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — I think I had every childhood disease available in the 1960s and I always had a good dose of whatever it was: measles (all kinds), mumps, you name it, I had it. The inoculation we had in the 1960s was for polio. I still have the scar from the stapler (that’s what we kids called it) that stamped my arm and injected the vaccine. I’m sure glad I was inoculated for polio. With my luck for getting sick, I probably would have contracted that as well.
Thinking back to my weird dreams and experiences when fully engulfed in a feverish state, I know I had some out-of-body experiences, though, as a child, I really didn’t understand what was happening. I was just glad to wake up and find my grandmother or my mother sitting by my bedside. Gran was good at telling me stories while I recovered and I think I inherited her storytelling talent. When we moved to London, Ontario, we settled in an old Victorian mansion that was haunted. Being sick with a resident ghost floating around terrified me at times, but it also gave me material for countless stories, many of which I have included in my most recent Middle Grade series of fantasy novels, “The Piccadilly Street” series (Tell-Tale Publishing). The first book, “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”, is already a hit with readers of all ages and I’m looking forward to the release of book 2 sometime this month. My childhood illnesses gave me material for these stories, too, as the main character, Mary, become deathly ill and finds herself in a dream world, followed by the ghost and other creatures conjured up by that vivid imagination of mine that carried me through so many lengthy bouts of illness.
My shared passions with Gran included Scottish history, which included stories about Mary Queen of Scots. Gran always claimed that we were somehow related (never could trace that, but it did make for a good story) and that our ancestors helped the fated queen escape from Loch Leven Castle. These were stories she shared with me while I lay in bed recovering from one illness or another.

  1. We’ve absolutely GOT to know more about the haunted Victorian mansion in which you grew up. [I had a high school friend who lived in a house that everybody in the neighborhood said was haunted. The previous owners left food on the table and didn’t return. My buddy told all sorts of stories that chilled my insides.] Did you ever sense any spooks or supernatural phenomena? Were you ever frightened? Or did you – like my friend – simply take it in stride?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — I certainly didn’t take the ghost ‘in stride’. Not as a child. Perhaps later, when I returned home for visits. Ghosts have always terrified me. Whenever someone close to me passes away, they always come back for a visit, to say a final farewell. Those close to me know how ghosts frighten me, so they find other means to visit me, like in my dreams. My last connection to Dad was about a week after he passed away. I dreamt that I dropped him off at a large complex, like a shopping mall, which aligns with my last real-life visit with him, when I dropped him off at the airport for his trip home. In the dream, Dad walked towards the entrance of the complex, turned, smiled at me and waved. I truly believe he was telling me that everything was okay. He never really recovered from Mom’s passing the previous year. I could go on and on about the ghostly visits of recently passed loved ones.
The ghost of my childhood home – now there’s a ghost with an attitude. Mrs. Murray, as I call her in the Middle Grade novel series, “The Piccadilly Street” series, actually did die under mysterious circumstances in the house in the 1930s (we moved into the house in 1967). Mrs. Murray was not too happy with our invasion, and she made herself heard, loud and clear: banging cupboard doors, lights flicking on and off, creaking stairs and floorboards in the middle of the night, items moved or hidden, and floating apparitions in the darkness of night. And then there were the bats!
Good story material. I didn’t write about it for years. Not until my sister convinced me to share my memories of growing up in an old, haunted house. She surprised me when she made the suggestion. As the oldest, she was the last one to believe that her younger sister (me) actually saw the ghost and that the ghost was real. Everyone believed in the bats, as we all saw them from time to time. Never did fully evict those creepy menaces. Mom called them, “rats with wings”.
I have accumulated a lot of stories about my growing up experiences. It’s been (and still is) a lot of fun writing and talking about the ghost. For me, it’s definitely a trip down memory lane. When talking to people in public settings (book signing, author talks, etc.), I manage to keep my audience spellbound as I share my memoirs of paranormal activities. For those of you interested in reading a little more about how my ghost has inspired my writing, here’s a link to a story I wrote not too long ago:

  1. What was your favorite part of teaching? What (if anything) did you dislike about that profession? If you had it to do over again – and were 22 again – would you embark on a teaching career NOW?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — My music teaching was done privately in my home-based music studio, although I did go into the schools to teach creative writing, to small class numbers of no more than twelve students at a time.
My favorite part has to be that “wow” moment when the student really catches on and starts, not merely excelling but, more important, thoroughly enjoying what he or she has learned. And that is always accompanied with my own personal “wow” moment when I recognize the little gem I have for a student and I want to do all I can to keep them interested, inspired and aspiring for more joy in either their music or their writing.
Would I do it again? That’s a tough question. Thinking back to myself at 22, I’m really not sure. I don’t think at 22 I wanted to be a teacher. I was on the road to being rich and famous (ha, weren’t we all) and teaching wasn’t in the picture. However, knowing now what I know of the rewards of teaching, I think I would do it again, starting at the age of 22 this time, instead of the age of 28, which was when I did start teaching piano and creative writing.

  1. While teaching creative subjects like music and writing, did any particular students stand out? [You don’t need to mention their names.] Might we see their work published some day?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — Yes. Yes. And yes! I have taught some really stellar young people. They may not be the creative geniuses now, but certainly their excellence in creative studies has furthered their ability to succeed in very difficult and challenging careers. One former student, who, at the age of 4, was playing the piano at an intermediate level and finished his Grade 7 piano at the age of 10, is now a nuclear engineer. His twin sister continues with her passion for music, performing saxophone in a jazz band and working as a music therapist. Several former music students are physicians, specialists in very difficult and challenging fields of medicine. Another student, who, at the age of 3, loved her music so much, she excelled in performing some very challenging pieces – she’s now a nurse, but continues to enjoy her music, performing regularly at church. Another former music student is a musical idol champion and has made multiple recordings with her band. Other students have chosen careers in environmental science, marine biology, teaching and so much more.
As for my writing students, a couple have published their own novels, poems, short stories and several have won writing awards. At least two of my writing students have finished their PhD’s in English and are now teaching at the university level.
You can tell that I am very proud of my students and all their successes. The most rewarding part is that they obviously loved working with me, either in music or writing, because they continue to keep in touch with me. Hence, I’m able to follow their chosen paths in life.

  1. Congratulations on the writing awards you’ve garnered. [I spent a few years pursuing contests at various levels. While I did quite well in poetry contests, I never got anywhere with novel competitions. I found the judges’ ratings and comments to be all over the place — Judge ABC loved it, Judge XYZ hated it, and Judge LMN thought it was so-so. Not very helpful feedback to me.] What were your experiences like in contests?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — Thank you. I like to think that these awards have assisted in the promotion of myself as a writer and my published work. People do seem to take notice when you add the words, “award-winning author”, to your promotional material.
Having just finished a session as a book juror for the Saskatchewan Book Awards, I can fully appreciate how the other side works. There’s no way you can avoid personal preferences when judging a work of art. What we like and appreciate is so much a part of who we are. I learned a lot as a book juror and I would certainly do it again.
Like everyone else, I don’t always win. But I do believe it’s important to try. When entering my piano students in the annual Kiwanis Music Festival (a competition of sorts), I enjoyed listening to the general comments of the judges. One very well-spoken judge said, “You may not all be winners of this competition, but you are all winners just for trying.” I have quoted that line so many times, it’s become part of my own mantra.

  1. I noticed one of your books features time travel, a subject that also intrigues me. If you had the opportunity to travel in time (and full expectation of being able to return to the present), what era would you aim for and how long would you wish to stay? What would you take with you?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — The idea of time travel has fascinated me since I read H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine”, a real classic. It certainly makes me wonder what would be different if I went back in time, or what it would be like if I went ahead into the future. I knew I had to write a time travel story and the possibilities fit so well with my vision of creating another heir to the Scottish throne. Hence, “Queen Mary’s Daughter”. I had a lot of fun writing “Queen Mary’s Daughter”. Allowing the main character, Mary Elizabeth, the ability to travel through time created a whole new realm of possibilities and what ifs. With a drop of Scotch in my blood, I have always sided with the Scots in their dream of independence and, with the Brexit debacle, I know the time was right for my story.
What if I could travel through time? I don’t know. Life always looks greener on the other side of the fence, I truly wonder if what I idolize in the past, like the wild west of the 1800s or the royal courts of the Renaissance, would really be as grand as I envision it. Even if I could come back, I think I’d rather read about it in the cozy confines of my favorite armchair.

  1. I see that dreams are important to you. [Likewise for me… and I’ve chronicled nearly 500 of my own.] Do you write down what you can remember of your dreams? If so, why? If not, why not?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — My Dad was fascinated with dreams – his dreams. He would share them with the family the next morning. I don’t think he ever wrote them down, but he did have some interesting dreams, and with his panache for making a story out of just about anything, he usually had the family laughing up a storm at his retelling of the strange dreams from the previous night.
Do I write down my dreams? Sometimes. It’s all part of that ‘vivid imagination’ my grandmother claimed I had. Dreams – my dreams – pop up in my stories quite frequently. And, when I’m intense on writing my newest piece of fiction, I go to sleep dreaming plausible plot lines and end up dreaming the rest of the story, which I try to remember when I’m fully awake the next morning.
The most frustrating thing about dreams is that you don’t always remember all of it. If it’s a dream from a deep sleep, then sometimes you only recapture glimpses, snapshots of the dream. I find that very annoying. If a dream is worth remembering at all, I want to remember all of it.

  1. How did you find Clean Reads?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — I’m a book reviewer for I picked up some Clean Reads novels, including Kadee Carder’s novels, and was thoroughly impressed with the quality of the work, not just the writing, but the overall publication and presentation. I queried Stephanie Griffin for “Queen Mary’s Daughter”, she sent me a contract, and the rest is history (as they say).

  1. If sales (money) and critics (reviews) were immaterial to you, what genre and length would you write?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — Although money and good reviews are great, they aren’t always a factor in the writing game. Neither money nor reviews have really influenced my need to write so far, so I think I would continue to write in my preferred genres: memoir, creative nonfiction, historical fiction/fantasy, Middle Grade fantasy.

  1. Have you ever encountered people who seem unable / unwilling to comprehend that writing is something you are driven to do?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — All the time. Frequently I would be at some social function and I would be asked what I do for a living. When I mentioned my writing, I would be asked, how many books I had published (which in the early stages of my writing career were non-existent) and when was I planning to get a ‘real’ job. That last one always irked me. I was forever being told I didn’t have a real job. What is a real job, anyway?

  1. Give us at least one example of someone who has contacted you and expressed how much your writing meant to them.

[ *** EJHO *** ] — There is a woman in Australia, who loved my early novels that were wrapped around the theme of music. And she was willing to pay exorbitant shipping costs to have an autographed copy of each of my novels: “Spring”, “Summer”, “Autumn” and “Winter”.
I have made new writer friends through my writing and we share ideas and read each other’s work – always encouraging.
Several people have commented on how much they appreciate my ‘clean’ stories – which I guess is why I fit in so well with Clean Reads publishing.

  1. In the conversations (about writing) that you’ve had over the years, what is one writing question which you’ve WISHED had been asked of you… but never has been asked?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — I think I’ve been asked just about anything and everything. I have to admit, that I found your questions more engaging than most interviews I’ve done so far. You really challenged me. And that’s a good thing.
A question I haven’t been asked? I guess this one you just asked.
How about this one: What does literary success look like?

  1. What’s your answer to # 14 above?

[ *** EJHO *** ] — From my perspective (and this might be exaggerating a bit), literary success would mean finding my books in every corner bookstore, every library and countless reviews on prominent sites and in publications. Literary success would mean invitations to do readings, talks and presentations, as well as book signings. It would also mean, getting used to hearing, “You’re Emily-Jane Hills Orford, the author of “Queen Mary’s Daughter” and “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost”? Wow! May I have your autograph?”
Jeff, this has been a real pleasure. Thank you for hosting me on your blog.



This novel is a masterpiece, written by a great storyteller, one who leads readers into the workings of the hearts of her characters and allows them to explore the conflicts inherent to human nature. — Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite

There are so many possibilities that affect the course of history. One change, one small item overlooked, can make a world of difference, not only in a person’s life, but in the history and well-being of an entire nation. And then there are those multiple scenarios of what if? What if King James VI of Scotland didn’t succeed in amalgamating Scotland with England? Would Scotland have remained free and independent and a nation of its own well into the twenty-first century? And would Scotland, this independent version, make its own decision to join the European Union when its southern neighbor was choosing to pull away? And, what if there was another heir to the Scottish throne?

In Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads Publisher), author Emily-Jane Hills Orford presents another plausible timeline, one that incorporates both historical fact and fiction with the endless possibilities of time travel.

Buy link:

[JLS # 427]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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20 Responses to Guest Fox Emily-Jane Hills Orford

  1. ejhomusic says:

    Thanks for hosting me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WELCOME, Emily! Oh, how you and I could talk forever, I imagine, between childhood illness, experiences in haunted houses (I lived in a very haunted Victorian when I was 13-19; had other encounters and worked in one in this town that, well, the stories I can tell!), how illness leads to writing and then the music! I never studied music but I had my sons take piano lessons and it was one of the best things that I did for them.My grandson has been in violin for 8 years.It took my granddaughters a while to find the right instrument, been in music since 3rd grade, (now in 7the and 9th grades).It is a great brain developer and what would we do without music?
    I will certainly be adding your books for my list!
    I wish you all the best.

    (This may be the best interview ever at the blog, Jeff!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      thanks, Tonette. Emily-Jane provided some excellent, fulsome responses.


    • ejhomusic says:

      Thanks for your comments, Joyce. Sounds like you have some stories to write, too. You’re right, music is a great brain developer, as you called it. My father ran a computer business and he always looked at potential employees who had a background in music, because it gave them the ability to think creatively.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Welcome, Emily-Jane! We seem to have a lot in common. I’m also a musician and a teacher, and I spend as much time as I can spare on crafting (my current favorites are sewing and card-making). I also have a minor in history, and took every course I could on Tudor-Stuart England. I’ve downloaded your book and can’t wait to read it!
    For our American readers, the Amazon link is

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thanks, Patricia. I thought Emily-Jane’s music experience would strike a “chord” with you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • ejhomusic says:

      Hello Patricia – Thank you for your kind words. I hope you enjoy the book. I include a lot of music in my writing and I also compose. Like you, I do a lot of crafting, it helps settle the mind after working intently on one of my novels.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jbrayweber says:

    What a great interview. Emily-Jane, you are simply fascinating. I am a firm believer in dreams. Sure, some are just conglomerates of pieces of our lives, anything from a commercial we might see on TV to a real experience. But I also believe dreams can be portents of things to come. Truly intriguing stuff. I envy you in your mastery of the piano. I sometimes wish I would have learned. I also wanted to learn to play the drums. In my youth, I played the violin. But the violin wasn’t considered “cool”, and I gave it up for dance.

    Anyway, it has been a real treat to “meet” you. I wish you the best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Welcome Emily-Jane, my grandma also used to tell us that we’re related to Queen Mary. My great-uncle did a family tree and traced our family back, so we have the connection. I can’t remember how off of the top of my head but it was fascinating to hear about.
    I look forward to reading your book, I just picked up a copy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ejhomusic says:

      Hello Angela – I think, after much research, we decided that Gran was a true Scot in the sense that all the Scottish people were related to one another. So, I guess that makes us cousins. I think our connection was through the Stuarts, as there is a Stuart in the family tree. I’d be interested to hear your connection if you can find it out about it. Gran also said that one of our MacGregor ancestors “tethered the horse” (as she put it) that helped Queen Mary escape from Loch Leven. I hope you enjoy the book.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      so, basically, you’re royalty… right, Angie?


  6. Super interesting stories! So glad you shared.

    Liked by 1 person

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