Meet Emily Gee …

In the first of my series featuring fantastic female fantasy authors (see disclaimer) I’ve invited the talented Emily Gee to drop by. Watch out for the give-away question at the end of the interview.

Emily Gee

Before Solaris bought my King Rolen’s Kin trilogy, I ordered all the books that were shortlisted for the 2008 RITA (The RWAmerica’s best of award) in the sections I liked (paranormal and regency) and I also took a look at the new authors section and ordered a couple there.

So that was how I found Emily Gee’s Thief With No Shadow which was shortlisted in two sections, Best First Book and Best Mainstream with Romantic Elements, which is quite an achievement for a fantasy book. As it turns out, Emily and I are both published by Solaris now.


Thanks for inviting me to your new blog, Rowena – it’s lovely to be here! It’s not often I get to chat with a fellow Solaris author, especially one who’s also from Downunder!

Q: Your latest book, The Sentinel Mage has just been released. (For a taste of The Sentinel Mage, click here). Can you tell us a little about it?

The Sentinel Mage is something new for me. Not only is it the first book in a trilogy, but it has three different storylines. I’d describe it as a fast-paced tale of adventure with some dark overtones.

The primary storyline is the one on the back cover blurb: In a distant corner of the Seven Kingdoms, an ancient curse festers and grows, consuming everything in its path. Only one man can break it: Harkeld of Osgaard, a prince with mage’s blood in his veins. But Harkeld has a bounty on his head – and assassins at his heels.

Innis is a gifted shapeshifter. Now she must do the forbidden: become a man. She must stand at Prince Harkeld’s side as his armsman, protecting and deceiving him.

The second storyline follows Harkeld’s sister, Princess Brigitta, and her armsman as they negotiate palace intrigues, while the third storyline follows a young orphan boy named Jaumé who is trying to outrun the curse. The storylines will start colliding in the next book – rather bloodily!


Q: Your father is the renowned author Maurice Gee. I notice in your bio you said you never had any intention of being a writer and did a science degree instead. Yet, here you are a published writer. Was there a moment of stage fright, when you realised you’d inherited the writing bug?

Not so much stage fright, Rowena – it was more like resignation, since I knew that writers don’t earn much money! Fortunately, I write very different books from my father, so people can’t compare us. I have absolutely no desire to write the great New Zealand novel!

Q: From the gallery on your web page it looks like you do a lot of travelling. Was this because of your work or were you also bitten by the travel bug?

Bitten at a young age. My parents took my sister and me out of school for six months when I was eleven, and we backpacked through Europe. I never recovered from the experience.  Since then I’ve done as much travelling as possible – not just Europe, but also the Middle East, North Africa, China and Pakistan, and North America. If I ever win Lotto, I’ll probably spend most of my life travelling. I’m an addict!



Q: I see you are a Joss Whedon fan. I’m a big fan of Buffy and Firefly, too. Perhaps we should have a fan-girl moment and talk about how wonderful Joss Whedon is. I think when you are a writer, you can appreciate the craft that goes into really good TV show writing. Other than these two shows, do you have some favourite TV shows and why?

Oh, yes, let’s have a fan-girl moment! I love Buffy and Firefly – they’re fabulous shows! Dark and funny and smart. Joss Whedon is a genius!

I’m not sure whether being a writer influences my reactions to TV shows or not, but I really like intelligent dialogue. So many shows dumb everything down. Joss Whedon doesn’t usually fall into that trap.

Lately I’ve been watching Dexter and Glee and Dr Who. Oh, and dare I confess to liking Midsommer Murders? Why do I watch these shows? Because they all amuse me! I watch TV to laugh and be entertained. Yes, I’m shallow.  <grin>

Q: I see you also write Regency romances as Emily May. Why Regencies rather than any other historical period?

I’ve been hooked on the Regency period since I read my first Georgette Heyer as a teenager. (If you haven’t read The Grand Sophy, read it!) Then came the marvellous BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. After that, there was no looking back!

I love the Regency for so many reasons – the glittering and absurdly privileged lives of the Ton; the dark underbelly of society, with poverty and crime and prostitution; the strict rules well-born ladies lived by; the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars; the importance of chivalry and honour. It’s such a fun period!

Q:  As someone who writes both historical and fantasy books can you tell us the similarities and the differences from a writing perspective?

With the fantasies, I can create my own worlds and do what I like with them; with the Regencies, I’m aware that there are a large number of readers who know the period extremely well, so I do a lot of research! I tend to write significantly darker for the fantasies, and to have more humour in the Regencies. Since the Regencies are purely romances, I only write good sex scenes for them, whereas there are some rather unpleasant sex scenes in the fantasy novels!

Q: What are you currently working on?

Currently I’m finishing a Regency romance about a penniless spinster who starts writing erotic tales in order to earn money. The hero is an ex-soldier who barely survived Waterloo. My research has included reading letters from Waterloo soldiers, Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women, and Regency-era pornography.

<Wow, Emily, you get to do the coolest things!>

Q: Do you think there’s a difference in the way males and females write fantasy?

Good question, Rowena! Do female writers have stronger female protagonists? Do they focus more on the relationships between characters? Do they have more romance in their novels? More description?

I really don’t know if there’s a difference in terms of plot or character — someone out there may have done a doctorate on this and actually have an answer! — but there may be a difference in the nuts and bolts of writing. In general, men and women tend to speak differently — or rather, men tend to use fewer words than women. Perhaps this shows up in the writing in terms of description and dialogue? Who knows?

There’s actually an algorithm on the internet that analyses whether a passage is written by a man or a woman. I tried it with a piece in the armsman, Karel’s, point of view, and it told me it was (just) written by a man, and then I put in another piece in the mage, Innis’s, point of view, and it told me that was most definitely written by a woman, which I think reflected the word choices I made, i.e. Karel’s a guy, so he’s terser, both in how he thinks and speaks, whereas Innis is a young woman and is more emotional and descriptive.

<Emily, I’ve done the same thing with my characters and had the same result. It’s a great way to test if your male VP character is coming across as ‘male’ enough.>

Q: Following on from that, does the gender of the writer change your expectations when you pick up their book?

With a female writer, I expect there’ll be at least one strong female protagonist. Several of my favourite fantasy authors are women (e.g. Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones, Lois McMaster Bujold) and their strong female characters are part of the reason why I like them so much — although, of course, they write fabulous male characters too! I also hope there’ll be some great writing and an element of romance, because I’m a sucker for romance.  <grin>

Q: I see you would like to interview Pliny the Younger, who witnessed the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. That sort of pre-empts my last question … If you could book a trip on a time machine, where and when would you go, and why?

You’re right, Rowena – I’d choose to go back to Classical times! I did Latin at school and Ancient Greek at uni, plus Classics, and I find that time period utterly fascinating. I’d love to meet Pliny, and also Catullus, who wrote some fantastic poetry. So definitely, if I had a time machine, I’d go back to Greece and Rome – with a side trip to ancient Egypt as well!

Emily has very kindly offered a copy of her latest book The Sentinel Mage as a give-away. We’ll keep the competition open for a week.

Her question is: What do you like most about the fantasy genre?



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23 Responses to Meet Emily Gee …

  1. Great interview, and Emily – The Grand Sophie is one of my fav Georgette Heyer books as well! The things I like best about fantasy books are the quests and the magic (okay, and the fighting!!!!!!)

    • Hi Amanda — lovely to see you here! Isn’t The Grand Sophy a fabulous book?

      You like the fighting, huh? I have to confess — so do I! I think it’s one of the reasons I like Joss Whedon’s stuff so much: great fight scenes!

      • Hey Emily – lucky you already know I’m shallow so you won’t be surprised to know that the things I like best about Joss Whedon is his excellent male casting!!! Hahaha – but I do love his fight scenes as well!

        Btw, did I tell you that one of the guys who works with me at the library doesn’t just fight with swords but he forges his own plus he can hunt with a bow and arrow – poor kid is already starting to regret telling me this since every week I have more questions for him!!!!!!

        Rowena – Georgette Heyer changed my life! A friend introduced her to me to her books when I was 19 and I swear I almost failed university because all I wanted to do was sit and re-read them again and again!!!

    • Amanda, it’s amazing the people I meet who are Georgette Heyer fans.

    • Amanda, I’ve read every GH regency at least 3 times. Some more. I’m collecting them in their new print run with the lovely new covers.

  2. Kylie Griffin

    I really enjoyed reading your interview, Emily & Rowena. Great questions, I particularly liked the one about whether males and females write differently.

    As for what I like most about fantasy – it’s the whole larger than life situations the main character/s find themselves in (the call to adventure) and seeing how they deal with the task/situation and watching them grow through the book. (That’s me as a reader.)

    As a writer, I enjoy seeing how the author constructs the arcs and melds the story lines together until the culmination at the end of the book.

    And Amanda’s comment about the fighting is good too – whether it’s swords and daggers, magic or armies going at it. I love fight scenes! 🙂

    • Kylie, I knew it was not only guys who love fight scenes. Why is fantasy so popular with women if readers, if they don’t love the adventure?

    • Hi Kylie — glad you enjoyed the interview. You’re right about the larger than life aspect of fantasy — you can do things to your characters that just aren’t possible in the ‘real’ world, poor creatures . And yes, characters should definitely grow!

  3. Hey Emily and Rowena – fantastic interview. The Sentinel Mage sounds like a fab start to a fab series. I wish you luck with it Emily.

    And yay another Joss fan. I’m with you on the dialogue!

  4. oops forgot to answer the question – well, what’s there not to love about the fantasy genre – you can make up your own world for one, create such diverse characters, have mythical creatures walking along with the humans, dabble in magick, have adventure and intrigue, and there can be romance as well. Can you tell I love fantasy – must be why I write it as well as paranormal stories. 🙂

    • Yeah, so many reasons to enjoy fantasy, aren’t there? Magic, adventure, romance, intrigue … what’s not to love? I look forward to seeing your books on the shelves one of these days, Eleni!

  5. Cecilia

    The biggest draw for me with fantasy has to be escaping to other world, donning a new persona and kicking some butt!! Whats not to love about fantasy? Magic, adventure, secret quests and often some “eye” candy to deal with along the way. Fantastic interview it’s always wonderful to learn more about the pen holder behind the words. 🙂

    • Thanks Cecilia.

      I’m having a great time, ‘meeting’ all these wonderful women. I’ve been madly researching several more authors to write interviews for them because I have them slotted in for March.

    • Hi Cecilia — glad you enjoyed the interview! Yes, I do agree — it’s wonderful to indulge in the fantasy of kicking some butt. I don’t do it in real life, but in my make-believe worlds I kick butt with the best of them!
      Oh, and eye candy’s always good too .

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  7. Cool interview Rowena.
    I like fantasy because ANYTHING is possible, there is no such thing as normal, and the only limitations are the ones the author places on their stories and characters.

  8. Bernadette Rowley

    Enjoyed the interview Rowena and thanks Emily. I’ve read almost exclusively fantasy since I discovered The Sword of Shanara when I was a teenager. The pure escapism you get with a fantasy world where almost anything is possible is its lure, I think. Who doesn’t dream of a world where magic rules?

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