Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Whirl Blog Tour - Interview with Emma Raveling

I have the privilege of interviewing Emma Raveling, the wonderful author of Whirl (Book 1 of Ondine Quartet).  I was lucky enough to read this novel about a month ago and was blown away.  If you would like to read my review, please click HERE.

Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Kendra Irisavie is an ondine, a water elemental caught in the middle of an ancient war. The Aquidae are immortal dark demons who will stop at nothing to destroy the fragile balance of the Elemental world. Fierce and independent, Kendra has always played by her own rules. Gifted with the powerful magic of Virtue and trained to be a deadly fighter, she has spent her life breaking hearts and getting into trouble. When her life explodes one violent night in a northern California city, a dark stranger appears, promising answers to her mysterious past. Alone and with no one to trust, she must now navigate through a dangerous new world, face the temptations of a forbidden romance, and remain true to her duty and destiny. All while the Aquidae continue to hunt her down, in the hopes of eliminating her forever… An edgy urban fantasy/paranormal romance, Whirl is recommended for older teens and mature readers due to strong language and mild sexual situations.

Welcome Emma, I am so very excited to have you visit my blog today.

Firstly, can you please tell us a little about yourself?

Hi, Katie! Thank you so much for having me here today.

I’m a thirty-something year old fantasy writer and frequent traveler. My husband and charming German Shepherd are the great loves of my life. I’m hopelessly addicted to coffee and diet coke, adore beautiful art, am passionate about food and cooking, and am a dedicated practitioner of vipassana meditation. Whirl is my debut novel.

When did you begin writing and did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I began writing as a child. I was a voracious reader with a highly overactive imagination, and constantly had stories spinning around in my head. When I was about six, I began writing them down because I wanted to be like the authors of my favorite books. I gave these stories to my mother as a “present”, almost on a daily basis. She was very encouraging and supportive of my silly stories, and nurtured my love of words.

I continued writing throughout high school and won several writing competitions. I was fortunate enough to have had wonderful teachers who encouraged me to pursue it. But when I went to college, I ultimately chose a different career path. I still had a dream of being published someday, but it remained a far-off, elusive idea.

All of that changed in January 2011. One of my resolutions was that I was going to publish a novel this year. No more excuses. At the end of January, the idea for the Ondine Quartet series came to me and I immediately began writing it.

What made you decide to write in the young adult, paranormal, fantasy genre?  Where do you get your inspiration from?
I primarily consider myself a fantasy writer. I feel this allows me the freedom to experiment and cross multiple genres. I didn’t set out with the specific idea of being a young adult paranormal writer. The idea for the Ondine Quartet came to me first and it was clearly a story meant for young adults as the protagonist is a seventeen-year-old teenager. I believe the story you want to tell is what ultimately dictates what genre the book will fall into. Because of this, I don’t feel like I have to stick to one particular genre.

For example, I’m already taking notes on two new series I will start once the Ondine Quartet series is complete. One is a young adult dark fantasy that has elements of horror. The other is an adult series that’s more of a mixture of sci-fi/post-apocalypse/romance.

I think inspiration comes in different ways. Whirl was inspired by a piece of classical music. The French composer Maurice Ravel composed a work for solo piano called Gaspard de la Nuit. This music was based upon a series of poems by Aloysius Bertrand.

The first movement of Ravel’s work, entitled Ondine, is based upon the poem of the same name by Bertrand. I included this poem as the epigraph in Whirl. Based upon an old French myth, the poem tells the story of Ondine, a water nymph who sings to a mortal man, attempting to lure him to her. He rejects her love and pleas to join her in ruling the water world. Rejected and heartbroken, Ondine fades away, disappearing beneath the waves.

I heard a performance of this work and an image flashed into my mind of a teenage girl, half-standing in the ocean. It was haunting - she seemed so very lonely. But her eyes were powerful - the eyes of a fighter, a warrior. Intrigued, I began exploring that idea in my head and the Ondine Quartet was born. 

What research did you undertake (if any) for Whirl?
I did some basic research into selkie mythology, but did not delve much into water myths. The reason why was because I wanted to construct my own original mythology and world for the series.

In order to do that, most of my time prior to writing was spent building the world of the Ondine Quartet, which included imagining and creating its rules and structure - everything from the history of the society, magic and special powers, politics and government, the different races of water elementals, and societal and moral values. I also researched French etymology and the Anglo-Norman historical connection. This was the basis behind many of the terms and names used in the book (race names, location names, character names, etc.), all of which were constructed out of specific meanings and particular word roots. 

If Whirl was made into a movie, who would you like cast as Kendra, Tristan and/or Julian?
Please bear in mind that these selections are based solely on looks and that my image of my characters may not be the same to all readers!

Kendra: Lily Collins, with lighter honey-brown hair
Tristan: Ben Barnes, but much more bulked up
Julian: Ian Somerhalder

Can you give us any hints or clues as to what we can expect in Billow?  And an expected publish date?  (I can't wait to read it!)
Billow takes place about six months after Whirl. It is a bit darker in tone, a natural progression for each installment in the series as Kendra ventures further into her purpose as the sondaleur. Billow will further explore Kendra’s relationships with other characters (Tristan, Julian, and all of her friends). As her relationships with others deepen, they become more complicated. Kendra is also still dealing with the aftermath of Whirl and its profound consequences. This includes discovering more about her own mysterious past.

A new threat from the Aquidae looms over Haverleau, and Kendra will ultimately be tested in a way that will dramatically alter the course of her life.

I really hope to have it out around the end of the year (fingers crossed!). But it will definitely be out in a few months.

What are you top 5 favourite books of all time?
This is difficult! The following books are not in any particular order, and are what I feel are my favorites at this moment. This list frequently changes. : )

- Franz Kafka: Metamorphosis
- Toni Morrison: Beloved
- Milan Kundera: Immortality
- Shakespeare: Hamlet
- JK Rowling: The entire Harry Potter series

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin and The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook. Both have been on my TBR list for awhile, and I was curious about Meljean’s book because I've never read steampunk before.

Do you have a routine when you are writing?  Do you need background noise, like music or the telly?
I usually have two writing spurts during the day - one in the morning and one in the late afternoon. I like to run on the treadmill and then do a meditation session first thing in the morning before I begin to write. The exercise and meditation leaves me fresh, and yet it’s early enough that I’m somehow still connected to my dreams and subconscious. I get another burst of energy in the late afternoon between 4-6 PM.

When I write, I need absolute silence. I hunker down in what I call “my cave”, which is my home office, a windowless room in the basement of my home. I shut the door and turn off the phone. My dog will usually lie down by my side and then I get to work. I can’t listen to music or voices while I write - it interferes with the words I’m trying to put down on the page.

What's your biggest challenge when writing a novel?
Writing requires total concentration from me. I’m often surprised at how physically and mentally exhausted I get, especially at the end of an intense writing session. Another thing that most people don’t realize is that writing is not just about the time you spend in front of the computer hammering the words out. Part of constructing a novel involves a great deal of thinking time away from the desk.

When I’m writing a novel, I’m thinking about the stories and the characters all the time. Even when I’m not writing. Whatever I do during the day (cleaning the house, going out with my husband, cooking, watching a movie, etc.) I constantly have my story on the brain. It does make me rather absent-minded. LOL.
And I suppose that’s essentially the biggest challenge - writing a novel takes everything out of me. Absolute concentration while writing, and complete absorption in the story 24 hours a day as you try to work out what it is you need to write.


Favourite Food?
Pizza. *groans* It’s always been my weakness ever since I was a child. Since the start of 2011, I've been living a Paleo lifestyle, which basically means gluten and dairy-free. But, of course, I have to get my pizza fix, so I now eat Paleo-style pizza. It’s pretty good, but can’t completely make up for it. I still miss it. A lot. :Sighs:

Vanilla or chocolate or strawberry ice cream?
None - I don’t eat ice cream! (See Paleo reference in the above answer). But in general, I’m always a sucker for chocolate. : )

Sweet or savoury snacks?
When I was growing up, I loved sweet snacks. Recently, I've been eating more savory snacks, primarily things like mixed nuts.

Tea or Coffee?
Coffee. No milk, slightly sweetened. I’m terribly addicted to it.

Cats or Dogs? (what breed(s))
As a big animal lover, I love both, but have always owned dogs my entire life. I now have a very charming, though slightly neurotic, two-year old female German Shepherd. Spending time with her is one of the great joys of my life.

Morning person or night owl?
I alternate back and forth on this, although I have been making more of an effort recently to switch towards becoming a permanent morning person. When I’m bogged down with work, I end up becoming a night owl because I’ll often stay up late to finish and this, of course, completely screws up my schedule the next day. I do think my best work comes in the morning, which is part of the reason why I’m trying very hard now to consistently be a morning person.

Thank you Emma for letting us into your life as a writer.  Emma is such a wonderful author and an amazing person, everybody should go out and buy Whirl now on Amazon.  Also keep you eyes open for Billow later this year.  You can find Emma on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, her website and blog.


  1. Katie - Thanks you so much for having me on your blog. I had such fun answering your questions, and thank you for sharing Whirl with others!

    I love hearing from readers. If you have a question, just leave one here - I'll be popping by throughout the day to check in and chat.

    - Emma

  2. Thanks Emma, you are so much fun! I'm excited about this book and have to share it with everyone. Can't wait for Billow!