I'm happy to welcome author Emily Martens (Right) to my blog today! She and her writing partner, Chelsey Colleen Hankins (Center), graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and after working together as stunt performers for a Hollywood sword fighting team, co-writing a comedy webseries, and starting their own business as Public Relations Copywriters, they conjoined their mutual love of sweeping historical dramas and intimate, character-driven stories to create the fictional world of Eden, Mississippi. Unable to resist the song of the South, the writing duo currently resides in New Orleans, Louisiana where they are finishing their second and third series of novels together.
I really think that sword fighting stunt work is way cool!!! And they don't know how much I envy them living in New Orleans!
Chelsey, a Mississippi native, has published multiple short stories including “Kadie” and “Battle Scars” featured in the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Emily, hailing from a small Gold Rush town in California, published her first novel, The Shards of Morning in 2009. It was a finalist for both the International Book Awards and the Indie Excellence Awards.
They are working on a historical series set in Mississippi, Death of Eden, which is not one of those Old South Save-the-Plantation stories. Instead it is similar to what people consider a Western with a Robin Hood twist.
Today, Emily is going to talk about their writing process and how they learned how to write in the moment during acting classes.
Writing in the Moment
My writing partner, Chelsey, and I met at the acting conservatory program at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. While attending AADA, we explored many different techniques to help us build a solid foundation as actors, but the thought line emphasized throughout the program was the concept of inhabiting the moment. Engaging in the give and take of a scene in a spontaneous, organic way is the central tenet that our training instilled in us. There is nothing more amazing or addictive. When we started working on Death of Eden, we decided to approach writing the way actors might approach building a performance in rehearsal. From our outlines we both knew where the scene was supposed to go, so we each took a character (or characters, depending) and one of us would write a line, then the other give a line back, responding in character. The scene grew and evolved from there, flowing with the unfolding emotions and organic responses. We worked the same way when it came time to turn script into book, using the lines as the skeleton over which to construct a full, fleshed-out novel.
This method of writing is an exciting, dynamic and sometimes dangerous process. As in life, you never know what might be coming next. Is it risky? You bet! But it gives the writing a sense of urgency and a new depth that would not be present with just one mind behind the words. We may end up having to rewrite an entire outline because of a rogue line from an impassioned character, but that’s what makes it so brilliant. There are always new discoveries to be made. At the end of it all, when we have put the period on that last sentence and completed that final edit, we are left with the most refined, perfected version of a story that is still grounded in the reality of the moment.
Since we began our journey a little under three years ago, we have completed eleven novels and a webseries utilizing this method. Death of Eden: Brotherhood (volume two of the five-book series) will be released soon after the New Year.
DEATH OF EDEN: OUTLAW (Volume I)
On the eve of the Civil War, with U.S. marshals at their backs, Jesse Locke and a band of outlaws led by the dauntless, unpredictable Jack Ross find themselves with no other choice but to seek sanctuary in Jesse’s former backwoods home. After being run out of town for murder seven years earlier, Jesse arrives to find his mother dead, his sister in the whore house and nothing at all as he left it. Having entrusted the survival of his family to his oldest friend, Hank Walker, Jesse sets out to put right the betrayal that has befallen in his absence. But with the gallows a misstep away and ravenous enemies closing in, Jesse finds himself thrown into a tempest of insatiable passions, corrupt justice and treacherous temptations that threaten to send him and everyone he loves into the grave.
DEATH OF EDEN: BROTHERHOOD (Volume II)
In the wake of the thwarted execution, a ruthless U.S. Marshal has usurped justice in Eden. For Hank Walker, the world has turned upside down with the swing of a rope, yet in the midst of so much turbulence, the Deputy has one shining light, Jo Locke. Though the love of his life keeps her heart heavily guarded, a future once ripped away from him is now within his grasp. But as dark secrets begin to surface, Hank finds himself swept up in the middle of a bitter feud that promises to destroy everything caught in its path. Now, once again forced to walk the line between lawman and outlaw, Hank discovers that brotherhood isn't always defined by blood.