Book Nerd Interview
Emmy began her writing career as a playwright. The first play she wrote and performed was called, The Miss Alphabet City Beauty Pageant and Spelling Bee. The New York Post said it, “restores faith in our country’s comedic future.” The Daily News called it, “hilariously clever.”
Her next play, Smorgas-Bourne, landed Emmy a starring role in the Paramount feature film, Superstar, opposite WIll Ferrel and Molly Shannon.
As an actress, Emmy went on to have featured roles in the films “Nancy Drew,” “The In-Laws,” and “Lucky Numbers.” She was a season regular on the NBC sitcom “DAG,” and performed original comedy on Comedy Central, MTV, and VH1. She has improvised with the Upright Citizens Brigade, Chicago City Limits and the Heartless Floozies.
Emmy has performed original comedy material throughout LA and New York, including the song she sang with her brother, Sam, “We Can’t Make Love Because We’re Related.”
In addition to writing YA novels, Emmy is currently a Lyricist in the prestigious BMI Musical Theater Writer’s Advanced Workshop, writing a musical called "The Midnight Princess" with composer Paul Libman.
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I loved stories and books so much, that it actually took me a long time to even realize that people COULD be writers! I sort of thought that books sprung into the world fully formed! It was reading Laura Ingalls Wilder who made me realize that books came from the minds of actual people. I realized that Laura, who I loved in the books, had grown up to become Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of my Little House books. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a writer.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
There are many, many answers to this great question. I’m going to give you a new one.
I recently heard a teacher say that children cannot learn unless they feel safe. This explained for me why... ahem... I never learned much in school. Where did I learn -- where did I feel safe? In books. When we read a story we can give over to it fully and allow ourselves to be guided and led, even through scary environments, without feeling threatened. In short, we can learn through story, because we feel safe.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I was on a float in Bill Clinton’s inaugural parade in 1992!
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
I asked Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me, First Light) if she had any advice for me in the weeks leading up to Monument 14’s publication. She told me, “Get really excited about your next book”! This was great advice because it made me remember that no matter how well M14 did or didn’t do (and it’s done amazingly well by all standards) that this is just my first book. The first of many. It helped me remember that this is the beginning of a new career for me and to keep centered and grounded and think about the future. Thanks again, Rebecca!
In your new book, Monument 14; can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
Monument 14 is about fourteen kids from Monument, Colorado, who get trapped in a superstore (think Target) while civilization collapses outside the gates. It’s an action-filled book, and it’s plenty scary at times, but it’s also about kids defending each other and figuring out what’s right and wrong when all heck has broken loose.
Can you tell us when you started Monument 14, how that came about?
I started Monument 14 after I met with my agent and pitched her five story ideas. Of the five, she felt that this one was the most unique and surprising. I’ll always be grateful for her advice.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Oh my gosh, I love these questions! I’d introduce Sahalia to Fire, from Fire by Kristin Cashore! Sahalia desperately needs Fire to help her to gain self-respect and to learn to use her strength to protect herself. Fire could speak to Sahalia in her own mind and show her her beauty, strength and power. Sahalia is angry at the world, and she doesn’t even know it. Fire could show her that, too.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m wrapping up revisions on Monument 14 Book 2: Sky On Fire. It will be released in the Summer of 2013. I meet next week with my editor, Jean Feiwel, to discuss future projects!
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
“Who ate the last chocolate chip cookie, mommy?”
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Take an improv class! I know this seems like a weird suggestion, but studying improv helps you learn to ignore your inner critic. That’s something every writer needs to learn to do in order to write freely and in the moment.
Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
My mom! We have a great relationship and she always knows the right thing to say (which is usually, “I bet if you took a yoga class you would feel better!”)
What is your favorite room in your home and outside environment?
My favorite room is our upstairs hallway. We did the ceiling in with a beautiful starry sky wallpaper and I love to sit in my armchair and read there.
Who was your first boyfriend?
Adorable, toothless tow-headed Luke Ratray. I was 8, he was 7. It was a big scandal in Mrs. Kramer’s class at PS 75, I tell you!
When was the last time you cried?
I cried last week while reading over the manuscript for Sky On Fire! I was skimming along in an utterly professional way - not reading to engage with the story at all - then I came to this one moment and tears sprung to my eyes and I blurted out a little sob. It was a little surreal!
What is the one, single food that you would never give up?
Um, the aforementioned chocolate chip cookies?! I’m also big on salads, right now. I’m enjoying eating chopped salads with lots of vegetables and chicken cubes and a zippy vinaigrette. But if I had to choose, I’d jettison the greens for the cookies in a heartbeat!
Where can readers stalk you?
www.emmylaybourne.com ! There you can find some upcoming events and blog posts about all manner of things Monument 14 related! I also have the very clever Twitter handle of @EmmyLaybourne ! I love to interact with readers so please introduce yourself!
Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.
But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.
Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.
In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.
This Apocalyptic tale presents a gripping story about the after effects of a natural disaster causing chaos throughout. Although the young survivors are barred from the disasters outside, they brew their own storm from within. Emmy brilliantly created incredible characters that are dynamic that each action they perform and every word they say is believable. The interactions between the characters are authentic with real life problems and complexity. Even a love triangle between Astrid, Dean, and Jake added matter but without over-powering the real story.
Emmy’s writing style is absolutely beautiful. It is like opening the water valve to your kitchen sink, it flows smoothly throughout. The dialogue between characters sounds real and authentic. Emmy’ writing etiquette is not shy to describe their incredible world. She has a talent of using the right words that grabs her readers and places them inside her remarkable story.
Monument 14 is simply thrilling from beginning to end. The story is so gripping that readers will not find a reason to put this book down. It is mind-stimulating as it makes us think how to act when a dilemma like what the children faces occur. The book closes with satisfaction but leaves it open for more to come.
You can purchase Monument 14 at the following Retailers:
And now, The Giveaways.