Book Nerd Guest Post
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.
It’s such a joy to be here on Jean Book Nerd! Jean is one of my absolute favorite people in the YA Book Blogger community and I’m thrilled she’s hosting this stop on my Blog Tour.
I’d like to talk to you today about one of my cardinal rules about writing: I DON’T READ WHEN I’M WRITING
When I’m working on a first draft of a book, I don’t generally allow myself to read other novels. I know. It’s horrible. I LOVE to read and if I could, I’d read a couple books a week. Instead I go for months at a time where I do not read. (And then, when I get a draft in to my publisher and I have a few weeks off, I GORGE myself on books!)
The reason why I have to take this extreme measure is that I’m a born mimic. I pick up on cadence and rhythm and tone very easily. It’s one of the reasons why I was a good character actress and it’s probably one of the reasons why I can handle a large cast like the one in the MONUMENT 14 series. However, if I am reading a novel, and very engrossed in the world the author has created, my writing starts to take on the tone of the book I’m reading.
To illustrate this, and just for fun, I’m going to take the first paragraph of SKY ON FIRE, and then show you what it might have been like if I’d been reading 3 different books.
Here’s the paragraph, as it appears in the book:
It was a lovely moment. Astrid hugging little Caroline and Henry. Luna barking and licking all the faces she could reach. Of course, we were all wearing five layers of clothing to protect our skin from the compounds. And I had on my air mask. And Chloe was off to the aide, masked and layered up and lying in a drugged sleep on an inflatable mattress. But for us, in the Greenway, it was a nice moment.
And here’s what it could have been, if I allowed myself to read while writing...
The first paragraph of SKY ON FIRE, if I were reading LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfeld
The visor of the young man’s air filtration mask was clouded by a layer of sweat vapor.
He wished he could be more impartial as he watched one Astrid Heyman hug the two small children entrusted to their care but he could not pretend that his feelings for the girl were platonic. In fact, she was partially the cause for his perspiration.
The other causes pertained to the standard physiological response to physical exertion and the uncomfortable fact that Dean, like all the others, was wearing multiple layers of clothing. Even the slumbering child resting off to the side on an rubberized mattress filled with air, was shrouded in five layers of protective garb. It was a bother.
The first paragraph of SKY ON FIRE, if I’d been reading JUNIE B. JONES by Barbara Park
A girl I love named Astrid was holding on to those twins and squeezing them like she was going to push their guts out. Chloe was konked out on a life raft. We were all hot, hot, hot because we were wearing clothes like it was a blizzard out only it wasn’t a blizzard. It was the Pocalypse.
SKY ON FIRE, if I were reading GAME OF THRONES by George R. R. Martin
Now, he watched the girl embrace the two redheaded twins. All of them wore the five layers of garb required to protect them from the elements.
Dean let himself enjoy the moment, drinking in the sight of the girl, the shape of her form under her clothing. He knew such moments of reprieve were precious and few. The night pressed dark against their sanctuary. It was waiting to take them, every one of them.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my utter silliness! I beg the pardon of the three authors I’ve emulated - of course your work is far more subtle and wonderful than my shallow imitations. It’s why you are three of my favorite authors!
Thanks again to Jean and to all you wonderful readers! Please, come follow the rest of my tour! Tomorrow I’m over at www.MacTeenKids.com, talking about the MONUMENT 14 movie deal!
I’d really love to stay in touch with you - On my website: www.emmylaybourne.com,
Good old Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Monument14
Or on the Twitter @emmylaybourne.
In this sequel to MONUMENT 14, the group of survivors, originally trapped together in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, has split in two. Most of the kids are making a desperate run on their recently repaired school bus for the Denver airport where they hope to reunite with their parents, be evacuated to safety, and save their dying friend.
But the world outside is dark and filled with dangerous chemicals that turn people into bloodthirsty monsters, and not all the kids were willing to get on the bus. Left behind in a sanctuary that has already been disturbed once, the remaining kids try to rebuild the community they lost. But when the issues are life and death, love and hate, who can you really trust?
Emmy Laybourne’s Monument 14 left off with the group being split in two. The sequel, Sky on Fire, emphasizes the perspectives of brothers, Alex and Dean. Dean remains inside the superstore while Alex is on the move. Safety is still not a feasible thought and disaster seems to be lurking at every corner. The kids still have hopes of reuniting with their parents and with a repaired school bus at their disposal, some are willing to go outside and be exposed to all of the dangerous chemicals in order to reach the Denver airport. Those who chose to stay will try to restore a life that is lost. Trust becomes a major dispute when the kids have to deal with real life sensitive issues.
The excitement that readers have come to know in Laybourne’s Monument 14 seamlessly crossed-over into its sequel. This time around, it is amplified as readers are taken deeper into the story’s highly compelling plot. Set in the year 2024 where the outer elements have become disastrous, every corner the kids turn to is filled with chilling danger and total excitement at the same time. I enjoy how Laybourne’s writing is able to mix two attributes and deliver a plot that is amazing and highly interesting.
The focus set forth in each character is incredible. Character development is imperative to any story and Laybourne is able to give each character their own voice and unique personality. The group’s wide age range can be a difficult part to write about. However, Laybourne is able give them life in accordance to a character’s age. The actions of younger characters are accurately captured and provided more proof to how great the writing is and how it helps the story feel real.
Their world is certainly different and it is this harsh environment that readers will learn and enjoy the dynamics that are developed within the group. Readers will be exposed to how human emotions will play a major part into how actions will be taken when faced with desperate situations. Whether the outcome is good or bad, it added depth to an already fascinating story. Although it is set in the future with elements that are far beyond our grasp, some of the outcomes of the dangers the group experience ended up fatally. I truly appreciate this component in any story as it makes it feel real. Sky on Fire takes elements that made Monument 14 the awesome read that it is and adds more to make it the sequel that readers will not want to miss.