When Emma Gallimore started the first words of her debut novel, “Nothing’s Ever Lost,” the freelance and content writer was living in Japan, reeling from a family tragedy and trying to find some outlet to express her grief.
What started as a few words turned into a 10-year project, and the Hampden resident, whose pen name is Emma G. Rose, is ready to share her work when her novel is released on July 24, her 32nd birthday.
“Nothing’s Ever Lost” brings readers on a journey through the afterlife, when two teenagers try to hold their friendship together after a car crash and make it through to the other side.
How did you come up with the story idea for “Nothing’s Ever Lost”?
I started writing the novel after kind of a tragic experience in my own life. My 17-year-old cousin [Nicholas Wayne Fernandes] died by suicide. I was 20 at the time and I was just about to move to Japan. I started writing this story just about these two people who are walking through the afterlife and I didn’t really have a plot or an idea of where it was going. And it became my way of dealing with something that was really incredibly awful.
How did that turn into a novel that you would write and now publish?
It was a very long process. It took me ten years from the first scribble to a finished novel. And it doesn’t have to take that long. I don’t think that’s really the standard. My next novel will come out in a year. So I don’t think it takes ten years to write a book. It was just me dealing with something to a story that was worth other people reading. And I really wanted to publish it because in writing about it, I explored a lot of my own feelings about loss and death, that it’s scary and there’s still a lot of humor in life and in what happens next. And I had all of these thoughts that I felt like other people could relate to and could maybe feel a little less alone.
What is your typical writing process like?
I found that the best thing you can do is write every day. And anybody who’s ever read a book on writing, because that advice, it’s not new. But what I did a couple of years ago, I challenged myself to write a page every day. I wrote at least 365 pages in that year. And every day, I sat down at my desk and wrote a page, so by the end of that year, I had finished the draft of the novel I’d been working on, began and finished a second novel, and actually started a third. So what I finished is the beginning of my page-a-day challenge. And it’s going to come out summer of 2020. And it’s called “Near Life Experience.”
Why did you decide to be independently published?
I’ve heard horror stories about people who publish traditionally, and the publisher slaps that cover on the book that just doesn’t represent what the book is about. Or they buy it, and then they don’t put very much into the marketing. And then the author isn’t allowed to do that either. And so they end up with a book that doesn’t live up to potential. This is a strange story. It’s weird. It’s not going to be “Harry Potter.” And I don’t want it to be. I also know that a big publishing company is probably not going to look at this book and see money bags. So they’re not going to pour in the level of effort that I’m willing to put in to make it, to put it in front of the people who most need it or want it.
When did you want to become an author? Was it something that happened organically?
I joke that I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I’ve known how to read, and I don’t remember not knowing how to read. So as soon as I figured out that the books that I love so much were written by actual real people walking around in the world, and that that was a thing that you could do, I wanted to do it. I’ve been writing ever since ever since I was a child. But I’ve been really writing with the intent to publish, since probably fifth grade.
What was the hardest part of the process to write this novel? Some of the fears?
The hardest part of writing any novel is writing the acknowledgments section, because there are so many people to thank. Everybody thinks of writing is this thing that you do alone at your desk, and it kind of is. But a book doesn’t become a book without a huge number of people supporting and helping and making it happen. Other things that were really challenging were making yourself actually sit down and do the writing. The habit or the pattern of sitting down every day or consistently and working on something. Editing can be really challenging in that you give your book to somebody else. There’s that fear of, oh my gosh, I’m giving this and I made this thing. And it’s been perfect in my brain, it’s lived inside of me. And then I give it away to somebody. And I say, basically, “Here’s the inside of my brain, please look at it and tell me what you think.” Which is terrifying.
What advice would you give to young or aspiring writers who want to be an author?
The first and most important piece of advice is to just keep writing. Just writing, sitting down and putting words on the page can overcome an incredible number of obstacles. You can’t have writer’s block if you’re writing. You might not be writing about what you meant to write. But if there are words going on to that page that’s not writer’s block, you’re fine. Writing consistently also overcomes any challenges you have around skill level. So if you think, “Oh, I might not be good enough,” you’ll get good enough if you just keep writing. That’s how the Beatles became the Beatles. They played every day. Forever. In a string of small venues every single day. And eventually, you do that long enough, you will get good.
“Nothing’s Ever Lost” launch party will be held 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, at the Briar Patch Bookstore, 27 Central St. Meet the author and have the book signed. The book is distributed by Ingram and will be available wherever books are sold. For more information, visit emmagauthor.com.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.