Meet Emily Roberson.
EMILY ROBERSON is the author of LIFESTYLES OF GODS & MONSTERS (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 2019). She is also the author of LIFE, MOTHERHOOD AND THE PURSUIT OF THE PERFECT HANDBAG, a novel for adults. Emily has been a bookseller in Little Rock, a newspaper reporter in Vicksburg, a marketing manager in Boston, and a writer in Chapel Hill and Dallas. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in English and has a master’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin. She now lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with her husband, three sons and no pets. She has always loved books, food, travel and fashion, and attempted to cram all those things into her debut young adult novel.
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The fight is on. What two Greek gods or goddesses would you put against each other in an epic arena showdown?
Ooh, that’s a good one — from a showpiece perspective, I’d love to see Athena against Ares, since she’s the goddess of strategy and he’s the god of bloodlust and fighting for the sake of fighting. I’d be curious about who would win that one. Also, I think Hera gets a bad wrap in the myths, and I’d love to see her against Athena. Athena is so proud of herself for being not born from a woman (since she burst out of Zeus’s head), and I bet Hera has a few tricks up her sleeve that Athena wouldn’t expect.
Without giving away any spoilers, what was your proudest moment for Ariadne in Lifestyles of Gods & Monsters?There is a moment when Ariadne sees that everything isn’t as she has been told, and sees her sisters as real people, and I love that moment.
How has your writing evolved since becoming published?
I’ve loved being edited, and I’m hoping that I’m less reliant on all those little filler words (just, so, little) but the use of little in this sentence already suggests that may not be true. I think the biggest difference in my writing now versus when I started is that I’m getting a better sense of my own weaknesses. I know that when I’m starting to veer away from the text, or skip over things, it’s because I’m running up to something hard. I feel like the experience of writing this book and finding a publisher, has made me braver about writing through those places.
From chick lit to YA fantasy, what inspired the shift?
When I wrote my chick lit novel, LIFE, MOTHERHOOD AND THE PURSUIT OF THE PERFECT HANDBAG, I was a working mom with two small kids, and writing that book was the way I made it through. Everything was so hard, but at the end of the day, I could write that book, headed directly for the happy ending. I put every last thing that sucked about being a working mom into that book, and I knew exactly who I was writing it for — other people (men and women) who were in my shoes, trying desperately to figure out how to be the person you feel like you are supposed to be, while also caring for very small people who get poop on your work clothes. When I tried to get a publisher for it (around 2009), I didn’t have any luck, so I ended up self publishing in 2011. I thought that I would write more chick lit, but when it came down to sit down and write, I didn’t care about any of my ideas as much as that first one. Instead, I found that my whole heart was carrying me toward fantasy. It was my first love, and it’s what I read, so that’s not entirely surprising.
What would be the top message you want readers to take away from Ariadne in Lifestyles of Gods & Monsters?
If people are telling you to do something you hate because the gods demand it, look hard into how they benefit from what you’re doing. Also, if every day is a slow slog of misery, perhaps the path you are on isn’t the right one.
If you could pick one book to live in for the day, what book would it be and why?
There are so many, but my problem is that I always struggle to imagine myself as the protagonist. Like I could say any Harry Potter, but I’m sure I would either be a muggle and not get into Hogwarts at all, or I’d be one of the people petrified in the first act. LORD OF THE RINGS, but I’m not very brave, so I’d probably get gored by an orc early. I’ve always loved to imagine the Paris of A MOVEABLE FEAST, but I know that I would probably be Hadley, stuck in the cold water apartment with the baby while Hemingway was off gallivanting. I’m going to go with PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, because I’d love to see the castles and the parties and the horses, and I would be Elizabeth Bennet, she’s more my style of heroine.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
Seeing fan art is the thing that I am the most excited about from having the book published, so if anyone makes any pictures of Ariadne or the sisters or Theseus or the Minotaur, please, please tag me. Also pictures of the contestants, I can’t wait to see what people do with Hippolyta and Vortigern. Really everyone. I can’t wait to see what people make.
Lifestyles of Gods & Monsters is available now!