Today I’d like to welcome Erin Blakemore to BookEnds! Erin is a freelance journalist with bylines in outlets such as The Washington Post, National Geographic, Smithsonian, and many others, and writes upmarket fiction and nonfiction in her “spare” time. She is the author of The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Welcome to BookEnds, Erin!
What book do you wish you had written, and why?
The Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan. After I picked it up, I couldn’t put it back down again—the characters and plot and setting dragged me down emotional backroads I didn’t see coming. It was so atmospheric and the writing was not only gorgeous, but a master class in fickle narration and clever characterization. Once I was done, I couldn’t wait to talk to other people who had read it. To me, that’s the mark of a great book!
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
Yoga. It hasn’t really made me a calmer person, but I learn a lot by showing up on my mat over and over and over and over…kind of like writing!
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
erinblakemore.com, facebook.com/heroinebook, and @heroinebook on Twitter.
What’s the last book you read?
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. I always feel like I’m late to the party, and I missed reading this book at the height of its bestsellerdom. I’m so glad I came to it anyway. It broke my heart open in all of the best ways.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice you’ve received?
I’m lucky to have some very shrewd, accomplished friends, and one of the best—Eleanor Brown—once reminded me that a novel is, at its heart, a series of decisions. At some point you have to just decide and move forward, and that’s your job as an author. For some reason this soothes me when I’m stuck. All I have to do to get unstuck is make another decision, and another, and another…
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
IT’S NOT PERSONAL. This seems incomprehensible, but as a much-rejected journalist, I’ve finally accepted that things get rejected for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with me. Often, behind-the-scenes things like timing, budgets, personnel, moods, and mistakes mean a query goes nowhere…and that’s okay. In order to get treated like a pro, you’ve got to act like one, and that means finding a bit of healthy distance between yourself and your work.