Em's place

Writing, anxiety-wrangling, tea.

Planetfall is coming!

By Emma on September 21, 2015

Someone, somewhere has evidently been eating time because weeks just keep disappearing! Before I know it, it’s going to be November 3rd – otherwise known as <kermit flail> Planetfall release day </kermit flail> – so I am writing this now. Otherwise I’ll turn around and it will be August 2016 or something.

So… Planetfall. My fifth novel (to be published, that is!) and my first foray into science fiction. Quite a lot of people have been surprised by this, seeing as they discovered me through my urban fantasy series. For me, it was always surprising I was published in urban fantasy first! Science fiction was always my first love and writing a novel in the genre was like coming home for me.

And here I am, on the brink of another book release and it’s just as wonderful and terrifying as the first! This post is all about pre-ordering – namely me asking you very nicely to do so if you are planning to buy the book. Why? Because those first weeks of sales are critical and if there is a nice boost right off the bat from pre-orders, that is fantastic. It tells my publisher (Roc) that there is interest in the book and that they were right to sign me (and hopefully makes them feel good about looking at future novels). It tells bookshops that there is demand for the book, so they are more likely to stock it and that makes it more likely other people will stumble across it. It also has the advantage of demonstrating demand for science fiction which happens to have been written by a woman, which is nice.

In short: you will really be helping me and Planetfall out by doing this. But that shouldn’t be the main reason! Let me tell you a bit about it and what some fine people have said about it, so you can see if it tickles your fancy.

Planetfall cover

I am so delighted with this cover!

About Planetfall

From Emma Newman, the award-nominated author of Between Two Thorns, comes a novel of how one secret withheld to protect humanity’s future might be its undoing…

Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.

The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…

What other people have said about Planetfall

“Planetfall is gripping, thoughtful science fiction in the vein of Tiptree or Crispin. Emma Newman has crafted a story that turns inward on itself in a beautiful spiral; the written equivalent of the golden mean. I have been waiting for this book for a very long time.”

—Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of A Red-Rose Chain

“You’ve never read a science fiction book like this. A masterful study of mental illness, with the ruins of an enigmatic alien race serving as therapist for one of the most unsparingly drawn fictional characters you’ll ever read.”

—Melinda M. Snodgrass, screenwriter, author of the Edge series

“Newman has crafted a thrilling tale of murder, mystery and madness on a world where humanity is still its own worst enemy. Horrifying and heartbreaking in equal measure, the catastrophe driving this narrative will keep you riveted until the very last page. Don’t miss this one.”

—Kameron Hurley, author of the The Mirror Empire

“We have a destiny waiting for us among the stars, and now it’s calling to us. A great genre debut, and beautifully written: an unfolding alien mystery, and complex, utterly believable characters. You will want to believe.”

—Stephen Baxter, National Bestselling Author of Ultima

“Filled with wonders, revelations, and edge-of-the-seat suspense, Planetfall is a fascinating, heartbreaking exploration of love and loneliness set against an awe-inspiring backdrop. An instant classic of the genre.”

—Gareth L. Powell, BSFA Award-winning author of Ack-Ack Macaque

Early reviews

It’s early days so there are only 3 reviews (that I know of anyway!).


That one on the left is from RT magazine – yay!

Michaela Gray reviewed Planetfall for Geek Syndicate – Read the full review

Planetfall is a brilliantly gripping psychological study of the ties that bind a diverse community together, of spirituality and science, love, loss, and the price of keeping up a pretence over a long period of time. Slowly unfurling its layers of lies until the worm in the bud is revealed, Planetfall is a story to be slowly savoured, a sublime mix of science fiction and faith. This is what Prometheus wishes it was.
Planetfall confirms Newman as one of the most versatile, talented and thoughtful voices currently in science fiction and fantasy. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

And Jane Hanmer reviewed it on her blog too. Read the full review here.

This novel left me bruised and heartsore. It is about love and grief as well as power and lies. I loved it, you need to put this on your to read list now.

Where you can pre-order

So, if this sounds like your kind of book, here are the places where you can pre-order it. I’m dividing into US and UK readers for the sake of ease, if you live outside of the US and UK I’m guessing that Amazon and The Book Depository would be your first ports of call.

There will also be an audio book version, narrated by yours truly. That’s available for pre-order in the States at Audible.

In the US


Barnes & Noble

Books A Million

Hudson Booksellers





In the UK

(Forbidden Planet may well have signed books you can pre-order – will tell you more when it has been confirmed!)

Forbidden Planet

Books on the Hill bookshop

Topping Books

Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights


The Book Depository


So there you go! Go forth and be gloriously pre-ordery! And if you could help me spread the word, I would be very grateful and you would most definitely be a bless poppet!

A light in the darkness

By Emma on September 4, 2015

Like thousands of other people, I’ve been despairing about the refugee crisis and feeling utterly impotent in the face of so much suffering. Yesterday that ramped up to a whole new level and there’s no need for me to explain why.

Then Patrick Ness started something wonderful. Authors have been getting together to help raise money for Save the Children and it’s rocketed off to a great start. You can donate here.

I did just that, but still felt like it wasn’t enough. I don’t have a lot of money so can’t make big donations and whilst I understand that little donations on a massive scale all add up to something effective, I still felt that it wasn’t personal enough.

Then I saw a tweet saying that some geeky knitters and crocheters are getting together to make blankets, hats and gloves etc. The cold killed thousands of refugees fleeing last year and, at the risk of inappropriate quoting, winter is coming. The Squares by Geeks Facebook Group is here if you’d like to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1005242656207028/

Now this summer, my little boy and I have been learning to crochet (I mentioned that people crochet TARDISs and sonic screwdrivers and he wanted to learn, bless him) and a couple of days ago we started to learn how to do a Granny Square. We plan to make a blanket together. When he comes home from school tonight, I’m going to ask him if he’s happy for us to donate it. We’ll take a while – we only know how to do the two inner rounds at the moment but next week we have a lesson on how to finish the square.

This feels better, I thought. I can donate time and love to make something that will keep someone warm, someone who has lost everything. It is only a small thing, but it feels more personal to spend hours thinking of and caring for someone distant who is in pain and who is in need and making something to alleviate that directly. Perhaps I have some notion that it will be felt in that blanket when it leaves my hands and is wrapped around someone’s shoulders. Only a little thing, one candle flame in so much darkness, but better than none.

Then I had a thought. Over the next two months, I will be going to Bristolcon, Octocon and Fantasycon. At the recent Nine Worlds convention I saw so many people yarning like a boss. How about we do something together?

So, I propose this: For each of these three conventions, once I have my schedules, I’ll post up times that I’ll be in one of the public spaces, making my granny squares for blankets to donate. Anyone who knits/crochets can join me and we can talk geeky stuff or I could help you with fears about writing, whatever. We can all crochet/knit whilst watching panels etc, then on the last day of the con, everyone gives me the squares they’ve made over the con. Then I will sew them up and take a picture of a beautiful thing we have made together that will keep someone warm when they need it most. I will then make sure they are sent off to the collection points that are springing up as I type this.

Who’s in?

EDIT: Since posting this, lovely people who can’t make it to those cons have been asking whether they can make squares and post them. The very lovely Books on the Hill bookshop in Clevedon, near Bristol, have agreed to accept posted squares on my behalf. Any that arrive before the 28th of September will be brought to Bristolcon and added to that blanket/s. Any that arrive after that, I will go and collect at the end of October to stitch up into blankets, and the month after etc for as long as is needed.

Practical stuff:

PLEASE MARK YOUR PACKAGES WITH: “Blanket Squares enclosed” so Alistair and Chloe know they just need to keep it to pass on to me.

Their address is: Books on the Hill, 75 hill Road, Clevedon, BS21 7PL

From the Squares by Geeks FB page: “Whether you’re crocheting or knitting, using DK/Aran/Chunky/whatever, please make your squares either 4″ or 8″. If you have outliers, don’t worry! We’ll use them for borders or smaller blankets :)
If you’d rather make gloves or hats, that’s brilliant! Word is that most charities have received lots of stuff for women and children, but far less for men, of whom there are more in need. So it would be great if you could make stuff in larger sizes.”

Also, you should totally buy books from them because they are an independent bookshop and there aren’t enough of them in the world. Also, Alistair and Chloe are lovely, geeky people. They are @booksonthehill on Twitter.

Nine Worlds and other news

By Emma on August 3, 2015

Nine Worlds? Already?!

Well, someone is definitely stealing time from me as it’s August now and I am pretty certain it’s supposed to be May. But anyway, everyone else seems to think this much time has passed, so it’s high time (no pun intended) I told you about my schedule at Nine Worlds this year.

But before I do that, I just wanted to squee about the fact that my short story “A Woman’s Place” has been shortlisted for the British Fantasy Society Best Short Story award! Blimey! It was published in the 221 Baker Streets anthology published by Abaddon Books. You should check it out as there are lots of great stories in there.

This is the first short story award I’ve been shortlisted for – which thrills me in and of itself – but in addition, that story was the only thing I had published last year, otherwise known as the year of absolute hell. It’s like finding a gold nugget in a pan full of crap. Yay!

So, Nine Worlds…

No wait, sorry, there’s an event happening just before Nine Worlds, on Thursday 6th August called Fantasy in the Court where authors and readers can chat at the wonderful Goldsboro Books. It’s a ticketed event and I will be there with my husband Pete, which is just as well as it will also be our ten year wedding anniversary and spending it getting tiddly at a gorgeous bookshop could not be more perfect. Details are here: https://www.goldsborobooks.com/event/fantasy-in-the-court-2/

No, really, here’s my Nine Worlds schedule now!

Friday 7th August

You’re in our world now – The invention of myths for a modern audience

County C&D, 11:45am – 1:00pm

Tom Pollock, Anna Caltabiano, Emma Newman, Snorri Kristjansson, Joanne Harris, Peter Newman

How are authors finding new and exciting ways to reinvent myths and fairy tales for the modern era and why are there some stories we just can’t get enough of?

(This is also my very first time as moderator. Hold me.)


Newbie Meetup

County A, 1:30pm – 2:45pm

New to Nine Worlds? Come and have a nice cup of tea with authors Emma Newman and Peter Newman of the Hugo nominated Tea and Jeopardy podcast, and before you know it, you’ll feel right at home. (Mild peril not included).


Fear and Writing Workshop

Royal A, 5:00pm – 6:15pm

Are you struggling to write the first draft of your novel? Are you researching endlessly but not actually writing the book? Have you had a book in your head for years but been unable to start it? Do you have a drawer full of unfinished stories and manuscripts? Emma Newman’s workshop is designed to help authors explore the reasons they’re not getting that book written: we’ll cover practical tasks to take home, all designed to help you start – and finish! – that manuscript lurking in the back of your mind.

(Please bring a pen and paper!)

Saturday 8th August

Collaborative Writing – How to write with others (and stay friends) 

Royal A, 11:45am – 1:00pm

Tiffani Angus, Gavin G Smith, Stephen Deas, Naomi Foyle, Emma Newman

Our panel discusses the trials and pitfalls of collaborative writing, examining why people write together, and the best techniques and technologies to use.


Newbie Meetup

Commonwealth East, 1:30pm – 2:45pm

Peter Newman, Emma Newman

New to Nine Worlds? Come and have a nice cup of tea with authors Emma Newman and Peter Newman of the Hugo nominated Tea and Jeopardy podcast, and before you know it, you’ll feel right at home. (Mild peril not included).

Sunday 9th August

Can’t Stop the Signal – Taking your podcast to the next level

Room 32, 10:00am – 11:15am

Emma Newman, Michaela Gray, Ed Fortune, Paul Davies, Peter Fagan

There’s more to hosting a successful podcast than recording and posting audio. The key to taking your podcast to the next level is engaging with your fans. Join the hosts of a number of successful podcasts in a discussion and Q&A session to find out how they use podcasting, social media and conventions to build an audience.

Writing the Other

Commonwealth West, 3:15pm – 4:30pm

Stephen Aryan, Stark Holborn, Adam Christopher, Guy Haley, Naomi Foyle, Emma Newman


Good grief, I’m busier than I thought I would be!

Are you a sci-fi book reviewer who is going to be at Nine Worlds?

I have a very small number of ARCs of my upcoming novel Planetfall which will be released on November 3rd (published by Ace/Roc). If you would like one, drop me a line in the comments below with a link to your review site (so I can keep track for the publicist) and I will arrange a time that I can give you a copy. First come, first served!

Right. Now I am going to try and do about 7 day’s worth of work in less than three. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? If you need me, I’ll be over there, mainlining tea and maybe crying. Wheeeee!

An announcement for fans of the Split Worlds!

By Emma on July 17, 2015

Would you like to come into the Split Worlds?

If you’re a fan of the Split Worlds and want to get a taste of what it would be like to be one of the fae-touched in Aquae Sulis, read on!

Save the date!

In Bath (UK) on Saturday May 7th 2016 the very fabulous Katie Logan (amazing LARP ubergoddess and founder of the Ladies Who LARP Tumblr) and I will be running a live roleplaying event set in the Split Worlds at the wonderful Guildhall. It is the most beautiful venue with the perfect sumptuous Georgian splendour that is perfect for the Split Worlds.

In game, you will be in Aquae Sulis, the secret magical reflection of the city of Bath, one of the most prestigious courts in the Nether. The event will centre around a Masked Ball and will involve courtly intrigue, mystery, drama and politics, all involving the Fae-touched families of Albion you know and love and hate from the Split Worlds series.

There will be lots of juicy plot for experienced LARPers to sink their hungry teeth into (I have LARPed and GMed a huge amount and know how much is needed to keep players satisfied!). There will also be opportunities for Split Worlds fans to come and enjoy a ball with music and canapés and only a tiny amount of roleplaying, just in case you’re a fan of the books but not an experienced live action roleplayer.

More details will be released soon, but for now we just wanted to let you know the date so you can plan ahead – I advise that you block the whole day and evening in your diary if you are interested in coming as we are currently finalising plans for activities leading up to the ball in the evening.

But Em, what is LARPing?

LARP stands for ‘Live Action Role Playing’, as distinct from ‘tabletop’ roleplaying where you and your mates roll dice and eat far too many biscuits. In tabletop you describe what actions your character is taking and have lots of in character conversation and a bit of out of character conversation (it is wonderful). In LARP, you wear a costume and you physically move, talk and act just like the character you are playing – the nearest equivalent activity is improvisational drama (it too is wonderful, but more intense as an experience). In LARP, there are GMs (Games Masters) who manage plot, answer questions, make rulings and manage NPCs (non-player characters).

That sounds scary. I’ve never done it before, does that mean I can’t come?

If you’ve never done it before, I can imagine it might be intimidating. When you sign up, there’ll be the opportunity to let us know how much RP experience you already have, from ‘lots’ to ‘absolutely none’. If you tell us you have none, it means we can give you extra help in the lead up to the game and not overwhelm you with plot and complex social tasks/challenges on the night itself.

Katie will be making sure the game is as accessible to newbies as possible – she has run LARPs designed with first-timers in mind in the past – but we will also ensure there is enough depth for every level of experience.

What if I just want to come and watch?

I won’t lie to you – I am a hard core role player and I’m aiming for an event which is an immersive as possible. I want people to come and play and feel like they are one of the Fae-touched. Obviously there has to be an element of suspension of disbelief, but I want to keep the real, modern world at bay for as long as possible. That means staying ‘in character’ unless you’re in an area designed to be ‘out of game’.

If you want to come and enjoy the spectacle and not be involved in the plot, we can totally cater for that; you can watch and dance and enjoy it without any pressure to ‘perform’ or actively handle any plot. You will need to be in costume and at least look like you are at a ball in the Nether – i.e. not taking selfies or tweeting with a phone in the corner!

In all honesty, I think role players will enjoy this event the most – if you are keen to role play it doesn’t matter if you don’t have experience as we can help you. In short, if you want to come and pretend to be people who don’t age, have the Fae as evil, manipulative patrons and live in a misty magical world that resembles Regency England with magic, this is for you.

What will happen next?

There is a Facebook group where announcements will be posted and where you can ask Katie and I questions as well as other players once sign-up is open.

Katie and I will finalise some last details and then we’ll release all the information about the daytime and evening events. The tickets will go on sale then and they will be limited in number due to the nature of the event and the venue. I will release that information on here and I’ll send it out to my newsletter subscribers too (in fact, they will get it first, because they are especially splendid). If you are keen and don’t want to miss an announcement, it’s best to subscribe to the newsletter.

Join ussss….

The fear of being seen

By Emma on June 29, 2015

When I first started my life online – and by that I mean blogging and having actual conversations using Twitter instead of just staring at it, confused – I had a stormy sky and a single lightning bolt as my avatar. It was a miniature version of the big stormy sky and single bolt that was at the top of my website for quite some time.

I was hiding.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I loved that picture and it really spoke to me back then. But it wasn’t my face. No-one online that I chatted with knew what I looked like. And that was just the way I liked it.

Then things started to change. I was commissioned to write a short story for an anthology that led to another and then I had a short story collection published. I got my debut book deal and all of a sudden people asked for a picture of me.

I was mystified and horrified in equal measure. Why would anyone want a picture of me? I was there, right there, in the gaps between those words. Wasn’t that enough?

My first photo shoot

You have to understand, I was recovering from pretty severe post-natal depression and trying to carve a new space for myself in the world. I was heavier than I’d ever been in my life and my body was stretched and distressed in ways that I still can’t bear to think about. It no longer felt my own. It just felt like a flesh bag in which a terrible car crash had happened.

Emma NewmanI didn’t want anyone to see me, but there was a pressure to be seen. I went for my first photo shoot and the best picture that came out of it – and was my avatar for at least a couple of years afterwards – was one of me peeping over the top of a copy of The Kraken Wakes (my favourite John Wyndham novel).





I was still hiding.

Time ticked by. I landed a proper book deal for the Split Worlds series and then something happened that I never thought would: SFX wanted to do a two-page featured author spread about me.

Oh shit. That meant another picture had to be taken.

My second photo shoot

By that point I’d figured out that going to conventions was about three million times easier when I dressed up in fancy outfits of my own making. What better way to hide in plain sight than making a grand coat for everyone to look at instead of me?

I had discovered armour. I couldn’t remain unseen any more, not now I needed to be on panels and do launch events and all that stuff. So I donned said armour and went to Bath for the SFX shoot by Joby Sessions.

After about an hour and a half (I think, I was mostly traumatised by the whole pictures being taken for SFX magazine thing), poor Joby was faced with an author who just froze up every time the camera was pointed at her. We tried all sorts of poses in the fantastic Mr B’s bookshop. None were any good. So we went outside.

Taken by Joby Sessions for SFX magazine

Taken by Joby Sessions for SFX magazine

We took shot after shot. Time wore on. A man walked past us in a back street with the most beautiful huge velvety grey dog and we took a few shots with me and said dog which Joby liked more, but it wasn’t quite right. Then he said something along the lines of “come close to the camera and imagine there’s something inside it that you’re trying to touch” and that shot to the left was taken. I, of course, imagined there was an evil little faerie inside the camera that I had to get. He smiled straight away and said “That’s it. That’s the one.” I was relief incarnate. I bet he was too, poor chap.

It was the first photo taken since my wedding day that I actually don’t mind looking at. It’s still my Twitter avatar and I love the dramatic Doctor Who feel of it.

Then I got a book deal with Ace/Roc for two sci-fi novels and an email arrived from my (fabulous) editor, asking if I’d like to have my photo in the book.

Not again

My first response was, obviously: NO! Why on earth would I want that? Isn’t the book enough? Isn’t that the best part of me, right there, pressed between the covers? Why spoil it with my face?

But there’s more than that. I’m a woman who writes science-fiction. That is a massive negative modifier, despite the fact that it’s the 21st century. Because of my gender, my book is less likely to be reviewed, less likely to be displayed in book shops, more likely to be overlooked in general, and more likely to be left out of lists that fly around the internet. Just because I’m a woman. Did I want to put my face in there too?

Because when you’re a woman, you are judged by the way you look. I know everyone is, to some extent, but for women it’s taken to a whole new level of value judgements. I didn’t want people to make a judgement based on the way I look. I didn’t want my face to pollute my work.

But I also know I am screwed up about this

So I asked some friends who are professional authors what they think. They pretty much said “put a photo in, it shows you’re a real person and helps readers connect with you” and that’s a good thing, right? My editor wasn’t putting the pressure on at all, but I felt that if I didn’t put a picture forward I would be hiding again. I couldn’t win. And I couldn’t use my fantastical SFX picture because that belongs to them and it’s only because they are super lovely that I can use it informally online. Having it printed in thousands of books is different matter altogether.

And I didn’t want to end up going to conventions and having people do that “Oh wow you’re actually so much older than you look in your picture” face at me. It was time for a new one.

My third photo shoot

My husband had his first proper author pictures taken by Lou Abercrombie, as did several other author pals – and all were brilliant – so she was my first choice. I freaked out at the prospect of just booking it. I talked on Twitter about it and people gave great advice. So I put on my brave trousers and booked a shoot to be done at home, in the hope it would minimise the anxiety.

You have to understand, this was agonisingly hard. So hard, in fact, that I broke out into the most awful rash all over my face (of course it was my face) that very morning. But Lou was brilliant. She calmed me (and my stupid scaredy skin) down. She reassured me. She told me what to do and I laughed at myself and my ineptitude. I wore my armour, but I didn’t feel I was hiding so much.

Here are the new photos.


Picture by Lou Abercrombie

Picture by Lou Abercrombie

Picture by Lou Abercrombie















I know I have my hands over my face in both, but they were just my favourites. I feel like they are actually showing… me. And that’s why it’s taken me weeks to write this damn post. Because I was afraid of showing them. Of showing me.

I don’t know if that will ever stop being frightening. But the day I don’t do something because it scares me is the day the Fear has won. So if nothing else, that picture in the back of Planetfall this November will be a tiny personal victory over the fear of being seen.