Em's place

Writing, anxiety-wrangling, tea.

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.

Tea and Jeopardy t-shirts for the Worldbuilders Fundraiser!

By Emma on June 2, 2015

In case you haven’t listened to the new Patrick Rothfuss Tea and Jeopardy episode, I wanted to let you know about the Tea and Jeopardy t-shirt you can buy as part of the Worldbuilders Fundraiser that is happening 1st-8th June 2015.This post contains all you need to know (hopefully).

It’s the one on the right!

The fundraiser is being run through IndieGoGo and I want to say straight away that I have nothing to do with the logistics – it’s Pat’s wonderful team who are handling everything. But there are a few details I wanted to highlight here for any of you lovely Tea and Jeopardy fans who want to buy a t-shirt and raise money for charity at the same time. A great big plump and squidgy thanks to the wonderful Dom Camus for making the gorgeous t-shirt version of the Tea and Jeopardy logo.

Wait – what is Worldbuilders?

Worldbuilders is a nonprofit organization founded by New York Times bestselling author Patrick Rothfuss to raise money for Heifer International. Every year, a small team of Worldbuilders employees and Rothfuss himself gather collectibles and coolness that focus on the “geek community”–fans of fantasy, science fiction, art, and games. They run two fundraisers each year, one in summer and one at the end of the year, presenting their fans with chances to win or buy cool geeky items. Proceeds from the fundraisers are then donated to Heifer International. In the past seven years, Worldbuilders has raised over $3.5 million for Heifer International.

How do I get a Tea and Jeopardy t-shirt?

Go to the fundraiser page on IndieGoGo and scroll down until you see the ‘perk’ at the $25 level which is titled ‘Tea and Jeopardy podcast t-shirt’ and click on it.

What about shipping/ postage and packaging?

If you live in the States, the postage is included in the perk, so you don’t need to worry. If, like me, you live in the UK, or anywhere else in the world, it would be splendid if you added $15 to your contribution when you make your pledge (you get the option to do that on the first page you get after clicking on the perk and it’s called ‘Additional gift’ – click on the far right of that bar on “custom” and enter the amount).

What if I want to order more than one t-shirt?

This is the situation in our household! On IndieGoGo there is no shopping cart system, you have to choose and pay for each order separately – even if you are just getting multiples of the same perk. The way I am handling it is this:
I’ll choose the t-shirt perk and add $20 as an additional gift to comfortably cover postage for two t-shirts. Then I’ll pay.
Then I will go back and choose the same t-shirt perk again and just pay without adding the additional gift.

Is it only available in powder blue?

Yes. It keeps costs down so more money can go to the charity. We chose blue because it looks nice with the logo. It has nothing to do with the fact that blue is my favourite colour. Nothing. At. All. (Well, maybe a tiny bit.)

But what about sizing?!

That freaked me out too, but don’t worry. At this stage it’s all about the pledge. Once the fundraiser is over the lovely Worldbuilders team will email you to get your sizing details, so make sure you use an email address you have easy access to when you make your order.

When the email goes out, I’ll also tweet about it to remind people to check their junk folders.

Please note this from the Worldbuilders team:

“There are a lot of pre-orders involved here, and we’ll be sending things out after the campaign as they come back from production, or arrive in the office from the awesome people who are donating them. If we need to collect information from you (like your t-shirt size), we’ll contact you for it once the campaign has ended. We’ll keep you updated with the progress of things as the fundraiser goes on, and afterward.

We’re confident that all perks will be delivered before our annual fundraiser in November, and definitely in time for the holidays.”

But Em, IndieGoGo only lets you pay by credit card and I don’t have one.

Yeah, that’s something beyond anyone’s control here. If you are in this situation and really want a Tea and Jeopardy t-shirt, drop me a line to that fact in the comments below, including your country of residence. I can’t promise anything, but if there are lots of you, I may be able to work something out with the Worldbuilders team.

Any other questions?

There’s an FAQ on the Worldbuilders website. You can also follow Worldbuilders on Twitter (@worldbuilders_)as they may well tweet updates. It’s best to get in touch with either them or IndieGoGo if you have any issues other than the lack of credit card one, as I am very unlikely to be able to solve it myself.

Now go! Go and get a Tea and Jeopardy t-shirt and raise money for charity and be splendid! You’ve only got until June 8th 2015 to do it!

Tea and Jeopardy 36 – Peter Newman visits the tea lair

By Emma on May 19, 2015

teaandjeopardy_geekplanetThe thirty-sixth episode of Tea and Jeopardy is now live and you can find it here.

In this episode of Tea and Jeopardy, the very lovely Peter Newman takes tea at home. We discuss why Latimer seems to disapprove of him, the merits and pitfalls of living with a writer, and the sheer joy of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. We also brush lightly against Netflix’s Daredevil (yes please) and the horrors of waiting.

If you love Tea and Jeopardy and want to join the Order of the Sacred Tea Cup, our Patreon page is here.

Credits for sound effects can be found here.

An index of all previous episodes can be found here.