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  • Tonya Mitchell

Author Spotlight: Emma Lombard

This month’s author spotlight is Emma Lombard. Emma recently launched book 1 in her White Sails series, Discerning Grace. For readers who enjoy historical women’s fiction featuring feisty female leads, this series is for you!

Emma is an Aussie I met, of all places, on Twitter where she has nearly 24,000 followers! Her By the Book newsletter is one of the best I’ve discovered and covers everything from her writing journey, to blog updates, to fun freebies.

I asked her about Discerning Grace, and then we branched out to talk about her favorite books growing up and more. Keep reading!

Regarding Discerning Grace:

What do you most want potential readers to know about this book?

That I wrote Discerning Grace for pure entertainment! Yes, it’s historical and I’ve woven some great historical flavor into it but ultimately, I’d love my readers to slam the back cover shut, lean back in their seat and go, “Whoa! What a blast!” If my words transport them to another time and place for just a little while and took them on a rollercoaster of emotions, then mission accomplished.

What was the hardest scene to write?

Without giving away any spoilers, it was the death scene of one of my favorite characters. This character was the first character who fully formed in my head and who I could actually see and hear on the page. This person’s demise was necessary for the plot but I cried buckets while writing it and then again during the editing process. In fact, this one point in my story is what gets me the most messages from readers—my inbox has a lot of exclamations of, “EMMA!!!” followed by crying emojis [mwahaha, evil-author laugh].

What was the most fun scene to write?

Grace’s introduction to the crew of HMS Discerning’s forecastle. It was exciting to explore this new cast of characters who Grace was about to spend her life with, albeit while disguised as a lad. I didn’t want to have a crew of hardened sailors who just pick on the new lad, so finding that balance of men who, while rough around the edges, have hearts of gold was a lot of fun to write. But of course, there are the plain old meanies too.

Did you edit anything out of the book? If so, can you tell us?

Too much! In full naïve newbie writing mode, my first draft ended up at 180k words. I’m a chronic over-writer (which is better than being an under-writer in my opinion because I have material to tweak and work with). I culled it down to a more respectable 108k words. Despite the usual suspects of too much exposition and back story on secondary characters, I also had a whole load more about Grace adjusting to life aboard the ship. These were some of the best scenes to write but ultimately, they didn’t move my plot forward, so I had to cull them. However, I have managed to use bits and pieces of the culled material in the subsequent books that follow.

What’s the first book that made you cry?

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. I was 12 years old and up until that point, I had no idea books could make you sob like the movies. It was a profound moment in my life.

What’s your favorite underappreciated novel?

Little Stones by Elizabeth Kuiper. Based in Zimbabwe, which is where I spent my early childhood, this book transported me back to an achingly familiar time and place. I could not put it down because I was loving being immersed back in time. The fact that it’s written from the point of view of a young girl is what had the most powerful effect on me because I was that little girl having those same observations and thoughts of the world around me.

How many unpublished and half/or half-finished books do you have?

I currently have three unpublished books—all a continuation of The White Sails Series.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

This is a tricky one because when I started writing my series back in 2016, I had no idea what I was doing and I just sat tapping away at my keyboard until three years later I had four 180k tomes. With so much writing and story under my belt, I realized I needed to stop writing and go back to the beginning to mold what I had into something publishable.

Then the fun and games began! Hoo boy, was I in for a steep learning curve. So, I’ve spent the last two years learning my craft and re-writing and revising those first drafts. I’m not even sure I remember how to fill a blank page anymore. LOL!

What is the most important part of the artistic process?

To not feel bad if I need to walk away for a little bit to take a break or a breather. I don’t bow to the pressure of writing every day. I personally can’t force new words on a page if I’m not feeling it. There is plenty I can do if I’m not having a productive writing day—social media, networking with other authors for cross promos, author newsletters, updating my website, writing the next author newsletter. All of these are an essential part of an authoring career. When I am on a roll though, I keep going as long as the fancy takes me, even if it’s into the wee hours of the night.

What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

Book 2 of The White Sails Series, Grace on the Horizon, is about to head off to my copy editor. I’m planning to release it in the second half of 2021. And around that same time, the audiobook of Discerning Grace (Book 1 in the series) should also be released. Plus, I’m busy working on the re-writes of Book 3, Grace Arising. Though this won’t be out until 2022.

More about Discerning Grace:

As the first full-length novel in The White Sails Series, Discerning Grace captures the spirit of an independent woman whose feminine lens blows the ordered patriarchal decks of a 19th century tall ship to smithereens.

Willful Grace Baxter will not marry old Lord Silverton with his salivary incontinence and dead-mouse stink. Refusing this fate, she resolves to stow away. Heading to the docks, disguised as a lad to ease her escape, she encounters smooth-talking naval recruiter, Gilly, who lures her aboard HMS Discerning with promises of freedom and exploration in South America.

When Grace's big mouth lands her bare-bottomed over a cannon for insubordination, her identity is exposed. She must now win over the crew she betrayed with her secret.

Emma Lombard’s debut book is a work of historical women's fiction that will appeal to fans of Claire Fraser from Outlander and Demelza Poldark from Poldark—in other words, fans of feisty historical female leads.

Author Bio:

Emma Lombard was born in Pontefract in the UK. She grew up in Africa—calling Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years—before finally settling in Brisbane Australia, and raising four boys.

Before she started writing historical fiction, she was a freelance editor in the corporate world, which was definitely not half as exciting as writing rollicking romantic adventures. Her characters are fearless seafarers, even though in real life Emma gets disastrously sea sick.

Discerning Grace, is the first book in The White Sails Series.

To connect with Emma:

Emma’s books on Amazon

Emma on Twitter

Emma on Facebook

Emma on Instagram

Subscribe to Emma’s newsletter


Tonya Mitchell is the author of A Feigned Madness. For more on her and her book, visit her website. To order her book about Nellie Bly and her 10-day undercover stay in an insane asylum in 1887, click here.

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