Emma Finlayson-Palmer is a working-class autistic writer and artist who lives in the West Midlands with her husband and a multitude of children, cats, and chickens. She is a writer of children’s fiction, represented by Veronique Baxter of the David Higham agency, and author of the Autumn Moonbeam chapter books series and various short stories and flash fiction for children. Emma runs #ukteenchat, a writing-themed chat on Twitter, and edits, mentors, and reads competition entries for #WriteMentor and flash fiction entries for Retreat West. She’s also one-half of Word Witches as a children’s fiction editor.
You can buy Autumn Moonbeam here.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
I’ve been writing since I could hold pens. But when I was young, I usually made stories in the form of comics or drawings as I have always loved being creative, and I was a bit slow to read fluently so I found a love of stories through visual mediums and have always been a film addict. I was especially taken with fantasy stories by Ruth Manning-Sanders and The Worst Witch by Jilly Murphy, and it was these stories that made me want to be a writer.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
I’ve worked in a fruit and vegetable shop, I have a silver award in wine retail, multiple years working as a gallery assistant and conservation monitor, and after having children I worked as a childminder, and also now as a lunchtime supervisor. My background is in art, so over the years I’ve also done a little freelance work and turned my hand to selling pet portraits.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
The first part of my title was really easy; I’ve always loved the season of autumn and it felt a magical name for a witch, along with “Moonbeam” for her surname. The second part of the title, Dance Magic, was decided on after quite a few changes and evolutions of the story.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
The excitement was unreal, and I cried so much when I held my book for the first time that my husband thought that something terrible had happened! It was just such an emotionally overwhelming moment that I had dreamed of since I was about 9 or 10.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
It would have to be upbeat and great to dance to, such as Meghan Trainor’s “Better When I’m Dancin’” or “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
My perfect reader could be of any age—someone who enjoys a story or magic and following your dreams. It is ideal for children who love stories of witches, magic, and dance.
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
Hearing children tell me how much they loved it, or what bits were their favourite. Getting letters or drawings from children of the characters is so magical, and knowing that something I’ve written has brought joy to young readers, just as stories have always done for me, is the most wonderful feeling.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I’m currently working on a book that has been described as Bridget Jones for teens. I’ve also been working on some new spooky paintings that I am hoping might accompany a horror or thriller story.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.