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  • Writer's pictureJ J Hanna

Be Who You Are, Not Who Others Think You Should Be

Author Profile: E.M. Goldsmith


In the quiet morning, you may rush through your breakfast, and your coffee, and quickly head off to work. But for author E.M. Goldsmith, the quiet mornings before her 9-5 job are when she carves out the time to work on her craft. Warming up her mind at 5 a.m. with word puzzles, she then spends an hour before work every morning on her current writing project. Following her workday, in which she is a software engineer for a large private school near Atlanta, when she returns home to the space that would be a massive library with rolling ladders and a forest view if the world was as she wished it, she spends more time in the immersive world of her debut fantasy series, taking breaks for meals or to watch the game if Liverpool is playing.


 I had the honor of sitting down to talk with Goldsmith about the inspiration behind her epic fantasy novel, Salvation Taverns, the first in the Rooke’s Tale series. Her writing journey began when she was young, when she was meant to be taking notes but instead she wrote the tale of a Canadian cougar determined to find its place in the world, and who was completely convinced that place was in Africa “with the other lions.” This cougar soon learned that it was okay to be a cougar and not a lion, despite what that meant about its identity. This story was the beginning of a theme that flows through Goldsmith’s life and becomes evident in conversation: be who you are, not what others think you should be.


Whether she would see this theme or not, it’s clear in the dedicated way she has pursued publishing. When I asked how long she had been on the journey from writing to publishing her debut, she laughed and responded, “I refuse to answer that on the basis it might incriminate me. A long time. It wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. It was—the answer is forty years. I write backwards, so the last book you’ll get in the series is the first book I actually finished when I was twenty, but it’s going to have to be massively redone.” 


Many of those forty years were spent working on other books in her fictional world, fleshing out the story throughout time in a world building process comparable to Tolkien’s expanded world of Middle Earth. In speaking to her, it is clear that her characters and her world are as real to her as the world outside her window. That level of familiarity can only come with time spent in the world of her words, working, reworking, and continually pressing on in the process of querying literary agents. “I think I’ve queried every agency out there at least once,” she said. And while she landed one and came close to landing a few others, ultimately none agreed with the vision she had for the representation she firmly believed needed to be in the characters she’d created, though one reportedly did compare her work to that of Patrick Rothfuss.


At the time the book was incomplete, and she wasn’t able to follow through on the agent’s request for more. “It was one of those things where I sent too soon and I wasn’t done with the book. Don’t do that, writers. Finish your book before you query. Don’t think, ‘I can finish it by the time I hear from them.’ No you can’t. You can’t do it. Finish the book,” she advised. She went on to say that the book that is now Salvation Taverns went through seven drafts for the whole book, but another estimated 30-40 drafts of revisions for the first and final chapters. Her work is proof of the famous Hemingway quote that, “All writing is rewriting.”

“There are two things you have to do to be a writer,” she encouraged. “You have to read a lot, and you have to listen. And that was one of the things I wasn’t very good at so I started learning to really listen, and trying to be as compassionate as possible so that I can understand the stories of people.” She is daily exposed to people from many walks of life and has had encounters with people across the range of success. From reading to her daughter by firelight because the electricity was off to conversing with Brandon Sanderson at one of his signings, Goldsmith is constantly engaging with the world and the people around her as deeply as she can. My interview with her was not our first meeting, and never once have I left those interactions without feeling seen, heard, and known. She is authentic and she holds to the types of values Tolkien and Lewis would be proud of—good food, good people, and spreading the magic of living everywhere you can. (Not to mention maintaining a healthy respect for dragons—be they the creatures of myth or the metaphor of the most difficult parts of living in the present world.)


Stories carry a unique form of magic, transporting readers into other lives and other worlds. The real impact of change and escape paired with the incredible vivid secondary existence brought forth by a writer’s words in a reader’s mind is doubly true for E.M. Goldsmith and her work. Goldsmith’s loveable, charming, and quirky personality shines through in everything she does—whether that’s sending readers on a scavenger hunt to find her at her launch party or by noting in her published author bio that “on her best days, she is a dragon.” 


Like the cougar in that first story she ever wrote, she discovered that exactly who she is was who she needed to be, and that every author’s path is unique. She found a publishing home at KPM Books, an imprint as unique and quirky as herself which allowed her to keep the integrity of the story she knew needed to be told. She is an unapologetically passionate person, an attribute that glows as brightly as a supernova when you get her talking about either of her two loves: Liverpool Football and books featuring dragons.


Much more than a writer, Goldsmith is a testament to the endurance required to get your work out there in the modern publishing age, and an inspiration in her tenacity to never give up and to hold herself to the highest standards of both production and authenticity—even when it meant turning down offers and contracts that may have opened doors to the career she thought she wanted. Goldsmith can be reached through her website, www.emgoldsmith.com.



 

J. J. Hanna is a writer and book marketer from Denver, CO. She graduated from Taylor University with a B.S. in Professional Writing and works as the Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Torchflame Books. She has a deep love for mysteries and thrillers, and YA and MG fantasy. Connect with her at www.authorjjhanna.com.


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