Emily Mah Tippetts writes science fiction and fantasy as Emily Mah and chick lit and YA as E.M. Tippetts. Originally from New Mexico, she now lives in London with her family. She has a bachelors degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford University and a juris doctorate in business law from UCLA. During her career as an attorney, she did real estate, contracts, and estate planning with a specialty in literary estate planning.
Welcome back to my blog, Emily. Please tell us about your new book, Castles on the Sand.
Madison Lukas knows her place in the world. She’s not pretty, not interesting, and therefore easy to forget. John Britton is serving his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has been praying for fifteen years to find the sister he lost in his parents’ divorce. He remembers her as beautiful, talented, and makes kindness a fine art.
When John and Madison cross paths, he recognizes her at once, but Madison is certain that he’s got it all wrong. Even if she is his long-lost sister, she can’t possibly be the exceptional, amazing girl he thinks she is, can she?
This book sounds intriguing. Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?
I’d like to think I write strong women characters, but I never want my stories to exclude or marginalize men. This book is specifically about the difference a good man can make. One of my childhood schoolmates passed away as I was working out the plot for this book, and my memories of him are throughout the whole plot and many of the characters. It breaks my heart to know that he won’t see his children grow up, but I know that even the few years he had with them will make all the difference in their lives.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
Unfortunately, I’ve learned a lot of the negative stuff from life, though not my own life, per se. While I’ve never had a child taken away by the state, this happened to a close friend of mine and so I helped her research the law and procedures. I’ve also known and done some legal work for people who have disabled family members, which is another of the subplots of the book. When I put together this plot, it was with two small children underfoot at all times, so I incorporated things I already knew (with a little fiction mixed in - don’t try to use my book as a legal guide!)
Wow! Being an attorney has its advantages, doesn’t it? I love it when authors add real life situations to their stories. Do you ever put real experiences in your books?
Unfortunately, yes. Though I’ve changed things around a lot, the Beale family and their issues are very close to a real life child abuse situation I saw as a kid. We never understood why they treated their daughter like they did. I think writing them was my attempt to understand what I saw as a child, and at the end of the day, I just don’t get it. I can relate to parents who feel overwhelmed, or who fear losing “control” of a child. I can relate to feeling embarrassed when a child acts out and the desire to keep up appearances in public. What I can’t understand is the distance they keep from their daughter. The lack of attempts to engage with her and talk to her. Perhaps its fear, perhaps its laziness, perhaps it’s a failure to bond. Maybe at the end of the day, I don’t want to understand it.
Thank you, Emily, for this interview. I have learned more about you and the inspiration behind your book.