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Author Interview: Emily Wrayburn

October 26, 2020

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Emily Wrayburn.

Something is in the air. The seasons have changed. In Australia its getting warmer which can only mean one thing. Is that… is that music in the air. And bells? Fairy lights? Tinsel? Oh my god, I’m not ready…

Hi Emily, thank you so much for speaking with me today. First up, tell us all a little about you.

Hello and thanks for having me! My day job is in the archives/library sector. Mostly I answer enquiries from patrons. In addition to writing, I also sing in a choir and perform in local theatre productions. I was just in an original musical based on the book The Thornthwaite Inheritance by British author Gareth P. Jones. I played two roles: a ghost and… a writer who works in a library.  😂

Oh I love the theatre! Hahaha a writer in a library? You must have been made for the role! Now, tell me about your writing… What age were you when you started?

Oh gosh… like five? I was always writing little stories or plays for my friends to perform, that sort of thing. Lots of fan fiction, too! But we didn’t get the Internet until I was twelve or thirteen so I didn’t know that fan fiction had a name or that other people did it and read it until later! Probably a good thing. No one wants to read a ten-year-old’s Harry Potter fanfiction!

Fanfiction is the best! So, how did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was always a voracious reader and from a very young age I had daydreams of having my own book published, too. I distinctly remember scripting a movie trailer for a story I was writing at maybe age 12? I obviously had a lot of confidence in that one. I still remember the bare bones of that story and I am rather glad it never saw the light of day.

What was your favourite book as a child?

I read everything I could get my hands on by Emily Rodda. Power and Glory, which is a reasonably sophisticated picture book of hers, was a definite favourite, it got a lot of re-reads!

Favourite book as an adult?

The Winnie-the-Pooh books by A. A. Milne. They’re like comfort food but in book form.

Tell me a bit about your book Operation: Sugarplum? Where did you get the idea?

Back in 2013, I was listening to the Nutcracker Suite at work and thought it might be fun to try writing a modern-day version. It took a long time and many wildly different iterations but the version that made it to the public was first published in the Christmas: Australis anthology last year, a collection of short fiction all set during the Australian Christmas season.

Tell me about Clara? Is she modelled off anyone? What about Max?

Not really… I guess there’s a bit of me in there, though Clara has more confidence than me!

Ever since that day in 2013 when I first started writing a Nutcracker retelling, Max has looked like a young Josh Groban in my head… easy to tell what non-Tchaikovsky music I was listening to at the time. The character isn’t based on anyone in particular but he definitely embodies the sweet, nerdy male character that I enjoy reading.

Tell me about the world of Operation: Sugarplum … where did you get your inspiration?

One of the earliest ideas I had was that the toymaker character from the original story would instead be a videogame developer. In earlier drafts, the game was a mobile phone app, but when I sat down to write the version that ended up in Christmas: Australis, I realised that virtual reality is much more immersive.

I hadn’t actually ever played a virtual reality game myself before, but I’d read a couple of books where the characters did, and I also wiled away an hour or so watching “VR Fails” videos on youtube for, um, “research”. I did recently do a VR escape room (we saved the world with 56 seconds to spare!) and I’ll definitely be incorporating some of the experiences from that into subsequent stories!

And because Max and his uncle are developers, I have a huge sandbox to play with. They have an entire backlist for me to set stories in.

What are you hoping your readers take away from this story?

That we don’t have white Christmases down under! 😀 And that there should be more Christmas stories set here, too! (Shout-out to the other Christmas: Australis authors, because they wrote some wonderful Aussie fiction for that collection!)

What is your writing process?

I don’t really have one! It seems to change with every project. The one thing that is consistent is my impatience to start writing, though lately I have become a bit more of a planner than a pantser. I’m an early-morning writer in theory (#6amAusWriters represent!)

How long did it take you to write Operation: Sugarplum?

Ah, oops, I kind of already answered that!

Are writing anything new? What can you tell us about it?

I’m got a list of unfinished projects needing completing! I’m working on a few short stories, a full-length novel, and the follow-up to Operation: Sugarplum, which is a Sleeping Beauty retelling involving malfunctioning VR equipment. I’m hoping to have that ready to publish early in 2021.

OMG that sounds amazing! What was your publishing journey like? (How long did it take after you finished writing? How about editing? And publishing?)

When I finished my first novel, A More Complicated Fairytale, I was rather intimidated by the whole process and kept procrastinating, so it took a lot longer than it should have! (I finished writing early 2014 but didn’t publish until 2016.

Sugarplum has been a bit different. Because it was originally written for the anthology, it all happened rather quickly! I started it in June/July and the book was out in November. One of the other authors, V. E. Patton, basically project managed the whole process and I didn’t need to do anything other than write, revise, and beta read for others.

As for publishing on its own, that’s all happened rather quickly, too! I realised there was actually very little standing between me and publishing, and just threw myself into it at the start of October.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone wanting to write a book?

We’ve all been re-applying for our jobs at the day job this year and I’ve been encouraging people to write bad first drafts of their applications all the time (also introduced a number of people to the term “word vomit” 😂).

And it’s the same for writing. If you think you can do it, throw yourself in and start, but don’t expect perfection on the first go. Schedule your writing time and stick to that. Find supportive people on Twitter (#6amAusWriters shout-out again!).

Finally, I’d say, writing advice is so wild and varied, and it’s good to try different methods, but don’t feel you have to do something one way because Celebrity Author said that’s the way to write a book. There are as many ways to write a book as there are books. So find what works for you. 

Thank you so much for your time today Emily!

Seriously… can you hear that? Bells. And singing. Kylie and Mariah and Robbie. And weirdly I can smell roast chicken, potato salad and hints of pavlova, chocolate ripple cake and pudding. break out the boardshorts and the cracker crowns. Christmas in Aus is coming!

—– Operation: Sugarplum (Drosselmeier Industries #1) is out as an ebook on November 7 (it’s only short, so it will only be an ebook at this stage).

Kindle pre-order:
Universal book link:
Website: and
Twitter/Facebook/Instagram: @emilywrayburn

About Emily

Emily had been writing all her life. In 2016 she published A More Complicated Fairytale, and contributed Operation: Sugarplum to the anthology “Christmas: Australis” in 2019.

She can regularly be found in the Australian writing community corner of Twitter, particularly on hashtags such as #6amAusWriters, #AusWrites and #AusReads.

In her non-writing life, she has a Masters of Museum and Cultural Heritage studies and works as a reference librarian. She has also studied drama and commits a lot of her time to local community theatre productions.

You can read my review of A More Complicated Fairytale here

  1. Gwen M. Plano permalink

    Wonderful interview, Laurie. Thank you. I’m heading to Amazon to check out Emily’s work.

  2. Great interview Laurie and Emily!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Operation: Sugarplum (Drosselmeier Industries #1) by Emily Wrayburn | Rambles, writing and amusing musings

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