Today we are so excited to welcome the incredible Emily Skrutskie to Writer’s Block Party! We’re huge fans of Emily and THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US and we couldn’t be more excited for HULLMETAL GIRLS, out on July 17th! We hope you enjoy this interview and be sure to check out the pre-order giveaway below!
- You’ve written three awesome science fiction novels so far, what draws you to this genre? What would you like to see more of?
I was basically born into sci-fi, growing up in a household with two astronomers for parents. Breaking all the scientific rules they raised me with for the sake of fictional fun was my form of teenage rebellion. I really want sweeping space operas to have their day in YA—it seems natural, with the way that Star Wars has overtaken our culture! And I’m also on the lookout for more utopic visions of the future, especially where artificial intelligence is concerned.
- It seems like Aisha and Key have a lot they’re going to have to overcome! How do you approach writing female friendships?
I think the key to writing interesting relationships—whether romantic or platonic, and between any genders—is to figure out where they differ in significant ways. Clearly people with a strong bond will have a lot of similarities, but delving into the things that drive them apart gives you so much interesting material to work with. Where do their opinions differ? How do they treat people differently, and how does that impact the way they’re perceived both together and on their own? What do they fight about? I feel like every good relationship has at least one good argument built into it.
- What draws you to write about families in all their forms and how does this play out in HG?
Everyone’s got family, whether it’s someone who’s present with you or someone in your past—it’s something everyone has to navigate. HULLMETAL GIRLS has a particular focus on familial obligation and the tricky business of deciding what you owe the people who share your blood. I was really interested in interrogating a choice that drives a certain popular YA novel (not going to name names, but let’s just say it shares initials with HULLMETAL GIRLS 😉 ) where a character essentially throws away control of her life to spare her younger sibling.
- What’s your favorite part of writing technology in science fiction? What was your favorite tech piece to write into HG?
I love thinking about where technology could go and figuring out ways the world’s going to change based on certain trends. For HULLMETAL GIRLS, I loved writing the exosystem, which is basically a network that links up the cyborg soldiers neurally to keep them in line and make them fight as a unit—but has every other messy side effect that comes with sharing brains. One of the reasons I liked it so much is because above all, I like writing about the intersection between technology and human behavior, the ways we’ll react to all the strange and wonderful things new tech can do.
- On Goodreads you said this book made up of things that scare you—what was it like writing all of those things into one novel?
Well, terrifying! But in a slow, creeping kind of way. At the outset, I knew I wanted to put myself on the page in ways I hadn’t before, and a lot of that sculpted Aisha as a character. But it wasn’t until I was deeper into the book that I realized I was writing my way through a lot of big fears, from being known too well to giving too much of yourself away to someone else. And even stranger, even though Aisha was the one I set out to make like me deliberately, by the end, I saw even more of myself in Key—her privileged lens, her desperate need for validation, and so on—and it made me realize just how much of myself I’d poured into this book. And like I said, being known too well is a scary thing. So I’m hoping that people who come along with me for the ride are understanding.
- What are some of your favorite science fiction mech stories/media?
I feel like I owe everything I am to the movie Pacific Rim. My first books were more about the sea monsters, but in this one I got to explore the way the technological side of the film had influenced me—especially the concept of a neural link between pilots. I also LOVE Edge of Tomorrow’s treatment of exosuits, and that movie served as a cornerstone for how I visualized the full exorig in HULLMETAL GIRLS.
- What’s been your writing and revising ritual for HG? Do you make aesthetics, playlists, etc.?
HULLMETAL GIRLS was the book that taught me how to use my Google Calendar. I work a full time job in addition to writing, so when I had to start revising HULLMETAL GIRLS on a deadline, I knew I needed to focus on time management to make sure I stayed on track. I would make events for each day that stated where I should be in the manuscript, and I tracked how many hours I planned on working by blocking them out on my daily schedule. But I didn’t just plan my work hours on my calendar—I also scheduled all of my fun time. Which sounds extremely unfun, but I found it genuinely helped me stay on target while on deadline because I had essentially promised that half an hour of fun to myself.I’m not big on making aesthetics—it’s pretty difficult for sci-fi books because most of the images I find that really represent my work are concept art that I don’t want to steal uncredited. I do make a lot of playlists though—here’s the one for HULLMETAL GIRLS!
Emily Skrutskie is six feet tall. She was born in Massachusetts, raised in Virginia, and forged in the mountains above Boulder, Colorado. She holds a B.A. in Performing and Media Arts from Cornell University, where she studied an outrageous and demanding combination of film, computer science, and game design.
She is the author of THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US, THE EDGE OF THE ABYSS, and the upcoming HULLMETAL GIRLS. She lives and writes in Los Angeles.
She is represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
Thank you so much for joining us, Emily! We can’t wait to see HULLMETAL GIRLS on shelves so soon!
Retweet the tweet below and follow @skrutskie on Twitter for a chance to win!