Did you ever meet someone, who immediately left an impression on you that you knew would last a lifetime? That’s what happened when I met Emerson Doering. Who wouldn’t be impressed? The lanky, young blond pulled a pear tree across a lot on a piece of cardboard. The tree was no sapling. Emerson dragged a tree with a 3” diameter trunk the length of a football field.
Holy smokes. I believe Emerson Doering can do just about anything. So, it’s no surprise that she’s impressed me again as an outstanding fiction writer. I jumped at the chance to talk with her about her new thriller, KNOCKDOWN. Her characters are so believable, they are with me yet, and it’s been a couple months since I “turned the last page” on my Kindle edition.
A few of Emerson’s writer friends challenged her about choosing a pseudonym. “You put years into that novel–You’re going to pass credit to a fake person?”
My own interest in why she chose a pseudonym was a little more selfish. Emerson’s protagonist, Owen, like the protagonist in my novel, is male. So I wonder if her potential audience influenced her decision. Here’s what she said:
Years ago at a conference Tess Gerritsen said GRAVITY was her worst selling novel, but one of her best (in her opinion). Her explanation for the crummy sales: her female fans weren’t interested in the science; male tech fans weren’t interested in her. They preferred buying their tech thrillers from a male author. Gerritsen’s explanation wasn’t a random guess; she had male readers tell her this to her face. Just like females, on average, like reading romance and are better at multitasking. And males, on average, watch more porn.
Besides, there’s a certain comfort in staying somewhat anonymous, separating a writer’s private life from her public life. I just read about cyber-bullying of female writers, and whoa, I agree with Emerson. Perhaps like J.K. Rowling, who also chose to “gender neutralize” her name, if Emerson has a hit, everyone will know she’s a woman. Wheee! Emerson will be exactly where she hopes to be.
Emerson wasn’t always a story-writer. She grew up with two older sisters in a standard white-collar American family: two working professional parents, a yard, a dog, and a childhood sweetheart. Here’s how she describes finding her passion:
I was 20 years old with a science degree in my hand when I started working as a biotech stock market analyst. After a couple of months, I realized I hated it. With a passion. The only thing I enjoyed at all was writing stock reports. I wanted to get more creative with them; my Boss said, ‘Not A Chance. ‘
Feeling miserable and confused, I asked myself what I really, really wanted to do, and the answer came out of nowhere. Write fiction. It was something I’d never considered before and, coming from a family of practical people, never thought I could consider. Stupid of me, but yeah, there it is. I tried writing my first short story and I fell in love. Have been writing ever since.
Ideas collide in Emerson’s head and explode into story. A few year ago, her husband-scientist started buying used lab equipment on EBay so he could build his own lab. At that same time, scientists started unraveling RNA interference‘s to “knock-down” or inhibit gene functions. A Frontline episode provided the fuel: a young man searching for a cure for ALS. This young man would do anything, anything at all to cure his brother of this dreadful, muscle-wasting disease.
These loosely connected thought streams ignited KNOCKDOWN. The book smoldered somewhere in the chaos of laundry, baby bottles and diapers. By that time, Emerson juggled her writing with laundry, two toddlers and a husband battling a two-hour commute.
With her busy schedule, and another babe on the way, Emerson doesn’t write everyday. Still, it’s an itch that she must scratch. When she gets a story line going in her head, she just has to see what happens next; “What will strain her protagonist and put him in a life-changing situation.”
On writing Emerson says:
I love the creating because that feels like magic, I like the editing (though it’s a pain in the ass), I even like the trimming off fat (though it’s painful, it always makes the book better). But, for me, writing is more about necessity and relieving tension, It makes me feel right. When I’m writing, I feel myself.
Emerson is reluctant to mete out advice to young people trying to find their way. Adolescence is such an intense time. Nothing is really as big a deal as a teen thinks it is. If she had it to do over again, she would try to relax and not be such an overachiever. And she’d allow herself to be much more creative. It was that spacey, wild-idea-what-if mentality that opened her up to KNOCKDOWN.
Ahh, Emerson, we are more alike than you might imagine. I would do the same. Or would I? I tell myself to relax, but the next thing I know, I have three more things on my plate. I have a feeling that’s the way Emerson is. After all, she is a woman who can single-handedly move trees.
No matter what age we are, as long as we’re alive, next to nothing is as big a deal as we think it is. Life just keeps on rolling. In the meantime “Do what you love or make excuses.”
WIN A COPY OF KNOCKDOWN:
As a thank you for reading about Emerson Doering, you can win a copy of her e-book. Just add a “Comment” and I’ll enter your in the drawing.