March 6th, 2020
I asked April where she would like to interview:
It isn’t often that I schedule an interview in a place like this. However, the last few weeks have been a blur. I am surprised that I have found the time to stop. Fortunately, you are in town when I am in town. And, though the Delta terminal at Seattle Airport is not luxurious, nor is the Starbucks coffee that I ordered for us anything close to the two espressos in the Italian cafe I envisioned when we first talked about this interview, I am happy we found a moment to meet before I fly off again. So, please come join me. Here, hope this coffee is the way you like it. And, now, let’s get to know each other.
Laura Mae: What inspired you to enter the world of writing?
April Emerson: As an English teacher, people often assume I am an avid reader and an avid writer. Well, to be entirely honest, only one is true. I write poetry almost daily. Some days it is one line. Sometimes, I write an entire poem. Some I keep. Some I toss. In addition to poetry, I write stories. Well, to be completely frank again, I wrestle with story ideas in my head. I have done this as far back as I can remember. Though, I truly got the bug to one day publish when I was in sophomore composition in high school. I was fortunately to have a wonderfully encouraging teacher Roberta Cartwright. She was instrumental in helping me my first short story for publication in a national student literary magazine. Since then, I knew I would be able to publish again. I only needed the right story. After help my biz partner S.L. Brown publish his three books in the Just a Thought series, I felt the urge to bring on of my story ideas to print. So, in summer 2019, I self-published my first book, A’pononoko and the Lonely Tree.
L: What are you currently working on?
A: While I am a bit hesitant to mention a work that has barely made it to the page, I can say this: I am working on an idea for a children’s book series and continue to write poetry often. I am not entirely sure I will publish a book of poetry. My poems are my catharsis and a way for me to push through questions I have about life’s journey.
In addition to continuing to write, my business partner S.L. Brown and I have taken our LETME movement to a wider audience through a variety of avenues including personal growth workshops, public speaking, and our newest venture an YouTube show, LETME: The Journey. LETME — a movement to encourage others to live every tiny moment exceptionally— is the basis for our writing and our work in general. It was born out of a line Sean once wrote in a message to friends who were seeking some guidance in dealing with life’s challenges. Simply enjoying the individual moments to the best of our abilities is a simple way to avoid the necessary stresses and clutter of life. We’ve had an impact so far changes lives, and continue to spread the LETME message as far and wide as we possible can.
L: Are there any books or authors who inspire your work?
A: None than come immediately to mind. Though, I am still to this day deeply touched by the work of Kate Chopin. On some level, when I read her work, I sense she speaks to some part of me. I would be honored if one day someone said the same about me. However, I don’t write for that purpose. I write for me. Those personal connections can be so powerful, though, and a perk of sharing our ideas.
L: What has been the most challenging for you so far?
A: Bringing the story to paper, and trusting myself to follow through.
L: Besides writing, what is it you like to do?
A: Aside from writing, I absolutely love to teach. Every year is different. Every class is different. Each new class brings new insight to thee literature. I somewhat feel like every book is transformed through the lens of a newcomer.
L: What would you say is your favorite book or series of all time? Why?
A: I know I mentioned this above, but I am always to say it again. The work of Kate Chopin has had the greatest impact on me as a person. The Awakening by far is my favorite. I have read it countless times, and each time I experience something new. I realized early on that the reason is that i change. I like to question what has changed in me from reading to reading.
L: Are there any regrets you have or anything you wish you knew sooner?
A: I have no regrets. I truly believe that things evolve as they are intended. No divine intervention. Simply, they happen when they happen. When we intuitive know the time is right.
L: In a brief statement, have you self-published or traditionally published? What was your experience?
A: I have only self-published. My experience began with helping my friend, and now business partner, S.L. Brown self-publish his three books, the Just a Thought series. We started that process knowing absolutely nothing about self-publishing. At times we fumbled in the dark, made mistakes, and had successes. Networking with other writers at the outset helped us to know what questions to ask about promoting, pricing, the legal side of authorship, etc. One of the things that served us the best throughout the process was never believing that we knew more than others. Sean (the S in S.L.) and I have a funny little mantra that we still use today: we are too stupid to know better. If you tell yourself that you cannot do this, that, or the other thing, then you won’t. If you approach a challenge with a “why not?” mindset, then it’s possible.
L: What are you currently reading?
A: George Orwell’s 1984 and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I am a literature teacher. Haha. To be frank, I am reading them with my students as part of our study of the literature, yet I enjoy these pieces every time I get to read them. Especially Orwell, given today’s political and social climate.
L: What genre do you read?
A: My preferred genre is dystopian fiction. I enjoy realistic science fiction as well. I am open to anything, especially when someone close to me makes a recommendation. I think there is a powerful connection to be had around shared literary experiences.
L: What does a typical day of writing look like for you? Any rituals or ‘must-haves’?
A: I don’t have any rituals per se. And, I don’t write every day. However, I often write poetry as soon as I wake up, before I am fully awake. There’s something about the inhibition of the waking brain that seems to work for me. For my children’s stories, as well as for more elaborate writing such as essays or lesson plans, I love brainstorming “big” on a dry erase board. Perhaps it has something about the walking and standing. Haha. I wrote all my essays in college from recordings I made while walking. No kidding.
L: Any songs or type of music you need to listen to when you write?
A: I find music distracting when I write. Funny since I am a dance fitness instructor and have music playing in the house about 75% of the time.
L: What’s a word or phrase that people say that always irritates you?
A: Indeed. I absolutely despise that response. It is dismissive.
L: Who is your favorite literary character and why?
A: No one specific comes to mind. I enjoy characters that I connect with on an emotional level. I am just as likely to connect with the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, as I am with Jean Valjean. Hmm…
L: Where would you say you get most of your inspiration?
A: For my poetry, it is my feelings and my relationships, two things that I am mindful because I often feeling like a stranger in a strange land. As for my children’s stories, I am inspired by the natural world and the incredible people I have met along the way. Stories are my way of holding on to those experiences.
L: For aspiring writers out there, what would be the best advice you want them to know?
A: Just write. Stop telling yourself that you want to. Just do it. Write for you. It’s going to be messy and awkward at times, but once you do, you’ll be amazed how easy it becomes.
April Emerson has been teaching literature and writing to high school students since 2001. Until recently, she kept her own writing to herself. In 2017, after helping a friend publish his book, she began publishing her poems and stories online. She finds inspiration in her experiences and encounters living in various parts of the United States. April enjoys life in beautiful western Washington. While poetry is her passion, she also writes children’s books that inspire a love of nature and for ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
A’pononoko and the Lonely Tree – A lonely tree yearns to find his purpose among the other trees on the island. With the help of a wise old woman, A’pononoko, the tree finds that his true gift is his ability to be a good friend, show compassion, and love oneself.
Buy it here!