The phenomenal Emma Grey
I have to admit...this ol' Author Stalker has a bit of an (ok MAJOR) author crush on my Spring victim, the enchanting Emma Grey.
First her novel absolutely blew me away...it truly is one of the most exquisite stories I have ever read. And then I got to know Em, via our chats on social media (and when she Zoomed into our book club the other week), & my respect for this amazing woman only grew more.
The Last Love Note https://www.penguin.com.au/books/the-last-love-note-9781761047626 had me alternating between laughter & tears, wanting to know the ending and not wanting it to end. The rawness of Emma's grief, at the loss of her beloved husband Jeff, seeps from every page yet this is a book of hope and love, that leaves you feeling truly uplifted & appreciative of those whom you love deeply.
It is one of those books that I know I will read again, that will find a home on the bookshelf in my writing room. It is one of those books that I am shouting from the rooftops about, and everyone I have recommended it to sends me texts like 'I've never been moved to tears by a book like this...OMG this book! Half way through (crying emoji)...OMG what a book! Just WOW (crying & star emojis)....Just WOW!'
And it has the most breathtakingly beautiful shower scene I have ever read. And no, it's not what you are probably thinking. After reading that scene two things happened:
1) I fell more desperately in love with Hugh &
2) I longed to see this book adapted for the screen...
And then there's the post-it note about Charlie...which totally destroyed me. Trust me, you'll need to keep the Kleenex handy.
But great news for US readers. The Last Love Note is being released by Zibby Books https://www.zibbyowens.com/zibby-books in the US on 28 November!
Emma says 'and that they're also intending to publish my next book in the American spring. (Along with it coming out here in Australia in Autumn.) And I'll be heading to the US in November, speaking at the Miami Book Fair and going on a tour!'
But now, without further ado, I will hand you over to the gorgeous Em.xx
Q1: What was your inspiration for this story and how long did it take you to write the first draft?
A: My husband, Jeff, died in 2016. I was 42, with a five-year-old son and two teenage daughters from my first marriage. I needed to find a way through my grief and, as a writer, I knew that would be through words. I’d wondered about writing my story as a memoir or self-help book but chose to fictionalise it in the end. It meant I could take the depth of my genuine emotions and pour them into a character’s world. Writing my grief through Kate’s eyes was cathartic and liberating. All along, I wanted the story to be deeply poignant but also uplifting and joyous. I wanted Kate to juggle the complex emotions of second chances after loss, through romance and comedy. The book became both my therapy and my escape.
The first draft tumbled out in five weeks, mainly between the hours of 10pm and 2am. Ten subsequent drafts took three years to write.
'This is Jeff’s chair, which sits in the corner behind where I often write at my kitchen table. It was where he wrote all his books (he was a military historian). Sometimes when something feels particularly overwhelming or scary - even good developments - I will sit in his chair to centre myself.'
Q2: You are hosting a spectacular dinner party. Name four dream guests you would love to have seated around your table, and what would they be dining on and drinking?
A: For the guests’ sake, I hope this party is going to be catered! When my daughter’s best friend Neala was diagnosed with leukaemia in Year 10, and everyone else was cooking lasagnes and casseroles, I spared the family my culinary ‘in-expertise’ and set about hunting down one of Harry Styles’ bandanas for Neala instead. It was a feat I miraculously managed to wrangle - despite my children’s lack of faith in me - via six degrees of separation and an unwavering belief in facilitating the impossible. The day the courier van arrived with the bandana “worn and unwashed” as requested was possibly my biggest triumph as mum! The girls inhaled the bandana (and so did Neala’s mum and I, if I’m being completely honest)…
(OMG you are a deadset legend Em. Love this story SO much. Shelley.xx)
So, food-wise, the dinner party would be very low key. My instinct is to populate the party with my husband, my late mum and the grandparents I never met. Family would always come first.
But if I’m to choose people who are alive, I’d quite like to have a chat with Brene Brown, Megan Divine (who writes brilliantly about grief) and perhaps a Broadway producer to have a chat about the musical I’ve co-written with my school friend, composer Sally Whitwell. As a mum, I’d have to add Harry Styles to the guest list, so I can introduce him to his future wife.
Q3: What is your favourite book of all time and why?
A: Anne of Green Gables – though not so much for the writing itself (which I now find a bit too dense, description-wise) but the story. It’s my favourite, because it’s the story that revealed to me that I was a writer too, like Anne, when I was fourteen.
Q4: If you could travel anywhere in the world to write for a year, where would we find you?
A: In a little weatherboard cottage by the ocean. The beach is my happy place, and I find old houses (and waves) creatively inspiring. This is also my retirement dream (and by ‘retirement’ I mean, ‘full-time novel writing’).
Q5: Describe your go-to reading spot at home and what book/s would I currently find there?
A: I love to read (and write) on my little verandah, particularly in summer at night lit by the fairy lights in the Japanese maple. I’m currently reading an ARC of Steph Vizard’s The Love Contract https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781460763988/the-love-contract/ and recently read Vanessa McCausland’s Dreaming in French https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781460715499/dreaming-in-french/
How divine is Emma's writing & reading space!
Q6: Tell us a bit about a typical writing day…
A: Gosh, I would love to answer this question in a different way from the way I’m about to answer it. When I’m really in flow, I’m usually surrounded by piles of unfolded washing on the couch beside me, while my puppy, Frank, destroys toilet rolls on the floor at my feet and the family wolfs down sticks of cabanossi and a wheel of Brie for dinner. I do have a lovely desk in my bedroom, which I sometimes use … I’m a “binge writer”, so when I really get stuck into a book, it’s all I can think about. I’ll take my laptop or the printed manuscript with me everywhere and could write through the apocalypse. I’m also a big fan of writing in short bursts, in all the nooks and crannies of the day – outside sports training or ballet classes, in cafes and waiting rooms. It’s amazing how much bonus time we have when we focus on finding it.
Q7: As a lover of words, is there a special quote you would like to share with us?
A: I recently stumbled across this quote by Zanna Keithley, and it gave me so much hope! https://zannakeithley.com/
'Right now, somewhere in this world, something is happening for you. A decision. A conversation. A chance encounter. People and experiences and opportunities all converging – leading straight to you. Every day, there are things happening in the background that you can’t quite see. Pieces of the puzzle connecting into place. Creating a bigger picture that your short-range vision can’t yet perceive. And it’s going to come. The person, the thing, the opportunity, the experience that is so beyond anything you’re currently imagining. And when it comes, I promise it will be real, and it will be right, and your thinking mind may question it, but your beating heart will know. This is for you. And right here, in this moment, something beautiful is unfolding. And you’re worthy of it. You’re worthy of the good things. The loving things. The unimaginably beautiful things. You’re worthy of this perfect alignment. So please – keep your heart open. Trust in what’s coming. Make space for that one thing – that one thing that’s going to change everything.'
(Wow that is so beautiful Emma. Shelley.xx)
Q8: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A: I pick up my courage and go into the darkness of national parks at night and capture photos of the Aurora Australis. I’m also keen on macro photography – so you’ll often find me lying on the ground in the frost taking close-up photos of dew drops on blades of grass.
One of Emma's stunning photographs of Aurora Australis
Q9: Any advice for aspiring authors?
A: It’s all about accepting the mess of the first draft and pushing through that mess so you have something to work with. It can be so disheartening, knowing the standard you’re reaching for, then looking at your early, half-baked words on the page. Press on! The magic is in the re-writing and editing and ‘colouring in’ of the story – and you need those messy words on the page to play with.
They say to write what you know, and I did find it easier to engage with the content because I was living it in real life, but it’s also important to write what you love. Tell yourself the story you want to read. Write the book you wish was on the shelves. You are your own first reader.
Q10: In a few lines, which debut/emerging Aussie author should we look out for?
A: Queensland novelist and screenwriter Rachael Morgan https://www.therealzerofox.com/ (who also writes as Ruby Fox) is working on some incredible projects right now – romantic comedies, scripts for TV shows and film projects. She’s definitely one to watch!
A sparkling Australian romantic comedy with a heart-breaking twist.
In the aftermath of crushing grief, sole parent Kate Whittaker must learn to live and love again. It’s been tough raising her young son and wrangling a university fundraising job, an overbearing mother and a best friend intent on matchmaking her with someone new.
When Kate and her boss, Hugh, become stranded in a sleepy hamlet north of Byron Bay, she finally has a chance to process all that she’s been through and all that the future might hold. Caught in an impossible tangle of loss, love and unexpected longing, Kate wonders if she can risk her heart again.
But when it becomes clear that Hugh is hiding a secret from her past, all she has to guide her is the trail of scribbled notes she once used to hold her life together. The first note captured her heart. Will the last note set it free?
A sparkling Australian romantic comedy that will break your heart into a thousand shards and piece it back together again.
'At its core, The Last Love Note is as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. With vulnerability and honesty, Grey takes us through the entire spectrum of love.' Books + Publishing
'Funny, heart-breaking and life-affirming' Woman's Day
‘Several people told me I was going to love #thelastlovenote but I have to admit – I did not expect to become obsessed with it in the way I have! It’s somehow simultaneously unputdownable, heartbreaking AND funny. That’s a difficult combination to master but Emma’s writing is just incredible.’ Kelly Rimmer
'From the opening scene I knew this book would be amazing ...Put this on your absolutely-must-read list.' Chicklit Club
Thank you Em for being my September 1st Author Stalker victim. xx
The Last Love Note is available now through all leading bookstores and online retailers.
If you would like to find out more about Emma, you can find her here: