Emilie Richards is an American author of over 50 contemporary romance novels. She worked as a therapist in a mental health centre, before becoming a parent services coordinator for families enrolled in Head Start and then working in several pastoral counselling centres.
Emilie and her husband have three grown sons and a daughter. When not writing or quilting, Richards enjoys traveling and turning her suburban yard into a country garden.
What were some of your favourite books when you were growing up?
Little Women, Jane Eyre, all the ‘Oz’ books—which I read over and over again. I read my way through the children’s section of our library, shelf by shelf. My mother loved to read and read to me so often as a child that I had developed a real love for it by the time I was old enough to check out books on my own.
What led you to your career as an author? Is writing something that you have always been passionate about?
I always enjoyed writing in school, in fact it was probably my very favorite activity, but I did very little because of the way my classes were structured. At the university I took a creative writing class just for fun and loved every minute of that, so when I finally had an opportunity to spend a few months writing after the birth of my fourth (and final) child, I began with enthusiasm. I never expected to make writing a career, but that’s the way it evolved after I sold my first novel. And I’m delighted it did.
Which writers do you believe have been the most influential on your writing style?
Louisa May Alcott, perhaps, because of the way she intertwined characters’ stories, something I love to do.
What have been some of your most memorable experiences as a writer?
Visiting New Zealand where one my novels was being filmed for German television and spending time on the set there as well as doing some wonderful sightseeing. Also living and traveling in Australia doing research for several novels I set there. While living in Adelaide I ranged as far as Broome, Darwin, and Cairns. As a bonus I got hooked on memoirs about life in the Outback, and We of the Never Never is still one of my favorite reads.
How do you feel your background as a therapist in a mental health centre has affected your writing?
I think both therapists and novelists are people who like learning about others in depth and digging for the pivotal details of their history. Learning to listen for the “real” story behind what a client says is also an important skill for a novelist dealing with imaginary characters. Both careers also require a certain amount of imagination, because it’s important for a therapist to “imagine” herself living the life of the person who’s talking to her and trying to figure out what pieces are missing, or how that person was affected by events. The same for a novelist.
What can you tell us about your latest novel, One Mountain Away?
One Mountain Away is the story of a woman who looks back at her life and realizes that by striving to give her family everything, she gave them nothing of herself. While she can’t heal all the wounds she’s caused, she sets out to try to make up for some of her mistakes by reaching out to others. In the process she discovers the person she was meant to be and has some surprising reconcilliations.
What was your inspiration?
This is a difficult time for many people, and lots of them need a helping hand. While I think the government and philanthrophy are important, I also think this is the time for ordinary people to reach out to those around them and offer whatever they can. I wanted to write about that, but most important, I wanted to tell in-depth stories about women and their relationships with each other and with the men in their lives. One Mountain Away is the beginning of that series, ‘Goddesses Anonymous’.
What would you like readers to take away from One Mountain Away?
If they can only take away one thing, I hope it’s this, that it’s never too late to change or make amends for past mistakes. It’s never too late to reach out to the people you love.
Can we expect another novel in the near future?
I’m just finishing Somewhere Between Luck and Trust, the second book in the ‘Goddesses Anonymous’ series. Luck and Trust are actual townships outside Asheville, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the novels are set.
Do you have any advice that you would like to offer aspiring writers?
I think Charlotte Hale, the main character of One Mountain Away and I would agree on this one. If you want to write, do it. Don’t let your fears stop you. Take the plunge.
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