You’ve heard of her young adult contemporary fiction, don’t you want to get to know this interesting author?
Welcome to Date with a Debut Author! A Bookstr series where we meet up with a new author to get to know them, their writing process, and their book.
This week we got to meet with Emilia Ares, author of Love and Other Sins, to learn more about her career and writing processes.
Date with a Debut Author gets you up close and personal with the debut authors you should be looking out for each week. So, are you ready to get to know Emilia better? Let’s go!
Conversations Over Coffee
Because we’re just getting to know Emilia.
Serena Knudson (SK): You are an actress and you’ve done some modeling, what made you want to become a published author?
Emilia Ares (EA): I am an actress, I’ll own that. I will fully deny any modeling work and will defer to: nope that wasn’t me.
I’ve always been obsessed with storytelling. Whether it was full-blown, out of this world, make-believe answers when my parents asked me, “How was school today?” and I’d tell them that a huge Hollywood studio producer came to school and selected me to star in the next Annie film. Or just writing wildly exaggerated dramatizations of my day in my journal. Storytelling has always been pure fun to me. I never thought I’d be an author but after spending any spare minute I had over the past ten years on telling Mina and Oliver’s story, I figured it’d be a waste not to share them with the world…just in case it resonated with someone, made someone feel less other or less lonely.
SK: What was your favorite part to write of Love and Other Sins?
EA: I loved writing the dialogue between Oliver and Mina. I also loved writing Mina’s sharp quips and bad-ass moments, especially where she speaks her mind and stands up for herself or others.
SK: Your characters are pretty complex, if you had to choose which of your characters would you be best friends with?
EA: It would be a very close call between Nyah and Lily, Mina’s mom. Nyah is a firecracker and so grounded. She knows exactly who she is and what’s what. Lily is just an absolute no bullsh*t love bomb and she would be so much fun to talk to over drinks.
SK: If you could learn a new hobby, what would it be?
EA: Definitely to fly a plane or ride a motorcycle
SK: What is something you are passionate about?
EA: Getting together as a community and solving community problems on a micro level. Also, hats. I love hats.
Let’s Get Intimate!
Don’t you want to know more about this interesting author?
SK: You have a minor in Russian and used the Russian language and culture in your novel. What drew you to choose Russia over other languages and countries?
EA: Russia has such a dark, rich, and complex history. I love its people and culture so much. The people of Russia wear so many layers and I’m not just talking about the clothes. To truly get to the heart of a Russian person takes time and a deep level of friendship and trust. There are much fewer surface smiles and superficial niceties in Russian culture. I can’t wait to explore Russia more in book 2 of Love and Other Sins.
SK: What advice would you give to other authors who may want to add different cultures to their novel?
EA: Just be passionate and respectful about the culture you’d like to explore. As long as your interest comes from a place of appreciation and respect it will most likely turn out beautifully. Try to be as thorough and objective in your research as possible and make sure to speak with as many different people from that culture as you can find. Don’t rush and pay close attention to details, they will nuance the writing.
SK: As mentioned above, you have some pretty complex characters. Did anyone inspire any of your characters?
EA: I would say about 25 percent of my characters’ personalities were inspired by people I’ve come across or known well. A lot of their traits are also a mix and match of the people I’ve come to know or observed over time. I love exploring the flawed, morally grey aspects of humanity. With this novel, I wanted to explore what happens when two people make a mess of things while falling in love. We’ve come across many books that depict positive character arcs where the MC improves over the course of the story. I wanted to explore what happens when your infatuation with a person happens to bring out the worst in you? And, of course, that question isn’t fully answered by the end of this novel, not quite yet.
SK: Has writing and publishing a book changed the way you view yourself?
EA: Yes, in a million different ways, but also, no. In essence, I am who I am and probably nothing will change those core parts of me.
I thought acting was the most terrifying and vulnerable thing I could try. Nope, I was wrong. Writing a book is. I’ve built some thick skin from all the rejection and criticism I’ve faced in the acting world, but nothing could have prepared me for the brutal imposter syndrome of publishing a novel. The way that I’ve changed so far is that I no longer seek approval. I made a thing, I put it out there, and I hoped it would find someone that “gets it”. And so far, that’s already happened. It did find readers that got it, many more than I thought it would. So, it feels like a weight off my shoulders and now, I’m going to try and just enjoy that feeling, focus on it instead of the negative stuff and just run with it.
I think I’m still in the process of being changed by writing and publishing this book, so I might be too close to see the big picture just yet. I’ll circle back on this later in my life, for sure.
SK: Who has been the biggest supporter of your writing?
EA: My sister was the first person I showed my writing to. She was reading a lot of YA at the time and she’s the one who encouraged me to finish it and make it into a book. She said she loved it and couldn’t wait for more so, at first at least, I kind of was writing it for her. I don’t think Love and Other Sins would have existed without her encouragement.
Fun and Games
Now that we’re well-acquainted with Emilia, here are some fun questions and what she had to say about them.
SK: If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
EA: Mina: Get it together girl. He’s great but don’t lose yourself. You have so much going for you. Don’t lose sight of your family, your friends, your ambitions.
Oliver: *I’d just give him a big, warm hug.*
Lily: Palm Springs and chill?
Nyah: Netflix and chill?
Kiran: I’ve got three words for you, Kiran: Den of Vipers. Enjoy and leave the boy alone.
SK: If you could choose an author, dead or alive, to take a writing class with, who would it be?
EA: Jodi Picoult, her writing is beautiful in a gut-punch, rip your heart out stomp on it and shove it back in kind of way. So, so good.
SK: What ridiculous thing has someone tricked you into believing or doing?
EA: Peter Pan convinced me that if I believed I could fly strongly enough that I would fly. I tried. I fell, hard. Forgot about the fairy dust.
SK: If we were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, who are three people you’d want on your team?
EA: Voya from Blood Like Magic, fierce and powerful. Jude from The Cruel Prince, unstoppable bad*ss. Hanna from the Amazon series, dangerous and killer smart.
SK: What is one thing you wish more people knew about you?
EA: I’m a massive dork.
SK: What are your favorite book recommendations?
EA: Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Into the Wild Light, Beach Read, The Dutch House, Where the Crawdads Sing, A List of Cages
In Love and Other Sins, Mina’s life is going according to plan; she’s acing AP Calc and is perfectly content with her nonexistent social life. Though only a high school junior, Mina knows time is an investment, and she’s putting all her capital into academics. Oliver, a child abuse survivor who grew up in the foster care system, is ready to burn down his old life and start from scratch—complete with a new name and emancipation papers—in L.A. When the two are thrown together through circumstance and develop an unexpected connection, they discover how hard it is to keep the past in the past.
Emilia Ares is an Armenian-American actress best known for American Horror Story and Bosch, producer and now the author of Love and Other Sins. Emilia graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with her Bachelor’s in Economics and a Minor in Russian along with completing some film history courses.’
If you enjoyed getting to know Emilia, meet other new authors with past Dates with Debut Authors here.