21 February 2021

Special Guest Interview with Emma Makarova, Author of Unearthed

Available from Amazon UK, Amazon US,

Scotland, 1849: Midwinter on the remote island of North Uist and twelve-year-old Morag has a terrifying encounter in the dark. Is it a beast or is there a more sinister threat which stalks the island? As the villagers turn to folklore to protect themselves, Maria, the wife of the landowner, arrives on North Uist longing to escape her past. But Maria’s past is catching up with her and time is running out – both for her and for the islanders.

I'm pleased to welcome author Emma Makarova to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

Unearthed is a historical fiction set on the Outer Hebrides in Scotland in 1849. It is set during the Highland Clearances when thousands of people were forced off the land by English landowners. The novel is based on the Battle of Sollas in July 1849 and the attempted eviction of the community which is still commemorated on the island of North Uist today. 

The novel weaves fiction, history and folklore together to tell the story of two young women caught up in the events on the island, but also caught up in the societal pressures of the time. The story is told by two first person narrators: Morag, a girl whose family has lived on the island for generations; and Maria, the young English wife of the new owner of the island. Although they come from very different backgrounds, both Morag and Maria have a thirst for learning and knowledge which sets them apart from their contemporaries and which ultimately puts them both in danger. Their stories become more and more intertwined as the novel reaches its climax.

What is your preferred writing routine?

When I have a new idea for a novel or short story I try and carve out as much time wherever I can to get the first draft down on paper. This means I reschedule things, get up early, go to sleep late, whatever it takes to get that energy into words. When I am re-drafting or editing I tend to work in the mornings for just an hour or two at a time. Any more than that and I can't see the woods for the trees and I go round in circles editing the same paragraph over and over again.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Don't forget the first draft is only the start. My novel, Unearthed, took about 5 drafts before I thought it was even nearly ready. Also don't show anyone your work too soon, that can be really off-putting if your work is still in embryonic form. When you are ready, find someone that you really trust to read your work. I am so lucky to have my sister who has this amazing knack of telling me if something doesn't work in the nicest possible way.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

Word of mouth was really useful in the beginning. Friends and family recommended it to their circles and it spread from there to book clubs and beyond. Twitter is also useful, especially for running giveaways and promoting discounted e-books, but the platform can seem very crowded with so many people promoting their books that it can seem daunting.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

The use of pelvic massage and vibrators to treat hysteria in women was a very ordinary practice in Victorian times!

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

I'm not sure about the hardest scene, but writing and re-writing the first chapter was hard work. You have so much you want to tell the reader it's difficult not to overload them with information.

What are you planning to write next?

I am co-writing a YA fantasy novel at the moment and I have plans for a romantic comedy based on my experiences of moving to France.

Emma Makarova

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About the Author

Emma Makarova was born in Melbourne, Australia and grew up in the Cotswolds, England. After studying Ancient History and Archaeology at The University of Birmingham she taught English in Hungary and then in Russia where she met her husband. In 2017, she gained a Masters with Distinction in Creative Writing for the manuscript of her novel. Two years ago she and her family decided to move to France for a new adventure, an experience she wrote about in her blog Femme Française. When she is not writing or teaching English, she can be found climbing a mountain or eating a lot of French cheese. Unearthed is her first novel. Find out more at Emmas website https://emmamakarova.fr/ and find her on Twitter @emmamakarova2

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