Emily Kimelman is unleashed! With a bestselling line of distinctively-branded female-sleuth-with-dog books, she's putting her Sidney Rye mystery series on the map.
Every now and again, I pick up a book and go,” AHA. This is a book and author my readers will enjoy!” And that's exactly how my read of Unleashed, the first in her series, went. Emily and I met over discussions of doing a mystery box set–I hadn't read her books yet, but she was following the Lei Crime Series, and approached me about the opportunity. It didn't work out that time, but ever since we have really been enjoying getting to know each other, sharing ideas and dog stories, and are simultaneously introducing our readers to each other's books! Pop over to her blog at www.emilykimelman.com to read my interview. I promise, her questions were just as in depth as the ones I hit her with!
Emily Kimelman is the author of the Sydney Rye Series including UNLEASHED, DEATH IN THE DARK, INSATIABLE, STRINGS OF GLASS, and THE DEVIL'S BREATH. This series features a strong female protagonist and her canine best friend, Blue. They are recommended for the 18+ who enjoy some violence, don't mind dirty language, and are up for a dash of sex. Not to mention an awesome, rollicking good mystery!
The first book in the Sydney Rye series, UNLEASHED, is available as a free download on all major ebook retailers, and Emily cooked up something REALLY special for my readers, too!
Welcome to the blog and to my readers, Emily! After our talks, I had some things I wanted to know.
1.What inspired the Sydney Rye Series? I love that you live on a boat in the Hudson River, grew up in Russia, and overcame dyslexia to become a bestselling author. Your dog protagonist is just riveting from page 1, tell us what's behind your concept and your love of a big hairy sidekick? I know you have a dog with a wonderful name…tell us about her!
I couldn’t read until I was about 11 but then it was like a switch clicked in my head, and I could read at college level. So the first books I read to myself were Agatha Christie mysteries. I’ve been hooked on the genre ever since. Though my taste has gotten a lot darker 🙂
I started imagining the Sydney Rye series when I was in college at Gallatin at NYU where you get to make up your own major. My degree is in the history of forensic science, homicide, and detective fiction. I am still really interested in what turns a person into a killer and how societies’ view of justice has evolved (and continues to do so). I’m also obsessed with the reasons why we read detective fiction and how it helps us deal with the fears in our lives.
During college, I was working as a dog walker, and realized it was the perfect job for an amateur sleuth. I was in all these people’s houses who had never met me. I had access to all these fancy buildings on the Upper East Side. And who better to discover a dead body than a dog? It’s a classic.
At the same time I adopted a giant mutt named Nova, who my dog character, Blue, is based on. Blue is the spitting physical image of Nova who was very protective of me. To protective. He was actually dangerous so ended up going to live on a ranch in California with friends of mine. He then ran away and was seen leading a pack of coyotes so I think Nova found his proper place in this world. Blue shares Nova’s looks and loyalty but is much better trained.
It took me over two years to get the first draft of UNLEASHED done and that’s because I didn’t realize that Sydney Rye was in charge and I needed to follow her lead. The ending of UNLEASHED was a total surprise to me. I actually dreamed the final third of the book and woke up stunned. What a twist!
My dog now is named after Kinsey Milhone from Sue Grafton’s alphabet series. I call her Kinsey Milhone, “pup detective”. She is a Spanish Water Dog and is the best cuddler I’ve ever met. Kinsey has traveled all over with my husband and me. We just got back from 3 months in Costa Rica, where Sydney Rye #6 (due fall 2014) takes place. Kinsey loved loved loved it there. She chased giant lizards (one actually turned around and bit her so she stopped that game after the first month), barked at monkeys (who then threw poop at her, every dog’s dream come true), and ran on the beach every morning. I’ve attached a picture because Kinsey is seriously cute and I think her fuzzy face can brighten anyone’s day.
- Your books are grittier in tone than the Lei Crime Series–in fact, as I responded to reader feedback in reviews, I toned down language in newer books, and even went back and edited out the F word in Blood Orchids to make tone consistent, because I was tired of getting dinged for a good story by some readers' reaction to language. They were very vocal and so often left reviews, I decided I didn't need the F-bomb to tell a good story, so I've gone away from it (though there's certainly still swearing and dark themes.) I notice you have kept your same tone throughout. Tell us about that decision and being true to it?
If I could get Sydney Rye to stop swearing I would. But that’s just how she tells her story. Sydney is seriously dark and doesn’t care about pissing people off (in fact, I think she kinda likes it). Also, anyone who can’t handle the f bomb probably can’t handle other stuff in the books so it’s a good way to help readers who are going to be disturbed later to just get out now.
The one star reviews that complain about language don’t bother me because it helps others who are against dirty language avoid an upsetting experience. It also lets people who are looking for something edgier be reassured that my books are going to deliver.
- The Sydney Rye Series has a great cover and consistent look that make it easy for readers to spot. What went into that decision and who and how are your covers designed?
My cover illustration is by my good friend, Autumn Whitehurst. She is a renowned fashion illustrator and created the cover after reading my first book, UNLEASHED. She referenced old photos of Nova for the dog on the cover. For each book we change the colors to match the location or mood of the story.
Autumn actually just told me she has a new idea and wants to re-release the books with a new cover design she is working on. I really love her and feel so lucky to have such a talented and thoughtful friend to collaborate with on my covers.
- What's the setting that most inspires your books? Do you have rituals and routines that help you get to writing so consistently?
My books take place all over the world and that’s because I love to travel. I feel totally inspired when I’m out of my natural environment. It’s like I can see things I never noticed before. I mean, when I’m in a super market in a foreign country, I find the labels on the food fascinating. And then when I get home after a long time away I can see my own world with those same fresh eyes.
I am constantly coming up with new rituals and routines to help me stay in the groove. This week is all about setting a timer and using my stand up desk.
- What are some of the dreams, visions, and plans in the works for the Sydney Rye Series?
I plan on continuing to write the series as long as Sydney Rye keeps talking to me. I just finished the first draft of #6 which takes place in Costa Rica and has some really cool action in it. I’m actually going to take a helicopter lesson in the next couple of weeks to help get some of the details right in that book. I am terrified but think it will be worth it.
The first audiobook is coming out this month and I’m really excited. The whole series will be on audio by Christmas. My narrator, Sonja Field, won a contest that I ran letting my fans vote on who recorded the books. She’s doing a fantastic job.
I’ve got the new redesigned covers which will be ready around Christmas. We are going to do a re-release of all the titles when the audiobooks are done with the new covers and some other exciting things I’m not quite ready to talk about yet 🙂
- If a reader was to start with one of your books, should they be read in order or can they stand alone?
I write them so they can stand alone and many people start with one of the later books. However, since the first one, UNLEASHED, is free, you might as well start there. And since I am such a fan of your books, and think your readers would enjoy mine, I’ve got a special code so that they can get the UNLEASHED audiobook for free. It’s on pre-order now and will be live in the next week. Just follow this LINK and you'll recieve a copy when it goes live on Aug 5 in your email inbox!
Thanks SO MUCH for this gift, Emily, and for your thoughful answers on the interview. Check out UNLEASHED free, or on Audiobook!