Author Spotlight: Emily VanderBent

Holly Huntress
9 min readJan 18, 2022

When did you first start writing?

Writing has just always been something I’ve done. Ever since I was little, I would make up stories or poems and write them down. But it wasn’t until the past several years I pursued actually getting my work out into the world.

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I’ve always known I wanted to be an author someday. I fell in love with reading and the power of words at an early age and knew I wanted to move people with my writing the way my favorite authors did for me. The right books have always found their way into my hands and spoken to me when I needed them most. I wanted to do the same for others, even if only in the smallest of ways.

When I first became an author, I had a hard time truly owning it and calling myself an author. I didn’t feel like I had the knowledge or skillsets to make it or the authority to write a novel. But the beautiful thing about words is no one holds claim to them. They are available to everyone, just waiting for those bold enough to pick up their pen and believe they have something worth saying.

Was there any author or book in particular that inspired you to write? Or a teacher/mentor?

I wouldn’t say there was any one author or book in particular, but all of them collectively inspired me to write. My love of writing came from my love of reading and the way various authors continued to immerse me in worlds so different from my own and move me with their words.

The same goes for mentors/teachers. I’ve been blessed to have several over the years whose continual encouragement and mentoring have equipped me with the knowledge and courage to believe in the stories I am meant to tell.

How many books have you written? What are they called? Where can they be found/bought?

I’ve written one book so far. It is the first in a series, so there will be more to come. The title of the novel, and the series as a whole, is Crimson Time. (UPDATE: The second book, Fractured Past is now available as well). It is available through Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, and other book retailers.

What genre do you write?

I currently write Young Adult Fiction. Crimson Time is a mixed genre book/series, under the umbrella of YA. It can be classified as Fantasy/Sci-fi because of the way I play with history through the use of time travel. In the future, I would also like to try my hand at Historical Fiction. I have some ideas for a few stand-alone novels after the Crimson Time series is finished.

Are any of your characters based on people you know in real life?

I don’t intentionally base characters on people I know, but subconsciously certain elements do come through in my writing. I’ll often notice what elements and from who they derived from when I read back through a piece. For example, I realized my main character, Adelaide, though her own person, gets many aspects of her character from myself and two of my friends.

What inspires you to write the most?

Several things inspire me to write. The core drive behind anything I write is my passion for writing, history, and the desire to see the stories of women in the past told and acknowledged. I think we’ve grown used to thinking there is one grand narrative of history and it is the one we are taught in school. As important as it is to know that narrative, it is equally as important to recognize that it’s not the only one. I think the way history is taught turns people off to it. Because they think it’s either boring or unnecessary to know. The truth is, history is so much more than memorizing dates and a few well-known figures.

History is layered and complex. It is people, their actions, and reactions. I think the more people truly begin to understand what history is, the more people will love it and see its importance. The weight of that knowledge causes you to live a little differently knowing your present will be someone else’s past and set the stage for someone else’s future.

I am also inspired by the fact that in pursuing my dreams, another girl might be inspired to pursue her own. The more we as women lean into our passions and pursue our dreams, the more we are able to own our individual and collective stories and write a narrative we are proud of.

What is your favorite thing about writing?

I love the magic of painting with letters, of creating worlds, characters, and pictures from a few black strokes on a blank page. To watch it grow from nothing into something and take on a life of its own is incredible. It’s an amazing feeling to see a story in your head translate to paper in such a tangible way.

As far as writing elements, I enjoy writing details and descriptions because of the way they cement the reader into the story and truly bring it to life.

Do you listen to music while you write or read?

If I do listen to music while writing, more often than not it is instrumental music played low and in the background. I don’t like complete silence when I write, but music with words distracts me. I will, however, listen to music before writing or find songs that fit to help shape a particular scene or character as I write.

What do you write — short stories, poems, novels, novellas, blog posts etc. — and which do you enjoy writing the most?

I write novels, poems, and blog posts and I love different aspects of each form of writing. But, my favorite is probably novel writing. I love the way each stage of the process builds on the next until you get the final result of a published novel and the satisfaction of holding it in your hand. Also, I enjoy blogging. I write posts for Girl Museum and my own personal blog as a writer and historian. Whatever the form my writing takes, it usually has a historical or writer tie in.

Have you tried to go the traditional route with publishing? How did it go?

I thought about going the traditional publishing route and had plans to start writing query letters but was presented with the opportunity to use a hybrid publisher, which up until that point, I didn’t know was an option. I was drawn to the fact that it is a sort of happy medium between self-publishing and traditional publishing. Some of the different aspects of what exactly you get with a hybrid publisher will vary depending on which one you use. So, you are going to want to do some research. With New Degree Press, I got a lot of logistical/technical help as far as editing, cover design, and layout, putting Crimson Time up on a variety of platforms, etc. I was given some solid instruction when it came to marketing and public outreach. But, the actual marketing and public outreach were left to me.

Are you self-published? How did that go and what route did you take? What advice would you give to others who want to self-publish?

I also considered self-publishing at one point. I think there are pros and cons to all three forms of publishing (self, hybrid, and traditional). One isn’t necessarily better than the other. It’s all about finding and using the one that best aligns with your goals and vision for yourself and your manuscript. I liked using a hybrid publisher for my first novel because it was nice to have some guidance in the publishing process since I had never done it before, but also have the freedom and creative control over my work. Now that I have gone through the publishing process and know more about what it looks like/how it works, I feel confident I could go any of the three routes with other novels I publish in the future.

What is your favorite genre to read?

I go through phases of reading in different genres. But the ones I read most of are YA (Fantasy) and Historical Fiction. I especially love when there are elements of history woven into the narrative.

I also love poetry.

Who is your favorite author now? What is it you like about them?

One of my favorite authors is Cassandra Clare. She has such a gift for fully immersing the reader in the world she created. Every element of her writing, from her multiple POVs to her complex characters, further cements the reader in the narrative. I especially love her descriptions. The way she weaves them together is nothing short of magic. I always keep at least one of her books within reach when I write.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

If you are waiting to feel like you are ready before starting a novel, series, blog, etc., I think it’s important to know you are never going to feel ready. You don’t have to have a ground-breaking idea or know all the ins and outs of the writing process to start. You just have to sit down and write. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. But, don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to jump three steps ahead of where you are. Tackle each step as it comes and don’t be afraid to reach out to other writers for guidance. The truth is, none of us really know what we’re doing. But, we have learned some helpful things along the way as we’ve fumbled our own way through.

Do you have any favorite books you recommend right now?

I will always recommend anything by Cassandra Clare or Victoria Aveyard to readers and writers alike, but my current recommendation is a poetry collection by Morgan Harper Nichols called All Along You Were Blooming. I often find poetry helps me reset as a writer and reminds me of the beauty and power in being intentional about my word choice. Anything by the poet Atticus is also a phenomenal read and super helpful if you want to get better at strong description and emotion with little words. Sometimes less is more.

Besides writing, do you have any other hobbies?

I love learning about history, whether that is through research, reading, documentaries, etc. I also enjoy baking, drawing, painting, and hiking. My recent fall/winter hobby has been arm-knitting scarves and hats. I’ll actually do a lot of novel work in my head while I arm-knit because it is a calming, repetitive task and I can let my mind wander.

Are you on Twitter or do you have an author website we should check out as readers?

I am on Twitter at @emvan6, but the best way to stay up-to-date and in contact is through my Instagram (emilyvanderbent_author) or author website (https://www.emilyvanderbent.org/).

Is there anything else you want to share about your writing or that you want your readers to know?

If you like books with history, time travel, and secret societies, you can check out the first novel in my Crimson Time series, Crimson Time. Book 2 is in the works, so if you want to follow along in my journey, check out any of my social media platforms or website. If you’re a fellow writer and/or history-lover, you can also check out my blog for writer advice and historical tie-ins.

End Interview with Author Emily VanderBent

History has never been my strong suit. However, this book is such a fun story with a hint of history, it makes me enjoy history for once! I cannot wait to find out what happens next! Trust me when I say, you want to read this book. Emily does an amazing job of describing and laying out every scene. It paints a perfect picture in your mind. Make sure to check out author Emily VanderBent on social media and her book, Crimson Time.

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Thank you for reading!

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Holly Huntress

Author and content creator. My books - the Broken Angel series & Unbound - can be found on Amazon!