Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Writing Tips and Meet MG Author Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Welcome to Carpinello's Writing Pages. Before we get introduced to today's author, here are some writing tips from previous authors on my blog. As always, feel free to share your author tips in the comments.

You’re the only one with the ultimate vision of the story you’re trying to tell. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Join a writers' group, attend classes or workshops, and never stop reading. Exercise those writing muscles! Set goals and deadlines for yourself, and meet them. Persevere in your quest to become a published author, and enjoy the ridePat McDermott, author of the YA series Glimmer.

It is difficult to find time to write sometimes. However, you can always find the time to imagine or daydream. File those thoughts away in your mind, record yourself on a handheld tape recorder, or jot them down on a piece of paper for when you have time to writeCrystal Marcos,  author of the YA series The Cresecren Chronicles: Novus

Keep writing! If one idea doesn’t work out, go on and write the next bookMariko Layton, author of the MG multicultural story Ayumi’s Violin.

And Now,
Please welcome MG author Emily-Jane Hills Orford
to Carpinello's Writing Pages

I'm pleased to welcome Emily-Jane back to my blog. One of the greatest advantages of writing today is the opportunity to become friends with authors from all over the world. Emily-Jane is one of these friends.

Here's a bit about Emily-Jane:
An avid gardener, artist, musician and writer, Emily-Jane Hills Orford has fond memories and lots of stories that evolved from a childhood growing up in a haunted Victorian mansion. Told she had a ‘vivid imagination’, Emily-Jane used this talent to create stories in her head, allowing her imagination to lead her into a different world, one of her own making. As she grew up, these stories, imaginings and fantasies took to the written form and, over the years, she developed a reputation for telling a good story. A retired teacher of music and creative writing, she writes about the extra-ordinary in life and the fantasies of dreams combined with memories.

Emily-Jane can now boast that she is an award-winning author of several books, including Mrs. Murray’s Ghost: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 1 (Telltale Publishing 2018) which was named finalist in the 2019 N.N. Light Book Awards, Mrs. Murray’s Hidden Treasure: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 2 (Telltale Publishing 2019), Mrs. Murray’s Home: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 3 (Telltale Publishing 2020), Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads 2018) which won the 2019 N.N. Light Book Awards, King Henry’s Choice (Clean Reads 2019), and several other books.

Why did you pick to write books Middle Grade?

Actually, I write in several genres, but Middle Grade is my preference. I enjoy the idea of re-visiting my childhood memories. I think some of the best books I ever read were written for the Middle Grade audience: C.S. Lewis, Mary Norton, Gene Stratton-Porter and, of course, our blog host. Plus, I’ve taught music and creative writing to this age group, so I feel most comfortable writing for this age.

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I like to read multiple genres (mostly the same as the genres I write): mystery, historical fiction, memoir, creative nonfiction, animal stories. When I’m not writing, I’m doing something else something equally creative: collage painting, needle art, baking, gardening, composing music and playing the piano, and, most important, reading.

Tell us about Mrs. Murray's Home and how the story came to be.

Mrs. Murray’s Home is the third book in the Piccadilly Street Series, which has been compared to Harry Potter. Home is where the heart is, or so they say. It’s also been said that a home is a person’s castle. But home is also with family and friends. Mrs. Murray longs for home, the family home, a castle an ocean away. The Brownies also crave for home, the same castle Mrs. Murray considers home. And Granny? Mary’s Granny hasn’t been home since she was Mary’s age. It’s time to visit the homeland, Scotland. Mary’s excited to tag along with Granny, Mrs. Murray and the Brownies. And then there’s the witch. The one they thought they’d killed. And the treasure. The one they had found. And it all ties together, for better or for worse.

I started this series with the idea of re-visiting my growing-up years in an old Victorian Mansion that was haunted. Some of the things I write about in these stories really happened; some are mere fragments of what my grandmother described as my “vivid imagination”. Oh! And Granny (as we called her when we were younger) is one of the main characters in this series. Basically, these books are, in some ways, personal memoirs combined with fantasy and lots of adventure. The stories are set in the 1960s, when my family first moved into the haunted house, and it includes some of my childhood friends and nemeses, including the schoolyard bully whose memory haunts me to this day (moreso than the ghost).

Here's a peek at Mrs. Murray's Home:

“No, you can’t.”

“I can too.”

“Leave her alone.”

“Let her sleep.”
“Quiet!” Mary covered her ears, forcing her eyes to open. She shrieked when she did and slid backwards to the headboard of the bed, curling her legs in front of her, in a feeble attempt to protect herself.

“Now you’ve done it.”

“I have not.”

“She’s awake, isn’t she?”

“Should have let her sleep.”

“Who are you?” Mary looked around the room, crammed full of, what? Ghosts? No. It couldn’t be. Gathering her wits about her, she asked the only question that came to mind. “Where’s Mrs. Murray?” She was one ghost Mary trusted and with whom she felt safe.

“Here.” Came the chorus of ethereal voices. “We’re all Mrs. Murray.”

“No!” Mary shook her head vehemently. “It can’t be. If so, where is my Mrs. Murray?”

The response was so loud, Mary was forced to cover her ears. “Stop!” she shrieked. “One at a time. Didn’t anyone teach you some manners?”

How do you go about researching for your stories?

When research is needed, I make use of the internet. There are a lot of resources available at the tip of our fingers. I also read a lot of nonfiction and possess a huge collection of books. (When we last moved ten years ago, the movers complained about the 500+ boxes of books. I’m sure it’s more now.) I used to frequent the public archives, but with most of the resources now available online, I find it much more convenient, especially with lockdown restrictions still in place for accessing public spaces.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I have written a lot. My genres include: historical fiction/fantasy (Queen Mary’s Daughter and King Henry’s Choice), creative nonfiction (It Happened in Canada Books 1, 2, & 3, Personal Notes, The Whistling Bishop, F-Stop: A Life in Pictures”, Ukulele Yukon, Amazingly Extra-Ordinary Women, and To Be a Duke), mystery (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter), and, of course, Middle Grade and Young Adult, which includes this series, as well as Gerlinda (another childhood memory story). I also have several unpublished books in each of these genres looking for a publisher, including, surprisingly for me, a couple of dystopian novels.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

Always. Another dystopian novel – must be the lockdown, Corona virus conspiracy theories getting to me and affecting my creative output.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Write. Don’t procrastinate. Just write. Even bad writing is better than no writing, and it’s a step in the right direction as the more we write, the more we improve.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Support an author by posting a review. We all depend on our readers and their opinions (both good and not-so-good).

Where can readers find you and your books?

Author Links:

Purchase Links:




  1. Great interview! I'll have to go check out Mrs. Murray's Home.

  2. I love a good ghost story! The chillier, the better.

    1. This third book in the series is probably the chilliest of the lot. Since I actually did grow up in a haunted house, there are some elements of childhood memories in these stories.

  3. Lovely interview! I enjoy Middle Grade books too (and who doesn't love a good ghost story?), so I'll definitely be checking out Mrs Murray's Ghost!