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Emilia Zeeland

Newcomer (Elmwick Academy 1)


Emilia Zeeland is a multilingual dress-loving foodie who writes young adult sci-fi and fantasy. Her heart is full of love for stories—books, tv series, movies—anything that will let her travel beyond the world she knows. Her readers can always bet on encountering lovable characters, interesting team dynamics, and plenty of twists and turns in her books!

What drives you to write?

I started writing not because I longed to string beautiful words together, but because I wanted to tell a specific story. Back in 2010 when I got the idea for my STAR Academy series, sci-fi wasn’t a popular genre in young adult literature. I wanted to read a story about teens in space, working together and dealing with their own messy lives while saving the galaxy. I couldn’t find a book like that back then, so I decided to write it.

What is this week’s featured book about? Tell us a little about it!

My new series, Elmwick Academy, starts with Newcomer and continues with Suspension. The third book is my current project, which will hopefully release in the coming weeks.

Newcomer is the story of one of the last free banshees and her supernatural hunter neighbor, as they both learn the depths of magic, friendship and love. (Hint: even a banshee can’t see everything about the future!)

"I wanted to read a story about teens in space, working together and dealing with their own messy lives while saving the galaxy...I decided to write it."

Are there any common themes or tropes that seem to find their way into your work over and over again?

Ahh, absolutely! When I was writing my first series, I never thought it would happen, but it has. Now, I just figure it’s part of my branding.

Found family, reluctant allies and unexpected romantic twists are some themes I always have in my books. I especially love the reluctant allies one, as it’s so rich and can really help flesh out secondary characters.

What’s your writing process?

I start with a general brainstorming phase, during which I plot (very loosely) the main twists in the book and the overall arc of the story. That can take years.

Then I go into first drafting. Then I re-plot, rewrite for big content changes, smooth out pacing and consistency issues, line edit, proofread. And I’m done!

"[Imagination] is about molding, reshaping..."

What’s the last book you couldn’t put down and why?

I could not put down Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. It has everything I love in a story - teens in space saving the world, cute romance, humorous dialogues, well-defined characters and jaw-dropping twists!

It also excelled at giving us a glimpse of the bad guys. Granted, they were pure evil, but by giving them fun group dynamics, personalities, and even internal squabbles, the authors made their demise all the more satisfying.

As an author, which thing do you tend to prioritize or feel more confident about: storytelling or prose?

I’m definitely more confident as a storyteller. It’s simply what I love most, so that must be why I read book after book on plotting and crafting characters :D I think prose is also hard to judge objectively, since people usually have a preference for a certain style, but that doesn’t make other styles less worthy.

How do you choose names for your characters?

I either choose regular names, easy to pronounce, or I browse endless lists and adjust names I find there to get my own quirky versions.

Some examples from Elmwick Academy:

Regular names: Mason, Vanessa

Names with a twist: Awan (Alan with a W), Seff (Seth with a phonetic change)

If you could have your work exist in any other form, what form would it take?

Ahh, I think the STAR Academy series would be great for a movie adaptation, since each year is a different mission. I would love to see those characters come to life!

As for Elmwick Academy, I think it’s better suited for the TV series format. Ahh, what bliss that would be. Actually, I’d even go for an animated series here. It would be awesome!

Thinking more realistically, I’d love to see both series as audiobooks.

To you, what is the value of imagination?

To me, imagination is the ability not just to create a new world, but believable and relatable characters to inhabit the said world. It’s about molding, reshaping and combining bits of ideas into wicked combinations. It’s the fun part of the process :D

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