A. E. Radley interviews Emma Sterner-Radley

We have a first on I Heart Lesfic today.

The amazing A.E. Radley quizzes her wonderful wife Emma Sterner-Radley about Tinderbox Under Winter Stars, the second part of The Tinderbox Tales.

Before we get to the interview, Emma is giving away e-copies of book 1 & 2 in The Tinderbox Tales. More details are below. 

Now, please welcome Amanda and Emma.


Wife interviewing Wife

Amanda: As we work in the same house, and talk a lot about our writing, I usually know how your books were written. But since Tinderbox Under Winter Stars was a huge project and you wanted to hurry up and get it out there within the deadline you promised at the end of Making a Tinderbox, I mainly heard you growling and sighing behind a closed door. So, I figured I’d get these questions answered for myself and the I Heart Lesfic readers.

Emma: Sure! I love these books and I’m happy if anyone wants to talk about them.

Amanda: First of all, what is this book about?

Emma: Haha, yes, maybe that’s where we should start. Tinderbox Under Winter Stars is a fantasy book. It’s the second in a series of fantasy romance books in a genre called Gaslamp. Which basically means that they are set in a place which is a lot like our world during the Victorian era but have an air of gothic darkness and magic. It has the same main characters as the first book, Making a Tinderbox, but now Nessa and Elise are in a different land and facing new enemies. They’re also now an established couple, while in the first book they were meeting each other and falling in love. This book will introduce new characters but there are also plenty of the characters from the first book making an appearance. I won’t bore the readers with more details, I’m sure they can get the rest from the book’s blurb.

Amanda: Okay, let’s carry on with the questions. Was this book written with pen and paper or on a computer?

Emma: As with all my books, I wrote ideas and outlines in a notebook with my much loved but quite impractical fountain pen. (Which is why we sometimes have ink stains around the house. Sorry about that, honey.) The rest of it was done on my Mac in Scrivener. Which was very useful for this project as I moved chapters and segments around a lot and you can’t do that as easily in Word.

Amanda: Was it plotted a pantsed?

Emma: TUWS was surprisingly plotted for a book of mine. As you and some readers might know, I tend to have a flimsy outline and then just write by the seat of my pants. But here I took a step away from being a pantser and became more of a plotter. Especially after the first three chapters were written and I realised it was turning into a complicated mess. It had to be trimmed and controlled, and so I sat down with my notebook and began outlining. It took huge amounts of coffee, sweets and antacids.

Amanda: Now that I do remember. Did you listen to music while you wrote this book?

Emma: Yep. In fact, I have a public playlist in Spotify named Tinderbox Under Winter Stars which I would play to get myself in the right mindset and create the right ambiance to write this imaginary world. There’s some sweet love songs, quite a few mysterious songs, some that evoke a wintry landscape, some that have a Victorian feel to them, some that are very Nordic, and a couple which make you feel like you are at an old-fashioned faire/carnival. (For reasons that are obvious if you read the book.)

Amanda: I see. No spoilers! Would you recommend any writing guides on how to write fantasy?

Emma: I would. I’m guessing you asked this because you saw me with my nose buried in a big, beautifully illustrated book called Wonderbook – The illustrated guide to creating imaginative fiction by Jeff Vandermeer. It’s useful for all writers as it deals with stuff like plotting, scene lengths, story beats, finding inspiration and so on. But most of all, it’s great for anyone who’s worldbuilding.

Amanda: Did you name Tinderbox Under Winter Stars at the start or at the end of the project?

Emma: I usually come up with the name during the writing of the story and occasionally at the start. There’s only been one time when I finished a story and still didn’t have a title, which was my current project. (A romantic comedy set on a British island, which is right now called Greengage Plots.) I love naming stories, characters, and anything else that needs a name. So the fact that I’m still hesitating over the name of this rom com is weird.

Tinderbox Under Winter Stars however, came to me early on in the project as I plotted scenes taking place at night on a wintry continent. Then I nailed it down when I wrote a certain scene where Nessa is on a ship, but like you said, no spoilers.

Amanda: Agreed. Well then, thanks for the chat. Let’s go have some tea.

Emma: Sure, right after I thank I Heart Lesfic for sharing this interview with their readers and for letting me host a giveaway for the two Tinderbox Tales books. I’m very grateful. Right, tea time!


The Tinderbox Tales: Book 2
by Emma Sterner-Radley

Release date: April 2018
Romance / Fantasy

Lady Elisandrine “Elise” Falk and Nessa Clay have escaped the clutches of the Queen of Arclid. They’ve taken on new identities as a married couple and boarded a ship north, to Storsund, a land of secret societies, snow-packed cities, and steam trains.

As they settle in and make friends – some more comically annoying than others – Nessa and Elise must ask themselves if they’re truly safe under these new winter stars.

A corrupt organisation called Joiners Square stalks the streets and is rumoured to consort with the wicked Queen. Checking every shadow, Elise and Nessa have to decide what is a real threat and what is merely paranoia.

Both Elise and Nessa must overcome their personal issues and challenge themselves. Because now, it is not only their fates that hang in the balance, but also that of two nations.




Emma Sterner-Radley spent far too much time hopping from subject to subject at university, back in her native country of Sweden. One day, she finally emerged with a degree in Library and Information Science. She thought libraries were her thing because she wanted to work with books, and being an author was just an impossible dream, right? Wrong. She’s now a writer and a publisher. (But still a librarian at heart, too.) She lives with her wife and two cats in England. She spends her free time writing, reading, daydreaming, working out, and watching whichever television show has the most lesbian subtext at the time. She’s published Making a Tinderbox, Life Pushes You Along, Long Distance Coffee, and Coffee and Conclusions.



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Enter here for a chance to win 

Book 1 & 2 in The Tinderbox Tales

All you need to do is fill in your email, check the box confirming you aren’t a robot, and hit enter.

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    E-copy of Book 1 & Book 2 of The Tinderbox Tales

Enter to #win #lesfic fantasy series by Emma Sterner-Radley



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Thanks so much for stopping by today.

Best of luck to everyone who enters the giveaway.


About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast (lesbianswhowrite.com) with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (iheartlesfic.com), a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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1 Response to A. E. Radley interviews Emma Sterner-Radley

  1. Debbie Breytenbach says:

    Awesome interview, thanks

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