Emily A. Duncan is a youth services librarian from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. She lives with a small cat who spends her days knocking every book in the apartment of its shelf. The cat, that is, not Emily, because she really wishes the books would stay on their shelves. She has a BA in English Literature from Malone University and an MLIS from Kent State University. She spends her free time playing Dungeons and Dragons and copious amounts of video games.
I have a BA in English Lit., (my undergrad honors thesis was rewriting Dracula with a feminist angle.) and have been a critique partner for authors with published books already under their belts. I’ve also had the priceless experience of utterly failing in the query trenches with a novel and learning how to reevaluate, try again, and ultimately sign with the agent at the very top of my list. And I’ve read more high fantasy novels than most people and can catch cliches from a mile away
I’m passionate about high fantasy and would love to mentor a writer who wants to pursue a career in writing within that genre, but I’m open to most speculative fiction. I am very good at calling plot beats but I really like to be surprised, so surprise me!
High fantasy is my life’s blood and I always want more innovative stories in the genre. I also love historical fantasy and soft science fiction (preferably space operas).
I’m drawn to dark stories that have an element of self-awareness. It is very hard to go too dark for me, though I’m not fond of worlds where the darkness is only shown through violence against women. Give me shadows and monsters and protagonists doing bad things, please.
My one true passion is villains (of every form and ilk) and I am especially fond of villains as romantic interests (think the Darkling from Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy). I love villain origin stories, but most especially if those villains are girls. Antiheroines and unlikable female protagonists are also favorites of mine.
I adore books that toy with the idea of morality and books that are introspective about religion, especially if they’re fantasy.
I’m most fond of Eastern European narratives but I love all forms of second world fantasy.
I love imaginative magic systems. Magic twisted into new and never before used ways. I love novels that pose a heavy price on their magic.
Other things I like are found family stories, hate-to-love romance (though romance is not a must), heavily political fantasy, revenge plots, monsters, the villain winning, Gothics, and things that are just plain weird.
Ultimately though, I’m drawn to books with distinctive voices.
There are exceptions to all of these, so I’ll never say never, but things that generally aren’t for me: secret princesses and books about royals in general, assassins, magic as an analogy for racism, elemental magic, casts of characters who are all entirely Good People, dystopian fantasy, western fairy tale retellings, shape shifters, or animal-heavy books.
I’m upbeat and supportive but firm and incredibly honest. To be blunt, I’m blunt. My strengths are characters, world building, magic systems, and making stories flow organically and effortlessly. I’m here for big picture things but I can also help with smaller line edits. I like to work with in-line MS comments as well as converse through email or Skype. I’m super chatty and like talking things out, big problems and little things. Ramble at me and I will ramble back.
Someone who is open to critique and suggestions, is hard working, and is willing to go the extra mile whether it’s with research, revision, or whatever it is their book needs to make it stand out. Someone who has thick skin and willing to have open channels of communication.
Some author and book faves are: Leigh Bardugo, V. E. Schwab, Lindsay Smith, Rosamund Hodge, Laini Taylor, Roshani Chokshi, Catherynne M. Valente, Brandon Sanderson, GORMENGHAST, A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD, THE GOBLIN EMPEROR, DUNE, UPROOTED, THE OLD KINGDOM CHRONICLES.
Also Star Wars. I love Star Wars.
villain love interest! Or something like the Witcher except with ladies.