Emily Houghton is an Essex girl at heart, but now spends most of her time between London and Suffolk. Growing up, Emily was always very creative but put her dreams aside to focus on academia, graduating from Bristol University with a first in Biological Sciences. She then entered the corporate world, spending seven years working in digital product management at Tesco and Barclays. It was during a sabbatical from work, whilst she was travelling around India that her first book was born and the first draft is still written on her phone!
After a whirlwind few months, Emily quit her corporate job to live her dream of writing full time. A true Gemini at heart, she’s got many interests and is a trained spin and yoga teacher. She has a curiosity for life and has a passion for all things well-being, one day hoping to create her own retreat space with a lot of dogs! Her writing, whilst centering around love stories, often touches on deeper emotional themes such as self-love, healing and the power of finding yourself.
How long have you been writing for?
I’ve been writing on and off my entire life. When I was younger I would fill notebooks with poems and short stories. I remember one about a mouse who used to do housekeeping for the royal family and all he wanted was to escape to freedom - ridiculous but it sticks out in my mind so clearly! I think I have always have had characters floating around in my head.
How do you start writing a book / what’s your process?
Well BEFORE I SAW YOU is actually the first book I’ve ever managed to complete! Every other time I tried I would get stuck, or distracted or lose momentum. Maybe the time wasn’t right, or maybe I didn’t have the headspace to fully dive into it. That’s definitely something I’ve found to be critical for me when writing - I need to remove as many distractions as possible and allow my mind to feel free from as many thoughts as I can.
With everything I write though the first thing that usually comes through is the dialogue between characters. I hear the conversations in my mind and from that they simple grow into fully formed people. Snippets of dialogue will pop in and I have to write it down immediately - hence why I spend most of my time writing on my phone!
Another really important part of the process for me is writing the pitch. The one line or short paragraph that explains what the story is - the hook, why it’s important and what issue is it going to tackle. Once that’s clear I then tend to write a plot outline and from there start filling in the gaps!
What inspired you to change your career completely?
I had been wanting to break away from my corporate career for a while and at one point I was toying with the idea of going full time into fitness. When I realised that wasn’t exactly the path I wanted to go down I took a 5 month sabbatical to go travelling. It was something I’d never done before and thought - if not now then when! It was there that the majority of the book was written and when I returned back home I just knew in my gut that if writing was what I wanted to do I needed to commit fully to it. I needed to be able to create that space in my mind and allow my creativity to flow fully without the distractions and responsibility of a full time job. I am extremely fortunate that I was able to leave and it was an incredibly scary step but I just didn’t fit into that world anymore. Everything in my body was telling me to go and I simply couldn’t ignore it.
What are three of your favourite books?
I would be a liar if I didn’t say the ENTIRE Harry Potter series but if I had to chose one it would be The Half Blood Prince. I am a big HP geek and proud!
A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara. Honestly I don’t think I’ve cried so much reading anything in my life before. It took a piece of my soul with it when I finished. So powerful.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman. So clever and I completely fell in love with the characters. What a beautiful piece of story telling!
Do you have a favourite poem?
Yes - The Guest House by Rumi. So simple but incredibly powerful.
What, apart from writing, do you love to do?
I am completely and totally obsessed with dogs - I don’t know if I’ve made that clear enough ha! One day I dream of rescuing pups in need and I am destined to be a dog mamma for sure.
I am very passionate about health and fitness and when I’m not writing I am usually sweating it out in a spin studio or Barry’s Bootcamp! I love yoga too and this practice along with meditation is extremely important for my creative flow.
My friends and family are extremely important to me and so spending quality time with them is also key to my happiness. Usually it involves drinking copious amounts of tea and making food!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by extremely inspiring people and incredible teachers who have been instrumental in my own growth and development. I have so many phrases and pieces of advice written all over the place but one that resonates with me most at the moment is 'what's meant for you will never miss you, what misses you was never meant for you'.