Emily Lloyd-Jones

Author of: The Bone Houses


Emily Lloyd-Jones grew up on a vineyard in rural Oregon, where she played in evergreen forests and learned to fear sheep. After graduating from Western Oregon University with an English degree, she enrolled in the publishing program at Rosemont College just outside of Philadelphia. She currently resides in Northern California, working as the children's buyer for Gallery Bookshop by day and writing by night. She is the author of Illusive, Deceptive, The Hearts We Sold, and The Bone Houses.

She is represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

To learn more about Emily, connect with her online:

Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Website


+ What can readers expect from THE BONE HOUSES that they wouldn't gather from reading the summary?

ELJ: One of the main characters is disabled! Ellis, my lovely mapmaker, deals with chronic pain due to an old injury that never truly healed. I’ve so rarely seen depictions of chronic pain in fantasy literature and it was important to me to write that experience.

+ I loved your unique take on zombies! How early in the writing process did you come up with the term "bone houses"? Also, at what point did you decide on the title for the book?

ELJ: It was early in the outlining process that I came upon the term “bone house.” I found it on a list of old English slang. A “bone house” was the term for a corpse, and I loved the idea so much that I had to use it for my zombies. After all, people in medieval times wouldn’t have the same cultural experience with the risen dead, so it made sense to have a different term for them. When I saved that first outline, I did so as “TBH” (The Bone Houses) and never looked back.

+ The undead goat is such an interesting character. Can you take a minute to describe her and your inspiration behind writing her?

ELJ: The Bone Goat is my favorite. She is one of those characters I loved writing because she brought light-hearted humor into every scene. I grew up on a farm, so I have some experience with being around animals. I never raised goats myself, but I knew several people who did—and goats are among the most stubborn, loyal, and silly animals in existence. I did initially toy with the idea of making the undead animal sidekick a sheep (as I have more experience with them), but I decided a goat would be more believable. Quite frankly, goats are far smarter and could realistically fight a zombie if they were so inclined.

+ As a plotter, can you walk us through your plotting process for THE BONE HOUSES (format, iterations, etc)? How much did the final story deviate from your initial plot?

ELJ: My plotting process tends to be a scattering of questions that usually start and end with character. Who is this person? What do they want? What is their deepest fear? I forget who said it, but I once read that character development is a matter of a character making a choice at the end of the novel that they wouldn’t have made at the beginning, and I try to incorporate that idea of choice into the ending of every novel I write.

As for outlining the plot, I need to know the ending before I can start writing. It’s like seeing the destination on a map—I know where I’ll end up, even if sometimes the process to get there is murky.

This particular book went through a few different versions—originally, Ryn’s whole family went on the journey with her, but that just wasn’t feasible in terms of juggling characters. But the core of the story—the gravedigger looking to end an undead curse and the mapmaker who wanted to find his past—always remained the same.

+ Which character came first Ellis or Ryn? Which was more challenging to write?

ELJ: Ryn came first. Her existence began as a quip, believe it or not. I was talking with a friend about potential apocalyptic scenarios (as writers tend to do) and said something along the lines of, “And who is going to be the hardest hit when the zombies come? Funeral home directors.” And we both laughed—but that idea stayed with me. So when it came time to outline my own zombie novel, I knew I wanted to tell it from the perspective of someone whose entire career would be upended by the risen dead.

As for who was more challenging to write, both characters had their moments—but I would have to say Ryn again. I relate to Ellis more, so his head was easier to slip into. He and I are quiet, observant, and not the most physical of people. Whereas Ryn is outspoken, confident in herself, and can dismember a corpse with just a few blows. It took some time to get into that mindset.

+ How has working at a book store affected how / what you write? What is your biggest takeaway from your job that helped you along your publishing journey?

ELJ: Working at a bookshop taught me so much. It was a fascinating experience because not only did I read constantly but also, I was reading widely, in genres I’d never picked up before. But mostly, working there reinforced to me why people read the books they do: because of the emotions involved. Whether it’s learning about conspiracy theories or flying in a space ship or feeling the rush of a happily ever after—people read to feel. They read for connection. That’s why I think I’ve become more of a character-focused writer in my career, because emotionally connecting with characters is absolutely so important.

+ Several of your last pieces of work have been within the horror / paranormal genres. Have you always been drawn to these genres and what inspires you to continue writing in them?

ELJ: I always laugh when people ask me what drew me to writing horror, because the truth is I stumbled into it. I’m actually a total wuss: I don’t watch scary films, I don’t read straight-up horror, and I have yet to walk through a haunted house with my eyes open. But something did draw me to adding some elements of horror into my books, and I think it has to do with writing for young adults. To be a teenager is to live through a time of transition. It’s to be in-between childhood and adulthood, but never quite one or the other. And let’s face it: change is terrifying. Making those fears manifest into actual monsters seemed like the obvious metaphor. After all, monsters can be slain.

+ What is the last book that you've read that you would rate 5/5 stars?

ELJ: I am currently in the midst of reading A TREASON OF THORNS by Laura E. Weymouth. Her writing is so atmospheric—this is the kind of lush fantasy that I want to wrap myself up inside. As for books that haven’t released yet, I was lucky enough to read THE STARS WE STEAL by Alexa Donne and would highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys science fiction or romance.

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