Emma Garriott is capturing attention as an up-and-coming author at the age of just 22 following the publishing of her first book, Branded.
Garriott, a resident of Saltair during her youth, recently appeared at the Chemainus Library to read from Branded and talk about the book.
“It was lovely, had lots of really good questions,” she said of the session. “I expected to have more material to perform if I needed to. It was one of the best events I’ve done.
“Most of the questions were in regard to being an author.”
Branded was released in May. She was living in Prince George at the time, but came back to the Island in August to Port MacNeill.
“I do a bunch of stuff,” said Garriott, nee Grant. “Being an author is one of them. Sometimes I do get people saying, ‘you’re so young.’ I’ve been writing books since I was 12 years old.”
Branded is her first published work, but Garriott said it’s actually “like the ninth-10th book I’ve written.”
She hopes to have more published in the near future now that she’s broken the ice.
Garriott is also a songwriter, singer, social work scholar and volunteer, with a heart for social justice issues. A faith in God and passion for listening to and sharing with people from all walks of life inspires her song and story writing, along with experiences from her upbringing.
“I grew up very protected in a very conservative, religious family,” she said. “I wanted to make a difference in the world.”
Garriott was born in Saskatoon, but moved around quite a bit during her early years and settled for the longest period of nearly 10 years in Saltair. She graduated from Ladysmith Secondary School in 2013 and went to Surrey to study music.
“I wanted to be a professional recording artist,” Garriott noted.
But her other passions also emerged.
“I started doing work with homeless people when I was living in Surrey,” Garriott added.
That influenced much of her material for songwriting and writing. She eventually left music to study social work.
Garriott broadened her horizons at Pacific Life Bible College in Surrey and the College of New Caledonia in Prince George. She even went tree-planting for a while between colleges.
“I’m not very good at math,” she quipped. “When it comes to creative, interpersonal stuff, I’m pretty good.”
Garriott’s been married to her high school sweetheart Caleb for three years and just beginning to realize her full potential as an author.
“I’ve always had a book I’m writing, a book I’m typing up and a book I’m editing,” she said.
“My schoolwork was mostly viewed as a hindrance. When it came to writing it did come very naturally. I wanted to tell stories and I was good at telling stories through pen and paper.
“I was a very prolific reader before I became a prolific writer,” Garriott added.
She finished writing Branded at the age of 17 and has since revised it before publication.
“So far everything’s been positive as far as feedback’s concerned,” Garriott indicated. “Some people tell me my writing’s a bit fast-paced. They don’t get a breather between the action. I enjoy action.”
She bases the novel, categorized as religious fiction, partly on her own personal experiences with the character Mercy whom she says is “a girl who was overprotected which was my case and was learning to develop convictions that were apart from her family and find her own identity.”
The synopsis of Branded, a fantasy novel set in the world of Tarlen, reads as follows: “after an embarrassing mishap during her first battle and the death of her benevolent eldest brother in a later one, Mercy discovers an ugly side to her two other brothers involving an enemy soldier tortured nearly to death. Growing up in the royal family Mercy was not familiar with the true happenings in Tarlen and among the rebels which Raliph reveals to her. A spoiled, antipathetic princess who hoped only for fame and glory, Mercy is forced to think differently after her encounter with the rebel soldier. With her new insight into the true horrors of war, Mercy decides to put an end to it, in a different way than what her brothers had in mind, but is not only opposed by the enemy rebel army, but also by those in her own family.”
Son of Garcel, the story of the son of a main character in Branded, is in the works as the second book in the Tarlen Realms series.