How do you pronounce your last name?
Just like Peter Pan. (No relation.)
What do the “X” and “R” stand for?
Even though I’m American and Emily is my real name, my parents also gave me a Chinese name: Pan Xiang Ru. I took the initials from that.
Can you send me an ARC?
Unfortunately, I receive very few advance reader copies, and I need them for specific purposes. But you can request one from my publisher by filling out this form.
How did you get your agent? Do you have any tips?
I queried the old-fashioned way. This is my “How I signed with my agent” post, and this is my “How to research and prepare for querying agents” post. My tips: don’t obsess over trying to speed up the process; focus on making your novel as good and done as possible. Persevere, and be patient.
Will you read my story/novel/writing sample/personal statement/query letter?
Unfortunately I have to say no. But I wish you the best of luck!
Do you think I need to study creative writing in school in order to be a writer?
Nope, not at all. I originally went to business school. And I was a writer even back then. All it takes is making the choice to write, and to work hard at finishing what you start. (I personally strive to write every day. However there are plenty of great published writers who churn out book after book who don’t write every day.)
What’s your #1 piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Read as much as possible, and read a wide variety. Push yourself outside your favorite genres—there’s a lot to be learned there. Focus on reading carefully rather than fast. Which also means rereading. The first time through a novel you’re just taking in the story and the landscape. It’s only upon rereading that you can notice the details, the seams. It’s when you’re going through it a second/third/fourth time that you can really dissect the book and figure out answers to questions like: Why is this scene so satisfying? Why does this get you all teary-eyed? What makes this character feel so real? When you figure out the techniques behind those answers, you gain new tools for carving your own stories.
What do you do aside from writing?
Practice and teach yoga. Play mandolin, piano, violin, and a few other instruments. Draw and paint and take photographs. Belt Broadway tunes and Disney songs and 90s pop in the shower. Hunt for the perfect cookie ice cream sandwich. Daydream about where I’ll travel next.