YA Feature: Introducing YA author Emma Raveling

Hey! This week on Reading Away The Days YA Feature is author of the Ondine Quartet series, Emma Raveling. Please show Emma some love by checking out the first book in the Ondine Quartet series, Whirl and show some comment love!

A little about Emma and her writing career so far:

Hi, Megan! Thanks for having me here!

I began writing as a child. I was always a voracious reader with an imagination that was constantly on overdrive. When I was around six-years-old, I decided that I would begin writing down the stories that were always spinning around in my head. My mother was very patient and gracious, always taking the time to read my silly little works and provide encouragement.

I continued to write throughout my childhood and won a few writing competitions in high school. I was fortunate to also have had wonderful teachers who provided continual encouragement. But by the time I went to college I chose a different career path. I always imagined that I would one day publish a novel, but it remained a vague dream.

Last year, I participated in NaNoWriMo for fun. I really wanted to get into the habit of writing daily and I enjoyed the process so much. I wanted to continue to write every single day. In January of 2011, I decided that this was the year I would publish. The idea of the Ondine Quartet series came to me at the end of the month, and I immediately began work on my debut novel, Whirl.

You are the author of the Ondine Quartet series and recently released the first book in the series WHIRL. Can you tell me a little about WHIRL?

Whirl is a young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance. The main character is Kendra Irisavie, a seventeen-year-old water elemental known as an ondine. For thousands of years, the water elemental world has been at war with the Aquidae, immortal and soulless demons. Kendra is raised to be a warrior, a tough fighter who has mastered numerous martial arts forms. Her life dramatically changes one night and she suddenly finds herself having to deal with a new world that forces her to question everything she has ever learned or known. The challenges she faces are not only life-threatening ones, but emotional risks of her heart as well.

Where did you get the idea for the Ondine Quartet series?

Whirl was inspired by classical music. The French composer Maurice Ravel composed a masterwork for solo piano called Gaspard de la Nuit. He based this three-movement work on a series of poems by Aloysius Bertrand.

The first movement of Ravel’s piece is entitled Ondine and is based upon the poem of the same name by Bertrand. This poem is included as the epigraph in Whirl. It not only serves as the inspiration for the series, but also becomes more relevant to the storyline as the series progresses. Based upon an old French myth, the poem is about Ondine, a water nymph who sings to a mortal man, attempting to lure him to her. Because the man is in love with a mortal woman, he rejects Ondine and her pleas to join her in ruling the water world. Heartbroken, Ondine fades away, disappearing beneath the waves.

I highly recommend Whirl readers to listen to Ravel’s Ondine. It captures the haunting essence of Bertrand’s poem, and the lyricism and power of the music immediately conjures the tragic, otherworldly image of the beautiful Ondine disappearing into the water.

How does it feel to have you novel out there for everyone to read. Of course you would be excited and a little nervous at the same time LOL. How has the feedback been from readers?

It really does feel like a dream come true and part of me still can’t believe that there are people out there reading and enjoying my story! You are right - it is both exciting and a bit nerve-wracking at the same time. Writing a novel feels like (or at least I imagine what it would feel like) having a child. You’ve spent so much time, work, effort, love, and care in creating it and then you set it free into the world. It can be difficult and hard to let it go in that way.

The feedback from readers has been amazing. I’ve received emails and messages from people saying how much they loved Kendra and the Ondine world. It thrills me when they tell me how realistic and relatable Kendra is and how they understood some of the subtle, deeper themes and issues I explore in the book. It makes all those hours of sweat and hard work worth it!

The Ondine Quartet Series is an edgy urban fantasy/paranormal romance. Are these the genres you like to read yourself? If so what are some of your fave books?

Yes. I do enjoy reading urban fantasy, though I am a very eclectic reader and so my reading tastes span a wide variety of genres. My favorite urban fantasy authors include Ilona Andrews, Jeanine Frost, and Stacia Kane. Besides urban fantasy, I also enjoy epic fantasy and sci-fi, horror, mystery, and literary fiction. Some of my all-time favorite books include Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Toni Morrison’s Beloved.
Three of my favorite Young Adult / MG books are Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, The Hunger Games, and the Harry Potter series.

Is there any other genres you would like to tackle i.e. dystopian, horror etc
Yes! Actually I’ve already begun taking notes on two other projects that I will begin once the Ondine Quartet is complete. One is another YA series, a dark fantasy with elements of horror. The other work I have in mind is an adult book that will be a sci-fi/dystopic/romance.

The next book in the series is called BILLOW. When is it released and can you tell us a little about it?

I’m currently working like crazy on Billow, and I really hope to have it done and released by the end of 2011 (fingers crossed).

Billow takes place six months after the end of Whirl. Kendra has, for the most part, adjusted to Haverleau life, but is still dealing with the aftermath of what happens in Whirl. Her relationships with her friends as well as Tristan and Julian deepen and become more complicated. A new Aquidae threat looms over Haverleau and Kendra soon finds herself in a situation that will drastically alter the course of her life.

Why should we read your book, WHIRL?

I think Whirl provides a new world of water elementals that hasn’t been seen before. If you like kickass girls, rich fantasy, gritty and exciting action, and a subtle simmering romance that promises to become an epic love story, Whirl is definitely for you.

Emma's Book History

Favourite book as child and why?

This would have to be a tie between EB White’s Charlotte’s Web and the entire Encyclopedia Brown mystery series.

Charlotte’s Web was the first book to provoke an emotional response in me as a reader. It was the first time I ever cried over a book, and perhaps the first time that I really understood the power of words.

The Encyclopedia Brown series got me hooked onto mysteries. I loved the idea of a boy close to my age who was a genius at solving problems. I always pitted myself against the stories, trying to figure out the solution before Encyclopedia Brown did. LOL.

*Favourite book as a teenager and why?

This is a difficult one to answer. As a teenager, I was very serious and was obsessed with literary fiction. There weren’t a lot of YA books at that time (Harry Potter and Twilight didn’t come out until I’d already left college) and so I was reading quite a few adult books.

One YA book I read and loved as a freshman in high school was JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. More than the story itself, what captivated me was the voice of the protagonist. I’d never come across a character quite like that before and his world viewpoint left a striking impression.

*Favourite book you have read this year and why?

That would have to be City of Ghosts, the third book in Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series. It was so emotionally powerful and an absolutely compelling read. I love how she’s not afraid to really get gritty, messy, and screwed up both with her main characters and world. It’s bold and unapologetic writing. I like that.

*A book that has taught you a lesson and why?

The Harry Potter series. It taught me that books and stories have the power to contain a magic that resonates with readers of any age.

*An author/book you would recommend my readers check out?

I highly recommend Cinda Williams Chima’s works. She has two YA fantasy series - the Heir Chronicles and the Seven Realms. Both are exciting, imaginative, and wonderfully written.

Thanks to Emma for the awesome interview.


  1. Just downloaded it. I always like a kickass female character.. The book sounds really good.

  2. Thank you so much for having me here, Megan! It was so much fun answering your questions, especially about books.

    Christy, hope you enjoy Whirl!