Emma K. Ohland

Emma K. Ohland (she/they) is an author who has been telling stories since before she knew how to write them down. She grew up in the middle of a cornfield in Indiana, but her imagination often carried her away to other worlds. She graduated from Purdue University with a B.A. in English literature. She currently lives in Indiana with her partner, their cat, and their dog. Funeral Girl is her debut YA novel.

Interview

What was your favorite book when you were a child?

The Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary are the stories that developed my love for reading. I felt so connected to Ramona and her struggles that I began realizing the true power of books. I listened to the Ramona’s World audiobook every night to fall asleep, and I still have the first chapter memorized because of it!

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“I’m under absolutely no obligation to make sense to you.”—Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

My favorite authors include Tiffany D. Jackson, Alice Oseman, and Nina LaCour.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

I’ve always connected to the world through stories, even before I knew how to read. I played imaginary games and built elaborate worlds inside my head to find a place to belong. When I finally learned to read, I realized writing came along with it and couldn’t stop turning those imaginary worlds into words on a page. I want to provide a space for readers to feel like they belong and represent the vast range and emotions of the human experience, particularly for queer readers and queer experiences.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Develop an absolute love for writing before you worry about all the technical things like being “good,” publishing, and following certain structures. Love it first and foremost and savor the time where it’s not work, it’s just pure joy. That foundation is key to one day turning it into work, and it’s also going to make you better the more you write things you love. Then, as you become more serious about the publishing process, finish something! Seriously! Write a complete draft to prove to yourself that you can. It’s so much easier to fix words that already exist than fill out a completely blank page. I promise.