E.M. Anderson joins The Spotlight this week to chat about their contemporary fantasy, The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher

Author Name: E.M. Anderson/E (she/they)

Book Title: The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher

Book Genre: Adult Contemporary Fantasy

Release Date: April 21, 2023

Publisher: Hansen House Books

Welcome, E! How would you describe The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher?

Armed with moxie & knitting needles, a geriatric-turned-Chosen-One plans to take down a sorcerer killing knights like her long-dead son—until abuse in the ranks makes her question who needs saving.

What sparked the idea for this book?

The idea for this book came from a tweet many people may be familiar with! Author Carrie Ann DiRisio runs a Twitter account called Brooding YA Hero (@BroodingYAHero), which tweeted this a few years back:

It’s amazing how many prophecies  involve teens. You’d think they’d pick more emotionally stable people, with more free time. Like grandmas.

I saved that tweet to my writing inspo folder on my laptop and held onto it. When I scrolled through the folder later on in need of a new idea, that’s the idea that leapt out to me!

(I later connected with Carrie on Twitter for totally unrelated reasons, so it was awesome to later mention my book and find out she ran the account that inspired the whole thing.)

How long did it take for you to write the book?

Normally, I draft a book in a few months, but I drafted Remarkable Retirement over the course of a year and a half as part of a last man standing-style writing contest! It was written between early 2017 and mid 2018 and revised several times between late 2018 and early 2020.

What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?

I love love love drafting! Most of my friends can’t stand it, because the first draft is a dumpsterfire. But that’s exactly what I love about it. The story is all shiny and new and exciting, and there’s no pressure to be good.

Unfortunately, that means I find revising really tough. It’s like, wait, the writing has to be good now?? I have to fill in these plot holes?? Things have to make sense?? Oh NO.

I also love when beta readers react to an early draft exactly the way I’m hoping readers will react. Sometimes that means lovely comments about how beautiful the writing is or how soft the found family is or whatever. Other times it means getting yelled at. Which I also enjoy in this context.

If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher?

I’ve heard many people lament the lack of older main characters in fiction in general and in fantasy in particular, so the main reason is that Edna’s an 83-year-old knitting enthusiast who’s also the Chosen One!

I also recommend it because while the premise is funny, the story balances a healthy dose angst and unresolved trauma with hope and comfort.

And for the more reluctant fantasy reader, I recommend it because while it has a lot of the usual fantastical elements—a Chosen One, a quest, a magic sword, dragons—it also has a contemporary setting rather than a high fantasy or secondary world setting. It’s just that magic exists openly in this version of the real world.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

In general, I hope this will be a comfort book. Maybe that’s sort of weird to say because it has dragons and talks about physical abuse, but I don’t know, that’s my hope for my books in general. Like, yes, there’s a lot of angst, and virtually every character has unresolved trauma and seriously needs some therapy. But there’s also found family and softness and kindness, and people working through their trauma or even just learning they can work through their trauma instead of doing whatever they’ve been doing. So I really hope this book will be a comfort to people.

What about the writing/editing/publishing process has been the most surprising to you so far?

You always hear about how slowly publishing moves. So working with a small press, the timeline from offer to publication—just barely a year!—was shocking.

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

As almost anyone who knows anything about me can tell you: I love birds and I love plants! I’m a casual birder, I like to garden and tend to my office and houseplants, and I frequently fuck off for long walks in the woods, because what am I if not three trees in a trench coat. I also casually and infrequently paint and play piano, and I want to learn the Irish flute (but it’d be great if I had somewhere to practice where my partner wouldn’t have to hear me screeching lmao).

Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.

I recently signed with agent Keir Alekseii for a contemporary fantasy starring another elderly protagonist! The Many Buried Things of Peter Shaughnessy has found family, a cemetery, a vengeful spirit, and a tired immortal who just wants to die. This one leans harder into the contemporary than the fantasy and is a lot sadder than Remarkable Retirement, probably because it’s sad on purpose.

(Remarkable Retirement was meant to be—and really is—humorous, but it accidentally got to be about anger and grief and unresolved trauma.)

Buried Things is also a lot gayer than Remarkable Retirement, since it centers a gay, demisexual old man cursed with immortality and has a cast of mostly queer characters.

I’ve also been working on a cozy mystery fantasy, again starring an older queer character because I can’t be stopped. So we’ll see how this goes. There’s a mystery element to Buried Things, but that was the hardest part for me to write, and it wasn’t even like a MYSTERY mystery. Like I don’t think anyone would actually classify the book as a mystery, because the mystery element isn’t there to that extent. So plotting this new thing has been tough, but it’s fun to try something new—and it has all the usual things I love about my own books, like found family and grumpy old people.

Where can readers find you?

For however long Twitter is around, I’m on Twitter at @elizmanderson. (I use the same handle on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram but am less active there.) Readers can also sign up for my newsletter and find additional links on my Linktree.

I’m having an in-person book launch at Gathering Volumes in Perrysburg, Ohio, on release day, and I’m also having a virtual book launch a few days later on April 24 at 7:30p.m. EST. Keep an eye on my Twitter and Linktree for details!

Thank you, E! The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher is available for pre-order.

In which a geriatric-turned-Chosen-One sets out to take down a sorcerer killing knights like her long-dead son- until abuse in the ranks makes her question who needs saving.

When you’re a geriatric armed with nothing but gumption and knitting needles, stopping a sorcerer from wiping out an entire dragon-fighting organization is a tall order. No one understands why 83-year-old Edna Fisher is the Chosen One, destined to save the Knights from a dragon-riding sorcerer bent on their destruction. After all, Edna has never handled a magical weapon, faced down a dragon, or cast a spell. And everyone knows the Council of Wizards always chooses a teenager—like the vengeful girl ready to snatch Edna’s destiny from under her nose.

Still, Edna leaps at the chance to leave the nursing home. With her son long dead in the Knights’ service, she’s determined to save dragon-fighters like him and to ensure other mothers don’t suffer the same loss she did. But as Edna learns about the abuse in the ranks and the sorcerer’s history as a Knight, she questions if it’s really the sorcerer that needs stopping—or the Knights she’s trying to save.