E. M. Anderson talks cozy fantasy and the WriteHive Mentorship Program

"I like to be reminded that there is still good in the world."
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Scifipulse recently had the privilege of interviewing E. M. Anderson. They are a queer, neurodivergent writer whose work has appeared in Wyldblood Press’s From The Depths: A Fantasy Anthology. As well as SJ Whitby‘s Awakenings: A Cute Mutants Anthology, and Dark Horses: The Magazine of Weird Fiction. Anderson is the author of The Remarkable Retirement of Edna Fisher and the upcoming The Keeper of Lonely Spirits. During this interview they discuss the cozy fantasy genre, their work for the WriteHive Mentorship Program and who would win a fantasy bake off.

 

SFP: What made you want to be a writer?

 

E. M. Anderson: My grandfather was a writer, and I come from a very bookish family. I’ve always loved books, but all I remember about making the transition from reader to writer is that it happened a long time ago, after years of making up and acting out stories with my toys.

 

SFP: What is it about the cozy fantasy genre that inspires you?

 

E. M. Anderson: I like the deeply interpersonal nature of cozy fantasy. In general, its core is community/interpersonal connection, which is something that can be hard to center in real life these days. On one hand, in some ways we’re more connected than we’ve ever been. On the other hand, the constant grind of capitalism, the climate crisis, multiple ongoing genocides, and a pandemic have made us very disconnected. Additionally, there’s a feeling of hopelessness, I think, about the scale of the world’s problems compared to the average person’s power. Cozy fantasy reminds me that I can still make the world a better place, even if it’s in a small way. Even if it’s by doing little acts of good, like joining a meal train or donating to an evacuation fund, small things that create and sustain and protect community.

 

SFP: Following on from that question, do you think that cozy fantasy can be cathartic for traumatised people or can dark and gritty art serve the same purpose?

 

E. M. Anderson: I know people who find dark and gritty art cathartic. I am not one of them. I like to be reminded that there is still good in this world, that I can do good if only on a small scale.

Some cozy fantasy is fluff and escapism more than catharsis, and that’s okay, too. Sometimes you need a brief reprieve from the world before you can get back to work making it better.

 

SFP: Please can you tell us about your work with the WriteHive Mentorship Program?

 

E. M. Anderson: As an unagented author, I benefited from a mentorship as part of Author Mentor Match. When I saw the call for mentor applications for the WriteHive Mentorship Program, I was delighted to have an opportunity to pay it forward—and then immediately panicked when the time came to read through mentee submissions like “oh god I do not have time for this do I??” Luckily, WriteHive provides a mentor Discord, which allows us newbies to connect with old hands who can give us perspective and advice.

I have a fantastic mentee, Kathleen, whose response to my very, very long edit letter was “omg this is great, I have so many ideas already!” so it’s been a great experience. I enjoyed her historical folkloric fantasy so much, and I know the right agent is going to absolutely fall in love with it.

 

SFP: Following on from that question, what would be your advice for aspiring writers?

 

E. M. Anderson: Find your people! Admittedly, this can be more difficult than ever since the implosion of Writing Twitter—but having a good writing community is so important. Not only for concrete things like beta readers, but simply to have people to cheer and commiserate with. As Mr. Rogers said, look for the helpers. Find people who build their community up rather than tearing it down and go from there.

 

SFP: Please would you tell us a bit about your upcoming book The Keeper of Lonely Spirits?

 

E. M. Anderson: The Keeper of Lonely Spirits is an adult cozy fantasy releasing with Mira Books in 2025. Here’s the pitch:

An old man cursed with immortality hunts ghosts rather than making mortal friends who will die one day. When the residents of a small Ohio town beset by a vengeful spirit adopt him as their own, he must choose: leave to protect his heart, or stay to save their lives?

It’s very gay and chock full of found family, and it’s my love letter to Northwest Ohio, trees, and soft old men.

 

SFP: Which writers are you inspired by?

 

E. M. Anderson: Sangu Mandanna, TJ Klune, SJ Whitby, and Kamilah Cole.

 

SFP: And finally, who would win a bake off between Crowley from Good Omens, Loki from the MCU, Daemon Targaryen from House of the Dragon and Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle?

 

E. M. Anderson: Howl is winning until Crowley uses a small miracle to very, very subtly change the color of his hair, at which point Howl has an absolute temper tantrum that runs out the clock. In the audience, Sophie is torn between a desire to kick Crowley’s ass and laughing her butt off. Loki is found to have cheated using several clones to help with the baking and is disqualified right as he’s about to take the trophy. Much to his own consternation, Crowley wins despite the fact that he got here and went “…baking? thanks, no, leave it to the angel” and focused on messing up the other contestants. But he finished the challenge and didn’t get caught cheating. Aziraphale is very proud of him. He is annoyed by this.

Admittedly I left Daemon Targaryen out of these calculations because I’m unfamiliar with House of the Dragon, but since that’s a Game of Thrones thing I’m going to say Daemon gets distracted either by getting murdered or trying to steal a throne really early into the contest, and the rest of my vision stands.

 

Scifipulse would like to extend our most heartfelt thanks and warmest best wishes to E. M. Anderson for so graciously taking the time to answer our questions.

 

E’s website: author e.m. anderson (elizmanderson.com)

 

Their Facebook: E.M.Anderson | Facebook

 

Their Bluesky: E.M. Anderson (@elizmanderson.bsky.social) — Bluesky

 

Their Tumblr: @elizmanderson on Tumblr

 

Check out our Kalynn Bayron interview here

 

Check out our Kaia Sonderby interview here

Autistic writer who loves sci-fi, cosplay and poetry. Actor with Theatre of the Senses. He/him.
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