Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Emily Maroutian is co-founder of The Writer's Mafia, a writing website for young writers. She and her partner, Jenna Peak, launched www.writersmafia.org in February 2007 with the visionary idea of creating a much-needed haven and support group for burgeoning Gen Y writers.
Emily says that some call her an 'old soul', and others call her a 'free spirit', and on her website she is also known as "West." Born in Yerevan, Armenia, this twenty-two year old writer has already done a lot with her life.
Emily began writing poetry and short stories at the age of twelve. At the age of eighteen she began to write her first book, Disconnected. After experiencing a personal tragedy she grieved through writing. By nineteen she was a published author and had begun work on her clothing line, False Idol Clothing. She later majored in Philosophy and Religious Studies in college.
Now, Emily adds her new website, The Writer's Mafia, to her long list of accomplishments. She and Jenna Peak, a.k.a. Martini, make a dynamic team.
Jenna was born in Glendale, CA on Halloween, 1984. She is the co-founder of The Writers Mafia, and is an aspiring screenwriter, producer, and actress. She is also co-founder and co-owner of Burned Alive Entertainment, a new LA-based Production Company currently working on developing internal screenplays and expanding into other realms of entertainment.
Jenna is also very involved in humanitarian efforts, which include supporting Amnesty International, The Human Rights Campaign, iAbolish, and Save Darfur.Org.
Join us as we talk to Emily about The Writer's Mafia, her accomplishments, and learn why these two young writers will be the ones to watch in the future. With their drive there's no telling what great things are in store!
WOW: Congratulations on your new launch of www.writersmafia.org! What inspired you to start your website?
Emily: Thank you very much we’re very proud of our organization. The Writers Mafia can be defined with our slogan. Create. Influence. Change. We believe that if we can get enough creative and intelligent people from our generation who can influence, then we can start the process of change. Our generation is thought of as stupid, whiny, spoiled brats. I see it every time I turn on MTV. This is why I stopped watching it. Most of their shows portray us as greedy, vacant, bored and lazy. That ends up influencing this generation. They mimic it, thinking that is the way they should behave. It justifies and perpetuates the behavior. So we are determined to change the influence and therefore change the world. We’re not just tomorrow, we’re today.
WOW: Yes, it's true... TV has a way of sucking the writer right out of you! I had to curb my appetite as well, and now, I barely watch it at all. But that has a lot to do with our website... it pretty much keeps me busy full time. I'm sure it's the same with you and Jenna!
I know that working with a partner requires a delicate balance of business, friendship, and compromise. How do you manage to maintain a healthy working relationship with your partner?
Emily: Jen and I have known each other since we were eight. We went to the same elementary, middle school, high school and even college. We were writing partners in high school where we wrote many awful screenplays together that hopefully will never resurface. We partnered up on many projects and we worked well together on everything we did.
The most important thing to me is that she believes in me and she is very supportive of everything I do. She balances me out and I love sharing ideas with her. We empower and inspire each other every day.
We always make sure to include each other on all decisions and we work on communication every day.
WOW: I think everyone can learn from that. It's what makes a partnership successful. So, how does The Writer's Mafia differ from other websites?
Emily: We encourage, empower and offer support, resources and opportunities. We offer amazing opportunities for young Gen Y writers to get published. We are currently doing a project titled, Essays from My Generation. We’re collecting essays on topics that range from violence in schools to sex to underage alcohol addiction to gender roles seen through the eyes of our generation. They are all personal stories, with factual statistical data along with opinions and beliefs. It’s all coming from the heart and soul of each writer. It is designed to wake up this generation and to show them that they are not victims of anything or anyone. The goal is to empower, first and foremost.
WOW: Do you accept submissions to other projects as well, or in general?
Emily: Absolutely, we are always accepting submissions on articles. Each project however has a submission start and end date so we don’t accept anything outside of that time frame.
We will, in the near future, also have projects for a book of poetry, short stories and a political book titled “Banned Thoughts: A Generation Uncensored.”
WOW: I also noticed on www.writersmafia.org you have a section called, “Writing Wrongs.” Can you tell our readers what this is about and why it is important?
Emily: Writing Wrongs is an op/ed blog about everything that is happening in the world. It’s a place to both educate other young people on what is happening and to blow off some steam. We’re currently looking for passionate writers who want to write their opinions and observations about what’s going on around them and in the world.
Writing Wrongs is written by us, for us. Every topic that is written about is important because it influences our generation. It is informative, sometimes very funny but always thought provoking.
WOW: Emily, in your opinion, what do you see as a trend with the Gen Y submissions?
Emily: A lot of the submissions we receive are very dark. Most of the poetry we read on a daily basis only talks about pain. There seems to be a lot of struggling and suffering. Most people we come across are into poetry. It was staggering to us how many of the writers we spoke to on a daily basis wrote poetry. Some people think poetry is dead but it is very much alive in Gen Y.
Our generation is unbelievably intelligent and talented. From what we’ve seen just by a fraction of the submissions we’ve received there is so much potential and a strong need to be heard. I think most of these writers don’t know what to do with what they have. Unfortunately that leaves them vulnerable to some of the scammers out there. We want them to know that they have a place that not only believes in them but is fighting for their right to be heard.
WOW: So, to avoid scammers, what kind of markets do you suggest young writers submit to?
Emily: We’re trying to create that market. We want to be that market that they know will listen to them, encourage them and give them a chance. They will not be turned away because of inexperience or their young age. Other places don’t have the time or the patience to deal with young writers, that’s where we come in. We will work with each individual writer on a one to one basis if needed.
WOW: That's great, and you'd be the one to do it, considering your accomplishments. You had your first book published when you were only 19! What was your book about?
Emily: I wrote my first book, Disconnected, when I was eighteen. It’s a psychological character study. It focuses on a seventeen-year-old isolated boy named Devon Wilkins who is very disenchanted by his life. It delves deep into his conscience to reveal all the insanity that rages through his mind on a daily basis. The book is in journal format and it follows Devon on his daily quest to find meaning and inspiration in a world he believes to be fake and worthless. How he sees things is a reflection of him and how you see him is a reflection of you.
WOW: You must have been excited when you first saw Disconnected in print! How did being published make you feel?
Emily: Originally when the book was published I didn’t feel any excitement or pride. It was about a year later that I even started to like my own book. I know that seems odd but when I was writing the book I was grieving and it all just spilled out. It wasn’t until the grieving process was over that I actually saw it as something completely separate from what I was going through. I guess you can say I had to disconnect myself from it to really appreciate it.
WOW: I think it was part of your healing process, and something you needed to do to get where you are today... So, besides your fantastic website, what projects are you currently working on?
Emily: I’m currently writing my second book titled, Excuse Me Sir; Have You Seen God? The first one was psychological and this one is philosophical. It focuses on a family that goes through an awful tragedy. The story is told through the eyes of an eleven year old boy who not only loses faith but goes on a search to find God. This is where all of the Philosophy and Religious Studies classes come in handy.
I’m also working on my clothing company, False Idol Clothing. I just recently split from my business partner and so it’s kind of on hiatus until I can kick-start it back up.
WOW: Well, we wish you the best of luck and much success!
In closing, where do you see www.writersmafia.org headed in the future?
Emily: To space and beyond. Well, metaphorically speaking. We just launched a Writer’s Forum where writers of all ages can come together, communicate and share. We’re hoping that will become a long lasting community for all writers.
In the near future we will be holding contests for poetry and short stories where we will award the winners with prizes.
In the next three years we plan to start some form of grant program that we can award annually to a young writer.
We also plan to make Banned Thoughts: A Generation Uncensored a series which will be published annually.
There will also be a magazine and hopefully some workshops in the future.
We’re open to whatever opportunities the universe wants to throw our way. Our door is always open to suggestions, opportunities and anyone who wants to contribute or help.
WOW: Thank you Emily for a wonderful interview. I'm sure you've inspired some young writers by taking the time to talk with us. We look forward to collaborating with you in the near future.
If you haven't done so already, check out The Writer's Mafia and drop them a line! I'm sure they'd love to hear from you.