By: Sydney Ellison ‘24

Professor Emma Törzs is a professor in the English department at Macalester College, most recently teaching ENGL 150  (Introduction to Creative Writing) and ENGL 294 (Crafts of Writing: Fantasy Fiction). Outside of her instruction at Macalester she also remains a writer and translator based in Minneapolis. With a publishing history that includes work in Ploughshares, Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, and American Short Fiction, Professor Törzs is getting ready to release her debut novel, Ink Blood Sister Scribe, on May 30th in the US. I got the opportunity to ask Emma some questions about this exciting new novel, as well as the process she experienced leading all the way up to its coming release.

Ink Blood Sister Scribe is a standalone adult fantasy novel following two estranged half-sisters brought up to protect their family’s library of magic books. After a decade long of separation, one sister in Vermont, the other in Antarctica, they are reunited when their father is mysteriously killed by one of his own magical volumes. Describing the aftermath of his death, Emma writes, “Globetrotting mayhem ensues.” Törzs says the book was inspired by her own sister, friends, American singer-songwriters Moses Sumney and Joanna Newsom, the claustrophobia and isolation of the 2020 pandemic year, getting a cat, Maggie Stiefvater’s Call Down the Hawk, her own personal work as a translator, and all of her favorite fantasy tropes, as well as many more wonderful things.

In addition to discussing the project itself, I also got to pick Törzs’ brain about what it’s like to be a debut novelist and what her publishing journey was like. Törzs says it was “exciting and stressful” to balance the mental and physical workload that goes into releasing a novel, on top of the full-time commitment of working at Macalester, but says teaching was a welcome distraction. Törzs gives us a little glimpse into what she’s juggling, for example, “I have to sign 11,000 tip-in pages [signed cover pages that will be printed in the hardback] for my UK publishers, which takes about 3 hours per 1,000 signatures, so that’s 33 hours of time I’ve had to budget in the past month amidst class planning, grading, living life etc.” All that being said, Törzs says that the most challenging part of her busy schedule is not being able to having any time to write, saying, “Between work and pre-release anxiety, it’s been a long time since I’ve had the time and mental space to sink into a new project, and I miss it terribly.”

Törzs is excited for all readers of Ink Blood Sister Scribe, to enjoy her product of laborious love, hopefully enough to continue reading for whatever she writes next, as she already wades into a new project, she was even kind enough to give us a few keywords for what might be to come next. Törzs says to look out for: “loon, moon, loom, broom.” A captivating forbearance from an already inspired storyteller, it goes without saying that what Ink Blood Sister Scribe has in store for all of us will surely be a magical journey like no other.

A book launch for Emma’s book was held at Moon Palace Books on June 1, 2023. The evening featured readings from Emma, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Sally Franson, and Abbey Mei Otis. If you want to order a copy visit

And subscribe to Emma’s website to stay up to date

The Words thanks Emma Törzs for letting us talk about this exciting new release!