Watch Out with Anne Holly
SC:For the readers out there who might not know about you or your work, can you please tell them a little about yourself.
AH: I am a 32 year old mother of one young son, and a Canadian. My background is in the academic study of romance as a genre, which has now turned me to producing them, myself! My very first full length novel, Strings Attached, will be released by Wild Horse Press in e-book in May 2011 and in paperback shortly thereafter, and I am thrilled!
SC:Can you tell us a little about your upcoming release?
AH: Strings Attached is the story of a man who has experienced great loss in his life – worse than many of us can even imagine – and who then has to decide if he’s willing to break out of the protective rut he’s built to try to be happy with his life.
It takes place in northern Manitoba, in a beautiful, but frozen, community, and in Australia – a wild and untamed place. The geographical contrast mirrors the contrasts between the male lead and the female lead – the difference between wild heat and cool lushness. Landscape has always fascinated me. If you’ve ever found yourself in the exact perfect place to suit your emotions – by a calm stream when you are feeling tranquil, or in a raging storm when you are impassioned – you can understand what I mean, I think.
SC:The publishing industry is constantly changing; do you think that eBooks will one day make paperback books nonexistent?
AH:I don’t think so – at least not in my lifetime. I don’t think they are in competition, really. They just provide different products for different needs. Sometimes, it is more convenient to read one way or the other. And secondhand paperbacks will always be in style, I think. In the long run, though, anything that keeps people reading is good for business. Really, we are all working together, right?
SC:Which do you prefer eBooks or paperback?
AH: Currently, I don’t yet have an e-reader, so I generally prefer paperbacks for leisure reading… Though I do suspect this would change if I had an e-reader. I am very pleased with anything that saves paper, that’s for sure. Environmental protection has long since been a passion for me, so I can’t ignore that factor. In terms of my academic work, I appreciate the convenience of electronic resources, certainly.
As far as publishing is concerned, I have to admit I do look forward to having my book in paperback, though, just so my mum can read it! To relatives without a computer, it isn’t “real” until they see your name on a paper cover, if that makes sense.
SC:You mentioned when we talked via email that you were new to the publishing game. How has your experience been so far?
AH:SO great! I had just completed my PhD, and was in an odd place, creatively, and decided, “Well, let’s give this hobby project a real chance,” so I decided to send it in to a newish company that seemed to have a broad mind, and I chose correctly with Wild Horse. The other authors there have been overwhelmingly generous with their time and advice, and I feel well-supported as an author and a newbie. I really couldn’t be happier!
SC:What has been the hardest part for you being new in the industry?
AH: Promotions, certainly – until you actually have a book out, it is hard to get your name out there. I’ve been making headway, and doing interviews like this is a great opportunity for a new writer like me! (So, thanks!)
SC: What influences the topics, and genres that you pick to write a story in?
AH:I have written all my life, in all sorts of genres and forms, but romance, being one of my favourite to read, came the most naturally to me. I think this is because in romance the characters are everything, and that is my favourite part of writing. The topics usually stem from what the characters tell me about themselves as they grow flesh in my imagination.
SC:One thing readers might be surprised to know about you?
AH:I’m not sure. If there is one thing I have learned, you can’t really make assumptions about people based on being a “romance novelist,” but I guess people might be surprised to learn I hold a PhD in cultural studies. Romance is no longer (if it ever was) a “silly” genre – a lot of “liberated” and educated women read these things. But I do find people unfamiliar with the genre are surprised to learn that.
SC:Your favourite part about being an author?
AH:I like topics and genres that expose what we are as humans. Romance, for me, does that – they are like little glimpses into our hopes and dreams, and that makes me feel like part of a community, in a way – when I write them, and when I read them.
Being a working mom, I don’t have oodles of time to read Great Classics, although I have always enjoyed literature of all stripes. My mother was a voracious reader, and that got me reading romances, myself, since they were always around the house in stacks. Now, romances give me small vacations that I can fit into my life. I want to give other women that kind of enjoyment!
Those things make me feel good about writing… It also makes me feel great to know I am realizing a life long goal in publishing my work. Naturally, it also feels great to be creative.
SC:What are you currently reading?
AH: At the moment, I am re-reading Bridget Jones’ Diary – man, I always forget how funny that book is. I adore Pride and Prejudice, which I read every year over the holidays, and now I have added a yearly re-reading of its modern incarnation. It never fails to bring me joy!
SC:What do you think sets your stories apart from other authors?
AH:I am not sure what make my stories different, really, though I do tend to do humour and poignancy quite well within the same book, perhaps a bit better than some.
I can say what kinds of characteristics are signatures in my works, though. My stories often deal with issues of loneliness and isolation, usually contain some distinct Canadian content, and focus more on internal conflicts than external conflicts – meaning, emotional demons are more likely to be conquered than corrupt administrations refusing to stop an imminent nuclear meltdown, etc. Those stories can be exciting, but I prefer human truths – I feel it makes the work more universal and timeless.
SC:Is there anything you’re currently working on that you can give us a taste of?
AH:Yes, indeed. I am working on a short holiday romance that I hope will be released November 2010.
That early autumn day in late September seemed to start a chain reaction in which Kale and Molly were flung into each other’s path by some mercurial fate that scoffed at their mutual desire to avoid one another. Despite his efficacy at staying out of her way the whole first month she lived at the house, Kale now had no luck whatsoever. At the local shops, in the yard, in the front hall… she seemed to be everywhere now, which was not in keeping with his plans.
When Kale was in the middle of a book, he preferred to isolate himself from all outside influences. Otherwise, he found strange impulses creeping into his writing, such as the sweet natured character with long dark hair and warm hazel eyes that kept sneaking into the periphery of his latest work in progress, who he had to admit was Molly in disguise.
Once, the pair even literally ran into each other at the mailboxes, when she came barging into the small space as he turned to stride out. Neither had noticed each other until their torsos had collided. Instinctively, he brought his glove-clad hands up to her fleece-covered arms to steady her, and she noticed again the attractive scent of sandalwood. He detected the slight tinge of cinnamon on her breath as she puffed in surprise, and for a moment all thought fled from his brain as he stared into wide, hazel eyes, fringed with impossibly dark lashes. He couldn’t remember the last time his mind was completely blank while working on a book, but at that moment, he would have been hard pressed to recall his own name.
“Steady on,” he murmured, realizing he should say something.
“Hi,” she breathed, simply, and, almost reluctantly, made to move past him.
Her flatmate Colby, in their infrequent discussions of the other inmates of the building, had dismissed Kale McKinnon as “weird and old,” but right then Molly saw him as nothing like old or weird. True, he had some eccentric qualities, but at that moment, his oddities were more intriguing than anything else. And no one who felt so firm and vital could be considered old. Her heartbeat, at least, rapped out a tattoo that told her she was in the presence of vibrant maleness, a feeling to which she was not normally prone.
“Hi again,” he said, softly, taking unfamiliar pleasure in her pretty blush.
Molly stood aside and let him pass, and watched as he exited the building. If she were more like Colby, she thought, she would say he had a “great butt,” and smiled impishly at the thought. But, no – she was just Molly, and she didn’t have those kinds of thoughts about men she barely knew.
Even though it was true.
SC:What is the best advice you ever got with regards to writing?
AH: I always heard the “write what you know” thing, and didn’t really know what that meant, as when I was a kid, what did I know? That’s what I thought at the time, but it turns out that you don’t have to be too literal with that advice – writing what you know can be pretty broad. Writing about feelings you’ve had, or your experiences, just in a fictionalized way, that works as well. You don’t literally have to stay exactly within the scope of your literal experience – we all have things we can draw upon to make the novel have truth to it.
I guess the best advice I ever got from my teachers was their encouragement – “You’re good. Keep working at it.” That meant the world to me!
SC:What is one pet peeve you have when it comes to publishing?
AH: The promotion business, I guess. It is hard, knowing that some authors put a lot of money into their promotion, and when you can’t afford to compete that way, it does get frustrating. Worrying about sales and such does sometimes take the magic out of the work itself.
SC:Any advice for new writers out there?
AH: Just keep writing. Don’t just talk about writing – write! Write as much as you can, even if you have to force it. Stick to your daily goals, and do them. If you wait for “inspiration” or the “perfect time,” these things may not come, or come only infrequently. But, if you force yourself to start, you might find things just take off from there.
SC:Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
AH:Well, they can visit my websites, where they can find more info and excerpts, etc, and my blog, where I make daily posts about myself, my work and the writing biz.
AH: Thanks for the chance to talk to your readers today – I enjoyed it!
SC: Anne, thank you. The pleasure is all mine.