Meet Author E.E. Holmes!
Author Bio (from eeholmes.com)
E.E. Holmes grew up in Wakefield, Massachusetts, where she spent the majority of her childhood reading books. She read them all the time, and, as a result, perfected the art of walking and reading at the same time, a skill she can still perform to this day with remarkably few instances of falling on her face. She also wrote many books and poems in blank books and on the backs of legal pads her father brought home from the office. They remain some of her finest work.
She discovered a love of theater in high school. Her books were jealous at first, but they soon realized that she would always love them too. She earned a B.A. in Theater from College of the Holy Cross. After graduation, she set out to prove that her degree was, in fact, not useless, and worked as an actor in a summer Shakespeare festival and as a theater teacher, directing over thirty productions and numerous workshops for youth and high school students. She spent seven years as the theater director at Wakefield High School where she also taught English literature and public speaking. It was in her classroom that she discovered the horrible truth: a disturbingly large percentage of high school students hate to read. This revelation devastated and bewildered her. She decided she wanted to do something about it, and thus she started work on her first young adult novel, Spirit Legacy: Book 1 of the Gateway Trilogy. She is also the author of three one act plays, the most recent of which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2010.
Ms. Holmes lives near Boston with her husband, daughter, and small, but surprisingly loud, dog. When not writing, she enjoys watching unhealthy amounts of British television, procrastinating, and rediscovering her favorite books from her childhood all over again with her daughter. Her next projects are Spirit Prophecy :Book 2 of the Gateway Trilogy, due for release August 12, 2014, and a children's novel adaptation of her one-act play, Pandora's Book.
Q&A with E.E.
What inspired you to write your first novel?
written all my life, and I always found that reading a great book inspired me
to write. When I was little, I would read Roald Dahl’s Matilda and want to
write about smart girls with super powers. Or I’d read Anne of Green Gables and
want to write about orphans with penchants for poetry. But over time I found my
own voice and found inspiration in life and in the world around me. My first
completed novel, Spirit Legacy, was inspired by the pop culture rise in ghost
hunting. I had never had any sort of paranormal experience of my own, but I
started to wonder what it would be like if I did. What if it started happening
one day, out of the blue? Would anyone believe me? Would I believe myself? That
is where the idea for Jess Ballard, the protagonist of Spirit Legacy, began.
What books/authors have inspired your life most?
As a child,
I was inspired by authors who wrote strong female characters, characters who
liked to read and solve their own problems and fight for what they believe it.
I loved Matilda by Roald Dahl, Anne Shirley from the L.M. Montgomery books,
Pippi Longstocking, Jo March from Little Women, Jane Eyre, Scout Finch from To
Kill a Mockingbird. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also grown to appreciate authors
for their styles and the aspects of writing at which they excel. I love reading
Neil Gaiman for his incredible imagination, and Douglas Adams for
laugh-out-loud humor. I love reading J.R.R. Tolkein and J.K. Rowling for the
incredible detail of their world-building.
Whom would you consider a writing mentor(s)?
very lucky to have a great working friendship with Norm Gautreau, who won the
Massachusetts Book Award for his beautiful novel “Sea Room.” He has been a
wonderful guide through the editing and publishing process, and he had given me
so much advice about the writing process.
What book(s) are you reading now?
finished a great new novel called “Artful” which was a whip-smart paranormal
reimagining of the story of the Artful Dodger from Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.” It
was absolutely brilliant. I also finally got around to reading “The Shining” by
Stephen King—it was one of those books I was ashamed to say I had never read,
because it is so iconic. And it was just as brilliant as I hoped it would be,
as most books by Stephen King are. He is a true master.
What are your current writing projects?
currently working on the third book in the Gateway trilogy and also a series of
shorter pieces that will accompany the series, written from the perspective of
some different characters. I’m greatly enjoying fleshing out the Gateway world
and getting to know these other characters so much better by writing in their
voices. When those are finished, I have a couple of other projects in mind,
include a steampunk/fantasy series and a children’s chapter book based on a
play I wrote back in 2010.
What would we find you doing when you're not at the
usually chasing my 2 ½ year old daughter around the house, cleaning up her
messes and playing games with her. But if I ever do get a spare moment that
doesn’t involve writing or mommy-ing, I enjoy reading (obviously) and watching
British television. I am a HUGE Anglophile, and most of my favorite books,
movies, and television series are British ones. I also love theatre, and hope
when my daughter is a bit older to find time to perform again, especially
What are your favorite setting(s) to read/write about?
love the UK and everything to do with it, so I love reading books set there,
both in modern times and also historical fiction. I also love books that are
written about imaginary subcultures within our own modern world, such as the
magical world in Harry Potter or the subterranean world in Gaiman’s Neverwhere.
I love the idea that you could be walking down the street on an ordinary day,
and stumble upon something magical or mythical while you’re stopping for
coffee. I think it adds just a little bit of wonder to life, just that little
dose of “what-if” we all need to keep the childhood wonder alive.
If you could be any character in your book(s), which would
you be and why?
Most of the
main characters in my current series have had a lives fraught with difficulty,
so to be honest, I wouldn’t want to trade places with most of them, though I
admire the toughness and independence that has resulted from their struggles,
especially Jess. But I think I wouldn’t mind a day in Savvy’s shoes. She is a
real free spirit, and though she has seen ghosts all her life, she has taken it
in stride. She is also experiencing the Durupinen world for the first time, and
her eyes are being opened to a lot of really amazing things. She also cares a
lot less than I do about what people think of her, and I admire her rebellious
spirit and her thirst for fun and thrills. I think we all need to have a little
bit of Savvy in us somewhere, to remind us that it’s okay to unwind and have
fun just for the hell of it once in a while.
How many books have you written? This can include both published and unpublished works. Describe each of them in 1-2 sentences apiece (if published, feel free to include the links as well).
I’ve completed two novels so far. The first, Spirit Legacy, is the first book in the Gateway Trilogy, in which the protagonist, Jess Ballard, discovers a new and terrifying talent upon the death of her mother: she can now see ghosts. The book follows her journey as she uncovers the ancient family secret that holds the key to her connection with the dead. The second, Spirit Prophecy, follows Jessica and her sister Hannah as they travel to Fairhaven Hall, where they will learn the ways of the Durupinen, an ancient sect of women who control the Gateways between the worlds of the living and the dead. But Hannah’s powers have the other Durupinen frightened, and a long-forgotten prophecy threatens to destroy their new life before it has even begun.
What does writing preparation look like for you? Do you do full outlines and character profiles, or do you just start with a general idea and write?
I start with an idea and I just start writing, just for the love of it. If I like where that particular whim is taking me, then I will sit down and give it the full outline treatment. I use a bunch of different activities to flesh out characters, most of them taken from my theatre major days, when I had to do extensive character development to prepare for a role. I actually find these acting exercises (many of them written) to be incredibly helpful in creating characters with unique voices.
Editing is a challenge for many writers. Give us some of your tips for editing efficiently and well.
I hate editing, just like most writers do. It is by far the most horrifying process, the complete opposite of the creative side of writing. My secret to editing is to step away from the piece, and to edit at a completely different time and setting than when I’m writing it. The other tip is to marry someone who is a very detail-oriented and who doesn’t mind doing the thankless job of nit-picking through your manuscript for rogue punctuation.
Research is another challenge writers face, but is an important part of the writing process. What are some of your research tips?
My advice is to do as much of the research as possible before you begin writing, as taking the time to research details as they come up can be very stilting and detrimental to the creative flow when you’re trying to write. Of course, small things will still come up, so I will often just highlight the section with a note to go back and research later, and then plow on, in the hope that the muse will stay with me despite a pesky, errant detail.
If you have been published (self or traditionally), what type of marketing did you find worked the best for you? What was the least helpful?
Social media marketing has been by far the most effective way to get the word out about my book. It is also very easy to track, so that the return on my investment is nearly always obvious. I did quite a few radio interviews when my first book came out, but I did not find these to be worthwhile in the long-run, though discussing the book was fun, because there was no way to keep my audience targeted.
What genre do you write in? What are some of the challenges to writing this particular genre well?
So far I’ve written YA paranormal fiction. It’s been challenging for a number of reasons. First of all, it is a popular genre right now, and therefore it is easy for my book to get lost in the sea of vampire and werewolf romances. I also don’t want my book to fall into the trap of following a formula to gain readers. I want readers to discover and enjoy my books for what makes them unique, not what makes them the same as other books in the genre. I also feel that YA authors feel they need to dumb down their writing to appeal to a teen audience, but I just don’t believe that is true. Sometimes we don’t give teenagers enough credit. I believe that they can appreciate and enjoy a book that challenges their reading abilities.
What advice would you give to a writer who is starting out?
I still feel like I am starting out, so I’ll tell you what I keep telling myself. Never forget that you love to write. No matter what the reviews say, no matter how many copies you may or may not sell, you write because you love it.
What are your writing, editing, marketing, and research goals for 2014-2015?
My goal is to outline, research, write and edit the third book in my trilogy by next summer. I also have a series of short stories to accompany the trilogy that I would like to release in the intervening months between books two and three, to keep my readers engaged in the world of the characters.
Top five favorite titles (these do not have to be favorite books)
A Series of Unfortunate Events
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Everything is Illuminated
The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Top ten snacks while writing
Warning: most of these snacks are completely devoid of nutritional value.
1. Queso with Chips- the spicier the better!
2. Gummy bears- poor little buggers, sacrificed for literature.
3. Peanut M&Ms—this one actually made it into my first novel as the preferred late-night, paper-writing fuel for my protagonist, Jess.
4. Tea (can tea count as a snack right? It feeds my soul!)
5. Crackers and cheese. (I have a cheese problem. Seriously. It’s my kryptonite. Yummy, yummy, kryptonite.)
6. Hummus and pita (when I don’t have any cheese)
7. Cheezits or goldfish crackers (or whatever small snack cracker my two-year-old daughter leaves around the house)
8. Ice cream, straight from the container—especially peppermint stick ice cream (This flavor preference was a literary discovery: I tried it for the first time after reading about it in the American Girl book “Happy Birthday Samantha.”
9. Smartfood popcorn
1. Cocoa dusted almonds (the package says they are dusted with cocoa powder, but I have a strong suspicion they might be dusted with crack. Or you know, something else equally addictive.)