Monday, 12 August 2013

Author Interview: Mary Holland

Mary Holland has written The Bone Road.

1. What is your name and where do you call home?
My name is Mary Holland, I live in California, in the Santa Cruz mountains.

2. What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or less words, what would you say?
The Bone Road. It’s a fantasy about revenge and fertility.

3. Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I’m writing another fantasy called The Dog of Pell. That’s the working title, I’m not sure if I’ll stick with that. It’s not about a dog, and I can see I will get very tired of saying that. None of my books so far are a series, although I have a story forming in the back of my head about a character in The Bone Road, so he might get his own book.

4. What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing all my life, although I never finished a manuscript. A friend and I were waiting in line for one of the Harry Potter movies and we passed the time bemoaning how we never finished projects. We made a pact to meet every month and committed to complete a chapter for the meeting. That was the start of what we called the Deadline Club. A year later, I had finished the first draft of Matcher Rules. The Deadline Club broke up after my friend moved away, but I’m still writing.

5. Do you gift books to readers for book reviews?
Yes. I have done giveaways on Goodreads, and I’ll be doing another in June through their Shut Up & Read list. I think The Bone Road giveaway is June 25.

6. How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book?
All my covers were done by the amazing and talented Rhea Ewing. She’s wonderful to work with. I send her the blurb and a sample of the manuscript, along with some ideas about the cover. She tactfully praises my dorky suggestions and comes up with much better ones. She sends me samples, I pick one, and she goes for it.

7. Which is your favourite cover of all the books you have written?
The new revised ebook cover of The Bone Road. It’s gorgeous.

8. Is there anything you would change about your book covers?
I liked the first cover of The Bone Road (which is still on the paperback) very much, but now I wish I could replace it with the revised ebook version. The original cover is very dense and you can get lost in the graphics, but the new ebook cover is more eye-catching.

9. Do you have a playlist in mind for any of your books?
Not a playlist exactly. Both books were originally inspired by songs: Matcher Rules by Helplessly Hoping by Crosby, Stills and Nash, and The Bone Road by Leonard Cohen’s Who By Fire. Or perhaps I should say these songs are themes for the main characters. 

10. Did you listen to any particular songs whilst writing your books?
I cannot write while listening to music. I can do one or the other but not both. Writing does not lend itself to multitasking, at least not for me.

11. Would you have different book covers for different countries?
That’s quite expensive for an independent publisher so, regrettably no.

12. How did you come up with the title for your book?
The Bone Road came from the initial concept of the story and never changed. Matcher Rules had another working title that I decided gave away the plot, so I changed it about two-thirds through the writing of the first draft. The Dog of Pell working title started as a joke, and if I’m not careful I’m going to be stuck with it.

13. Is there anything you would change about your book? And why?
No. It went through revision after revision and multiple edits. After a certain point I realized I was changing the same lines back and forth, so I declared it done. The book is where I was as a writer when I wrote it. I’ve moved on.

14. What is your opinion of ARCs?
I’m not fond of them for myself. I can see sending out ARCs to build buzz for a book you are going to publish, but in my view this works better for traditional publishers than independents. Some writers seem to be using them as a way to get free criticism on early drafts of a manuscript and that is very unfair to reviewers. If an independent title is far enough along for an ARC copy, publish it already.

15. Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hardcovers or audiobooks?
For my own reading, I prefer hardbacks. None of my books are available in hardback, which I regret, but it is a cost issue.

16. Are you a self-published / Indie author?
Yes, and I love it because I have so much control over the process.

17. Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so what was it?
You’re kidding, right? Any book I like I will re-read. And re-read. I have around 3,000 books in this house, because I’m always re-reading something. The book with the most re-reads is The Lord of The Rings, which I read when I was eleven and so many times since I have lost track.

18. Have you ever bought a specific edition of a book because of its cover? (For example a UK, US or Canadian version)
Yes, the UK adult covers of the Harry Potter books are gorgeous, much better than the US editions which only had one version. I ordered them, in hardback, from Amazon UK. Everyone thought I was mad.

19. What is your opinion of novellas?
I like them. They are a good length for a writer. Publishers don’t think they are a cost-effective size, but in ebook format it doesn’t matter. Some of the best science fiction stories I read while I was growing up were novellas.

20. Have you ever read a book just based on its cover?
Yes, certainly. That’s how I discovered Elizabeth Lynn’s series Watchtower, The Dancers of Arun and The Northern Girl. And the original cover for C.J. Cherryh’s Cyteen was intriguing; I bought the book, loved it, and ended up buying all her other titles.

21. Has the quality of the cover of a book ever put you off of reading it?
I avoided reading Lois McMaster Bujold’s series on Miles Vorkosigan because the original covers were so repellant. She’s one of my favorite writers now, but I hated those covers.

22. What is your favourite film based on a book?
The second LOTR film, The Two Towers. It is so close to the book and so beautifully filmed.

23. What is your favourite book genre at the moment?
Right now, for some reason, I’m reading a lot of mysteries.

24. Do you have any advice for other writers? And what’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
Strike a balance between thinking independently and responding to criticism about your writing. Read as much as you can, and ask yourself why some stories work for you and others don’t. Write as much as you can.

25. Do you have any hobbies that aren’t related to reading & writing?
I watch a lot of movies and television series. I have three cats and I’d love to have more, also a dog, but this is a very small house. I’d say gardening, although we live in a fairly wild area, so yard work might be a more accurate term. I’m not sure that qualifies as a hobby.

26. Where can your readers follow you?

Thankyou so much for taking the time to do this interview and allowing us a glimpse into your writing world!

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