Thursday 25 April 2013

Author interview: Holly Gilliatt

I was recently sent a copy of a debut novel by author Holly Gilliatt. It sounded like just my sort of thing, and if you've read my review of 'Til St. Patrick's day, you will know that it was. A fun piece of women's fiction but with a strong message of friendship and self-belief, I really enjoyed her novel and was very pleased when she agreed to do an interview here at Fabulous Book Fiend. I was so intrigued to find out how she would answer my questions, and here is the result for you...

First of all, how did you get into writing?

I think from the time my little fingers could hold a pencil and form letters, I was a writer. My favorite memories from school are all of writing stories. I wrote my first novel at the age of twelve, but didn’t get serious about my writing until I was 38. I figured I needed to either make this happen or give up on my dreams. I’m glad I didn’t give up!

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?

Oh, writing full time would be divine. Unfortunately, I have a full-time day job that pays the bills. Writing is a passion, so if I can make some money from people buying my books, then that’s the icing on the cake for me.

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer?

I used to read a lot of different styles—thrillers, historical fiction, romance novels, etc. These days, though, life is so stressful that I tend to gravitate toward lighter reads that I hope will make me laugh. So light-hearted women’s fiction, chick lit, humorous essays. But now and then I throw something a little heavier into the mix when I’m in the mood.

How do you develop these characters as you write?

When I first start a new book, I have an idea of who a character is. As I delve deeper into the manuscript, I learn more about them along the way. By the end, I feel like I know them inside and out. Sometimes the character develops consciously but other times, they surprise me with their actions. It’s strange when they are suddenly doing/saying something that I wasn’t expecting. Not sure where that comes from, but I just go with it!

What was the inspiration behind your first novel?

My first published novel, ’Til St. Patrick’s Day, was inspired by the John Mayer song, St. Patrick’s Day. The theme of that song explores relationships that start in the fall, and theorizes that people don’t want to be alone and will stay together through the holidays, until St. Patrick’s Day. I thought that was an interesting concept and ran with it.

What is your writing process-do you map it out first? Write a bit at a time?

You often hear people describe writers as either plotters (plotting out the entire story ahead of time) or pantsers (flying by the seat of your pants!). I’m a plotter/pantser hybrid. J I usually have an idea of where I’m going, but I only have a rough idea. I make some notes as I go, but most of it happens organically as the story unfolds. Then, in the editing stages, I usually find that I need to go back and add a scene or delete something to make sure I get the points across that I want to.

How much of you is reflected in your novels?

I think there are facets of me in most of my characters. I tend to find the humor in most situations and I hope that is reflected in my work. I’m also a hopeless, sappy romantic—and that’s probably evident in what I write, too. Most people would probably say I’m a bit of a smart-ass, so that might show up as well.

Do you have any plans to develop your novels further, write sequels, turn them into a series?

I like to have characters from one novel make a cameo appearance in other novels. For instance, in ’Til St. Patrick’s Day, there’s a short scene with a character named Jason Scharp, a blind school teacher that works with Josh Brandt. My upcoming release, Enough, is Jason’s story. And in Enough you just might see a brief appearance of Josh and some other characters from ’Til St. Patrick’s Day. Karen Taggart, another TSPD character, shows up in my current work-in-progress. I’m also considering giving both Karen and Claudia from TSPD their own books. What do you think about that?

Was there a particular reason behind you publishing your novel on ebook only?

My publishers are e-book first publishers, but both of my releases will be available in paperback within a few weeks of the e-book release date. So whether you love your Kindle or Nook, or can’t give up the feel and smell of a new book in your hands…we’ve got what you’re looking for!

Are friends and family supportive of your writing?

Yes, I can’t imagine doing this without their support. My mom, in particular, is a huge cheerleader for me. Stephen King says every writer has a “First Reader” that they’re writing for. That is definitely my mom. My brother, Troy Schnider, is a great supporter, too, and often provides valuable feedback. He’s a high school drama teacher and is a talented writer himself (with a background in theatrical writing), so I really take his input seriously. Poor guy would NEVER read women’s fiction/chick lit if his sister hadn’t written it, so if that’s not supportive, I don’t know what is!

How do you feel leading up to your publication day?

Antsy! As it gets closer, I just can’t wait for the book to go “live.” And when it does, it simply doesn’t feel real.

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?

There are so many I admire, and wish I could write like—Toni Morrison, Harper Lee, Stephen King, just to name a few. You know, the ones that blow you away. But I’m never going to write the Great American Novel. We can’t all be Hemingway. So I’m really inspired by the authors I love to read in my genre—Jane Green, Claire Cook, Emily Giffin, Dorothea Benton Frank. I also love autobiographical humor—like David Sedaris, Ryan Knighton, Justin Halpern.

Finally...what are you working on right now?
My work in progress, Loose Ends, is women’s fiction about high school sweethearts that drift apart and reunite at a ten-year high school reunion. But their past might just be the one thing that prevents them from having a future together.

Holly's next novel will be released on ebook next thursday (3rd May) look out for the review on here close to the publication date.

You can find out more about this author by following her on her website
Or by following her on twitter: @hollygtweet. Keep and eye on my twitter feed for exciting announcements about this author too.

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