HOLLY ROBINSON: WRITERS PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE AS CULTURAL HISTORIANS
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Holly Robinson’s last book Beach Plum Island was published in the spring. The novel was well received (av. 4.6 stars from 72 Amazon reviews). Our next feature author says in the very first sentence of her bio that she never meant to be a writer. Well, sometimes the fate has other plans. It’s time for our next portion of Q&A.
– What is your last book, Beach Plum Island, about?
– The events in BEACH PLUM ISLAND are set in motion when a dying father makes a mysterious request: he wants his daughters to find a brother they never knew they had, and tell their brother “the truth.” The three sisters are stunned by this revelation. What brother? What truth? As they set out on a quest to uncover the answers, they unravel a series of haunting family secrets, and in the process must examine their own lives.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– The kernel for BEACH PLUM ISLAND is a story my own mother told me once about babysitting for a family and discovering a little boy locked in a back bedroom, apart from the other children. The parents had specifically warned her not to go down that hallway and open that door, so they clearly didn’t want the boy discovered. I always wondered what his true story was, and finally created one to satisfy my own imagination and my longing for a resolution.
– What was the biggest challenge during the writing process?
– I definitely wanted to include the teenaged girl’s point of view, but I didn’t want her to sound too young or too old. It took me a few tries to get that right.
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is it close to someone from your real life?
– Each of the three main characters is a composite of people from my own life, including me! For instance, the oldest sister, Ava, is a divorced mother with two children, as I was, so I know all about navigating that territory. The teen girl loves horses, as I do. And the middle sister works in college marketing, which I do from time to time.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and publish it?
– It took me a year to write the novel, and then Penguin took a year to design, edit and publish it.
– Would you describe your other three books: The Wishing Hill, The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter and Sleeping Tigers
– Both SLEEPING TIGERS and THE WISHING HILL are emotional family mysteries that begin when one of the characters discovers a secret that shatters her previous conceptions about her identity. THE GERBIL FARMER’S DAUGHTER is a memoir about being the daughter of a Navy officer who decided to raise gerbils when he retired from the military. We had 9,000 gerbils in our back yard!
– Who are you?
– I am a mother with five children who lives in Massachusetts. When I’m not writing, I’m hiking with my dog, reading, snow-shoeing or canoeing, depending on the weather—nature is my religion.
– What are your writing habits?
– I write every chance I get. As in, every day, and many evenings, too.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book and do you plan another one?
– Well, of course writers always want more readers than they have, yes? But I am satisfied, and yes, I am writing another book. In fact, two more: I just finished copy-editing the next book that Penguin will publish in April 2015, and now I’m writing the book they will publish in October 2015. Who knows what will happen after that?
– What are you doing to promote your book?
– I am very active online, blogging or writing guest posts, and I love reaching out to bookstores, libraries, and book clubs. I do whatever I can to connect with readers and other writers, because it’s so much fun.
– I recommend to everyone your article on the Writers communities (http://authorhollyrobinson.com/2014/10/15/how-to-succeed-in-publishing-find-a-community-of-writers/). What were the most useful things that you develop participating in such a group?
– Thank you so much. That means a lot. I would say that the most useful thing I’ve learned in this group is that there are many, many ways to be successful as a writer. The only way you definitely will NOT be successful is to give up!
– The turning point of your life was during your last semester in the college. You selected a creative writing class. Do you often return back to this decisive moment and do you imagine what could happened to you if you didn’t sign up for the class?
– I do sometimes return to that moment, yes. If I hadn’t taken that class, I would probably be a doctor now, with a bigger house and a bigger salary, though hopefully I would have done service work as well with organizations like Doctors Without Borders. At times I feel guilty, because perhaps I would have done more good for others if I had followed that path. On the other hand, I am so passionate about writing that I can’t imagine doing anything else and loving it as much, and I do believe we need stories to inform and entertain us. Writers play an important role as cultural historians. I’m proud to be part of that even in a small way.
– How tough was it for you to support yourself without a long term job, because you skipped a career in medicine?
– Well, I was very lucky, in the sense that I had a husband whose health insurance I could use (very important here in the U.S.), and because I had a background in science and loved to write. It was very easy for me to make a living as a science writer at first. I then branched out to write for women’s magazines and became a ghost writer for celebrities—all very fun ways to make a decent living! Yes, I drive a Honda instead of, say, a Mercedes or BMW, but I get to work at home and travel more than I ever could have with a steadier job. The tradeoff was definitely worth it.
– Ask yourself a question (And don’t forget to answer!)
– Okay, here goes: How do you describe the type of book you write to prospective readers?
– Prospective readers should know that my novels are a sort of cross-genre. I call them “family mysteries” because they have the rapid pacing of mystery novels, with clues being unveiled along the way, but the characters are fully developed and the writing is often extremely emotional. That’s because I grew up reading my grandfather’s castoff mystery novels, but also loved reading so-called literary classics.
Check out more about Holly on her Web page or
Take a look at her books
Beach Plum Island
The Wishing Hill
The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter
About Ognian GeorgievOgnian Georgiev is a sport journalist, who is working as an editor at the "Bulgaria Today" daily newspaper. He covered the Summer Olympics in Beijing 2008 and in London 2012. The author specializes in sports politics, investigations and coverage of Olympic sports events. Ognian Georgiev works as a TV broadcaster for Eurosport Bulgaria, Nova Broadcasting group, TV+, F+ and TV7. He is a commentator for fight sports events such as boxing/kickboxing and MMA. In May 2014 Ognian Georgiev released the English version of his book The White Prisoner: Galabin Boevski's secret story.
Posted on October 29, 2014, in Author, Interview and tagged author, Beach Plum Island, Holly Robinson, interview, The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter and Sleeping Tigers, The Wishing Hill. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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