Sunday, 13 September 2015

Author Interview: Holly Martin

Today folks, I have a treat for you and me. I was lucky enough to interview one of the loveliest writers I have ever had the pleasure of being in contact with. Her stories are wonderful and her talent is immeasurable. Her characters are always wonderfully relate-able and I find her books easier and more tempting to indulge in than the yummiest of cakes (well almost). Ladies and Gentlemen, and the rest of you! Here is the lovely Holly Martin.
Hello Holly, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview, I am so very excited to have you here.

Thank you for having me, it’s wonderful to be here.

So tell me a little bit about yourself, where are you from and what do you write?

Originally I lived in Birmingham until I was 16 and then moved down to Bedfordshire and I’ve lived all over since then, Liverpool and Twickenham whilst I was at university and I’m back in Bedfordshire now. I have had more jobs than I can shake a stick at, I’ve worked in a bingo hall, sold double glazing windows, worked in a hotel, a bank, as a teacher but I’ve always wanted to write and I’d like to think all those jobs and the people I met gave me great inspiration for my books. I write romantic comedies and they always lend themselves to funny real life situations.

Your main focus seems to be Romantic fiction, will you go back to writing things like your Sentinel series?

There are four books in the Sentinel Series, the first two The Sentinel and The Prophecies are already out and the third one, The Revenge, will hopefully be out later this year. I love this series and the world of fantasy and superpowers because you can make anything possible. I love the fast paced action and explosive stunts so I’m keen to share book 3 with the world. I have another idea for a different fantasy series so I might write that after this series is finished.

Where do you find your inspiration for your wonderful books?

Sometimes it could be a line in a song or a film or even a line in a book that will spark an idea in my head. Sometimes it comes from overheard conversations with strangers. Sometimes it stems from something that has happened to me or my friends in real life and I put my own twist on it. Mostly I get the idea for a great scene or a good conversation and I write it down and after I get the idea of what can happen before to lead up to that scene and what could happen after and the story builds itself from there.

What can you tell me about your typical writing day and what your process is?

I’m a total night owl. I work best after midnight so I will often write until 2 or 3 in the morning and then sleep in till late. I’ll wake up about 9 or 10, after breakfast I’ll read through everything that I’ve written the day before, checking it and editing it if need be and that then puts me in the right frame of mind for what I’m going to write next. I’ll go for a swim at lunchtime and plan out everything that will happen next, what the characters will do or say and then when I come back I sit down and write and I won’t stop until 2am apart from for dinner and the odd cup of tea here and there. I generally write the story in the order that it will be read, but sometimes if I am stuck on a scene I’ll go and write a different scene in the book and come back to the other scene later.

Do you have your own special Writer's Room?

I write in my conservatory which is nice and bright and has big doors I can open so I can get a nice breeze coming in as I write. I have a desk which is one of the things I treated myself to once I became a full time writer and I have post it notes all over it which I use to help plan out my stories. I also have a bog squashy recliner which I use for when I’m just reading back over my stories.

I know that you have been on a few writer's retreats. I would love to go on some one day. How do you find them and are they beneficial?

I’ve found them so useful, for meeting writer friends, for talking about our books, our publishing experiences. Over dinner or lunch we talk about the issues we are having with our stories and the other writers act as a great sounding board to discuss or play with different ideas. It’s also great for actually getting the words down on paper. We have lots of word races, at least four a day, it becomes quite competitive to see who has written the most. Once the words are there you can go back and edit and tweak them later, but you can’t edit nothing and sometimes we, as writers, will spend far too much time thinking about the right words to use or what could happen instead of just getting the words down. Be warned though, if you do go on one, you’ll come back a stone heavier in weight, there’s always lots of chocolate and cake to be had at these things.

Can you tell me about your journey to publication? How did that all happen?

I had been writing for four years, sending my stuff to publishers and agents without any luck. My last ditch attempt was entering a short story competition and if I won I’d get my story published in an anthology alongside my favourite authors. My short story One Hundred Proposals won and my little story was published. It was a real turning point for me because someone actually believed in my work and it showed me that I couldn’t give up. A few months later I self-published my first book The Sentinel because so many people had such positive things to say about it and I thought if no publisher will believe in me enough to give me a break then I have to believe in myself. Shortly after that I won a three book deal with Carina and my first romantic fiction book, The Guestbook, was published on Valentine’s Day. To my great surprise, people loved it, after years of getting rejected, people were reading and loving my work. I’ve never looked back.

What can you tell me about your publisher Bookouture, and what are they like to work with?

Bookouture are wonderful to work with. Their editing process is so detailed and thorough and I know my book comes out so much better once they have worked with me on it. I love their covers and I love their dedication and passion for publishing and marketing great books. My editor is brilliant and endlessly patient as I stress out about everything in the weeks leading up to a new release. 

While I know that Bookouture don't require a writer have an agent, you still do. Is this something you recommend or is it down to personal preference?

I love my agent, I had signed with Madeleine Milburn long before I signed with Bookouture. Lots of authors have successful writing careers without an agent so it comes down to personal preference but I absolutely would never be without mine.

What do your family and loved ones think of your success?

They are all immensely proud of me. My Dad tells everyone who will listen down at the golf club about my books and my successes. He reads them too. For someone who only reads crime thriller type books, to watch him read and laugh and cry over my books is a great feeling. My Mom reads every word I write probably a hundred times over. She is my tester and she reads every chapter as soon as I’ve written it and tells me what works and what doesn’t. My friends are great, hugely supportive, but whenever we go anywhere they shout about the fact that they are with a famous author, it gets very embarrassing but I love how proud they are of me.

So what’s next for Holly Martin? You have a couple of exciting Christmas releases. Can you tell me about those?

Christmas at Lilac Cottage and Snowflakes on Silver Cove are both set in White Cliff Bay and share the same timeline in the week before Christmas. Both books are standalone and can be read in any order but I love that the people who read both will see the other characters from the other book, and the same key events happen in each book but obviously told from a different perspective. For example there is a bad storm in Snowflakes on Silver Cove which get George and Libby into a spot of trouble as they are in a boat in it at the time. We also see this same storm in Christmas at Lilac Cottage but from Henry and Penny’s point of view. Both books culminate in the Christmas Eve Ball as snow descends on White Cliff Bay.
Next year I have another book in the White Cliff Bay series. I can’t tell you the title yet but I can tell you it’s mainly set in a lighthouse.

 The Fun Stuff:

What is your favourite TV show right now? Oh god, I don’t watch TV. I know I miss out on so many great programmes, but I find that so many shows require a weekly commitment and I’m often writing at night anyway. I love The Big Bang Theory, I could watch that on endless repeats. X-factor or Britain’s Got Talent are always good fun to watch. I love Castle too.

Who is your ultimate celebrity crush? 

 Chris Hemsworth. He is just so big and strong and tall and I do love big men… ahem.

Who are your favourite authors?

Aven Ellis, Sophie Kinsella, Jill Mansell, Rosie Blake, for sweet, funny romcoms. I’ve just discovered Lindsay J Pryor’s Blackthorn books and they are completely gripping.

What are you reading right now?

I don’t get a lot of time for reading as I’m always writing or editing but I do love to read for fifteen minutes or so before I go to bed. My bedtime read at the moment is Little Acts of Love by Tilly Tennant and I’m loving it.

Which book from another author do you wish you had written?

Harry Potter, not because of the money, just because its such a brilliant idea, complete escapism into a world of magic and spells and wonderful creatures.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Holly.

Thank you for having me and asking me such brilliant questions.

About Holly

Holly lives in sunny Bedfordshire in a house with round windows. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years' service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.

Holly has been writing for 6 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine's competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014.

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