Exclusive Interview with

N.L. Holmes

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When did you start writing?

Even as a child, I wrote "novels" (mostly never finished) just for fun, but as an adult, academic writing sort of took over my bandwidth.

N.L. Holmes
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What makes writing your passion?

It's a great balance of discipline/effort with imagination. I love searching for the right word and trying to bring to life my scenes and characters with description.

N.L. Holmes
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How long have you been writing?

Professionally, since I retired from teaching five years ago.

N.L. Holmes
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What was the feeling when you published your first book?

Thank God, that's done! Now for the rest of them.

N.L. Holmes
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What’s the story behind your choice of characters?

Often they are real historical characters about whom we know nearly nothing as people. I try to show actual historical events through the eyes of different people and different classes of people.

N.L. Holmes
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What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?

Having to do the publicity!

N.L. Holmes
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How do you get over the “writer’s block”?

It's not a problem I often have because I'm basing my books on real events. But I find I can usually write separate scenes even if I don't know how to keep the story flowing consecutively. Scenes of conflict and confrontation are fun to write, then I stitch them together and that gets my juices flowing.

N.L. Holmes
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We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?

Don't give up. There's so much to discourage a person: endless querying, bad reviews, the difficulty of letting people know you're out there. Just keep writing. That's a success in itself. And keep perfecting your art. Let experience and disappointment improve you as a writer.

N.L. Holmes
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If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?

Don't be afraid to plunge into life. I used to "novelize" experiences a lot, working out language in my head to describe things as they happened. But it's better to give in to the emotional content of life--this is your raw material--and save the verbalizing for later.

N.L. Holmes
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Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?

I do read them. The bad ones are sometimes more useful than the good ones. If a lot of people find a book slow, for instance, there's probably some truth to that. Next time I'll know better.

N.L. Holmes
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What is the feeling when you get a good review?

I'm glad I've connected with someone, brought the past to life for them in a meaningful way.

N.L. Holmes
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Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

Not real external events, but emotional experiences, yes.

N.L. Holmes
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Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?

None of my characters are based on me or any other real person, but I suppose there's a little bit of me and other people in each one (even my cats!). I hate to say it, but I see more of myself in the disagreeable protagonist of The Singer and Her Song than anywhere else.

N.L. Holmes
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What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?

Absolutely. I've often bought a book on the appeal of its cover.

N.L. Holmes
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Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?

I prefer to express myself through my writing, but I certainly don't object to chatting with fans. My real limitation is my paltry skill at social media.

N.L. Holmes
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How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?

It's very gratifying, of course. Since I write under a pseudonym, I can kind of divorce myself from "her" and accept praise with less embarrassment than otherwise.

N.L. Holmes
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Who is your favorite author? Why?

I love the nineteenth-century Realists, and modern "slow" writers like Robinson, Erdrich and Strout. I've just discovered Tana French, who knocks my socks off with the beauty of her writing.

N.L. Holmes
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What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?

No interest in being big. As long as I make enough to pay for advertising, I'm content.

N.L. Holmes
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Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?

The one I would and am rewriting has ever been published. I never got a handle on my characters, and so the plot went astray.

N.L. Holmes
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If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?

I have no idea what anyone is going through, so it would be foolish to slip inside anybody else's skin. I'll stay where I am.