Monday, May 26, 2014

Writer Spotlight - Holly Martin

On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, I'm delighted to welcome the lovely HOLLY MARTIN into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...
When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

I've always written stories. Even when I was a child my first proper story was a piece of fan-fiction, my own version of The Animals of Farthing Wood, when I was about 9 years old. I asked for my own typewriter as a Christmas present one year when I was about 11. I started writing seriously about five years ago after reading gorgeous, rose-tinted stories by Jill Mansell and thinking I wanted to create something like that.

What interests you as a writer?

Being able to tell the kind of stories that I want to read with the wonderful characters that I want to read about. I can take my readers to different lands and immerse them in different experiences. Anything is possible when you open up a new story and start writing. The direction my books go will often surprise me.

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

I work full time at the moment, very long hours. I'm up at 4.30am most mornings and won't get back till 7pm most nights. My writing time is then crammed into the few hours before I fall asleep over my laptop or weekends. My best writing time is in the school holidays when I have a week or even 6 weeks off to write all day. Then I normally stay up till 3am writing and sleep in late.

Which authors inspire you and why?

I just want to tell gorgeous stories, with great characters. The kind of stories that leave you with a big smile on your face. So I love to read stories like that too. I'm a big fan of Miranda Dickinson, Jill Mansell, Belinda Jones, Catherine Alliott, Aven Ellis, Lisa Dickenson and Sophie Kinsella. This is chick-lit to perfection – funny, heart-warming stories with characters you just fall in love with.

Tell me about your latest book.

The Guestbook is a romance told solely through the messages in the guestbook of a holiday cottage. It's a unique way of telling a story. Annie Butterworth owns Willow Cottage and lives next door and it's mainly her story that unravels through her interactions with her guests. But the guests have their own story to tell and we get a little glimpse of their lives as they come and go, too.

What are the best things about being a writer?

The feedback you get from people who have read your book. The way it touches people in ways you could never hope to achieve. When I put out my fantasy YA book, The Sentinel, I never expected the response I got. The reviews I received were outstanding and from people I had never even met or spoken to. Their reviews and messages brought me to tears. After years of rejections from agents and publishers, the people that loved it were the most important people – the readers. It made me realise that I might have created something special. The response to The Guestbook has been the same and I still can't get over how much love and support I've received.

And the worst?

I suppose that your work is out their for public review. People will either love it or hate it. I've been fortunate enough not to get many bad reviews – the majority of my reviews are 5 or 4 stars but the 1 star reviews do hurt. You spend months, sometimes years crafting what you hope is something worthwhile and then people destroy it with a few hateful words. You develop a thick skin very quickly in this industry. The poor reviews always make me laugh now. People will either get my work or they won't and it would be a dull world if everyone loved the same books. I read a brilliant quote somewhere once that said something like, to attack a book with anger and hate is like dressing up in a full suit or armour to attack an ice cream sundae!

What are you working on now?

My next book to be published with Carina is called One Hundred Proposals and will be out in the summer. It's about two friends, Harry and Suzie, who work for a proposal company, helping couples to create the perfect proposal. Harry wants to know what Suzie's perfect proposal would be and sets about creating one hundred different proposals for her to find her perfect one. I'm also working on my book 2 in The Sentinel series, The Prophecies, which I hope will be out in June.

Do you have a dream project you would love to write?

Bizarrely I have ideas for a zom-rom-com, with zombies and love and a lot of comedy, but I've never got round to putting pen to paper. Maybe one day.

What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?

1.Read lots, read the people you love in the genre that you're writing for, see what works well for them, how they create dialogue and characters. Try to use some of those skills in your own writing.

2. Write. I know that sounds silly but if you are always thinking up ideas in your head and never write them down they will never turn into anything. Write down ideas for a scene, a conversation. It might turn into something, it might not, but writing it down, even if its just a few sentences, will help you think more about your ideas and how you can add to it. Finding time to write, even it's only five minutes a day is important, too.

3. Don't give up, you will get rejections, but just remember that is the opinion of one person and somewhere out there is a perfect match for you and your book.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I love finding new authors, someone I've not read before. I don't get a lot of reading time lately because of any limited spare time goes on writing, but when I do I love to find a little gem. One of my favourite new authors is Aven Ellis and her newest book, Waiting For Prince Harry,is just a superb, heart-warming read.

Thanks so much to Holly for a great interview! To find out more about Holly and her books, you can visit Holly's blog and follow her @hollymartin00 on Twitter.

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