Friday, 8 April 2016

Interview with V.S. Holmes

My sixth guest today is V.S. Holmes. Holmes lives with her artist partner in a Tiny House (yes, like the FYI television show) and owns far too many books for such a small abode. Her favorite genres include fantasy, science (of both the non-fiction and fiction varieties), and most anything else she finds in her hands.
Holmes graduated from Keene State College with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. She has a particular interest in prehistoric peoples and stone tools. When not writing, she works as a contract archaeologist doing Cultural Resource Management throughout the northeastern U.S.

I know it's a busy day for you, so thank you for taking the time to join me.
Would you like to open by telling us when you first realized you wanted to be a writer?
I always wrote as a kid, but I first realized it was something I wanted to do in high school. I started to actually get my book edited and beta-read at that point, and seriously studied the craft of writing.

And what motivates you to write?
The idea of moving someone the way my favorite authors have moved me. I don’t care about being a bestseller (I mean, duh, it’d be nice) but I would rather seriously impact a few people. On a more practical level, getting up early and making coffee, lighting incense, and turning on some good instrumental music is how I motivate myself to write every day.

Where did the idea for your Reforged series come from?
Fall of 2002 I saw an image of ruins in a desert. I wondered what it would be like to wake up in that place, if it was once your home. I lay on the floor for hours, refusing to even get up to turn on a light, writing. I had about 20 terrible, handwritten pages by the end. Only one line has survived every revision since then, but the ruins of Cehn in the Sunamen desert and the young woman found in them, are the same.

Which, if any, of your personality traits did you write into your characters?
I think pieces of every author wind up in their characters, even if we don’t mean to. With my fantasy series, several of my main characters are introverts, like me. My main character, Alea, also has PTSD and a Dissociation Disorder, both of which I also deal with. Nel Bently, the main character of Travelers, the first in my archaeological science fiction series, is high-strung, easy to anger, and driven, traits that I have as well. I’m sure there are many other smaller pieces in my supporting characters.

Did you develop characters from your personal experiences or draw from that of others?
Both. I think it’s important to make characters that are people, so I draw from the people I meet, my own experiences -- particularly in the Nel Bently Books, as my profession is the same as hers -- and my friends and family.

Please give us an insight into your main character.
I’ve got three MCs in the first two books of Reforged, however I wrote from Alea’s POV most. She’s a naive and idealistic young woman who loses her family in a massacre. She suffers from depression and survivor’s guilt, as well as the above mentioned psychological issues. Through the story she comes to understand herself better, becoming stronger and more insightful as she gets experiences more of the world.

Which of your characters do you relate to the most?
I can relate to aspects of each of them, but none more so than another.

Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
I can’t pick a favorite main character, but my favorite supporting character is An’thor. I love his personality and culture so much.

"I’m not much of a sleeper, and I figure if I have insomnia, I’d best be productive."

Please describe your favourite scene or chapter in your book and tell us why it’s your favourite?
I have a lot of favorites in Smoke and Rain -- a lot of the scenes during Part Three: The Rains of Spring convey what I’d hoped. But, as far as a single piece that I really love? I love the bacon scene on page 216 of the new edition (page 206 of the first edition). It perfectly captures the humor and depth of Alea and Arman’s friendship in just a few pages.

Which scene or chapter was the hardest for you to write?
I struggled a lot with writing Alea’s first few scenes. She suffers from a dissociative disorder and PTSD. Writing how things felt and looked from her perspective forced me to face my own emotions and reality to a degree with which I wasn’t comfortable yet. Writing her scene actually helped me a lot in the long run, but for a while Alea was this paper cut-out of a character that I couldn’t make real.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
Each of the cultures in my books have sounds and consistent endings for their names that differ from one another. These have to do with where the people originated, their patron gods, what their culture values, etc. For example, many Mirikin names have i’s in them, and often end with “ik” or “ir.” Berrin names have gutteral names with many vowels. The Laen have many l’s e’s. The names are important, and some have meanings in this world, or are combinations of names we recognize.

In a perfect world where you could cast your book for a movie, who would you pick for your main characters?
Oh, this is a fun one!
Alea: Rachel Weisz
Arman: Michael Grant Terry
Bren: Ashton Kutcher
Azirik: Christopher Eccleston
Eras: Tilda Swinton

Tell us about the cover and how  came about...

I met my cover designer at Granite State Comic Con, and then again at Beverly Con, where I asked him to do a commission. His art lent itself to the depth and darkness of my story.

...And who designed your book cover?
Ben Donahue

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Most certainly. It is the packaging and gives the first impression any reader will have.

Can you tell us anything about any of your current work(s)-in-progress?
I’m drafting the third Reforged book, and getting the second ready for publication on May 7th. I’m also drafting Drifters the second of the Nel Bently Books.

As a reader I find myself wanting to know more about the authors that write the amazing books we read, so the following questions are about you rather than your books.
Do you like to get up early or stay up late?
Well honestly I like both. I’m not much of a sleeper, and I figure if I have insomnia, I’d best be productive. When I’m working during the warmer months, I wake up at 5:00 every morning to write for an hour before we go to work. Then I’ll stay up until 10:00 or 11:00.

Which country would you most like to visit?
I’d love to visit Mongolia. I’m a nomad at heart and I’d love to see the stark beauty of the landscape and learn more about the people.

What is your favourite holiday?
We only celebrate birthdays, our anniversary, New Years, and St. Paddy’s in my household, so as far as holidays go, I’m not a big fan. My favorite of the two abovementioned Western Holiday’s though, is New Years. I like the idea of rebirth, putting the past year to bed, and being halfway out of the darkness.

And finally...
If you were ever stranded on a deserted island what would you miss the most and which three books would you take along?
I wouldn’t so much miss some “whats” as “who.” But I’d miss the ability to learn about people. I’d take The Name of the Wind, the Song of the Lioness, Protector of the Small, J. A. Pitt’s Sarah Beauhall series, The Blue Sword, and Crown Duel (the two-book version).

Thanks for dropping in. Have a great time at the rest of the Brain to Books Cyber Convention.

Find V.S. Holmes here:

Buy Smoke and Rain here:
Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Pre-order Lightning and Flame here:

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