Tuesday, 15 February 2011

My Guest - Holly Hunt

Yesterday, we got a taste of the Devil.  Well, we got to meet Lucifer from Holly Hunt's upcoming March release of Devil's Wife, a Paranormal Romance book (or Urban Fantasy as its sometimes called).  Today, we meet Holly herself as she shares a little bit about herself, as well as some insight into how she came up with the story.
Holly Hunt

TKT: So, Holly, tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got started writing, your influences, etc.
HH: Well, where to start! I'm Australian, I'll be 21 a month after The Devil's Wife is released (my first book!). I live with my aunt and uncle, who have a small property in rural New South Wales. We have horses, sheep, dogs, rabbits, snakes, birds and all manner of rodent dwelling within our borders.
A view from outside Holly's window...nice!
I started writing when I was 15. I was reading one of my favourite books and decided I could end it better. So I started writing, and 180,000 words and 1 ½ years later, had a huge book finished and ready for reading (or so I thought). My school librarian, whom I was great friends with, took it and read it, and edited it for me. I've never seen so much red pen in my life!
But I took all that red pen as a challenge, and went back and changed all the things she suggested. Later on, my deputy-principal got in on the act and insisted on reading the story, which had since been split into three 100,000-word books, with a fourth on the way. It was quite a confidence bolster, all that red pen. It meant they were taking me seriously.
Where most authors will start listing authors as their influences, I don't believe that's where my influences lie. I believe I was influenced by the need to tell the best story in the world. I wanted to create fantastical worlds that I could vanish into and away from my life for just a while. I couldn't find these things in book form, so I set out to make them. But there are some authors, such as Garth Nix or Traci Harding, who showed me the way to doing that, and whom I read when I run out of ideas. 

TKT: That is absolutely amazing!  And look where you are now.  Okay, Urban Fantasy is your genre (or Paranormal). For those that don’t know, what exactly is considered urban fantasy?
HH: Urban fantasy is exactly what it says. You take a fantasy element—like a dragon, a werewolf, a brownie—and insert it into an urban (city) setting. Think of it like the Harry Potter universe, where the muggle and wizard worlds combine (such as King's Cross). The wizards are going to stick out, but they're also going to spend their time doing their best not to stick out, while running their own lives.
Vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, angels (fallen or no) and demons seem to be the characters of choice in urban fantasy. They're human enough to blend in, but not-human enough to make the revelation of their existence one of those "shockhorror" events.

TKT: How did you come up with the story, I mean, the Devil? Really?
HH: I was 16, I think, and minding my grandmother's house over the Easter break. I'd bought a small hard-cover notebook from the shop next to my high school and was watching television (the History Channel – so typical of me). There was a special going on about the old catacombs of Rome, where Christians hid in the early days of Christianity, before the Emperors took up the religion. I just remember this one shot of a catacomb painted with the devil, and I remember thinking to myself "Well, that's their point of view. What about his?" and from there, the story was born. I wrote the first draft, originally titled Lucifer's Life in a day, which only ended up being about 7,000 words. 
Catacombs of Rome
I set it down for a couple of years, graduated high school, and was unpacking from my move to university when I came across the notebook. I sat down in the middle of unpacking (who hasn't done that?) and started to read it. I thought it was pretty good, for a first draft, but it was too short, and there wasn't enough action. So I sat down and started rewriting. I managed to write out 25,000 words in just over a day, really getting into it. All in all, I wrote it in about 2 weeks, during my breaks between classes at uni.
Despite that small writing time frame, I did research into the bible and such pieces for information. I'd already started rewriting the Bible in an Australian 'translation' and I was half-way through Genesis, so I knew some of the story, but I'd forgotten most of it (you can read the Holly Bible (as it's called) at http://www.freewebs.com/rhythempoets/genesis/mybible.htm )
I wrote the story as the losing side's version of the battle, which is what it was meant to be. I was actually astounded by how well Lucifer's version of the Fall fit in with the Bible's version of events. Going to church as a kid must have been good for something, after all. 

TKT: Oh wow...you rewrote the Bible!  Impressive. Now, how did you manage to get “into character” or into his head? Tell us a little bit about it.
HH: The Devil's Wife tagline is,
"Sit down and open your mind. Everyone knows 'Devil' means 'Darkness' and 'God' means 'Light'.
"But history is always written by the winning side."
which tells you a lot about the story. It's not Lucifer who says that line (The line actually came from a deleted scene, much like the reference that gave the book its title) but it gives you the tone of the book. If you're taking the side of the loser, in any event, it's that much easier to put yourself in their shoes, rather than that of the winner. At least, I think so.
In The Devil's Wife, there are seven narrators altogether (Lucifer, his girl Clarissa, her cat Aspen, Lucifer's first wife Sera, Clarissa's best friend Jaselyn, God and the Archangel Michael) and I found that Lucifer was the easiest to write, because he's the one you most want to hug and tell it's alright while he protects you from the world. There was just something about him that tugged at my heartstrings and demanded I tell his story.

TKT: What is your writing ritual like? Hee-hee, okay, so you write a story about the Devil, so that’s put all sorts of stuff in my head.
HH: Hee-hee, no nothing like that. Most of the time I spend half of my day staring out of the window, or browsing the internet. But when I run out of movies, or the internet gets boring, then I start raking my brains for an opening line of a new story, or for the next line of the story I'm in the middle of. Usually the lines come screaming out of my mind, demanding to be written, so I put fingers to keyboard and start listening to the characters' voices, willing to be swept away on a fantastical adventure.

TKT: As all writers will find and have gone through (or are about to go through) the long and arduous process of submissions and rejections and queries…tell us a little about your journey. Any advice for the many talented writers out there still out of range from the radar?
HH: Straight away, I offer my advice: Treat it as a challenge. It might seem that you'll never get there, but if you treat the rejections as a challenge and don't let them weigh you down, then you'll keep trying, and you'll only get published if you keep trying. 
I took my first rejection as a challenge. Like with the red pen of the editor, I took the rejections as a challenge. I actually had a goal of being able to paper a wall of my room with them before I got my first acceptance. Each subsequent rejection got me towards my goal, rather than knocking me away from it. I have a couple of folders in my filing cabinet filled with rejection slips, only one or two being personal, instead of form letters. There's almost enough there to paper a wall, but I'm still going to keep going and get that wall papered in rejections. I have plenty more stories either submitted or almost ready to go, so I know I can get there, given the publishing industry's accommodating nature with rejections.
The Reject Wall
TKT: That's great advice! But back to the book now...What’s your favourite part about the book?
HH:  I think it's funny that Devil's Wife is being released on my best friend's birthday. Just sayin'...
Oh, wow that's hard. It actually depends on what mood I'm in, what part is my favourite. If you want action, I think the opening scene, where Clarissa is introduced, is the best. If you like 'Uh huh!' moments, then Sera's chapter is probably the best one.
But I think the scene in the kitchen, were Lucifer and Clarissa are dancing along to her iPod, is the most perfect, up-beat scene in the book. Lucifer is trying to convince Clarissa to stop being nervous around him, and he's appalled at the way she's butchering the onions for their dinner. So he leads her into a dance around the kitchen, both of them singing along to Waltzing Matilda, and taking friendly jabs at each other for their bad dancing or singing.
These are my favourite lines of the scene, I think:
"Your singing really is terrible," Clarissa laughed as I spun her again.
"Maybe," I allowed with a grin, "but it's got you relaxing."
Clarissa laughed and spun back into my arms. "And you managed to get me dancing."
"As graceful as a butterfly," I said with a laugh. "You haven't trod on my foot once."
With an innocent expression on her face, she stood on my right foot as hard as she could. 
I laughed. "That's my girl!"

TKT: Oh, sounds good...what were they making?  Okay, one final question: What's next for Holly?
HH: Hopefully a long nap, heehee. 
Nah, I have another book, Blood Moon (a story about werewolves who bring around a world-wide apocalypse), contracted for release at Wild Child Publishing, but the release date for that hasn't been set yet. But we're working on it.

But while I'm waiting on that, I'm writing a couple of books and rewriting another (multi-tasking :) ). Dragons, vampires, gods and Elementals. You've just got to love the freedom that writing under the Fantasy banner offers you.

But after all that, it's really back into the submissions game again. Lucky I've got a tonne of books all ready (or on the last pages of a rewrite) to go, and some wall to be filled with rejection slips. Have to do something to keep me busy.

Thanks Holly for being such a sport and putting up with all these intrusive questions.  I know being a writer and talking about yourself is the pretty hard since you'd much rather talk about your characters instead.

And for another reminder, Holly is giving away a PDF copy of the Devil's Wife.  All you have to do is post a comment or a question at the end.  Be sure to leave you contact email so Holly can contact you if you win.  Good luck folks and thanks for stopping by.


  1. Great interview, TK and Holly. Love your attitude to rejection, Holly - you deserve to succeed with this and I'm sure it will be a big hit!

  2. Holly you are a success even before you get published. I love your positive attitude you must be very proud. I can't wait to read the final version of Devil's Wife.