We’re privileged to have author Meghan Holloway as our guest author this month. Take a few moments to discover the creative talents she brings to the realms of suspense and thrillers.
How authors get their start is itself fascinating and a process of personal discovery.
As Meghan says she, “found her first Nancy Drew mystery in a sun-dappled attic at the age of eight and subsequently fell in love with the grip and tautness of a well-told mystery.”
Now how about this–She:
- flew an airplane before she learned how to drive a car,
- did her undergrad work in Creative Writing in the sweltering south, and
- finished a Masters of Library and Information Science in the blustery north.
- Spent a summer and fall in Maine picking peaches and apples,
- And she traveled the world for a few years, and then
- did a stint fighting crime in the records section of a police department.
Meghan now lives in the foothills of the Appalachians with her standard poodle and spends her days as a scientist with the requisite glasses but minus the lab coat.
She is the author of ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH, available now from Polis Books.
Her upcoming thriller, HUNTING GROUND, will release in May 2020.
Follow her at @AMeghanHolloway.
What draws you to a book as a reader?
As a reader, I love a book that is atmospheric in setting, lyrical in language, and driving in plot. I love a book that keeps me guessing, has me on the edge of my seat, and manages to surprise and inspire me.
What draws you to a book as an author?
I have a hard time turning off my author brain when I am reading, so I find myself always studying what I am reading with an eye toward the craft. When I am writing, I strive to create something I would enjoy reading: a tautly paced plot with an ebb and flow that keeps me turning the pages, a narrator who skates the line of moral ambiguity, a setting that feels like it is a character, and a tale that immerses and leaves me pondering it long after I have finished the read.
How much of your writing comes from sheer discipline and how much inspiration?
I think if one is going to attempt to be a career author, writing must be 98% sheer discipline. That flash of inspiration is needed to begin germinating the story, but everything after that initial flair of an idea is pure discipline, hard work, and stubborn determination.
What about your promotional strategies? A lot of authors, esp indie authors, are using a rapid release strategy … you seem to write one novel and promote it well in advance. How does that work for you? Want to name your publisher?
I am not an indie author, so the difference in my publishing schedule and promotional strategy is that I work with a publishing house. Because of that, I don’t have a rapid release strategy and have a longer time to build interest in my upcoming novel. Polis Books has been phenomenal to work with, and authors will find that traditional publishing houses operate on very strategic release schedules. As such, I have a new release once a year. It allows me to stay a year ahead on my own writing schedule, and it works well for me.
Where did your love for writing fiction come from?
In the first pages of ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH, readers will find a dedication that reads To E.A.D., For telling me stories.
Those initials represent my grandfather, who for much of my life was a stalwart tower of a man with a stubborn Scottish constitution, a flair for storytelling, a relentless work ethic, an abundance of generosity, a ready smile, and a sly laugh.
He was the bedrock of my childhood, and his memories were the fairy tales that enchanted me. I did not grow up asking for stories of princesses. Instead, I sat on my grandfather’s knee and heard the story of how he and his brothers were caught on a railroad bridge when a train approached. He and all but one of his brothers jumped and landed in the river below. The youngest jumped, missed the river, and had to be dug out of the mire he had landed in—luckily with no shattered bones—on the riverbank.
I did not ask for stories of knights in shining armor. Instead, I followed along behind my grandfather in his garden and heard the tale of how his father overestimated how much dynamite was needed to blast a well and ended up blowing a hole into the land large enough to drive a truck into—and the rubble fell right through the roof into my irate great-grandmother’s kitchen.
I did not ask to hear stories about castles and dragons. Instead, I sat on the tractor’s seat passing him tools as my grandfather worked on the engine and heard the story of how his youngest sister had grown ill soon after birth and he walked with his father to the store for medicine. When they arrived and were asked the infant’s name, my great-grandfather could not remember his ninth newborn’s name and when he turned to his son, all my grandfather could supply was “Sister.”
And so my great-aunt grew up to be known only as “Sister.” I heard of how he thought my grandmother “was just the prettiest little brown-haired lass” the first day he saw her board the school bus he drove his last years of high school. I was told of how as a newlywed he almost lost a finger courtesy of his wedding band when he disobeyed the rule of no jewelry when working on planes on the Air Force base where he was stationed. My grandfather is a consummate storyteller, and with such a weaver of tales so integral to my upbringing, I could not help but follow suit.
What about training?
I began college as a pre-med student, fully intending to go on to medical school. A stint volunteering in the burn ward at a government hospital in Kampala, Uganda, convinced me that life course was not for me, as it turns out I am a fainter when it comes to the sights, sounds, and smells involved in medicine. I moved on to a mathematician track thinking I would become a mechanical engineer, but I continued to choose literature courses as my electives until one day a professor called me into his office.
He taught a number of the literature courses I had taken, but he was also the head of the Creative Writing department. He pushed the paper I had written on T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock across his cluttered desk toward me and said, “Meghan, why are you not in my program?” I did not have an answer for that.
Writing had always been my passion, from the time I first set pencil to paper, but it had never occurred to me to pursue it academically. The next day, I went to my advisor and changed my major for the third and last time, and I graduated with a BFA in Creative Writing. That course of study shaped me as a writer and taught me a tremendous amount that I would never have learned without the influence of critical feedback and the insight and guidance of more talented and more experienced writers. I think one of the most important and beneficial pursuits one can do for his or her writing is to study the craft at an academic level.
What’s one thing you’d like to say to readers and one thing you’d like to say to writers?
To readers, I would say: “Thank you for investing your money and time into an author’s love and pursuit of the craft. There is an art theory that posits that art is only fully and truly art if it has an audience. I think it’s important for we writers to remember that you are an integral part of what makes our craft successful.”
And to writers, I would say: “Keep writing.”