Wednesday, August 18, 2010

H is for Holly

In 2002, Holly Kennedy attended Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Writers Workshop in Belize with a short story she'd written called "The Tin Box." The story became the first novel she ever wrote, and the first she published. Since its debut, The Tin Box, has been published in six languages.

Her second novel, The Penny Tree, released in 2007, has also been published in multiple languages, and her third, The Silver Compass, was published in April 2008.

Holly is married, has two young sons, and is a stepmother to another son and daughter. She resides in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada, and is currently at work on a new novel.

<== And here's where Holly is at work on that new novel. In my opinion, this is one of the best offices ever.

About Holly's most recent novel, The Silver Compass:

Fifteen years ago, Ellis Williams was seventeen, pregnant, abandoned by her father, and scared to death when she jumped off a Montana bridge. Then along came Louie, who saved her from shame with a beautiful lie. He changed several lives on that day. Now, recently widowed and with a troubled teenage daughter of her own, Ellis has returned to her childhood home, where life will catch her by surprise-and point her in new directions.

Step #1
  • music or gym class? Gym class
  • high school or college?  College
  • school lunch or sack lunch? sack lunch
  • crayons or markers? markers
  • first crush:  grade 5, boy named Shane
  • favorite subject: English
  • favorite teacher: English teacher
Step #2
TELL US about any of your weird writing habits or idiosyncracies. (ie, What’s one “thing” you need to write, the thing without which the creative juices would cease to flow?)
  • Bose headphones (to block out the noise from my family)
  • My morning espresso – CANNOT write a word without my double shot
  • Each morning before I start writing I *fiddle* with a tiny piece of the Berlin Wall as I check my email. A friend of mine was there when the wall was knocked down and he brought it back for me. To me it signifies (of course) freedom, but also the breaking down of any walls that may hinder creativity.
Step #3
TEACH US one or two of your favorite vocabulary words.

this often changes, though right now I seem to be stuck on these words -- cusp, fragmented, catatonic

Step #4
  • The last book I finished reading was The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.
  • I gave it 4 stars.
  • One word to describe it is absorbing.

Step #5
QUESTION: What's your favorite school-age memory?

Having my grade eight English teacher (a tough cookie who rarely smiled or complimented anyone) tell the entire class that my annual short story was ‘stunning’ and ‘well beyond my years.’

Step #6
QUESTION:What effect did school (elementary through college/grad school) have on your writing?

For me, the evolution of relationships/friendships (some that still exist today) proved inspiring. Even now, years later, I still draw on things that happened during my school years when it comes to my writing. I also learned I wasn’t a conformist, hated rules (still do), and excelled when I was allowed the freedom to be creative with my stories.

Step #7
GIVE US THE SCOOP. Tell us something about yourself that’s exclusive to In Search of Giants (ie, has never been publicized in print or podcast interviews.)

I finished high school when I was seventeen and my first job was a long distance operator.

In addition to that, when I was twelve I knocked myself out with a hammer. I was building a bird house, happily pounding away outside, when a HUGE spruce beetle landed on my forehead. I instinctively tried to swat it off with my right hand but was holding a hammer at the time and… WHOMP! …hit myself square between the eyes. It wasn’t funny THEN, but seems funny now, so much so that I made sure to build that scene into my debut novel, The Tin Box.


  1. See, I knew I'm not the only one. I knew there were others. Though it was a nun-chuck in my case, instead of the hammer. :)

  2. I want her office!

    She prolly doesn't remember, but Holly once gave me priceless advice about a certain offer of representation. Ya gotta love a straight talker.

    And I want her office!

  3. That is an enviable office. Nice that the kitty gets his/her own space, too. Probably to fend off unwanted arm-pinnings while typing. Or, is it just my cats that do that?

  4. I appreciate that a rather simple yet meaningful ritual helps to establish creative momentum at the start of a day. (And I guess the double shot doesn't hurt either.)

  5. Hah! I didn't know that was based on a true story, Holly! LOL! That's great!

  6. I'd settle for a good chair - the cornerstone of a great office.

    Graduating from high school and starting college at 17 was an interesting experience for me. No one knew unless I told them, but I was always acutely aware I was younger. I always wondered if it would have made much difference being the oldest... if it would have made a difference in my self confidence.

  7. Hard to say who I like more. Holly's book or her generous spirit and willingness sot help her fellow writers. Luckily I don't have to choose because both comes wrapped up in the same package.

  8. I enjoyed learning about Holly, particularly her office set-up and her hammer story. Owww! Thanks, Aerin, for another interesting interview.



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