First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?I’m from Northern Wisconsin, born and raised on a dairy farm just a short bicycle ride from Lake Michigan, where my grandparents lived. I was the seventh of ten children, five girls and five boys. Currently, I live in Kansas City, Missouri where my husband—an Anglican Bishop—pastors a church. I have three grown children—two boys and a girl in the middle.
What kind of books do you write? Where and when are they set?I’m a full-time hybrid writer, fiction and nonfiction. My first book, Crooked Lines, was set in two places: Northern Wisconsin and India—spanning from the 1980s for twenty years. A few Amazon reviewers have said that Crooked Lines is not definable by genre, but has been labelled as Literary Fiction and also Christian Fiction. I consider it Inspirational Fiction.
Tell us about Crooked Lines. Where did the characters and story come from? What were your influences?Crooked Lines is fiction, but was inspired by incredible stories told by my husband and his priest friends from India. At age thirteen, they all left home to join the Roman Catholic junior seminary in India, thus embarking on a fifteen-year journey to priesthood in a strict religious order. Their stories of challenges and diverse religious and cultural experiences amazed me. They met Mother Teresa, were sent into untouchable villages, and sent into the slums of India for ministry training. One wrong turn and their future as priests would have been jeopardized. They were tested and tried. Sagai is the character from that composite.
I grew up in 1970s and 80s America, a completely different environment and used some of my life experiences to create Rebecca.
Crooked Lines is a story of two characters, starting out as teenagers on their journey toward finding their purpose and place in life. The chapters are emotionally themed with each character undergoing the same emotional experience.
From page one, Rebecca faces a traumatic event and believes that if she can only get to India she will find peace. Sagai’s mentor—Father Michael—comes to the United States and meets Rebecca. The elderly priest becomes Rebecca’s pen pal and unites the two main characters together by telling one about the other and by asking them both to pray for each other.
I see from your website that your husband is Indian, and you both visited India soon after the Boxing Day tsunami. How much of Crooked Lines is based on your own experiences?As I said above, some of Crooked Lines is loosely based on our life experiences. The tsunami does factor into Crooked Lines. We were in India, ten days after the tsunami following a major fundraising event.
Who is your favourite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her? What are you working on at the moment? What other books do you plan to write?Currently, I am working on the sequel to Crooked Lines and hope to have it published by May. I just published my non-fiction book, Tsunami 2004: Still Wading through Waves of Hope. It’s a “then and now” look into the villages and lives affected by the tsunami. After ten years we were able to follow up with the orphans we’d helped. Ten years ago we gave them bank CDs to be cashed in, in ten years.
Other Books: I have a sequel to Crooked Lines that—God-willing—will be published by May. I also have a devotional with Harvest House scheduled for a August 2015 publication. It’s co-written with my son, an NFL player who is also a type one diabetic. I have plans for five other books to be released in 2015, fiction and non-fiction.
What is the hardest part of getting a book written, edited and published?Staying focused. I’m best on a hard deadline. After returning to India this past November, almost ten years after the tsunami, I arrived home and had twenty-six days to write, edit, and publish Tsunami 2004. Once I got focused, it went fast, but sometimes it’s difficult to force myself to write and stick with it. I always make sure I have an editor and a copy editor for content and grammar. I also have a critique group, but writing a 135 page book in twenty-six days didn’t give me enough time to submit it to my critique partners. Thanks to my content editor and copy editor, we got it done.
What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel? Set aside a specific amount of time each day for writing and stay focused. Since that’s my biggest challenge, if I can’t stay focused, I take a timer and set it for one hour. I don’t visit social media sites, but write for a solid hour. Then, I take a break and set the timer again. It’s a simple solution that seems to work when I get distracted.
Thank you, Holly. You can find out more about Holly at her writing at her website, blog, Facebook page, or connect with her on Twitter: @Hollymichael.
To purchase Crooked Lines:
At Amazon US: Click here
Kobo: Click here
Barnes and Noble: Click here
To purchase Tsunami 2004 – Still Wading through Waves of Hope, Click here