This time i am talking to the talented short story and poetry writer Kate Holley. Kate is a 32 year old full-time mother of three children, two boys and a girl. Her kids range in age from 11 years old to 13 months, so each day usually brings something unexpected. Kate and her husband have been married for 6 years, and hope for things to slow down enough one day for an actual honeymoon. Kate was born and raised in North Carolina and enjoys raising her kids in the slightly slower pace of The South. In her previous professional life, Kate successfully managed multi-family housing in the property management field. Although she studied writing in college- and hopes to finish that degree some day soon- it wasn't until becoming a stay at home mom that Kate truly started to work on her writing. After several years of filling spiral notebooks, Kate's husband encouraged her to make the leap into self-publishing. Kate typically writes short stories and poetry, but recently started writing on her debut novel. Kate is also dipping a cautious toe into the waters of social media and has recently starting blogging. When not being a full time mommy, or writing, Kate enjoys cooking, reading, and running.
Books & Writing: When did you start writing?
Kate Holley: I remember writing short plays, in elementary school, for my dolls to perform. I would spend what felt like eons perfecting all of the dialogue between the dolls and creating the story lines of what was to happen at today's tea party. After each performance I would go back and make revisions to the script. I distinctly recall writing my first short stories and poetry around age nine, in the fourth grade. The school I attended had a great program in place called "Writer in Residence". The school would bring in a local writer to discuss the various aspects of a certain genre of writing in a workshop lasting several days. The culmination of the workshop had us students submitting our own work based on what we learned. My first short story was a murder mystery case chronicling a private investigator, Mac Penn. I still have the copy that I submitted and the book that our teacher printed for each of us with each child's story typed up. We also had a poet come in that same year that completely blew me away. I remember, even at that age feeling a big click in my brain with poetry - I suppose that light bulb came on in my head! After that workshop I was hooked and wrote poetry non-stop.
Books & Writing: I understand you write short stories and Poetry. What attracts you in short stories?
Kate Holley: Conflict! I love a short story with an immediate, intriguing conflict. Short stories must have something that catches your reader right from the start. In a short story you do not have the time to spend detailing all things as thoroughly as you would in a longer work. You must take all of the "high points" of your story and gel them into a cohesive piece of fiction- all while keeping a smooth, linear flow. I enjoy writing short stories because they are a challenge in brevity for me. I tend to get very wrapped up in details and descriptions and so most of my work looks like it's bleeding to death after each revision!
Books & Writing: Do you have a favorite short story author?
Kate Holley: I have too many most likely! A few classic favorites include Poe, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Chopin. Funny side note- I am actually related to the great short story author O. Henry (but do not claim any of his genius), and I do admire his work immensely. Recently I have been reading shorts by Zora Neale Hurston and Edwidge Danticot. I took an African-American literature class in college that I loved and have been revisiting some of the work studied in that class.
Books & Writing: What attracts you in Poetry?
Kate Holley: What don't I love about poetry? As a self-proclaimed confessional poet, I adore the feeling that I am conveying my raw thoughts and emotions to my readers. I feel like readers can connect with me on a much more personal level in poetry. There is a freedom to drop all pretenses and simply pour your heart out onto the page. In poetry I am able to tackle issues that I have battled - or may still be struggling with- and have no shame in putting them out there for others to read. For me, poetry is as much of a catharsis as it is an art form.
Books & Writing: What kind of poetry do you like to read yourself?
Kate Holley: I find myself drawn recently to macabre poetry- again Poe comes to mind as a favorite. I also enjoy classics- Yeats, Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, Eliot. I love Pablo Neruda's work, particularly "The Heights of Macchu Picchu". Rounding out the list would have to be Ginsberg, Plath, and Sexton.
Books & Writing: Can you tell us a little bit about your first novel you are working on at the moment?
Kate Holley: Well, currently it is still mainly in the development and research stage, but I have eeked out enough time to get the first few chapters drafted. It is a romantic historical fiction piece set in my hometown in North Carolina back in the 1920's. It has a paranormal twist, but no vampires or werewolves here. I drew a lot of my inspiration for character development in this novel based on oral history of my family passed down from my Nana. I also spend a lot of time driving the country roads near my home looking at the landscape and many of the old homesteads. I found a fantastic old cemetery off of an old rural road, not more than 10 miles from my home, that has been a big inspiration in this piece.
Books & Writing: Where can people go and read your work?
Kate Holley: I am slowly, but surely, publishing all of my archived short stories and poetry on Smashwords.com (smashwords.com/KateHolley) and on my blog- katehwrites.blogspot I have several shorts and an anthology of poetry that I will be publishing soon on Smashwords. Hopefully then, my portfolio will not looks quite as sparse! My blog will serve more for snippets of shorts and poems- more of a test audience for new ideas. Blogging is a new thing for me, so please excuse my learning curve as I get it looking a bit more polished!
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Kate Holley: Just keep going! Keep writing, and writing some more! I know all too well how it feels to have absolutely no time left in the day to write. Some days I do not even start my writing until 10 PM, and will only last for an hour. Just keep those creative juices flowing any way that you can. Also, as cliche as it sounds, carry a notebook or journal with you. I honestly have a notebook on my nightstand, and carry one with me in my diaper bag (full time mom here) to write down lines of poetry or plot points that may randomly pop in my head. It has proven invaluable in keeping up with ideas that I would have otherwise forgotten.
Below is an excerpt from a poem she wrote called "When Write is All Wrong" from the soon to be published collection of Poetry "From All Angles".
It's nights like this that completely demoralize my soul.
Hopes and dreams I tout seem far in the distance, growing stale in an ever-thickening layer of dust.
The dust of my dreams dying and the stale of yesterday's hollow musings
Attainable at what cost? Realistic from who's point of view?
My old familiar fears begin to surface: the sting of rejection and the denial of alleged promise.
This is how I feel when unable to put pen to paper.
Unable to make coherent prose or verse from grandiose projections in my head.
As my thoughts flail and sink with their arms outstretched
They grab at my mind, shaking and sputtering- drowning in what will soon be forgotten.
Desperate to matter, yearning for inclusion – yet my walls will not come down.
Every line pained and garbled with thoughts unclear and vaguely broad.
Sleep is taking over with no promising seeds having been sown
The night seems a waste and my most adamant will has been overthrown..
All of the thoughts to be shared but my once over-flowing well is completely dry.
Perhaps I expect too much, and should somewhat lower my bar?
This task seems a joke, for I have always required my version of perfection. So for now …
Good night you distant hopes on the horizon, in hopes of tomorrow you being in my pen's reach.