Today I am talking to author Jay Hollister about himself, his writing and his book!
Books & Writing: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Jay Hollister: This is always a tough question because I live a pretty normal life and I’m afraid I might bore people to death. I live in California with my wife and three young daughters. I attended college at the University of San Diego where I graduated with honors. After college, I entered into the construction business with my family, building schools and gas stations and homes. Then, about ten years later I started writing for the fun of it and now I’m doing my first interview. It has all kind of snowballed.
Books & Writing: Do you remember the first story you wrote?
Jay Hollister: Yes, I do. In high school, I wrote a romantic poem about a field and the beauty found in nature. It’s kind of cheesy I know, but it must have been pretty good because the teacher had trouble believing that I had written it. I remember there was a phone call to my parents and a meeting and in the end; she found out that the poem was indeed my own. It was the first time I realized that I may have a talent for writing.
Books & Writing: What do you love about writing a story?
Jay Hollister: Well, I guess what I love most about writing is the ability to manipulate and play with both words and sentence structure. I am defiantly not a conventional writer, finding myself far more concerned with the rhythm and/or tone of the story rather than whether each line is grammatically correct.
Books & Writing: Can you tell us a bit about the novel, “The Journal of Liv Theed”?
Jay Hollister: Sure. The novel is about a young girl who has been diagnosed with a mental illness. Written in the form of a journal, the reader is provided with a daily account of her struggles. The good days followed by the bad, her heart being emptied out on paper. Throughout the story her parents loving stand by her side, doing anything to help their young daughter. But there is only one problem- she doesn’t believe she is sick. She writes about seeing them in the shadows- the creatures. All charred and scaled, like demons. She finds herself plagued by questions and doubts about the truth and God and the nature of her mind. It is truly an emotional piece of literature.
Books & Writing: How did you come up with the story for the book?
Jay Hollister: The idea for Liv Theed came out of nowhere. I was in the middle of writing a completely different story, when the thought of writing a journal just popped in my head. I immediately flipped to the back of my notepad and wrote a couple paragraphs about a young girl suffering from hallucinations. Then a few months later, I stumbled across the paragraphs and I realized it would make a very interesting story.
Books & Writing: Are you working on something new at the moment?
Jay Hollister: Yes, I think I’m always in the middle of writing something. In fact, I am almost finished with a story I had started writing over two years ago. It is a suspense/thriller type tail that is told through the eyes of a murderer. I’m hoping to have it out early next year.
Books & Writing: Which author inspires you?
Jay Hollister: There are so many. Throughout the years I have enjoyed reading a myriad of authors, Stephen King, C.S. Lewis, and William Faulkner to name a few. But the one author who has inspired both me and my career is Cormac McCarthy. When I was in college, I was introduced to his works and I have been hooked ever since.
Books & Writing: Where can people go and read your work?
Jay Hollister: Currently, I am in the middle of getting published. If someone is interested in finding out more about me and my work they can go to my Facebook page, J. Hollister. I am also on Twitter under the hashtag, @Hollisteriii.
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Jay Hollister: Don’t give up. You are going to get stuck and you are going to get frustrated, but don’t ever quit trying. Everyone has a story to tell, so tell yours.
Below is an excerpt from his book The Journal of Liv Theed!
They tell me I’m sick. I was sitting in the middle of a room in a hospital when they told me this. The shaking felt in my limbs, my lips. I reached down and placed my hands on my knees and tried to steady them, but it didn’t work. Circled around me were four old men dressed in white. A few diplomas set in frames, the names of doctors. On the side wall I could see there was a bookcase standing from floor to ceiling and the shelves filled with volumes set thickest to thinnest and the bookends of a wolf and a dragon. The fire breathed out from its mouth and its wings colored of black. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want the stench in my nose and the taste in my mouth, the sounds of this place in my head. The elevator and the intercom and the gurneys pushed up and down the hallways. The elderly woman I could hear crying out from her room. Nurse, she called. Nurse. I don’t think anybody came to help her. I can’t imagine hell being much worse.
Question: What is hell? Is it a place in the middle of the earth made of fire and ash? A place where the Devil sits on his thrown and tortures and torments the damned? I think not. I think hell is in your mind, an unwanted voice that stays and tells its story without end. The black thoughts of things not of your making, the creatures that speak until heard.
It was there in the room that they stood in their white coats, telling me I needed help. Using words like delusional and depressed. Could be schizophrenia, they said. The latter seems to trouble those closest to me, my parents and my friends. I started to cry. I reached out and held the hand of my father and my mother and told them I was sorry. Sorry for the things I had said. The things I did. The dishes I threw in the empty corner of the empty kitchen and the yelling and the screaming at the shadows. The dark places where the Devil hides. I don’t understand it, I said. It all seemed so real.
Later on in the day, they released me under the care of my parents, laying out a plan for my treatment. My recovery, they called it. A sheet of paper filled with the names of therapists. A letter recommending home school, the pills I should take. Little green circles with numbers etched on the sides. A prescription handwritten on a piece of paper and the words scribbled in a mass. One of the doctors said I needed to be monitored while adjusting to the medication. Watch for severe changes in mood. You might experience a little weight gain, he said, but don’t worry. It’s completely normal. My father laughed and told me I could use a few pounds and I sat there and tried not to think about it, but I couldn’t. The thought was already there in my head and it wouldn’t go away. Like a plague. Maybe the pills will help with all that? I thought. Help with the obsessions and the things of the world? It seems the world is too much. I guess I am unable to live as others do.