Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and ninety-fifth, is of contemporary women’s novelist Holly Kerr. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Holly Kerr is not overly fond of writing bios of herself. She would rather create her characters, interesting, fun-loving, relatable characters that catch the readers’ attention and move the story forward at a good pace. As a compromise, she decided to pretend she was describing one of her characters and came up with a few things which define Holly Kerr.
She is Canadian.
This is usually not a pertinent fact about Holly, but due to the international flavour of Morgen’s blog, she thought it might be a fun fact. Holly is a Canadian in that she is nice and polite to all, and also finds herself apologizing for things which are not her fault, just like most good Canadians. It does not mean she plays hockey or eats poutine, however. In Holly’s opinion, French fries should be eaten with mayonnaise, not gravy, and she’s sorry if you don’t feel the same way!
As for hockey, Holly enjoys watching the sport, but she would rather watch baseball over hockey any day. In fact, she is a die-hard baseball fan; she has the ability to name the starting line-up of the Toronto Blue Jays during their 1992 World Series Championship season, she coaches her eleven- year old son’s baseball team, and is teaching her eight year-old daughter how to pitch.
Holly feels fortunate to have spent the first half of her life in small-town Ontario. She was raised on a farm, which gave her a love of animals, an appreciation for the outdoors and the ability to drive a tractor. It also helped her learn to drive during the long and snowy Canadian winters.
To her parents’ dismay, Holly followed her husband to Toronto, where they now reside. To clarify, Holly’s parents were dismayed about the move to the big city, not the husband!
Holly has a few atypical Canadian interests: on a recent vacation, she realized she loved scuba diving and snorkeling, and would like to pursue this new activity, albeit in a warmer climate. She also runs and is learning all about the challenges of trying to train for a marathon during the deep-freeze that is January in Toronto. Luckily, she also enjoys reading, movies, all things Star Wars and super hero related, which can be enjoyed indoors.
She is a mother.
This is a pertinent fact about Holly, since these days, being a mother seems to define who she is the most. She is Kaitie’s mom, and Sam’s mom, and Sarah’s mom. Holly’s children enjoy the fact she is an author, mainly because it means she is home during the day so they often come home for lunch, bringing many friends with them.
Holly is a typical mother who described her children as wonderful, amazing, thoughtful, talented and believes her three offspring basically radiate an all-round brilliance. She is very proud of them.
She is a writer.
This should undoubtedly take up the majority of the allotted space.
Holly Kerr is the author of the chick-lit novel, Unexpecting and the women’s contemporary novel, Coming Home. Her latest book, Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder, is also women’s contemporary fiction, but Holly was surprised to discover there was a dark, Gone Girl like twist within the story.
For those of you curious about how Holly could be surprised about a book she herself wrote, an explanation would be that sometimes characters veer off of what was planned for them, saying and doing things that surprise even the author. It’s what makes writing fun.
Like a lot of authors, Holly has always wanted to be a writer. She’s penned stories about bunnies fleeing from car headlights, dying sisters, Russian attacks on public schools and subsequent resistance of the students. In later years, she focused her writing on women and their relationships, whether it was a woman’s comical obsession to have a baby and how it affects those in her life (Unexpecting) or how difficult it can be to like your sisters. (Coming Home)
Holly is a staunch supporter of independent authors. Unexpecting was self-published and although Coming Home was published by a small press, she has returned to self-publishing with her latest novel, Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder. While she would enjoy the validation having her books being picked up by a traditional publisher, she gets a great deal of satisfaction from the control of being an indie author. Holly keeps discovering new and supportive communities of authors, and she hopes to use her website to cast a spotlight on other indie authors.
Holly also writes a series of erotic romance novels under the pen name Anna Ellis. She finds it an interesting challenge to keep the two sides of her separate.
Absinthe Doesn’t Make Your Heart Grow Fonder asks the question: How far would you go for a friend? It turns out the four characters in the story would do quite a lot for their friends. So would Holly Kerr.
And now from the author herself:
Revisiting your first love
Good idea? Not always. Some things should stay forgotten. But sometimes revisiting the past makes your future that much smoother.
Once upon a time, about twenty years ago, I wrote my first novel.
It wasn’t very good.
I was young and idealistic, and my high hopes kept the dream of being discovered as the next big thing alive for quite a while. I had my book critiqued by my writing group; older, established writers – oh, what must they thought of me! These women wrote serious, literary novels with themes and symbols and here I was, a little girl with a story full of sex and scandal.
I’m still not sure how I ended up in that writing group.
My first book was called Get Carter. I eventually changed the name to Getting Carter, when I discovered there was a movie starring Sylvester Stallone with the same name. I remember the indignation and horror I felt sitting in the movie theatre and the trailer for Get Carter was showing.
“Isn’t that the name of your book?’ asked my husband. “You should change it.”
I was devastated. How could I change the name? It was as if he had told me to change the name of our firstborn!
In hindsight, there was no need to change the name. No one heard of the movie, or the book!
The story of Get Carter centered on the lives of three women, best friends from a young age. All had a variety of successes in their lives, which were tied back to one man – Carter Spaulding. And then these three women decided it was necessary to kill Carter, because he is one bad, evil dude. (FYI, there were other reasons as well)
Like I said, it wasn’t one of my better works. But I loved the story; the premise of a female friendship strong enough to overcome every adversity this one man could throw at them; betrayal, loss, time, distance and jealousy. My girls definitely stuck together through thick and thin, sickness and health, and cheating husbands. I wanted to write about strong female friendships, because it was something that was important to me. It still is. My friends are my family and I would do anything for them.
Nothing ever happened with Get Carter. Eventually I moved on, and my first love, my little story I’d worked on so diligently, so determinedly, was sent to the cupboard of unpublished works.
There actually is a real cupboard where I keep unpublished manuscripts. Back then, I printed out copies of my books to revise and I still have a few trees worth of paper in a cupboard in my son’s bedroom – my original books. I won’t be getting rid of them anytime soon.
Flash forward twenty or so years. I was still writing, only now I was a little better at it. I had just published my second novel, Coming Home, a story of the everlasting bond of sisters and was looking for inspiration for my next book. I still loved writing about strong relationships between women. In Coming Home, I focused on sisters and my first novel, Unexpecting, had a volatile but unbreakable friendship between the protagonist Casey, and Brit, the character all my readers seemed to love to hate! Women tend to stick together in my books.
For my new story, I came up with the characters first, and wouldn’t you know it, they were four lifelong friends. Josie, Poppy, Lana and Meredith. Never before had characters popped into my head, almost fully formed and fleshed out. I knew these women. I knew which one would stand firm, which one would break first. Who was loyal, who looked for humour in any situation. Their friendship was strong and tight, unbreakable. This relationship would be able to withstand a night out celebrating Josie’s fortieth birthday.
Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder began as a fast, fun contemporary tale about four forty-year old women out for a night on the town, and the trouble and shenanigans that often occur when women and drinking go out together. I love the idea – remember the nights spent with your girlfriends in your twenties? Imagine those nights when you’re forty.
(Sidenote: I’m sure there are many 40-somethings who can still frequently tie one on, spend a night painting the town red, but I am unfortunately no longer one of them! All the power to you if you are!)
That was how Absinthe began and it was going well. But then…
I began to have flashes my first love. These continued while I was writing. Memories of Get Carter kept interrupting me, and I soon found it was helping. Poppy was Daniella, my main character in Get Carter, but better – not the wishy-washy depressive Daniella turned out to be. Reagan morphed into Lana, but softer and more vulnerable. Scenes and characters began popping into my mind. I remember the AH HA moment when I finally realized I was doing a massive rework of my Get Carter novel.
It’s not the same book, or even the same story by far, but with the chance of sounding a little out-there (like Meredith in Absinthe!) it was as if the spirit of Get Carter knew this was the one chance to make things better, to make up for the mess and ruin and help me succeed with Absinthe.
Thanks to the revisit, my original fun, somewhat frivolous story about girls out drinking got more depth, and a lot more conflict. It got funnier (I think!) and it got a pretty cool twist. I’m not saying these women killed one of their husbands, because that would spoil things, and it may not even be true. But I will say revisiting Get Carter help me construct Absinthe into a novel I’m exceptionally fond of. It reminds me of my first love and the person I was when I wrote it.
I also named one of the characters Kent Carter.
I’d love to hear from you about writing or reading or anything at all! Visit me at:
- Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Holly-Kerr/e/B00APL5GWQ
- Absinthe US link: http://www.amazon.com/Absinthe-Doesnt-Make-Heart-Fonder-ebook/dp/B00S6QLNW4
- Amazon UK Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Holly-Kerr/e/B00APL5GWQ
- Absinthe UK link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Absinthe-Doesnt-Make-Heart-Fonder-ebook/dp/B00S6QLNW4
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