Deana J. Holmes is a Vancouver based author who has been writing for over a decade in many genres including romance, fantasy, paranormal, science fiction and young adult. She is immensely talented (which I know firsthand as her critique partner for the past three years).
She loves to travel and sometimes finds herself in interesting places around the world.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?
Tough question! I’m one of those people who’ve both always known they were a writer – and, at the same time, just figured it out. Ever since I was little, I’ve told stories. Sure those early iterations involved Barbie helping the Transformers save the world, but who hasn’t imagine a pink party dress making everything right? Gradually my stories evolved (the party dress wearing heroine had to earn her space ship and learn the value of timely explosions), yet writing was relegated to an extra part of my life. A bonus or hobby – not a career. It took until my mid-twenties to face the glaring truth – I wanted a career that I was passionate about. And that meant writing. So how did I start? I put words on a page. They were truly terrible, maudlin words featuring carriages and bramble-filled woods – seriously, I found my old data drive the other day and cried with laughter. It was also great to see how far I’ve come. Since that first attempt my overarching goal has been to make better words.
Oh, and finish things. Finishing things is pretty great. A finished first book – even a bumpy mess of a first book – is a huge accomplishment. One that tells you whether you want to write another, or put it on a shelf and call it a night. (I’m on number five and choose to believe the words are better. At least they’re free of brambles).
What inspires your ideas? How do you come up with them?
I’m inspired by the things that scare me. Now, don’t go getting all excited about me writing horror. I don’t… well, mostly. Zombies do have a habit of shambling into my stories (the jerks). Two of my five books were inspired by nightmares. My sleep-brain might be a masochist, but it’s also interesting. Dreams that wake me up the night, heart pounding and hands shaking, seem to demand figuring out.
The rest of my ideas just sort of bubble out of my mental caldron – inspired by other stories, history, or science articles. If a concept strikes me and I find myself thinking ‘wow, that would be really cool but hard to pull off,’ I know I’ve found something. For me, inspiration is equal parts excitement and fear I’ll screw it up.
You have written multiple novels in different genres. Do you have a preference?
Did I mention I like stories? I read in a wide range of genres, so it feels natural to write in them as well. I can’t say I have a preference. Though, to be fair, so far I’ve written books that are paranormal, supernatural, science fiction and fantasy (most with romantic elements) – all genres that offer a common thread of worlds-not-quite-ours. I’m sure there are people who’d disagree, but I don’t seem these genres as all that different from one another. I enjoy the weird – be it by magic or science – and the creatures. And all these genres let me create different worlds and weave stories about the beings that dwell there.
What draws you in about each genre you write?
I did mention the weird and the creatures, right? What pulls me into each genre is the adventure of seeing how my characters – who may or may not be said creatures – have to face what that world throws at them. I love unlikely heroes and flipping tropes on their heads. All the genres I write in offer such amazing opportunities to reinterpret and reimagine their tropes.
What are you working on right this second?
Right now I’m working on a high fantasy romance novel. I’m having great fun (when I’m not cursing the necessary evil that is the editing process) torturing my sword-wielding heroine and her recovering alcoholic emperor. For Alecsandra, the problem isn’t fighting the villains trying to tear her nation apart, it’s figuring out who they are. She’s a noble who’s far better with blades than she is with people, and she’s stuck with a group of rogues who might be hunting the master assassin behind it all. Or might be working for him.
What does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?
Oh boy. If I have a typical writing day, I guess it’s pretty easily summarized: get up, go to day job, get home, forage for food, and eke out as much writing time as post-work brain allows. Usually I can get in a good hour or two, but my day job can be intense, so sometimes I just stare at my laptop and will things to write themselves.
If one of your novels was made into a movie, which would you choose and what actors would you cast to play the three main roles?
Seeing any of my novels on the big screen would be the most incredible thing. If I had to pick one, I suppose I’d pick my science fiction novel After the Frenzy and the Silence. Aside from the gorgeous filmography potential offered by the post-alien-apocalypse landscape, the cast includes a number of dogs. All of whom I’d insist on snuggling. There are two main, point-of-view characters: Gwen, the reluctant leader of a band of skilled lunatics known as the Stray Dogs, who I will forever picture as Lupita Nyong’o; and Amelia, Gwen’s younger sister enslaved by the alien invaders, who I think Chloe Bennet of Agents of Shield would do a great job of playing. As for the third role, I’ll cherry pick one of my favorites from the supporting cast – I’d love to see Indira Varma play my anthropologist, Dr. Sangita Hart. Oh, and Chris Evans can be anyone he wants. Or just hang out during filming. Please?
Who are some of your favorite authors? Why?
I’ve got so many authors that I love to read! To keep it reasonable, I’ll pick a two of the most formative authors to mention. Patricia C Wrede taught me to love fantasy and that the princess didn’t need to sit around, waiting to be rescued. Dealing with Dragons forever has a place in my heart. And Nora Roberts. Not only do I thoroughly enjoy just about everything she writes, but she has the kind of career worth aspiring to. She writes in multiple genres and consistently puts forward great stories that are different, yet still undeniably her voice.
Do you have a preference for publication when the time comes? There are so many options for authors now including indie and hybrid. What are your thoughts on that?
When I started taking my writing seriously, my single goal was to gain a publishing contract and the traditional career model. But the publishing industry has changed a lot in the past decade, and my goals have changed with it. Now my preference is to be a hybrid author. I love writing across genres, and it’s unlikely I’ll receive publishing contracts for all of them. As I hybrid I’d get to explore the best – and worst – of both ends of publishing, learning from professionals in the industry with the contract while exercising my autonomy on my indie projects.
What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?
That I’m always going to fear rejection and I can’t let it stop me.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing?
I know it’s been said before, but just keep putting words on a page. Know that nothing will ever be perfect the first time – and that okay. Because you can always make it better.
Set goals and do your best to keep them. Finish that first book. How else are you going to know whether you want to write more novel until you’ve gotten through one?
Thank you so much! Where can people find out more about you and your books?
Online at Twitter: @DeanaJHolmes