Welcome to this week’s edition of Author Interview Thursday. Today’s special guest writes in multiple genres. She’s traditionally published but don’t let that fool you into thinking that she has her feet up smoking a pipe in comfy slippers while the minions at her publishers do all the donkey work. No way José! She works hard to market her books and is passionate about improving her craft as a story-teller. I got introduced to her by Cynthia Echterling who was on our hot seat way back in February. She has a lot to share with us today so please join in welcoming Pauline Holyoak.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?
I grew up in England, in a coal mining village lovingly nicknamed, “The place that time forgot.” I immigrated to Canada when I was 21 in search of adventure and a new life. I currently live in Alberta with my husband, beautiful Sheltie and ginger cat. I am the proud mother of two grown children and one adorable grandchild. As far back as I can remember the pen and paper have been my faithful companions and story telling my forte. As a child I lived in my inner world of fantasy and make-believe, preferring the company of Mother Nature and my imaginary friends, than that of other children. Often, I would sneak away from the mundane adult world, find a private retreat (usually behind the garden shed) and imagine. There in my own little sanctuary with tools in hand, I’d conjure up all kinds of intriguing tales, colorful characters and magical places. I recall the first time I wrote a real story, at school. I must have been about 8 years old, at the time. It was about a rabbit and a hare, cousins I think, running away from home to a strange country and getting into all kinds of mischief. I still remember my teacher’s reaction after she read it. She looked at me with a stern faced and asked, “Did you copy this?” “No, Miss Finn, I pleaded, “It just, came right out of my head.” “Hmmmm” she scoffed suspiciously. I was devastated but it never stopped me. “I’ll show her.” I mumbled. And I kept writing, whatever came out of my head. I have spent the past 25 years writing editorials, articles, short stories and books.
What can a reader expect when they pick up a Pauline Holyoak book?
If you were to pick up my trilogy, you will find… A chilling tale of love, lust, sorcery and sacrifice; laced with mystery and tied with humor. Inspired by my own experiences at a remote little cottage near Stonehenge. If you picked up my Children’s book you will find, fantasy, humor, colorful illustrations and fun!
You write in the Fantasy genre which is very popular and competitive. What advice would you have for someone who wants to write in this genre?
Unlike some other genres, you can let your imagination run wild, while writing fantasy. Read the classics for ideas and use some of the established legends and myths for your fantasy world. But be sure to make your work original. Draw from your childhood world of make-believe. Even though your story is fantasy, your characters have to seem real and believable. Make sure your character’s name fits with your fantasy world, its time and culture. Unless you’re writing a series, your villain must die! I like to finish with an epilogue, so that my reader can be sure that the hero is living happy-ever-after.
You’re published with Whiskey Creek Press. Can you tell us how this came about and the benefits of being with a traditional publisher?
The benefits of having a traditional publisher are – No cost. Publisher pays for editing, printing, cover design, illustrations, etc. More exposure for your book, promotions, help and advertising.
What would you say is the greatest challenge facing authors in this day and age?
Getting your book ‘out there!’
What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?
People often ask me. “Do you spend much time marketing?”….. Oh yes, much more than I care to. Years ago one would write a book, get it published then sit back and collect the royalties. It’s not that way anymore. Most authors are not salesmen, public speakers or comfortable being in the limelight but we are expected to promote ourselves, as well as our books, even by the big publishing houses. The internet of course, is the most powerful tool an author has. There are literally hundreds of sites that will promote your book, some are free and some are very costly. I blog, do online interviews, reviews and try to keep a consistent online presence. It can be extremely time consuming but it’s an important element in establishing one’s writing career.
What were some of your favourite books as a child?
Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Alice In Wonderland, Nancy Drew Mysteries, Jane Eire, Great Expectations, The Secret Garden, Anne Of Green Gables…I could go on…and on..
What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue?
Make it clear who is talking. Keep it short. Show rather than tell.
What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?
I have read many wonderful books that have inspired me. I have just finished a book called, This House Is Haunted, by John Boyne. It is written in first person and the dialogue is amazing. It has inspired me to improve my own dialogue. The book that has inspired me the most would have to be Anne of Green Gables. I read it at an early age. The writing, the dialogue and the story encourage me to pursue my dream of becoming a writer.
What is your definition of success as an author?
It may seem cliché to say that ‘success’ isn’t just about money or fame, but obviously that’s the way the world defines it, including the publishing industry. But, if that’s how we define our ultimate success, most of us are going to be doomed to disappointment. Ever noticed that the ‘top ten’ best-sellers list, by definition, only have ten spots. People like Steven King usually have at least two of those spots. Ask anyone on the street to name a successful author and their likely to mention Stephanie Meyers, Steven King or J.K. Rowling’s, yet these people do not strike me as being any happier than the average Jo and certainly not as people who have been ‘made’ happy by their success. I have this quote framed and sitting on my desk. “Successful, is the person who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much, who has gained the respect of children, who leaves the world a better place than they found it, who has never lacked appreciation for the worlds beauty, who never fails to look for the best in others or give the best of themselves.” If and when I become that person, then I will be successful.
Toy Story or Shrek?
What three things should a first time visitor to your home town do?
Get a visitor’s guide (online or off) to Spruce Grove and Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada. We have so many wonderful tourist attractions in this area and it’s only a four hour to the Rocky Mountains.
What can we expect from Pauline Holyoak in the next 12 months?
I am working on paranormal romance and another children’s book. It’s about a little girl who has an incredible dream and visits the land of make-believe. I hope to have both books published by next spring.
Where can readers and fans connect with you?
Facebook – www.facebook.com/
Twitter – @PaulineHolyoak
GoodReads – www.goodreads.com/author/show/
Amazon – Amazon.com/PaulineHolyoak
Website – http://www.paulineholyoak.com/
LinkedIn – LinkedIn/PaulineHolyoak
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?
Writing a successful novel depends on four things –a little talent, lots of determination, a vivid imagination and skill. No one can teach you the first three but skill is something you ‘can’ learn…
Try to spend some of your time lurking around the internet – read authors blogs, Facebook pages, websites, read comments and critiques. The internet is a treasure trove of information…
When writing, whether it’s a novel, article or short story, you must grab your reader in the first few sentences. People are much too busy these days to spend the time reading something that doesn’t grab their attention on the first page. Lure them in, give them a hint of what’s to come, tempt them with the breadcrumb trail that will lead them deeper into the thicket.
Be descriptive; convince your reader that she is there, by assaulting each of her senses, with color, sound, taste and texture. If your reader can feel the sun on her face, the wind fluttering in her shirt sleeves, envision the landscape and feel for your characters, half your job is done…
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. ‘Show’ don’t ‘Tell.’ I was confused when I first heard this but it is a simple concept. You can ‘Tell’ your reader how two characters meet, or you can ‘Show’ the characters meeting, making eye contact, checking each other out.
Don’t ever try to compete with others. In this competitive market, one needs to be unique, build your own brand, whatever that might be…
Brush up on your grammar and punctuation. If you have grammatical errors in your book proposal or article query, they are not going to look at your manuscript. If you can afford it, get yourself a professional editor, or find someone with an English degree to go over your work for you. And, never give up!!
Thanks for spending time with us today Pauline. You’ve touched on so many topics that authors and aspiring authors will derive great value from. I think you summed it perfectly when you advocated never giving up. You can connect with Pauline by clicking one of the links she gave and you can also grab one of her books at the link below.
Great interview, David and Pauline! Love your take on success and how you want to leave the world a better place than you found it! Kudos to a fellow Canadian! Shared and tweeted!
It was great having Pauline on the hot seat. Loved her advice for authors. It’s a journey not a sprint but well worth it.
Thank you for your comment, Sharon. And thank you David, for inviting me to your blog.
It was a good to have you on the hot seat today Pauline. Hope it wasn’t too hot 🙂
Wishing you all the best for your present and future titles.
Very interesting interview, thanks to both of you! I especially appreciate the quote Pauline mentioned and will keep it in mind when sometime in the future I teach my young son about what it means to be successful. Would you happen to know who said that? Thanks so much, Stephanie