Monday, January 2, 2012

Interview with Holly J Wood

Holly J. Wood
I'm so excited to have my future neighbor Holly J. Wood, author of the novel Invaluable here today. You can read my review of Holly's inspiring book here and don't forget to check out the yummy recipe for Invaluable Rainbow Jello. Read more about Holly's book for LDS young women.

      What inspired you to be an author?

I like the way you phrased this question. I've always admired writers who carry the lifelong dream of becoming an author and pursue that dream until they become published, but this was not the case with me.
A few years ago, I was getting ready for church when the strong thought came to me that I should write a book which focused on incorporating the LDS Young Women values in everyday situations. I hadn’t done any writing since high school, and even then nothing serious, so this thought terrified me! It took me a few years to finally get around to doing it, but once I took the leap of faith and sat down to write, the words just seemed to flow. It was a real testimony-building experience for me.
The day I sent my manuscript off it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but just having accomplished something I would have previously thought impossible felt so good. No one was more surprised than I was when I didn’t immediately receive a rejection letter. I started worrying, “It’s so bad they’re not even going to bother with a response!” But when I finally heard back from Deseret Book that they were interested in the story, I was thrilled beyond words. I sometimes still can’t believe how it all came about, but I’m so grateful and humbled to have been blessed with this experience.

Is Eliza based on a real person?

Yes and no. Eliza and I share many of the same personality traits. I’d heard that when it comes to writing you should, “Write what you know,” so I pulled a lot from my own high school experiences. However, once I started getting more into the story, she began to take on a life and personality of her own. It was fun to watch that happen with each of the characters as the story developed.

What do you want readers to take away with them after reading your book?

I had mainly teenage girls in mind while writing this book, and because that is such a pivotal time of life there were many messages I wanted to share. If I had to whittle it down though, I would hope the reader could come away feeling first and foremost that the Lord loves them. Each and every individual is so precious and each has infinite amounts of potential. There is too much that is dark and depressing out there; so many trials that we all face. I hope readers will come away from this book feeling uplifted and inspired. It’s not the huge, miraculous events that can change our lives, but the small and seemingly insignificant little choices that we make every day. That’s the message I hope to share.    

Are you working on any future projects that you can tell us about?

I feel like I went about this process backwards---first I had a book published and then I had to decide if I wanted to become a writer! It sounds crazy, but when my publisher hinted that they were interested in more books, I had to take a few days to think it over. As any writer knows, writing is hard work. You have to be dedicated, and you have to share half of your brain with your story and your characters to the point of insanity! (At least that’s how I get when I’m involved with a story). The bottom line though, is that I feel happy and complete when I’m writing. It feels good to develop my talents, and the best part is being able to share a message with an audience I might not otherwise reach. So after that long introduction, the answer is yes---I am working on another project. It’s another YA LDS novel, but this one is much more light-hearted than Invaluable was. The writing process has been entirely different for me this time, but I’m enjoying the challenge. We’ll see what happens.

What do you like to eat while reading/writing?

Nothing. I really get into a zone when I’m writing and don’t like any distractions. However, sometimes when I need a little extra motivation I’ll bribe myself with a chocolate or some ice cream if I complete my writing goal for the evening.   

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