Emma Jane Holloway On Tackling Creative Blocks + On Writing The Baskerville Series

emma jane holloway-authorName: Emma Jane Holloway
Author’s Website, Facebook, Twitter
Education: Ye Olde English Literature Baccalaureate
Track Record/Accomplishments Summary: I’m particularly proud of surviving the creation of The Baskerville Affair trilogy. I started out thinking the occasion warranted a full body tattoo, but as I calm down I’m willing to settle for a coffee mug. Seriously, I’ve had some fun moments as a writer—I’ve won a few awards, including the RITA, and had some great opportunities, like getting an invite to the New York Comicon.
Favorite Read: My current favorite is Joe Abercrombie. He has a wicked sense of the absurd.
Pet Peeves: Oh, no, no—the moment I make a resounding statement about how much I hate this or that is the moment some helpful soul emails me to point out five instances where I did that exact same thing.
If You Weren’t In the Book Industry, You’d Be…At my day job, which I am anyhow! People keep telling me not to quit.
What You Have Lined Up Next: Several cups of tea, and perhaps an episode of “Sleepy Hollow”. I do have story ideas from the Baskerville universe, but I haven’t figured out which one to chase yet.

When did you first realize that you had a bunch of books in you, ready to come out on the page?

I was diagnosed at an early age by a concerned librarian with one of those check-out scanners. My parents were alarmed, but I survived quite nicely all through my school years. It was a long time before I began to grasp the fact that normal(ish) people wrote books and that I could, too. When I decided to get serious about publication, I joined a couple of writing groups and started to enter contests. Then I began paying my dues. And paying. And paying…

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Your website is just lovely. The dark browns, and the overall aura…Did you have a say in the conception?

Absolutely. I work with a lovely firm called the Digital Dragon Designery, who do all my postcards, brochures and so forth. I had some ideas, but their execution of them is, as you can see, amazing. I’m very fortunate to have access to someone so talented, because authors organize most of their promotional materials themselves—and I would be hopeless on my own!

Evelina Cooper, the heroine in A Study in Silks is a clever detective. Did you intentionally create a female detective to counteract the mostly all-male leads in historical thrillers?

Not specifically. I had two things in mind—one was looking at a Holmes-like case from a female perspective. After all, the Victorian world looked very different if one was a young, unmarried woman and that interested me. The other was that there is a fair bit of urban fantasy in Evelina’s DNA. Not that she’s bounding about with a sword and a werewolf in her back pocket—at least not in this trilogy—but she’s got the same drive as a UF heroine and she has access to magic. What makes her different is that she’s trying to fit in to high society—that’s the survival tactic she knows. As she evolves, she grows past some of those social assumptions and steps into the role of protector and warrior—it just doesn’t happen all at once.

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What’s the most enjoyable aspect of writing a series? Of course, revisiting old friends is always nice, but what else do you find enjoyable about it?

I was incredibly lucky to have all three books coming out in a brief time period. That gave me the ability to design an overarching plotline with plenty of space to unspool it. I was able to build in material that might not come to fruition for two books, but it was already part of the landscape when I wanted it. Plus, I could do far more with character development. This series is character-driven, and having the scope to really show them changing and facing their demons was a huge gift.

Say the Baskerville series were coming to the big screen. If the studio that optioned it were to ask you for your thoughts on the casting, and you were given the choice between Anne Hathaway, Megan Fox, Mila Kunis as Evelina Cooper…who would you choose? Or would you veto all of them…because you have someone else in mind?

I’d want someone very like Eve Myles. She is the Welsh actress who played Gwen Cooper—no relation to Evelina—in Torchwood. I’ve not seen her do costume drama, but I think she would have the grit and range.

What sort of response have you gotten about the trailer for the series?

It’s been complimentary.

You have a degree in literature. But you actually ended up working in finance. Has that helped you gain a lot of business sense as an author?

It has. Authors need to realize they are a business, with brands, budgets and production timelines. Keeping track of it all is the first step to survival.

Your readers can choose to sign up for your newsletter. How helpful do you think these are to an author’s overall marketing plan?

The newsletter comes out when I have something to say rather than on a regular schedule. I like to do it because different readers respond to different channels of communication, and the newsletter reaches some folks who don’t hang out on Facebook or Twitter. Also, I get to put excerpts in, run contests, and do a few things that a longer format allows. It’s fun for me!

What do you usually do when your creativity hits a roadblock?

That usually happens when I’m tired, so my first response is to make sure I’m getting enough sleep. If that’s not it, I put my backside in the chair until I figure it out. Often blocks are simply not knowing where the plot needs to go.

What do you think can be expected in the future in the book publishing industry, based on what you’re seeing now?

That’s a really good question. All I know for sure is that there will be books and readers. Hopefully some of those readers will be enjoying my books!

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