May 5, 2011

Author Interview: Holly Black

Holly Black is an author (for those of you who didn't already know). She is best known for The Spiderwick Chronicles. She also wrote magnificent Modern Faerie Tales -- Tithe, Valiant, Ironside -- and is currently writing a dark trilogy called Curse Workers -- White Cat, Red Glove, Black Heart. Holly creates worlds that lift off right from the page and into the reader's heart. I am happy that I was able to ask Holly some questions for Read & Riot.

Read & Riot:  Favourite book?
HOLLY:  I don't think I can pick just one.
R&R:  Favourite author?
HOLLY:  Tanith Lee, Emma Bull, Ellen Kushner, Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, Angela Carter.
R&R:  Favourite artist?
HOLLY:  Um, Charles Vess, Brian Froud, Alan Lee, Tony DiTerlizzi, Ted Naifeh, James Jean, Dave McKean.
R&R:  Favourite TV show?
HOLLY:  Right now, probably TRUE BLOOD, but I am also very fond of WHITE COLLAR.
R&R:  Favourite movie?
HOLLY:  I really love BRICK -- noir tropes played out in a high school setting -- and I was just thinking about A COMPANY OF WOLVES, which is an amazing Angela Carter adaptation.  But I always have a special place in my heart for LEGEND and LABYRINTH.
R&R:  Vampires or werewolves?
HOLLY:  I love both so much that I can't choose.  One of the first folklore books I ever read was about lycanthropy, but my middle school research paper was on vampire folklore, so I have been fond of them for as long as I can remember.
R&R:  What’s one item you should throw away, but probably never will?
HOLLY:  A grubby stuffed cat named Thomasina that I've had since I was a kid.
R&R:  Which of your fictional characters do you relate to the most?  How so?
HOLLY:  Probably Corny, because like him, I always wanted to travel to the world of faerie and I am sure that, also like him, I am totally unprepared for it.
R&R:  Do you know how your Curse Workers series is going to end?  You’re going to kill Cassel aren’t you?
HOLLY:  Muahahahahaha!

R&R:  How did it feel seeing The Spiderwick Chronicles the big screen?  Or did you not see it?
HOLLY:  It felt very strange -- it was as though my characters had been off doing things I didn't know about.  But it was also amazing -- all Tony's drawings and my words actually come to life.
R&R:  Do you find short stories or novels harder to write?  I have a friend who HATES writing short stories.
HOLLY:  I find short stories harder, but I am starting to feel like I am getting the hang of them.
R&R:  Do you prefer creating new supernatural species (or worlds) or know ones?  There are a lot of myths about faeries, but none about curse workers (that I’ve seen anyway).
HOLLY:  There are fun things about creating a magic system and fun things about drawing on folklore.  Both require creative work and research, but they are different kinds of work.  I would hate to be able to one do one as I like doing both so much.
R&R:  What helps you when you have writer’s block?
HOLLY:  Cassandra Clare has this really smart answer for this.  She says that writer's block isn't the problem itself, but a symptom of the problem and that when blocked we have to figure out why.  It could be that I've made a wrong turn in a story, or that I am telling it from the wrong point of view or with the wrong protagonist.  Or it could be that I don't know enough about my story.  But whatever it is, once I figure that out, I will be able to go back to writing.
R&R:  What advice would you give aspiring writers?
HOLLY:  Read a lot, write a lot and, if you're like me, find a critique partner.  Someone who likes the kind of stuff you like and who can keep you honest and keep you on track and tell you when what you write is working and when it isn't.  Not only is that stuff valuable, but learning to be a better reader and critiquer of *their* work will help you look more objectively at your own.
R&R:  What’s the best and / or strangest thing a fan has given you?
HOLLY:  The strangest thing was a dead spider.  The best is really just enthusiasm and love of the books.  I love seeing the t-shirts and vids and art.  I love talking about the characters.
R&R:  What do you do when you’re not writing?
HOLLY:  Mostly reading and traveling.  Throwing theme parties.  Also, playing with my cats.
R&R:  Was there a time when you didn’t want to write or be a writer?
HOLLY:  Nope.

R&R:  How did you come up with the idea for Tithe?  It was brilliant.
HOLLY:  Thank you!  I started with this image of a girl in iron chains that were burning her wrists.  It was just this thing that came to me out of nowhere -- just a couple of lines -- and I extrapolated from them that maybe iron burned her because she was a faery.  I also had this story about a girl who discovered that she was a changeling.  In putting those things together, I got to TITHE.
R&R:  How does it feel being in a bookstore and seeing your stories up on the shelves?
HOLLY:  It feels at once very good and also like I have stumbled upon something that belongs to me in a public place and I should snatch them all up and take them home.
R&R:  I think about the fact that I’m able to communicate with authors that I admire, and I can’t believe it.  How does it feel to be able to speak to your readers?
HOLLY: It's one of my favorite things.
R&R:  What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
HOLLY:  Jane Yolen once told me never to turn in a book before it was ready.  She was right.

Thank you Holly for taking the time to answer all my questions.

Since you're here you can check out my Red Glove Review!
You can visit Holly on her website, or find her on twitter!

1 comment:

  1. This really is such a great interview. I have been living on a rock close to forever because I have never read a Holly Black book :( BUT I hope to be changing that soon. This interview was really fun to read. I love all the questions and answers :)