Interview with Holly Kerr, author of 'Coming Home'

Ask any writer and they'll tell you they have always wrote and Holly Kerr is no exception. She’s written stories about bunnies dodging cars and sisters dying, distracting the cute boy in class and dark plots to kill your best friend's husband.  Coming Home is her latest novel, a story about sisters who can’t get along and living in a small town, two things she knows more than a little about!  A self-professed geek, she loves anything to do with Star Wars, super heroes, Joss Whedon and Harry Potter. She also enjoys running, playing in the dirt and sharing a glass of wine with friends. 

Her latest book is the women’s fiction, Coming Home.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?
Thank you! I’ve always loved the idea of a big family and what it must be like at holidays and family gatherings – loud and chaotic, full of laughter and fun and drama and conflict because not everyone gets along all the time.  It’s only my sister and I in my family and we’ve never really been close, so I took my dream and my reality and came up with the Skatt family, a family of five sisters so divided two of the sisters go by the father’s name and the rest have kept their mother’s maiden name.   
As well, I grew up in a small town, and moved away in my twenties. It’s always an experience to go back and visit my parents.  I wanted my character to have that fish out of water feeling that I often do.  Coming Home isn’t autobiographical at all, but like everything I write, there are elements of myself included throughout the story.  I’m not sure how you can write without adding bits of yourself.
Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers? 
The most difficult part about writing a book like this – any kind of book – is the point of the story where you get stuck.  You can call it writer’s block.  You have no idea what your character is going to do, nor do you care, because you’re at the point of the story where you don’t like it very much!  Keeping the story interesting and moving forward can be tough.  Creating vivid characters is always a challenge, and then to take into account their emotions and backstory...writing a book is tough.  And there will be times when you have to decide whether to keep struggling forward with your book or give up entirely. 
I get to this stage in every one of my stories.  I admit that there are some I’ve given up on.  I have hundreds of pages of written words that just aren’t going anywhere.  Coming Home was no different.  I got to that point, where I doubted myself and my love for my character of Brenna Ebans.  I thought about giving up but just couldn’t do it because the characters were so entrenched in my mind that they wouldn’t let go.  They would not go away, even though I had no idea what they were going to do!
So I took a break, took stock of what was working and what wasn’t.  I worked on a few more detailed character sketches – always helpful when your characters aren’t doing exactly what you want.  And then I kept writing.  And writing.
My rule of thumb is that if I don’t care enough about the characters, there’s no point going on.  For me, this usually means lying awake at night imagining situations and conversations of my characters and their emotional upheaval.  If I’m not worried about them, why is anyone else going to be?  If I’m bored of writing, people are surely going to be bored of reading.  When that happens, I need to start a new story! Luckily, after a little breather and some changes, Coming Home got finished!
Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?
Coming  Home is published by Etopia Press.  I had been sending out queries to agents with absolutely no luck for months.  I had self-published my first book, Baby! Baby? Baby?! and was getting ready to do the same with Coming Home, when I read something on-line about small presses.  I did some research, found Etopia and sent Coming Home in.  A few weeks later they offered me a contract and the rest is history!
Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?
It takes a lot of time between finding a publisher and seeing your book out there!
Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?
I am working on another book right now called Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder.  It asks the question, how far would you go for a friend?  I’d like to have it published in the fall, but that will depend how long it takes me to finish it!  I have a first draft almost completed, so we’ll see.
Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?
I’ve been really getting into Goodreads.  I’ve joined a few groups and have found a great community of writers.  There’s none of the ‘buymybookbuymybook’ mentality that there is on Facebook.  That being said though, I love Facebook.  I’ve found so many relatives and former classmates from when I was on a kid that I’m able to get to know thanks to social media!
Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?
If you are lucky to have a sister, or more than one, cherish them. They will be both your best friend and your worst nightmare many times in your life, but when you really need her, she’ll always have your back.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?
Thanks so much for interviewing me!  And thanks to all my readers out there.  You’re the reason I’m here and I’d love to hear what you think.  And for those who haven’t read Coming Home – I hope you do and love the Skatt sisters as much as I do!

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