Interview: Nancy Holzner

NRR: When did you know you wanted to become an author? Who influenced you?

NH: I’ve always been a reader. My mother says that I started picking words out of the newspaper before I was three years old. (Seriously! But you know moms...) I started writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. It felt like a natural thing to do. So early exposure to books and a lifetime of reading inspired me to write.

For my career, though, I thought I’d be an academic. I got a Ph.D. in English and became a medievalist. At that time, I didn’t do any writing besides scholarly papers, handouts for my classes, and feedback on student papers. But I felt like something was missing. Like a lot of academics I knew, I read genre fiction for fun. (I was addicted to mysteries back then.) After I left academia and started trying to write seriously, the first manuscript I finished was a mystery. That novel was published by a small press. In the meantime, I’d discovered urban fantasy and knew that’s what I wanted to try next. Some of the first urban fantasy authors I encountered were Laurell K. Hamilton (her early Anita Blake books), Patricia Briggs, and Kim Harrison. They were so much fun! Those authors opened a whole new world to me.
NRR: How were you inspired to write Vicky's (a demonslayer) character?

NH: I used to follow a particular agent’s blog, and this agent would sometimes post comments critiquing query letters she received. One day she mentioned that she disliked the phrase “so-and-so wrestles with his personal demons,” because, really, who else would wrestle with your personal demons besides you?

I took that question seriously and started thinking about it. I loved the idea of someone who exterminates other people’s personal demons for a living. So I thought about what kinds of personal demons people might pay to get rid of--and about what kind of character would be willing to kill them. That character became Vicky.

NRR: Which actress do you think would make the perfect Vicky?

NH: That’s such a hard question for me! Vicky has a distinct appearance in my mind, and there’s no actress I can think of who looks quite like my idea of her. Maybe Charlize Theron, although she’s about ten years older than Vicky. When I saw a picture of Emma Watson with her new short haircut, my first thought was, “She could be Vicky!” Keira Knightley is another possibility. I’d love to hear ideas from people who’ve read the series.

NRR: If you could collaborate with any author who would you choose?

NH: I write technical nonfiction as my day job, and I’ve collaborated with my husband (who's also a writer)--but that was on a couple of tech books, so I guess that doesn’t count. The truth is that I’d probably be a terrible collaborator for fiction. I go very deep into my own head to write a novel, and I change things around a lot in the second draft. I think I’d be really frustrating to work with.

NRR: Deadtown has the perfect blend of fantasy, mystery and humor. How long does it take you to put a novel together?

NH:Thank you! :) It took me about three months to write Deadtown--but those three months weren’t contiguous. It was more like three months of focused effort over a total period of eight months.  I wrote the first draft in just over two months. I was lucky, because my work schedule allowed me to spend a couple of months writing full-time. (I was writing tech books and teaching some corporate training seminars. I met my income goal for the year in October, and I decided I’d spend the rest of the year writing my novel.) After I finished that draft, I put the manuscript aside for a few months. When I went back to it again, it took me another month to write the second draft and a week of living and breathing the story to polish the third draft.

NRR: With 2011 approaching, do you have any New Years rituals for bringing in the new year?

NH: We’re pretty low-key in my house. We open a bottle of champagne and go outside at midnight to wish the neighbors Happy New Year. Everyone on my block heads outside just before midnight to toast each other and ring in the New Year. Because it’s usually very cold in January where I live, the festivities don’t last too long. Of course, my husband and I share a kiss at the stroke of twelve. :)

NRR: Can you share with us a little about Hellforged?

NH: Hellforged picks up about three months after the events of Deadtown. Vicky’s werewolf kinda-sorta boyfriend, Kane, is in Washington, preparing to argue a paranormal civil rights case before the Supreme Court. Daniel, the human detective she met in Deadtown, is holding back, as though he’s afraid that Vicky will shapeshift at any moment. The Hellion to whom Vicky is bound wreaks havoc in her dreams. When some of Deadtown’s zombies die gruesome, mysterious deaths (how do you kill a zombie, anyway?), Vicky suspects that the Hellion is involved--and is somehow using her to target its victims. To stop a full-scale slaughter of the zombies, which would unleash a terrible, ancient power, Vicky must travel to Wales to step up her training--and to face the demons of her past.

Interested readers can check out Hellforged's first chapter on my website.

NRR: What can readers expect to see  from you in the coming year?

NH: Bloodstone, the third book in the Deadtown series, will be released in October. The fourth book in the series is also under contract, so I'm working on that. In addition, I’m playing around with a historical fantasy that’s both darker and more romantic than anything I’ve written so far. But that’s an experiment right now--we’ll see if anything comes of it!

I enjoyed this interview very much. Thanks again for inviting me!

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