Hey there everyone.
I have another fantastic Author Interview lined up for you all Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans out there, so hold on to your hats, boots and boot-straps and then strap yourselves in for a fun time, enjoy yourself folks and let’s go escape to some new worlds!
Hi there V.S., a sincere pleasure to have you here today to discuss your books, along with your own passions, influences and writing experiences.
Thanks so much for having me! I’m really looking forward to it.
Let’s start first with your Sci-Fi novel series of books starring your protagonist “Nel Bently” Tell us more about the plots and themes of this series, along with giving us an insight into the world that they inhabit too.
The Nel Bently Books are near-future sci-fi, following the titular hot-tempered archaeologist. Nel discovers her dream site is the origin of a 13,000 year old feud that has not only gone global, but interstellar. As the series progresses, skeptic Nel encounters sentient sound, heads in jars, and one mysterious-as-she-is-alluring political liaison.
While the series started as a standalone, it’s now slated for a total of 6 main novels with several spin-offs. Science fiction and archaeology make a fantastic duality, both exploring who we are and where we’re going but through different lenses, which I do in Nel’s books. As with all my work, I also explore identity, sexuality, and mental landscapes.
You also have another Fantasy series of novels called “Blood of Titans”. Can you tell us more about the characters and plots of this particular series, along with giving us an insight into the world inhabited by this series of novels too.
Blood of Titans focuses on the machinations and aftermath of war between the gods and the creatures who created them. I wanted to examine heroes who are as broken as the world they’re trying to save, and also how our concept of heroes changes over time. The first series, Blood of Titans: Reforged, follows three characters caught in the crossfire of that war and face becoming something monstrous to protect each other.
The second arc (the final book of which just hit stores at the end of June) focuses on two characters navigating the aftermath of that war. A Deaf former soldier plots revolution with her sisters-in-arms and a queer, murderous god struggles with addiction and visions. He hopes the world ends, she prays it doesn’t.
If you could invite any one of your characters to dinner, which one would it be and what would you cook for them?
What a fun question! I’d love to invite Nel over for a parking-lot beer, but that might end in a machete-throwing contest. Probably Azimir from Blood of Titans; no one enjoys food like he does, and everyone needs an Azimir in their life. We’d have a whole brunch buffet of meat and eggs and ale and fruit. Either that or I’d have Firas over to apologize for everything I did.
If any of your novels were to be made into films (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
Oh, this is tough! I’m not an author who designs most characters from photos, though I know many do. Mackenzie Davis for Nel, probably. A brunette Gillian Anderson for Alea and Colin Morgan for Keplan. Danai Gurira for Rih. Capturing their attitudes is more important than their look, though, for me!
What would you choose as your own personal mascot or spirit animal when it comes to you and your style of writing?
I’m not indigenous, so I can’t have a spirit animal, but my favorite animal is the opossum! Ever since I discovered that their “playing dead” is an involuntary response I felt an affinity, since that’s relatable to my own mental state. Plus, some of the hotels we stay in as archaeologists make it seem like we sleep in trash…
What do you think most characterizes or defines your writing? Do you have any writing quirks or themes that constantly crop up in your stories?
I’m a languisher for sure. I love language. I love rich and lyrical writing. I wouldn’t say it’s flowery, as the imagery isn’t often beautiful, but certainly visceral. As far as themes, there’s a lot of life and death duality, and struggling with who we are versus what’s expected of us. My editor does remove a fair amount of shrugging from manuscripts as well!
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
Trusting the story. It’s something that changes with each piece, too, and trusting that it knows what shape it will take, even if I don’t is sometimes difficult when I’m also concerned about the obligatory scenes, the previous arcs, and marketability. As for the easiest? I love revising. The bones are there and all I have to do is uncover them. Luckily I’m good at that.
Who are some of the authors, musicians, poets and/or historical figures that inspire you?
Historical figures are Mary Shelley, Ada Lovelace, and Dorian Corey. As far as writing: I’m inspired by V. E. Schwab and Sholeh Wolpé.
Do you listen to music when you are writing and if so, then what type of music do you listen to?
I do! Each of my characters’ has a playlist when I need to find my way back to their voice, but overwhelmingly I listen to instrumental soundtracks, modern orchestral compositions, and synthwave.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
There’s a fair amount of weapons and naval research when it comes to fantasy, as well as costuming details. For Nel there’s a lot of biomedical, physics, and technological research.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve always been fascinated by “what if” and “why” and finding the truth of a thing, even if it’s not pretty. Writing and archaeology are both wonderful mediums for that search. I realized if I was going to write all these stories down, I might as well do something with them. I was inspired by so many wonderful authors, and if I could have a fraction of the impact they had on me, on someone else or enable a reader to see themselves in the world, then I’ve succeeded. I don’t think I could stop writing.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
For me, what a lot of us call “writer’s block” is one of two things. Either I’m coming at a story or character the wrong way about, or I’m depressed. When mental illness flares up I find it hard to focus on the core or meat of my work, and the inspiration and voice fade. If it’s a simple story issue, I’ll hop in the car and look at my work from new angles, sometimes switching characters with one another completely to test new perspectives.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
I mean, “keep going,” is a pretty cliche one, but I think there’s a reason for that. I’m not someone who bears a lot of regrets, but I would probably tell younger me to trust themselves more. Take some leaps of faith. I’ve learned to do that better now, but I wish I’d learned earlier.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
I always have a project. I spend a lot of time with my houseplants and garden. If it’s a good pain day I’ll walk with our dog, Rory. I also collect and articulate natural curiosities and skeletons.
What are you views on audiobooks and would you consider having your novels made into audiobooks? If so, then who would you get to narrate them?
This one’s easy for me! The narrator for Blood of Titans is Jake Ruddle. He’s incredible! We’re working on the second book in the world now, but you can grab Smoke and Rain wherever audiobooks are sold. I’m searching for a narrator for Nel’s books too. There are a lot of accents to contend with–interstellar community and all–so it’s a tricky project.
Audiobooks are fantastic. As an activist for disabled representation, I love anything that makes art and enjoyment more accessible, and audiobooks are a huge piece of that.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
I have three main projects right now. I’m preparing Heretics, (Nel Bently Book Four) for its October release, Covid-willing. In this one Nel and her space-girlfriend, Lin, embark on a global mission of connect-the-dots searching for the victims of a deadly radio transmission. Without answers, Nel’s own mother–and the few communities clinging to life–will be next.
My other project is outlining Dagger’s Dance, the first in a new Blood of Titans duology. It’s flintlock fantasy with steam engines and a side of dinosaurs. My third project is a tangle of death and sex and magic and longing, but that’s all I’m at liberty to say!
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
Find your voice and stay true to it. Hold it gently and allow it to change as you do.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for joining us VS, we had such a fun time finding out more about you and can’t wait to get wrapped up in your books!
V. S. Holmes is an international bestselling author. They created the REFORGED series and the NEL BENTLY BOOKS. Smoke and Rain, the first book in their fantasy quartet, won New Apple Literary’s Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in 2015 and a Literary Titan Gold Award in 2020.
When not writing, they work as a contract archaeologist throughout the northeastern U.S. They live in a Tiny House with their spouse, a fellow archaeologist, their not-so-tiny dog, and own too many books for such a small abode. As a disabled and queer human, they work as an advocate and educator for representation in SFF worlds.
You can connect with VS Holmes via the following Social Media links:-
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