Today I have the honour of hosting the Sixteenth author showcase focusing on the awesome talent originating from Australia and New Zealand.
The idea came to me whilst seeing so many of the book community gathering at recent conventions in the US and UK. And once my FOMO had subsided, I got to thinking about who might be gathered together if we had similar conventions closer to home. Pending the master planning required to arrange a massive convention, I thought the next best thing might be to run an Australian & New Zealand author showcase. So, I sent out the call, with the only prerequisite for participating being the author had to have been born in either country or currently live there.
I’m thrilled to say that a huge number of authors have reached out to me, and I will continue to post their individual showcases at regular intervals over the coming weeks. So hopefully you will enjoy these interactions with some very talented people. Please be sure to check out their work, sign up to their newsletters and follow them on their social media of choice. I make no apologies for any damage inflicted to your TBR’s!
Showcase No 16 finds me chatting with Taylor Swift’s No.1 fan and Australian author Louise Holland.
- Do you feel that being an Aussie / Kiwi (or residing there) influences your writing?
Absolutely! Being mindful of our slang and colloquialisms is a struggle, as is the amount of what I like to call ‘casual swearing’. In Spark of the Divine, even with made-up swears like “thank the Mother” and “seven realms”, I still clocked way more coarse language than I was aiming for! I think being caught between the US and the UK can be difficult, too. I was raised by the English daughter of an English teacher; so my spelling tends to lean to the British side, but I do worry my American readers will think I’ve spelled a lot of things ‘wrong’.
- What are some of the challenges being located so far away from the rest of the world, do have any tips for overcoming these?
The time zones can be tricky. Being asleep while the rest of twitter is up making friends and posting premium content… I get serious FOMO! I find it’s worth it to schedule a post or two on high-traffic nights, and also not to worry if it feels like people aren’t responding to my content straight away. Sometimes I’ll get next-to-no engagement until I wake up the next morning.
- How do you go about establishing connections in the book community? (any tips / suggestions)
Being yourself, above all else. Also not being afraid to “butt in” on other people’s conversations. Twitter in particular is like one big noticeboard. I felt weird inserting my opinion in the beginning, but as soon as I got over it and offered my genuine thoughts on posts, people started to interact with me more. I feel like a lot of the initial hurdle is where you have to prove you’re a decent human being, rather than an AI robot. Lastly, beware the “auto-follow” feature. You figure out pretty quickly which authors are there for community and which are there to be jerks, but the auto-follow doesn’t…
- Do you have a favourite character to write? And conversely are there any of your characters that are the more of a struggle?
I write in third person limited multi-POV, so it’s always a challenge to ensure different characters each have an individual voice. For example, in Spark of the Divine, I write from Lessie, Reevan, Mae and Valandaras’s point of view. Some feel more natural than others, Lessie in particular is such a subconscious part of me that writing her feels like journaling. I find a good trick is to give them their own quirks in writing – eg, Lessie is younger than Val and Mae, so she gets a lot more italic thought sentences because she’s in her own head more. But in a direct contrast, Reevan doesn’t have an inner monologue – so his POV has no italicised thoughts at all. Also, if I’m struggling to find their voice, I go and write a quick letter from them to another character.
- Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I’m sure it’ll come as a shock to anyone who’s spoken to me for more than five minutes, but I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan. The part people might not know, however, is that I have a photographic memory when it comes to songs—if I’ve sung it, I know it. Not just Taylor, either, though she is my specialty. I often joke about how smart I’d be if my brain didn’t have 98% of my hard drive used for songs. I hid 13 (of course) references to her lyrics in Spark. I can’t wait for a Swiftie to find them all.
- What would you say is the best thing about being an author and the worst?
I think for me the best thing is definitely the process itself – seeing a story go from a bunch of unhinged iPhone notes app scribbles, to a series of empty chapters with three-sentence scene descriptions, to an eventual first draft, to a finished product. The worst is marketing. Hands-down. I’m an author, not a content creator. It’s tough enough to battle imposter syndrome about if your writing is good without also trying to make viral TikTok videos.
- Any other Aussie / Kiwi creatives you’d like to give a shout out for? (let’s spread the love)
DEFINITELY @kristheescapist at The Fictional Escapist. He was the first ever bookish friend I made in the industry, and it was all because of a random comment I made on a post about his father-in-law’s indie reading journey. He welcomed me in with open arms, and he hadn’t even read my book. Most of the connections I ended up making came from his follower list, since I trusted his opinion that they were good people! He is a book reviewer on YouTube at @AFictionalEscapist.
- What’s your favourite quote or passage from one of your books?
AHH this is always so hard for me, because I don’t want to accidentally give anything away! The best parts of my novel are also the most spoiler-y. I think banter is one of my strong suits, since my characters argue a lot; and I like doing throwback lines that mean something different by the end of the novel: “death comes for us all” is a recurring theme in Spark of the Divine. I also like writing threats. My favourite line from a villain is: “Can a phoenix rise from the ashes if they are scattered to the sea?”
- What can you say about your current project or what you are planning next?
For writing, I’m diving straight into book 2 of the Kalaraak Chronicles, mainly because my mum said she will die if she doesn’t immediately find out what happens next! I am also going to be trying my hand at creating some short-run special editions of Spark of the Divine, which I’ll be selling at a fantasy indie book event held by the Book Booth [thebookbooth.com.au] at Kryal Castle (Ballarat) in November 2024. Hopefully between now and then I can figure out how to spray edges. I’ve watched half a tutorial; I’m sure it’ll be fine.
Bonus Question: Lastly Vegemite* yes or no?
Yes, of course, but you have to do it RIGHT. People are out there putting it on like Nutella. Insanity. You need a 2:0.5 butter to vegemite ratio, the TINIEST amount! Please look up Hugh Jackman’s interview on Jimmy Fallon for the correct way to consume vegemite.
* An iconic dark salty spread that (most) Australians slap on toast for breakfast (NB explanation for the rest of the world)
Louise Holland is a long-time lover of all things fantasy, after reading LOTR as a preteen. Her favourite books are full of complicated maps and names with double vowels. Dungeons & Dragons is her main hobby and she uses her table’s adventures as inspiration for her works. She lists Brandon Sanderson and Robin Hobb as her main author influences and listens to a completely normal amount of Taylor Swift.
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