forget to take a look at the two free ebooks Holly has to
offer on our "Freebies" page**
Factor - Writing is obviously not just how you make your
living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to
keep the creative "spark" alive - both in your
work and out of it?
- I think this is much a factor of who I am as of what I
do -- I cannot watch a person walking down the street on
a sunny day without imagining him or her as an alien, a
serial killer, someone holding one of the major secrets
of the universe, someone pursued by ghosts, haunted by
demons, or simply running from something that would scare
the bejeezus out of the rest of us if we only knew. I am
an unabashed restaurant eavesdropper, a constant mall
people-watcher, and endless reader of everything in
fiction and nonfiction. I get a kick out of putting words
on the page. I like scaring myself, making myself laugh,
making myself cry. When I do this, I figure I've got that
part of the book right.
To really enjoy writing, to really stay fresh with it, I'd
recommend reading things you hate as well as things you
like, watching people, and possibly hanging out with
other writers, which I always find inspirational.
Your site (http://www.hollylisle.com) offers such an
amazing array of writing tips, that one has to wonder how
you find time to write anything else! What prompted you
to create the site?
HL - The short answer
-- free blank space and Heinlein's comment that we cannot
pay back, we can only pay forward.
The long answer -- the writing part of the site started
as an adjunct to a regular reader-oriented site put
together for me by my friend Lazette Gifford (http://www.lazette.net) back before I
actually got on the internet. When I joined SFF-Net, my
free pro-writer membership included space for a web page.
I was intrigued -- knew nothing about HTML, and was a bit
afraid to learn -- but the blank canvas offered a
temptation that overcame the fear. I saw Zette's page as
the equivalent of the newsletter I used to send out to
people who sent fan letters, but I saw the sff.net site
as perhaps a way to replace the writers' group newsletter
I did when I was first getting started.
It grew like Clifford the Big Red Dog -- a page here, a
page there, over a period of years. Every time I hit
something that just flattened me, and figured out a way
to write myself out of it, I wrote an article on that and
posted it. After a while, it became a bit of an obsession
-- and when the Internet started inventing free community-creation
tools, look out. Suddenly I could replace all the other
facets of the writers' group I missed so much (I'd moved
I eventually moved from the free site to a paid site,
still with SFF-Net, because this allowed me to offer more
features and to expand all over the place.
Has having an online presence helped or hindered your
HL - Oh, God. That is
the question, isn't it? On the one hand, it is a huge
time sink. On the other hand, the site writing community
is an endless source of inspiration. And on the gripping
hand, in writing articles for the site, I've dissected my
own methods and helped myself as much as I've helped
anyone who has read them.
If I had infinite time, it would be a pure win. As it is,
it is winning that I have to pay for. So far, it's been
very much worth the price.
What pros and cons surround the e-publishing industry,
and how do you envisage the future of e-publishing?
HL- I see two major
cons, and a scattering of minor ones. The e-publishing
industry is notoriously unselective over all, with the
result that writers who e-publish as their sole or first
publishing venue get no respect. Beyond that, most e-book
readers are clunky and expensive, publishers have so far
failed to embrace a single format standard, and formats
are all over the place in terms of usability, convenience,
The pros have the air of double-edges swords. Beginners
can get published early -- in many cases before they're
ready. The idea of instantly available downloadable
fiction is gorgeous -- as soon as someone gets the format
and platform issue together. I like reading books on my
Handspring Visor, but not every book is available in
PalmOS format. I wouldn't even consider one of the bulky
readers. And as for reading from my computer screen,
fageddaboudit. When I read, I want to sack out on the
my feet up, well away from keyboards, mice, and
ergonomically correct chairs. (Which is why my next
project is to offer MUGGING THE MUSE in PalmOS. When I
first did it, I figured people would use the Adobe format
to just print the thing out and then hole-punch it and
put it in a binder (the way I read e-books before I got
my Visor.) Now I've found a better way, and am moving to
Slowly, but I am . . .
The e-book industry will get it together. It has the
advantages of being able to offer good products with low
overhead, high profit margins, and low prices, and when
you can do that, you can do damn near anything. It's
going to have to discover a format, a sane pricing
schedule (I'll pay a few bucks for an e-book, and have
paid as much as fifteen for technical nonfiction that I
wanted right then -- but e-books are not as satisfying
from a tactile sense, don't require the publisher outlay
that a physical book requires, and I resent publishers
who try to sell e-book bestsellers to me for the same
price as physical books), and figure out how to market
the things. Sites on the Internet -- which is the first
honestly global market anyone has ever seen -- that only
offer e-books for sale in the US, in US dollars, and in a
single format are shooting themselves in the head.
We currently offer two of your e-books for free download
right here on Fiction Factor. (And I admit Sympathy for
the Devil had me in stitches!) With your books being such
good sellers, what was your reason for releasing them for
HL - Two reasons -- I wanted people to have access to
them, and the out of print ones, which I'm very proud of
and like a lot, aren't likely to see print again any time
soon. And they're good advertising for the other things I
write. Sort of the book-pusher mentality -- "The
first one's free." (Well, the first several, but you
get the idea.)
Your novel, DIPLOMACY OF WOLVES, has gone back for a
fourth printing and COURAGE OF FALCONS has sold
completely out of the trade paper edition, with a mass-market
paperback version due out the first of August. I also
hear that your newest novel VINCALIS THE AGITATOR has
just been sent in to your editor. Could you tell us a
little about VINCALIS?
HL - It's the story
of people who are fighting to rescue the immortality of a
few from those who are fighting to save civilization for
the many. For folks who have already read THE SECRET
TEXTS, its also the story of how the world of Matrin got
those huge holes in it<g>. For folks who _haven't_
read THE SECRET TEXTS, you can look at a full-size, full
color version of the map (whole or in sections) at http://hollylisle.com/tm/matrinmap.html.
I have the first four chapters available for download in
either Adobe Acrobat or PalmOS formats on my Free
Downloads page -- http://hollylisle.com/community/downloads.html
This is a mail-in draft, meaning that while I've edited
it, my editor hasn't read it yet -- so it's still subject
to some possibly-large changes.
When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to
in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?
HL - I used to do
conventions, but currently can't. My promotional
activities are exclusively on-line at the website. My
publisher kindly included the URL and my e-mail address
at the end of COURAGE OF FALCONS, and I have ads for some
of my books on the borders of the pages, but that's
basically it. I don't mail out, I don't buy ads. My
objective is to write the best books I can and hope that
word of mouth, which is the best form of promotion on the
planet, will work for me.
What was the best piece of advice you've received in
regard to your writing career?
HL - Writing is a
tough business, and survival can get rocky -- persistence
is more important than talent.
What piece of parting advice would you give to aspiring
HL - Aside from the
hundreds of pages of advice on my site? <g> Just
this: Writing is a tough business, and survival can get
rocky -- persistence is more important than talent.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I
HL - Thanks for
giving me the opportunity.
All my best wishes,
Dream, Believe ... Then Act