Pen Name Sara Holland
Where are you from
Born in Stirling, Scotland, I lived in the North Lanarkshire area for most of my life before making a move to Florida. I now split my time between Scotland and Florida. My ‘career’ path has been a bit convoluted as my original dream of becoming a vet fell by the wayside, then I was forced to stop working with horses due to back problems. I worked in a variety of office roles from shipping to construction to project management, but I always kept riding and learning as well as trying to keep my hand in at giving riding lessons. In Florida, I live on a ranch with my husband, our three horses, dogs, chickens, turtles, budgerigars, fish and all the local wildlife. I’ve been riding since I was a teenager, and learning about caring for horses pretty much since then. As well as a love for animals and writing, my other passion is cooking/baking, and trying to recreate traditional Scottish foods that I just can’t find over here!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Latest news… Hmm… Well, my first two books were published by Ellora’s Cave, who recently and abruptly shut up shop. I won’t get into the details of how they dealt with their authors etc., but suffice it to say that I forfeited all royalties to ensure that the publishing rights of my two currently released books will revert to me as of December 31st 2016, and I will be re-releasing them both, available from January 1st, 2017. This time I’m going the self-publishing route, and I’m quite excited that Amazon offer paperback publication at no charge to the author, so my books will be made available as e-books and paperbacks. I have my third book “Legalizing Kane” planned for release by the end of this month (October) and the next one “Jumping Into Love” should hopefully follow before Christmas.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, be it poems or stories, and I always remember that my favorite part of school was when we were asked to write stories. I don’t know why I started writing. Seems excessive to call it a compulsion, but maybe it is. I’ve always loved to read, and I enjoy following my stories as they unfold on the page – trust me, the directions things go are often as big a surprise to me as they are to readers!
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t know that I do. Seems really pretentious to call myself one. Maybe once I have a couple more books under my belt (or at least ones where I actually make some money!) then it’ll feel like I’m a real writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Not so much inspiration as just a weird idea I got into my head (the first book was “Gabi’s Secret”). A bit like when you get a song stuck in your head, the idea percolated for a while before I put pen to paper – or at least fingers to keyboard – then I just followed the adventures of the characters and wrote it down.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Not really sure what you mean! If you mean genre, then I seem to fall pretty solidly into erotica/erotic romance. I guess I do always go for a happy ending (at least for some of the characters!). I’ve only ever killed off one main character.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I have more trouble with titles than writing! Gabi’s Secret… Well, Gabi (female lead) has a secret! A pretty big one… I just try to come up with a title that gives some element/hint of the actual story, then if I can’t decide (like with Legalizing Kane) I put up a few on my Facebook page and ask for opinions!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not really. Just read and enjoy, hopefully!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not based on anything but my twisted imagination.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor? I don’t think any books have really influenced my life. Closest thing to a mentor would be my old High School English teacher. She was always supportive of anything I wrote. I did try to track her down when my first book was to be published, but didn’t have any luck. I would have loved to be able to tell her that I was actually a published author! So if anyone knows how to track down a retired English teacher in Scotland…
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have a few authors I really like. Wilbur Smith, Robert Ludlum, James Clavell, James Michener. I love how they are able to create characters who are relatable and either likable or hateable, depending on how they want them perceived. I love how they can create not just a family but a dynasty (especially Wilbur Smith with his multi-generational families and Michener with his wide-ranging historical tales). I also really enjoy Matthew Reilly’s books, and I find it really encouraging that he started out self-publishing and basically selling his first book (Contest) out of the back of his car! That was actually the first book of his that I read, and it got me hooked on his style.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
None so far. Well, perhaps The Reading Café website/blog, since they (Sandy) were the first to actually review my books, and gave good, honest feedback.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’d love to think that I can perhaps make writing a mainstay of our finances LOL but I also try to not think of it too much that way, because if I start thinking of it as “work” I may lose the enjoyment of it and then the writing I produce could suffer. I know there’s the old saying “do a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”, but I also believe that if you take something you love (whether it be writing, painting or whatever) and make it your financial support, it can change your relationship with it.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I think it’s always been in me. Kind of like I love to eat, so I love to cook; I love to read, so I love to write!
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Please bear in mind this is currently being edited, so the version released probably won’t be exactly the same!
But a little piece of Legalizing Kane:
Libby pushed irritably at her hair as she peered over the rims of her sunglasses, searching in vain for a waitress. Typical. She finally has the trip she promised herself, a week in beautiful and remote Tahiti, and it happens to coincide with some rock band visiting for a TV special, which of course meant that every waitress in the place was desperately trying to get into the picture. Or trying to get a rock star into their panties. Female guests had suddenly become lower than pond scum, without a cat in hell’s chance of getting a drink unless they went up to the bar for it themselves. Anyway, it seemed like ever since Bon Jovi had appeared on that MTV show in Jamaica, every rock band was jumping on the bandwagon of ‘a weekend in the sun with – fill in appropriate name’. Which was fine. She got it. They all had to work the publicity machine. But why the hell did it have to be the same week she was there? Another look around, and she groaned as she was forced to admit defeat and get off the sunbed. She laid her book down and stood up, walking barefoot toward the cute thatched-roof bar. Before she got halfway, though, she realized she’d picked the wrong route around the pool when she saw the cameras pointed at the five guys sprawled sweating on beds at the water’s edge. Shit. Well, there was no way she was backtracking, she decided – she’d paid enough for this trip, and she had as much right to be there as they did. Moments later, she was debating the wisdom of her decision as her pink bikini and the expanse of tanned skin it displayed caught the attention of one of the band members. “Hey darlin!” He yelled. “Why don’t you come on over here and sit on my lap?” She ignored him and kept on walking, irritation making her strut like an angry cat, stalking across the poolside to the bar. “Hey! I’m talking to you!” The blond guy yelled again, a hard edge of anger in his voice which scared her – one abusive man was enough for anybody’s lifetime. As she reached the bar, she heard another raised voice coming from the area of the band. “Daryn! For fuck’s sake, man – let it go!” Next thing she knew, a male body was pressing against her back, and she felt hands on her waist as the same voice spoke again. “I was talking to you.” He muttered, pushing his hips against her ass. “Yeah, and I was ignoring you. Now take your hands off me!” “C’mon girl, don’t be like that. It’s nice to be nice.” “How would you know? Get OFF me!” She put her hands on the edge of the bar and pushed back, trying to make him let go, but he just laughed and pushed against her harder. “Let go of me, you prick!” Libby was angry to hear her voice crack when she spoke. Dammit – it had been almost a year since she’d finally come to her senses and kicked Ray out after he hit her, for the first and last time, the culmination of two years of emotional abuse. She should’ve been over it, but the guy behind her even looked like her ex – sort of – and she could feel all the old insecurity come rushing back. Then, like some kind of savior, she heard the second voice again. “Daryn, get the fuck off her! Can’t you take a hint?” The guy – Daryn, she assumed – let her go then, so suddenly that she was fairly sure he’d been pulled away from her. Libby didn’t turn around, just stood with both hands still gripping the edge of the bar, her eyes focused on the timber. “For Christ’s sake, Kane – it’s just a bit of fun – isn’t that why we’re here? She’s just playing the game.” She heard a heavy sigh before her rescuer spoke again, a resigned note in his voice. “Yeah, Daryn, sure. Listen – they want us down at the beach. Can you grab the guys? I need to make a quick phone call.” “No problem.” Hearing footsteps move away, Libby relaxed slightly, her death grip on the bar loosening a little, but she still started violently when a gentle hand touched her forearm. “Excuse me?” The softer voice of her rescuer, and she turned her head to look at him, praying that her sunglasses hid the tears in her eyes. She found herself staring briefly at a pair of mirrored sunglasses, which were quickly removed, leaving her gazing into a pair of the most brilliant green eyes she’d ever seen. The sunglasses were better, she thought – at least they hadn’t made her insides clench tight and her stomach do flip-flops. “Sorry – I just wanted to apologize for my friend there. He’s… Sorry, I’m Kane, by the way.” He held out a hand, and Libby automatically shook it, only slightly perturbed when he kept hold of her. “Libby – nice to meet you.” She said politely. Kane felt his blood quicken as she spoke. He could certainly see why she’d caught Daryn’s eye, although these days his only real requirement was a pulse. This girl, though, was put together just the way Kane liked, yet still looked normal. Deep red hair pulled into a ponytail and a bikini that concealed more than it revealed – a welcome change from the bouffant blondes wearing little more than string to cover whatever modesty they pretended to have. Her voice was a definite turn-on, too, soft but rich with just a trace of huskiness, and Kane found himself wondering how that voice would sound when she woke in the morning. Or moaning his name. “Libby. That’s pretty. I wanted to apologize for Daryn. He’s – well – to be honest, he’s got some problems, and…” “Bet your ass he’s got problems!” Libby interrupted angrily, but Kane’s sudden grin disarmed her. “Yeah, well, he doesn’t always act that way – he just sometimes can’t keep himself under control, especially when he’s on… Uh, when he’s drinking.” Kane suddenly realized he still held her hand, but she wasn’t exactly pulling away from him. “Could I buy you a drink? Libby smiled at him, which nearly put him down on his ass as her already pretty face lit up. “Thanks. But didn’t you say you were needed somewhere?” “That was just to get rid of Daryn. What you drinkin’?” “Pineapple juice.” “With…..?” Libby shook her head slightly. “With ice. I don’t like alcohol in this heat.” As Kane turned to the bar to get the drinks, Libby took the opportunity to have a better look at him. Unruly brown curls hung down his back, and his chest looked like a slightly threadbare rug. She’d always thought she preferred smooth-chested men, but there was just something about this guy that made her ache to scratch her fingers through that furry mat. He was talking to the barman, and after he’d asked for her juice, he pursed his lips as he decided what he wanted for himself. Watching the voluptuous curve of his full mouth, Libby felt the ache move from her fingers, down much lower, and her instant reaction shocked her as she felt the heat of arousal between her thighs. Flustered, she dropped her eyes, looking at the ridiculously short cut-off denims which cupped his ass, then lower, to the strong tanned legs and the bare feet. When Kane turned his head he caught her off-guard, and she could only hope that her reaction had gone unnoticed. He didn’t say anything, but a soft smile played around the corners of his mouth, and she was pretty sure she wasn’t as subtle as she’d hoped. “Want to grab a seat in the shade?” “Sure.” Libby surprised herself with the swift answer, but she followed Kane across to one of the cabanas set aside for VIP guests. Inside was cool, with a huge fan creating a welcome breeze, and Kane waved toward the low chairs. “Make yourself at home.” Libby was glad to sit down, her legs trembling slightly, and she couldn’t be sure if it was reaction to the encounter with Daryn, or to this guy’s presence. Inside the cabana the light was dimmed by the curtains across the entrance, and she pushed her sunglasses up on top of her head, noticing Kane watching her. “What?” She asked, but there was no anger in her voice now. “Nothin’. Just, well – don’t take this the wrong way – but I can see why Daryn came onto you. I am sorry about that though, Libby.” “Not your fault. He’s an adult, and you’re not his keeper, are you?” Kane gave that grin again, but there was a wry twist to his mouth, then he licked his lips before answering, and Libby tensed as she almost felt his mouth on her. “Sometimes I feel like his keeper.” He muttered darkly. “Sorry if he scared you, Lib.” He didn’t appear to realize he’d shortened her name, and for once it didn’t bother her – she liked how it sounded in his voice. “He only scared me a little.” She assured him. “To be honest, the last guy I was seeing was kinda like Daryn, only worse I guess. Took a while to get past it.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I often know a scene way before it’s time to write it. Jumping Into Love, for example, I knew the final scene/chapter months before I reached it. The struggle is to not rush through the lead up to get to the ending!
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Only on Google! I’m a little bit pernickety about some things, and I feel like the story seems more real if I actually use a road name or number when a character is traveling, rather than just have them go from A to B. I want to be able to accurately say they took… Let’s say Park Street to get from A to B, and have that be the actual street.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The current covers for Gabi’s Secret and Rocking The Storm were done by Kelly Martin (www.kam.design) via the publishing company. The cover for Legalizing Kane was done by a wonderful and multi-talented friend Taryn Elliott (also an outstanding author http://www.tarynelliott.com) who will be doing my covers moving forward.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finding/making the time!
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that I have an even dirtier mind than I thought! But seriously, no, I don’t think so.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Oooh…. I think for Jumping Into Love I’d love Christian Kane! Rocking The Storm maybe Chris Pine?
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never give up. Never be afraid to ask for advice. Never be upset by criticism – honest feedback is far more valuable than false “oh yes it’s great”. And always remember, if you’re turned down by a publisher or two (or more) it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s anything wrong with your writing. You may just need to find the right publisher! And find a good editor. If you can’t afford to pay for one (I’ll be honest, right now I can’t/won’t!) then find a couple of good friends who are avid readers and who you trust to be brutally honest. Give them the file. Let them read and critique/edit with tracked changes. Read their edits and be just as brutally honest yourself. And for goodness sake use spell check!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just a huge THANK YOU!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
“The Horse From Conception To Maturity”. But my absolute go-to book is always James Clavell’s Shogun.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first book I remember reading and re-reading and re-reading was “101 Dalmatians” by Dodie Smith. Another perpetual favourite is “For Love Of A Horse” by Patricia Leitch.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh, usually something silly (mostly something one of our animals does). Cry… Stress/frustration.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I would actually like to meet President Obama, because he seems like a really good person.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
“It’s just my bones that died here, so save those tears you cry. My spirit is still riding, somewhere in this night, and it’s these three words that come to me as I kiss this world goodbye: Never Say Die.” Slightly altered lines from a Jon Bon Jovi song that just seem really appropriate. Of course if they charge by the letter then just my name!
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Cooking/baking/making candy, riding horses, going on motorcycle rides with my husband.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Criminal Minds! Love that show. Also Big Bang Theory. For films I’m definitely not a chick flick girl so things like John Wick, World War Z, Armageddon, Expendables…. Basically your “switch off brain; enjoy mayhem” type of thing.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Is chocolate considered a food? But it’s got to be real Cadbury Dairy Milk (and not the American version!). Sushi. Coffee (trust me, when you make it strong enough, it’s a food group all by itself!). Pretty much anything. Colors I do love pinks and purples. Music has to be rock. Anything from Tom Petty to Aerosmith to Godsmack to Five Finger Death Punch etc., etc. What one of my favorite DJs in Scotland used to say his granny referred to as “shouty music”
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I really wanted to be a vet, but that never happened. I enjoy my life as it is. Horses.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Website also has a blog section, and it’s at www.sarahollandauthor.weebly.com
I’m also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sarahollandauthor
And Twitter as @sarahollandaut1
Amazon Author Page is https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01IBZTW9K