Writers Write creates writing resources, shares writing tips, and interviews authors. In this post, we share our interview with Priscilla Holmes.
I first met Priscilla Homes about seven years ago when she attended our Writers Write courses in Johannesburg. She now hosts writing groups in Cape Town, where she lives with her husband, Jack.
She is the author of The Children of Mer, under the pseudonym P.J. Holmes, and she has published two other collaborative works of fiction, Women Like Us and The Man With The Blue Eyes. Her new book, Now I See You has just been released.
The Writers Write Interview With Priscilla Holmes
Author: Priscilla Holmes
Date of Birth: 22 June
Date of Interview: 30 October 2014
Place: The San Deck, The Sandton Sun Hotel, Sandton, Johannesburg
The Book: Now I See You
The Interviewer: Amanda Patterson
1. Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Rhett Butler – the ultimate Alpha Male Hero. I grew up dreaming about him. I also like Sir Thomas Cromwell, from Hilary Mantel’s books. He is a perfect anti-hero. He is powerful, but flawed, intelligent, yet devious. I like strong male characters.
2. What is your most treasured possession?
My mother’s wedding ring, which I have had incorporated into my own rings.
3. Which living person do you most dislike?
Tony Blair. He is a nasty, slimy, little man who has changed the face of Britain. He oozes pseudo-sincerity. If I were on a desert island with him, I’d stone him to death with a coconut.
4. What is your greatest fear?
Something terrible happening to my children.
5. Who or what has been the greatest love of your life?
Jack, my current husband.
Priscilla Homes and Amanda Patterson
6. What is your greatest regret?
I would have to say not having started writing sooner. I have a degree in adult education and spent most of my life developing training and management skills in companies in South-East Asia and Australia.
7. If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?
Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind, of course. She was strong, powerful, selfish – a beautifully flawed heroine. I would also have loved to be Anne Boleyn, though she was not a fictional character. I am fascinated by the way she kept King Henry VIII dangling for seven years.
8. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?
Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre.
9. What is your favourite journey?
Walking 200km in Umbria, Italy. It had a huge impact on me. It was beautiful and I never thought I could walk that far.
10. What is your favourite quotation?
11. Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?
Dogs. I am allergic to cats. I don’t have a dog now, because we’ve been travelling so much. I have plans for another dog, though. It will be a small, fluffy thing and I shall name it Crumpet.
12. What do you most value in a friend?
A sense of humour, loyalty, and sincerity.
13. What quality do you most admire in a woman?
The energy and ambition to get what they want.
14. Which book that you’ve written is your favourite?
This one – Now I See You – it haunted me. It started out as a true story, and I have put so much time and energy into it. I have done lots of research over the years. When I first interviewed people for the story, the policewoman I got to know in the Eastern Cape was a constable. She is now a brigadier in Stellenbosch. She was at the launch in Cape Town. I worked hard to make the fictional characters as truthful as possible.
Lucinda for a girl.
16. What do you do as a hobby?
I got to gym. I walk on Table Mountain. I love attending concerts and theatre. I love music. And of course, reading.
17. Which are your three favourite books?
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.
18. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
I go to coffee shops. I watch people. I observe body language. I eavesdrop. If I have to catch a plane, I get to the airport early. I watch people having fights. I keep newspaper headlines that interest me. I am always on red alert for stories.
19. What is your Writing Routine?
I am a morning writer. I write about four hours a day. I get up early and write from 6am to 8am. Then I go to the gym and deal with the world. I write again from 10 to 12pm. When I was re-writing Now I See You, I rented a hotel room and finished the book there. I had too many distractions at home. I also write on the computer, but if I’m writing something sensitive, I write it in longhand before I type it.
20. What are your Top Writing Tips?
- Keep a notebook with you at all times. Especially, keep one by the bed.
- Always be on the lookout for stories. They are everywhere. Read newspapers.
- You must write. It’s no use waiting or wanting to write. The more you write the better you get at it.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be frightened to follow stories. And really listen to people’s answers. Write these incidents down as soon as you get home.
- Go to book launches. Go for walks. Live. Observe. Listen. Write.
- It’s important for me to have my writing groups. It keeps me writing. I think it’s a good idea for any writer. You get to have deadlines, and you learn from other people’s mistakes and their successes.
- Read. It’s the most important part of my writing life. It keeps you connected. It keeps you critical.
- You need a structure – a plot, even though it may not always end up exactly as you’ve plotted it.
- Exercise your writing muscle and your imagination as much as possible.
- You need perspective when you write. It takes time. I could not have written this book when I was younger.