Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on kids and teens fantasy author Holly Black. Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty fantasy novels for kids and teens. She has been a finalist for an Eisner and a Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. Her books have been translated into 32 languages worldwide and adapted for film. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret library.
Holly, for readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your work?
I write contemporary fantasy, often involving mythic or folkloric beings, with a melancholy bent.
What was the inspiration for How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is an illustrated novella in the Folk of the Air series. After the conclusion in The Queen of Nothing, many people had questions about High King Cardan, his past, his point of view, and his future. I wanted to write more about him, and I wanted to make the book feel special, so my editor, Alvina Ling, at Little Brown Books for Young Readers, partnered with World Fantasy Award-winning artist Rovina Cai. The result is a really beautiful book that I hope readers will love.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
I listen to music most of the time when I am writing. Specifically, I listen to playlists I create for whatever book I am working on. I find that listening to the same music makes it easier to drop back into the mood of the work. And after years of promising, I’ve finally been putting up my playlists on Spotify.
What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?
I find figuring out what happens the hardest part of writing, by far! Writing that initial draft is the bane of my existence. I love editing. I love being able to have time to work on the language, and make the individual scenes stronger. But I often have to rip out large sections, rethink moves, and re-outline dozens of times as I work toward getting a book that has a beginning, middle, and end.
So far I think I’ve tried it all – outlining, fast drafting, note cards, whiteboard, three act structure, five act structure, reading the entrails of goats. But none of it has made the process less agonizing! I guess my process just is what it is.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?
Write for your reader self, not your writer self.
Now that we’ve talked about your work, where can people find it? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
On my website, which can direct you further: http://www.blackholly.com
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
On Twitter (@hollyblack) or Instagram (@blackholly)
Holly, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer our questions!