Our chat with Holly…
I’ve been a storyteller in various guises all my life — I’ve worked as an actor, film-maker and drama facilitator— so writing a book seemed like a wonderful new challenge. I’d never written children’s fiction before, but Demelza arrived in my mind fully-formed in her lab coat and thinking cap, and I knew I needed to start penning her story at once. I haven’t stopped writing since!
I was lucky enough to have interest from some wonderful agents, and I spent the course of a week meeting them all for coffee, cake and chats! We talked through our visions for the book and for my career, as well as discussing publishers that might be a good fit for Demelza. I really enjoyed the process, and I made sure I asked lots of questions. It was a really difficult having to decided who I wanted to represent me, but in the end I went with Kate Shaw at The Shaw Agency. She’s approachable, funny, business savvy, and had such genuine passion for Demelza. As well as being incredibly exciting, being a new author can feel quite overwhelming, and Kate was the person I wanted to have by my side for the journey ahead. I think it’s really important to go with your gut when choosing and agent — after all, this is a person who you’ll hopefully be working with for a very long time.
I think the most daunting moment was arriving for my initial meeting with Barry Cunningham of Chicken House. Not because Barry is a frightening ogre of course (quite the opposite in fact), but because it was the moment that I had been dreaming of for so long — a publisher was actually expressing interest in publishing my book! I needn’t have been scared though —Barry was chatty, warm and put me at ease straight away. We talked about my writing and my hopes for the future, and I came away with a contract offer. I can’t really remember the journey home that evening, I think I floated!
I loved Pippi Longstocking as a child, and as an adult, she’s definitely still my literary hero! She’s celebrating her 75th birthday this year, and I still think she’s as relevant a character today as she was when she was first published — she’s anarchic, brave, quick thinking, clever and strong. Demelza was definitely inspired by Astrid Lindgren’s amazing vision, although I opted for a sausage dog, rather than a polka dot horse as her pet!
I think I’d probably want an unknown young actor to play the role of Demelza. Someone naturally playful with an inquisitive nature. She’d have to have a face full of freckles though of course!