It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. - Seneca

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Interview w/Song of the Muses author, Masha Holl


I am the Mistress of Stars and Science.

Urania, Muse of astronomy, despairs: invention rules; creativity has disappeared. Then she meets Daniel Kettering. But his research threatens time, space, and every existing world. His choice: forget science, get eternal life – or else. But first, they must save the universe, defeat Chaos, and find happiness in THE BRIGHTEST HEAVEN.

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to author Masha Holl, her story "The Brightest Heaven" is the first story in book two of the Song of the Muses anthology from the Wild Rose Press.

Welcome Masha!!!

C of C - How long have you been writing?
MH- Forever. I think I wrote my first story in 1st grade (it had to do with squirrels), but even before that I would make up elaborate backstories for my games.

C of C -Are you a plotter or a pantser?
MH- Plotter. But I took some learning. And I still reserve the right to change my mind.

C of C- How would you describe your voice?
MH- Sci-fi/fantasy. But you tell me.

C of C- What is your favorite part of the writing process?
MH- Coming up with new ideas, and then the final polish.

C of C- Where do you find your inspiration?
MH- Everywhere. Listening to my kids, watching TV, reading books, dreaming. Watching people and thinking, “what if?”

C of C- How do you come up with your ideas/plots?
MH- If I knew, I’d be more efficient about it. They just come out of nowhere and invade my mind.

C of C- Do you write in short stretches or for long periods of time?
MH- Both. It depends on how much time life gives me on any day.

C of C- Do you write in silence or listen to music?
MH- Both. Either. I use music as a screen from reality.
C of C- I agree, I also find music can help me infuse emotion into my own writing.

C of C- Do you eat or drink while writing?
MH- I like to drink tea. Or wine, if I get to write late at night.

C of C- Do you research your story before you write it, or as you go?
MH- I research mostly as I go, when I hit a spot that creates a roadblock. Of course, it could happen before I start a story, but usually I can at least see the first scene before I start.

C of C- What have you learned through research that you’ll remember for the rest of your life?
MH- A lot of unexpected trivia that surfaces at odd times and makes my kids sneer at me and call me “know-it-all” (especially when I don’t know something). It’s not so much a single fact, as a lot of information that comes in handy all the time.

C of C- How do you decorate your writing space?
MH- Eclectic graduate-student mess. With an, um, inspirational computer desktop. Right now, it’s from the TV show Moonlight, but it’s subject to change.

C of C -Are you a neat/organized writer or is your office and/or space a complete mess with sticky notes everywhere?
MH- See #12. I have a cork-board bar above my computer with all sorts of notes pinned to it, sticky notes everywhere, books and binders and folders piled all around, and I wage a continuing (and mostly losing) battle with Daughter #2 about the use of MY space and the removal of HER junk.
C of C- That sounds like my house!!!

C of C- Does all your writing take place on a computer or do you ever write on pen and paper?
MH- Mostly on the computer, but sometimes I am forced to take it to hard copy – either to edit, or to clear my mind, or because I simply don’t have access to a computer. I try to stay flexible. I also keep a voice recorder in my purse in case I’m struck by the Muse.
C of C- The voice recorder is a great idea!!!

C of C- What is your favorite time period? And why?
MH- Any time my story requires. Fantasy can take me anywhere, anytime, and even no-where, or no-time. But I think I waver between sleek and futuristic and rich and medieval.

C of C- Do you feel a draw to the people and time period you write about?
MH- Definitely. I live with my characters. I have to be able to “go into” their world and orient myself inside it. I have to love the place where the action of my stories take place.

C of C- What character did you most enjoy writing?
MH- That’s a trick question. In enjoyed writing every single one of them. But The Brightest Heaven is Urania’s story.

C of C- Readers are always curious to know about authors lives. What is the worst job (non-writing related) you’ve ever held?
MH- Any job that keeps me from writing is bad, but the worst was probably as maid in a residence hotel (college job). I didn’t last long.

C of C- What is one thing you think your readers would be interested to know about you?
MH- I was born in Europe. I came to the USA as an adult. When I write about visiting strange lands, and meeting strange people, you can be sure that I’ve experienced firsthand the weirdness and confusion of being an alien and trying to understand what’s happening around you.
C of C- How awesome! So many of us have to imagine these places, not actually experience them!

C of C- Are you reclusive or do you like being with other writers?
MH- I’m rather reclusive, and I definitely hate crowds. But I also need the occasional company of other writers – if only to reassure myself that I’m not completely crazy.
C of C- That seems to be the consensus among writers.

C of C- Do you find love scenes easy or hard to write?
MH- Our household is busy, and I always have to watch for over-the-shoulder, underage readers. Yes, writing love scenes is hard, or at least very tricky!
C of C- Lol, I know exactly what you mean!

C of C- Do you ever act out your scenes?
MH- Not out loud! But I do watch them in my mind as if they were a movie. If I can’t “roll the film” of my story, the scene won’t come and I won’t be able to write it down.

C of C- How long do you wait once a story is finished to revise it?
MH- I try to wait a week, it’s best for the story, but it’s hard. I’m impatient.

C of C- Do you ever second guess yourself and your writing?
MH- All the time. But I have a great critique partner who will always point out the glaring flaws in my stories, so I can trust her judgment when I don’t trust mine.

C of C- Do you ever stray from your genre? Your comfort zone?
MH- Yes.
C of C- You're answer was confident and quick! That's great, some people have a hard time writing anything but what they consider their ZONE.

C of C- Is it necessary to have a Critique/Writing partner?
MH- Oh, yes! Absolutely! You get too close to your own work, you fall in love with your own writing, and we all know what big egos writers have! We need at least one person in our writing lives whom we trust to set us straight.
C of C- I totally agree!

C of C - Do you allow family and friends to read your stories?
MH- Yes. Once the stories are finished, and especially if said family and friends are willing to give a critique. But I won’t show them to just anyone.

C of C- Is there a subject you would like to write about, but don’t because you believe it isn’t marketable?
MH- No. I would write about it anyway and pull it out at the right moment. Or when I’m really, really famous.
C of C- lol, good for you!!!

C of C- Authors make writing look so easy. Is it harder than most people imagine it to be?
MH - …. Excuse me while I pick myself off the floor.
Easy?? Did you say easy? The only explanation I have to why writers keep writing even after all these years is that they’re insane and can’t help themselves. Oh, and there are all those stories and characters in your mind that just scream to get out.
… Did I say crazy?
C of C- lol :O)

C of C- How long does it take you to finish a story?
MH- Anywhere from 4 months to 4 years. Actually, I’ve done it in as little as a couple of days, but that was a 4-page piece of flash fiction. It all depends on the story.

C of C- When you write a new story are you apprehensive about allowing others to critique it?
MH- Not anymore. But I don’t let people critique the s… um, crappy first draft. That one is for my eyes only.

C of C- Which author/(s) are on your must-read list?
MH- Jennifer Crusie. Wen Spencer. Rob Thurman. Jim Butcher. And those are just the really big names. I would need a book to list all the writers whose books I’ll grab happily!

C of C- What is your favorite writing memory?
MH- Getting an A on a creative writing assignment in middle school, having my story read out loud by the teacher, and making the whole class giggle.
C of C- How cool is that!!!

C of C-Do you have more than one book out now?
MH- I have a novella (The Brightest Heaven) and a short story (“The Joining”) contracted by The Wild Rose Press.
C of C- If you want check out these stories go to:

C of C- Has your writing Journey been a smooth or bumpy ride?
MH- A rollercoaster.

C of C- What advice would you give to a new aspiring writer?
MH- Write with passion. Don’t give up. Writing is an art. Getting published is a lottery where you can only improve the odds so much.
C of C- Great advice, Masha!!!

Thanks so much for being with us today Masha, and good luck with all your future endeavours!!!

To learn more about Masha Holl go to:


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the insanity comment. I look forward to reading your works!!


Chicks of Characterization said...

Thanks for stopping by Kristy!

Chicks of Characterization said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Estella said...

I just purchased this book, but haven't had time to read it yet.

Chicks of Characterization said...

That's great Estella, I hope you enjoy it!!! :O)

Anonymous said...

Masha, I sat with a Tor editor who told me sci-fi/fantasy authors are recluses. So, you and I are normal. ;) Skhye

Chicks of Characterization said...

Most of the authors I have interviewed are reclusive- I wonder why that is?? I guess we live through our characters!!!

Thanks for stopping by Skhye!

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