Welcome to Kent Holloway, an author who is becoming known for his Brozy Mysteries – cozy mysteries that appeal to men as well as women. More action and less cute. This from a man who admits he loved Pippi Longstocking. What fun!
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
This question is tricky because it honestly depends on the book and the inspiration and zeal I might have for it. There’ve been some books that have taken me as long as six to nine months to write. Fortunately, most books these days take me around three to four months. I think the reason for this is having finally discovered my place as a writer. For the first eight or nine years, I was all over the place as far as genres go. I wrote pulpy adventure fiction. I started an epic fantasy trilogy (with only one book so far). I wrote dark paranormal thrillers and one historic fantasy adventure set in Jerusalem during the first crusade. I wrote a super fun pirate adventure novel. But it was only until I found my groove with mysteries that things seemed to click. Now, writing these mysteries (at least after I’ve figured out the mystery and culprit) doesn’t take very long at all.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I honestly have no idea about this one. There are quite a few in various stages. Typically, when I get an idea for a new book, the first thing I do is create a potential cover for it. This cover provides a source of inspiration for me as I delve further into the book idea. I usually share it on Facebook and look for reactions for it. The better the reaction, the more excited for the book I become. I’ve got literally dozens of book covers on my computer that I’ve never written a single word for. It’s not that I’m never going to write them. It’s more a matter of timing and priority of other titles.
Then, I have quite a few (maybe around eight or nine) that I’ve fleshed out in character outlines and plot outlines. A few years ago, I started an epic fantasy series that was a unique retelling of the Santa Claus myth entitled The Legend of the Winterking. The first book was finished and published, and is called The Crown of Nandur. People who read it, loved it. I mean, this book has rabid fans.
Problem is, it doesn’t have enough fans. The book barely sold a few hundred copies. And it was a LOT of work to write. Additionally, I had the entire series plotted and outlined. I knew what would happen in the next two books and it was amazing. But the sales figures just didn’t justify the time and expense it would take to finish the series. I have high hopes that I will one day finish the trilogy, but for now, it’s languishing in development limbo. [Note: I will say that my upcoming Christmas cozy mystery will draw a lot from the world I created in that fantasy series though.]
And finally, I have around four or five books that I have actually started writing, gotten nearly halfway through, and simply shelved it because I just wasn’t feeling it. Something about the book wasn’t satisfying me. And I have the same philosophy about writing as I do reading: life’s too short to waste time on a book I’m not enjoying. There are plenty of other stories out there that I will enjoy. So move on.
Do you write under a pseudonym? If not, have you ever considered it?
No, I don’t. And it’s a question I come back to quite often. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Why don’t I? Why should I? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation with myself. When I first started out writing, as I’ve already mentioned, I was all over the place genre-speaking. I had no rhyme or reason to the type stories I would write. I just liked to dab my toe in just about everything. So when I finally settled on focusing on mysteries, this question came up. Should I use a pen name? The answer I came up with was, why would I? I hadn’t really established a name for myself in any particular genre. So my fans would be neither overly excited or turned off by moving toward the mystery genre as a whole.
But even now, I still wonder if it wouldn’t be a good idea to rebrand. After all, no matter how many lighthearted, witty mysteries I write, I still have fans clamoring for more Ezekiel Crane. I still have fans wondering when I’m going to write another EnIGMA Directive adventure. As long as I go by J. Kent Holloway, I suppose I will continue to be asked about those series that I’d like to distance myself from for a while.
I suspect, however, no matter how much I’m tempted, I’ll continue to stick with my real name for the foreseeable future.
What comes first for you, the plot or characters?
I honestly wish I could say the plot comes first. It would make my life as a writer so much easier (I’ll explain why in just a second). But truth be told, almost every single book I’ve ever written started with the concept of a particular character. How cool would it be to have a story about a cryptozoologist who travels the world having adventures while hunting monsters? The EnIGMA Directive series came from that idea, starting with Primal Thirst. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a super cool wise mountain man—what’s called a cunning man in certain regions—who solves paranormal problems in a sleepy Appalachian town in Kentucky that is steeped in folklore and superstition? The Ezekiel Crane Paranormal Mysteries came out of that concept. What if the Grim Reaper discovered that people were dying without his knowledge and consent? What if he came to the Land of the Living to get to the bottom of it and started solving murders? And there was born Silas Mot, the human manifestation of the Grim Reaper in my Grim Days Mystery series.
Starting with the characters has some huge advantages. A writer tends to write well-rounded, three-dimensional characters. A lot of my readers and fans have commented on that in my books. I’ve often heard that my stories are very character-driven, and that’s a compliment to any author, I think.
The issue, however, is that developing these stories around these characters lends itself automatically to series. And while series are advantageous to some degree, I have a LOT of story ideas floating around in my head that I’d like to write some day. There’s a large part of me that would love to just write stand alone mysteries. But I fall in love with the characters so much that I’m drawn to them again and again for a new book in which none of the story ideas I’ve already developed would fit. So, those story ideas just remain on the back burner, waiting for an opportunity to see the light of day.
Can you hear your characters talking?
Perhaps it’s cliché, but my characters just won’t shut up. They all tend to be so headstrong. Bull-headed. Determined. They trip me up so many times while I’m writing the story. I tell them to turn left. Nope, they’d rather climb the tree instead. I tell them to run along the beach. They see a shark in the surf and jump in after it. Worst of all, they absolutely love painting themselves in corners. I keep warning them not to go that way. Don’t do that. Stop! Stop! But no. They continue down the path they choose, and end up completely surrounded by red paint that has brought them into checkmate. And I, the powerless author, have to completely move back to the last saved checkpoint in the game, and start all over. Of course, then they try to go directly back to where they painted themselves into a corner earlier. But by then I’m annoyed and put my foot down.
Still, my characters are very much like children. They have minds of their owns and corralling them along is perhaps the most tedious aspect of writing, I think. If they’d just shut up and listen to me every once in a while, we’d get to the end of the adventure a lot sooner. Egads! Kids. Am I right?
What is your favorite childhood book(s)?
I remember as a kid, one of my favorite school activities was library day. This was the day in which my teacher would take the class to the library for an afternoon, and we would spend that time perusing the books and reading quietly. At that time, I wasn’t a big reader. I didn’t become a voracious reader until high school after reading The Lord of the Rings. But during those early days of elementary school, I had one particular section of the library I practically ran to every single time we went. It was the mythology section. I can remember hours upon hours of reading Greek mythology. The exploits of Hercules, Perseus, etc. I devoured those stories. I did the same with Norse mythology, but not to the same extent. Also spent a lot of time reading Jack Tales, which were Appalachian folktales based on Jack from English folklore.
Looking back, I realize those were formative years. If any of you have ready any of my books (no matter what genre), you will probably know that they are steeped in folklore. Mythology of all parts of the world. That’s the central theme in all my books really, and I believe I can trace it back all the way to elementary school on those wonderful library days.
Side note, there was another series of books I ran to on those days as well. And I’m not ashamed one little bit to admit this either. Pippi Longstocking. Absolutely loved those books. They were just plain fun.
Bestselling author Kent Holloway lives on death. Literally. With more than twenty-five years’ experience in forensic death investigations, he’s seen it all. Experienced the worst that life has to give and never let it dim his sense of wonder or humor. Now, he brings all this experience, along with a zeal for uncovering the folklore and superstitions of death, to the written page as author of mysteries, forensic crime fiction, paranormal thrillers, and Christian fiction and nonfiction!
He is the author of the highly acclaimed Ezekiel Crane paranormal mystery series, as well as some of his more traditional mysteries, KILLYPSO ISLAND and the forensic thriller, CLEAN EXIT. He’s even started a series wherein Death himself takes on the role of sleuth in the witty and twisty DEATH WARMED OVER.
Kent Holloway also has a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as singles minister, evangelism pastor, and director of discipleship and education. Kent has just released his very first Christian nonfiction book entitled ‘I Died Swallowing a Goldfish and Other Life Lessons from the Morgue’.