Gina Holmes is the founder of Novel Rocket and a PR professional. Her bestselling novels Crossing Oceans and Dry as Rain were both Christy finalists and won various literary awards. Her latest novel, Wings of Glass, released February 2013 and has earned a starred review from Library Journal, a Romantic Times Top Pick and a Southern Indie Bookseller's Okra Pick. She holds degrees in science and nursing and currently resides with her family in southern Virginia. She works too hard, laughs too loud, and longs to see others heal from their past and discover their God-given purpose. To learn more about her, visit www.ginaholmes.com.
This week, I'm thrilled to be visiting with Gina Holmes (someone I have known a lot longer than she has known me, because of how much I have enjoyed her wonderful website NovelRocket.com over the years). She has all kinds of great things to share -- whether you are a reader, or a writer -- so I'm going to let her get right to it, and try not to interrupt as much as I usually do (no guarantees, though). So, welcome, Gina, and congratulations on the release of WINGS OF GLASS, this month.
Thank you, Lilly, it's good to be here.
There's been a lot of anticipation over this third novel of yours, and for good reason. Can you start off by telling us a little about it?
Sure. You know, I think this is my favorite book so far. WINGS OF GLASS tells the story of Penny Taylor, a young wife who feels trapped and alone in a physically and emotionally abusive marriage. Besides her low self-esteem, she feels her Christian faith doesn’t allow for divorce. It’s not until she meets two women—one a southern socialite and the other a Sudanese cleaning woman—that her eyes are opened to the truth of her situation and she begins her journey to healing and redemption.
Wow, what made you take on the tough subject of domestic abuse?
As a little girl, I watched my mother being physically abused by her husband and then later, two of my sisters enter abusive relationship after abusive relationship and I thought that would never be me. . . until the day my boyfriend hit me for the first time and I began to make excuses for him. I know the mindset of someone who gets into and stays in an abusive relationship, because I’ve been there myself. It’s taken me years, and a lot of reading, praying, and talking to get to the heart of what brought me, and kept me, in toxic relationships. Now, I want to pass on some of what I learned that helped me find boundaries and recovery from a codependent mindset, and most of all healing.
It's true that people who understand best seem to be the ones who have also gone through it. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
It’s my hope and prayer that those who are in abusive relationships will begin to see that the problem lies with them as much as with the abuser. That’s something I railed against when friends suggested it. I wasn’t the one with the problem! I was no doormat who enabled abuse or addiction… or was I?
I also hope that those who have never understood the mindset of victims would better comprehend the intricacies of codependency and be better able to minister to these women and men. And of course I’d love it if young women would read this before they ever enter their first romantic relationship to have their eyes open to how abuse almost always progresses and be able to see the red flags early.
Well, I'm going to praying that it does all those things. And, of course, I have to ask which of the characters in the novel is most like you and why?
Everybody likes to know that, don't they? Actually, each of the characters has a little of me in them or vice versa. I think years ago I was more like Penny, though tougher in many regards, at least I thought so. I’d like to think now I’m a little more Callie Mae. Because I’ve lived through what I have and have found healing, I can see in others the path that will lead to healing and the one that will lead to destruction. The difficult part once you’ve found healing is remembering that you can’t do it for others. You can offer advice, but you can’t make anyone take it. Each person has to learn in their own time, in their own way.
Who is your favorite character?
I absolutely love Fatimah. She had such a great sense of humor and didn’t care what anyone thought except those who really mattered. She was really quite self-actualized. She was so much fun to write and I actually find myself missing her presence.
Which just goes to show what a great job you've done on bringing these characters to life. They do have a sort of life all their own. I like to call them "gentle missionaries" because very few people in "real life" get as much time and concentrated attention that readers will give the characters in a book they have chosen to read. What a bonus if it actually has something important to say! Not an easy thing to do from the writer's standpoint, though. Many hours of hard work and determination involved there.
So true, Lilly. But like everything else, being a writer has its good times and hard times.
What’s your favorite and least favorite part about being a writer?
Favorite? Making my own schedule. I love when I’m feeling bad one day knowing that I don’t have to punch a clock. I can just take the day off and then work harder the next. Of course, there’s a lot of other things I love about writing, like allowing others to consider another point of view that may be far different from their own.
Least favorite? Hmm... There’s a joke that when you work for yourself you at least get to pick which eighteen hours of the day you want. That’s true. Working from home means I’m always at work. I work from about 7:30 am until about eight at night most days. Under deadline, it’s worse. Truly understanding how much the success of a book rides on the shoulders of the author is a blessing and a curse. Because I get that no one is more invested in the success of my books than me, I put in a LOT of time on the publicity/marketing end of things. It’s tiring but an investment that I think pays off in the long run.
Not to mention that success is something that usually doesn't come overnight. I remember you said you had written four novels before your debut, Crossing Oceans was published. Do you think those books will ever get dusted off and reworked?
Never say never, but I doubt it. I had considered reworking some but having gone back and re-read them, I realized they weren’t published for good reason. They just didn’t work. Now, there is one story I’m resurrecting characters from for a story I should be writing next, but the plotline is completely different. I started out writing suspensel but as my reading tastes changed, so did my writing tastes. I don’t see myself doing suspense again any time soon.
Well, I definitely agree you've found your niche. And I think all those readers that have contributed to making you a bestselling novelist would agree with me. I love all those quirky characters. Something else you're known for. What inspires you to write these types into each book?
Honestly, Lilly, I’m a pretty quirky person, myself. The older I get, the more I embrace those quirks. I think everyone is quirky really. As a student of human nature, I pick up on those and like to exaggerate them in my fiction. I also like to surround myself with quirky people. My husband is quirky, my kids are quirky and so are my friends. Often in life, especially when we’re young, we hate about ourselves what makes us different, when really those are the things we should be embracing. Different is interesting. Different is beautiful.
I couldn't agree more. Now, if you could write anything you wanted-- and genre, marketing and reader expectations didn’t matter-- what would you write?
Going back to quirky… I read a book a few years back that was so different that it made me want to try something like that. The book was a big-time bestseller, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. What turned me on about that book were the characters. They were quirky to an extreme. In contemporary women’s fiction, I can get away with a certain amount of quirk. but I’m always having to play it down because it’s so over the top. In a fantasy, you can be as over the top as you dare. I’d love to play around with something like that one day and just let my freak flag fly! Will I? Probably not unless I use a pen-name. I realize readers have certain expectations and I wouldn’t want anyone to feel mislead. We’ll see. There’s lots in life I want to do but since I only get a hundred or so years (if I’m lucky), time won’t allow for every rabbit hole.
Which is a good reason to have a map of some sort to go along with the territory, right? I'm going to look for that "someday" book of yours, though, even if it does have a pen-name on it. Might take a while since you spend so much of your time not only with your own projects, but with helping others along that same road, as well. That said, what advice would you have for writers hoping to follow in your footsteps?
My advice would be not to follow too closely in anyone’s footsteps. Yes, there is a certain path all writers find themselves on. There are certain things that we must all do like learning to write well, figuring out platform, going to writers conferences to meet the gatekeepers and figure out the way things have to be formatted and submitted and all that sort of thing. But it’s okay to veer off the path too and forge your own. There are those who have self-published who have found great success.
There are those who have written about subjects that they were told no one wanted to read about and found success. It’s smart to figure out what others have done before you to make them successful, but alter the formula to suit your needs and passions. It’s okay to be different, in fact, I think great success and maybe even happiness depends upon it. And by all means, read Novel Rocket.com and leave comments. It helps not only encourage those authors who have taken the time out of their day to teach us, but it also connects you to the writing community. Community is important.
It certainly is. Thank you so much for visiting with me, today, Gina, it's been a pleasure. Could I interest you in a cup of "Seaweed Tea" and a piece of "Mermaid Cake" before you go? My cooking has changed a bit since I moved onto a boat.
Well, I'm pretty careful about what I eat these days, Lilly... what exactly are they made of?
From the best-selling author of Crossing Oceans comes a heartrending yet uplifting story of friendship and redemption. On the cusp of adulthood, eighteen-year-old Penny Carson is swept off her feet by a handsome farmhand with a confident swagger. Though Trent Taylor seems like Prince Charming and offers an escape from her one-stop-sign town, Penny's happily-ever-after lasts no longer than their breakneck courtship. Before the ink even dries on their marriage certificate, he hits her for the first time. It isn't the last, yet the bruises that can't be seen are the most painful of all.
When Trent is injured in a welding accident and his paycheck stops, he has no choice but to finally allow Penny to take a job cleaning houses. Here she meets two women from very different worlds who will teach her to live and laugh again, and lend her their backbones just long enough for her to find her own.