S.J.I. Holliday grew up in East Lothian, Scotland. She spent many years working in her family’s newsagent and pub before escaping to St Andrews, Dundee and Edinburgh to study microbiology and statistics. She has worked as a statistician in the pharmaceutical industry for over sixteen years but it was on a six-month round-the-world-trip, that she took with her husband, in 2006 that she rediscovered her passion for writing.
She has now written three novels (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly), a loosely linked trilogy full of dark secrets set in the fictional Scottish town of Banktoun. She is currently working on two exciting new projects, details of which will be revealed soon.
She blogs occasionally about books she has loved, writes short stories when time permits, and has recently taught creative writing workshops in a male prison. She now lives in London.
My Three Top Tips for Writers
1. Don’t write into the void
People often say that writing is a lonely profession, and it can be – if you don’t put your work out there and seek advice (and solace!) from your peers. Whether it’s via social media or evening events or weekend festivals, try to get to know other writers – both at the same stage as you, and those who have gone on to have their work published (by whatever route) – knowing you’re not alone and that everyone goes through the same thing can make it a lot easier when you are struggling with that chapter that just refuses to come out the way you want it to.
2. Be prepared for the slump
Mine comes at 20k in. Some make it to 30k, or 40k before it happens. Just be aware that it will happen, probably in every book you write, and try to find ways around it. My way is to go and write a scene that happens much later in the book, and also to re-read my 20k and work on an outline for the rest of the book – whether you spend time on an outline at the beginning or not, you are likely to have to tweak it later, and it’s at this slump stage where you are banging your head against the wall that you may benefit from this the most.
3. Be aware of the market, but don’t drive yourself mad
It’s important to know where your book might ‘fit’ in the current market (unless you don’t plan to do anything with it except read it yourself) – read the genre you want to write. See what’s popular. But don’t tie yourself in knots. Some books don’t fit neatly into just one category, and never ever try to chase a trend to the detriment of your writing – you might think you can bang out the next Fifty Shades of Girls With Horrible Husbands, but really, don’t. If it’s not what you want to write, don’t write it.
Her books (published by Black & White) are available in all good bookshops, and online at Amazon, Waterstones, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Sainsbury’s.
Her latest book, The Damselfly, is available on ebook and paperback now.