Sunday, December 5, 2010

Getting to Know Author & Illustrator J.D. Holiday

I thought I would do something a bit different this Sunday from my other posts. Instead of listening to me babble on about marketing, I asked my fellow writing friend J.D. Holiday (who is currently touring her book “The Great Snowball Escapade” in the December ’10 World of Ink Tour) a couple of questions about believable characters and how she creates her characters. I also asked her a few other questions. Therefore, I hope you all enjoy this little interview today with author and illustrator J.D. Holiday.

J.D. Holiday is the author and illustrator of two children’s books: “Janoose the Goose” and “THE GREAT SNOWBALL ESCAPADE.”  A chapbook of her short stories called, “Trespasses” was published in 1994 and she has had short stories printed in literary magazines and numerous articles about writing and publishing published.

I want to thank you for being my guest here on Utah Children’s Writers.

You‘re welcome. Thank you for having me here today.

What inspired you to write?

Stories of all kinds throughout my childhood opened up my imagination. I enjoyed coming up with my own endings to sad stories though I really only wrote one story as a child. I think that was in the fourth grade on a rainy day.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If yes, how did you ‘cure’ it?
Not really. I have had times I didn’t write mainly because I was discouraged by rejections from agents, editors and publishers.

What is the most difficult part of writing?

I would have to say that editing is the most difficult part for me. Grammar is not
my strong point. I have to rely on others to edit for me.

Tell us about your writing space.

My writing space is an office/TV room/computer room. My computer table is one that if you put the back-up you have a bench but instead the top have a computer with the monitor, keyboard and scanner/printer on it. The TV sits across from a small couch or loveseat. I write sitting on that comfortable couch.

What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?

Before I sit down to write when I’m creating a story, my mind begins racing. I write by hand, paper and pen because I can’t type fast enough to get all my thoughts in. 

Editing gets to be difficult because I keep writing notes that end up in every available space, in the margins and between the typed name it. This all makes it hard to edit and near impossible to read my own writing. I’ve tried changing this hobby many times. But nothing else works while I’m creating. A pencil and eraser only make it harder still with the eraser’s smudges!

How do you create your characters?

I start plotting my story, working out all the details and as I’m doing that the characters start to form. By the time I have the story outlined I also have my characters in place. I never seem to have to worry about coming up with characters for my stories.

Once I have the characters, then I do an outline for each one, from a few paragraphs to a page or two for the main character or characters.

I ask myself how do they look, where do they live, who are their family if any. Are they students or full time cashiers. Round out their lives even though I will not use or write all of it in my story. I know who they are.

Nevertheless, I need to see all there is to my characters so I can make them real for the readers.
Your characters must show themselves to your readers. You should not tell the readers, John hates school. Have John show them. You do this through the scenes and dialog.

                        The bell rang. Most of the kids moved faster as if they liked being here.
                        Slamming his lockers door John put one foot in front of the other hesitantly wanting to delay entering the classroom.
                        First Mrs. Smith, then hairy face Hairyluke’s class, Michelillen’s all before shop where he can breathe a bit.
                        He smiled slyly. That’s if he didn’t get thrown out of a class first.

What is required for a character to be believable?

A believable character is one that can show human traits and emotions through body movement and dialog. Know your characters well.

Each character must have an identity; name, age, background, a hobby or two and likes and dislikes. Your readers have to see where your characters live what the characters think and feel about the situations they find themselves in.
  1. Do they play an instrument?
  2. Do they run in the park mornings or in the evenings?
  3. Who are their friends? And on and on.
I put myself in their shoes and use myself as a model for all sorts of emotions and problems my characters face. This applies to even emotions I have not felt or traits I don’t have. If my characters have to be something I am not or feel what I have not, I picture myself being or doing what my characters must and write it down.

Do an outline sketch of each one and even with all of that, your characters, especially your main character should standout and for the most part, are likable to the readers.

The characters personalities have to be consistent throughout the story.

What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?

I like both, but prefer third person. The reason being is I need my main characters to think in my stories. I find my characters are well rounded that way and the readers understand them better.

What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?

What I think you should do if you haven’t done so already, is to research and learn all there is to know about the genre or field your stories are in. Read the same types of books you have written. The same ones your story’s readers are reading.

Once you understand your genre and see that what you have written is right and correct for its and sure that readers will like it, it’s show time for your stories.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Readers can find out more about me and my books at:

I thank you for taking the time to share with our readers and me about being an author.

You are welcome! Thank you so much for having me here today. I appreciate it.  

If you would like to learn more about J.D. Holiday and her book “The Great Snowball Escapade” you can follow her World of Ink Tour at

You can also join us December 6th on RRRadio-Stories for Children with hosts: VS Grenier, D.M. Cunningham and Tiffany Strelitz Haber as we chat with J.D. Holiday Live at 11am MST (10am PST, Noon Central and 1pm EST) at

The call in number is (646) 595-4478

J.D. Holiday’s next World of Ink Tour stop is December 7th at the KidsRead Blog 

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