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Adam Interviews...Lori Holuta!

Why, hello! Back again?

Glad to see you!

We have another wonderful author here this morning. Why don't you check it out?

Lori? Take it away!

Hi there!

Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables, teas and herbs, when she’s not playing games with a cat named Chives. She’s fond of activities from the past, including canning and preserving, crocheting, reading in the dark, and cooking.

Her lifelong fascination with the Victorian era dovetails nicely with articles she has written for The Primgraph, a magazine which focused on historical eras in virtual worlds, as well as music and book reviews for Steampunk Magazine.

Her first novel, a Young Adult Steampunk Comedy Adventure called The Flight To Brassbright is endearing itself to eleven year old girls and a surprising number of grown-ups. Its sequel, Down The Tubes, seems to be in an eternal state of ‘nearly done’ but she’s going to surprise you when it publishes, possibly sooner than you think. Book three, The Hidden Doors, is in a delightful state of disarray, and Book four, Off The Rails, is currently in development. Besides the Brassbright Chronicles novels, she’s published three short steampunk books and a five-story collection for kids, all set in her fictional country of Industralia. Steamed and Steamy: Recipes from the Steampunk World of Industralia, is her cookbook, inspired by Industralia’s characters and their eating habits.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

For many years, I was a lunch-break writer. I’d eat at my desk and get in about 45 minutes of writing time. But since I retired a few years ago, everything’s changed. Weirdly, after a lifetime of being a natural nightowl, I’ve turned into a morning person. A good writing day means getting up about 5am, brewing a huge mug of Earl Grey, firing up Hawaiian folk tunes (don’t judge me!) and writing until about 11am, when the world starts to take notice of me.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Ideas come from conversations, dreams, news articles… all aspects of life. At the core, my stories are about people trying to make a good life for themselves. When I first got out on my own, I struggled. A lot. I couldn’t afford many basic necessities, and often went without food. It was a long, slow climb to get out of that situation, and I don’t take my current cozy life for granted. I draw heavily on my life experiences as inspiration for my characters.

My stories take place in a pseudo-Victorian steampunk setting. I’ve been fascinated with the Victorian era since I was a kid, and am always eager to learn more about that time in history. Also, I’m more than a bit steampunky, so of course that influences my ideas. And hey – when all else fails, Google usually saves the day.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m a maker at heart. I crochet art objects, including octopus hats and Gibson Girl wigs. When we need something around the house, I always try to make it before resorting to purchasing someting. I made an exception for my desktop computer though, as I haven’t yet learned how to crochet a motherboard.

I am a hands-on foodie, and love to cook from scratch. I don’t bother with timesaving appliances – there’s no instant pot or bread machine or even a food processor in my kitchen, it’s all about digging in with my hands and using my muscles. The kitchen is my gym membership. Pro-tip: Kneading bread dough is a great arm toner. I also grow and forage as much of our food as possible. I live on an acre of country land, so I have room to play with veg gardens, berry patches, medicinal herbs and a catnip patch that brings all the cats to my yard.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

My first novel, The Flight to Brassbright, will always be my favorite. It owes its existence to a place I call ‘home’, a steampunk city in the virtual world of Second Life called New Babbage. My first spluttering paragraphs of Constance’s story were encouraged by the city, especially one dear friend who has since passed away. Readers won’t realize it, but I know that the foundation of my world rests on the shoulders of New Babbage. Yes, I know that’s a mixed metaphor.

I’ve also written three very short books for kids. Little stories set in the same world as the novel, but featuring children and their adventures.

And, because I’m a foodie, and my characters love to eat, I published a cookbook called Steamed and Steamy: Recipes from the Steampunk World of Industralia. It features foods served in my books, with snippets from the books at the beginning of each recipe.

I just published Full Steam Ahead: A Short Story Collection Where Kids Save the Day. The stories include the three previously published children’s stories, plus an adventure I wrote in 2016 for International Octopus Day and a brand-new novelette called The Secret of Tarragon Alley.

What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

I wouldn’t call this ‘the most’ but it’s the one that really annoys me. Misleading cover art. I know book covers sells books, but why do we have to lie to the readers? A writer friend wrote a marvelous book featuring a short, bearded, dwarf woman as the protagonist. The cover art portrayed her as tall, willowy, beautiful… and beard-free. I was appalled at the blatant character erasure.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Believing that other writers are more gifted than them, based on reading their published novels. I’m sure if they could read the first drafts, they’d feel better about their own work. Also, trying to polish a first draft as it’s being written isn’t the best idea. It slows you down, you lose momentum, and a lot of what you are editing to perfection is going to get chucked out the window on the second pass, anyway.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Yes. I haven’t yet, but I have a pen name waiting and ready for the day when I shock the world with my erotica. I’m only half-kidding. The stories I write as Lori Alden Holuta are family-friendly, I suppose you could even call them wholesome. Readers expect certain standards of me, and I never want to mislead. If I decide to put something saucy out there, Lori will be handing the pen over to Penelope.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I write the books I want to read. I try to tell stories that I haven’t found in other books. When someone tells me one of my books resonates with them, I know I’ve found a kindred spirit. And really… do any of us know what we want to read, a year or two before we read it? Our book takes time to develop, write, edit, publish. We are writing for future readers. And we don’t have crystal balls to know what they will want. So, I choose not to worry about that.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Upgrading my desktop computer and adding a second monitor. I’ll admit it. Having awesome technology frees my mind.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I’m constantly recommending Tom Robbins to the uninitiated – especially Jitterbug Perfume. I’ve read it so many times and always come away with a new point of view. And really, how can anyone resist this b

ack-cover blurb?

“Jitterbug Perfume is an epic, which is to say, it begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn't conclude until nine o'clock tonight [Paris time]. It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle. The bottle is blue, very, very old, and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god. If the liquid in the bottle is actually is the secret essence of the universe, as some folks seem to think, it had better be discovered soon because it is leaking and there is only a drop or two left.”

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

A turtle. Turtles are slow, yet determined, and rumor has it they can win races against rabbits.. Also, they never leave their house.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have a folder on my hard drive for those. I just took a look and counted seven unfinished books. Two of them are high priority and I really need to finish them soon.

I also have a folder called “The Bunny Farm” where I throw random plot notions, details of dreams, odd concepts that could become a story, and such. There’s 49 files in there. Time will tell what becomes of them.

What do you have coming next?

I’m working on the sequel to The Flight To Brassbright. It’s called Down the Tubes. The plot involves an accident with Brassbright City’s pneumatic post system that results in four letters being misdelivered. Each recipient acts on the letter they received, not knowing it’s the wrong mail. I’m having such fun with it. And it’s huuuuuge. The book will actually be five novellas in one volume. One for each letter’s adventure, and the intro and outro that bookend those stories is a novella in itself. Somebody stop me.

I’ve also got the first draft for the third book in the Brassbright Chronicles nearly done. It’s called The Hidden Doors. So far it feels like a cross between the classic Nancy Drew mysteries and the National Treasure movies.

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