Featured Interview With Rebecca Holmes
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I live in Vancouver now, but had a country upbringing. I used to breed and show pedigree long coat chihuahuas in my teens and early twenties. That made me think I wanted to become a veterinarian, but I changed my mind and ended up building a career in ecommerce and writing fantasy on the side. Now I just have the one dog; a 9-year-old papillon.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
School encouraged me to keep a reading journal throughout the year and record as diverse a mix of books as possible. Like most people, I didn’t necessarily enjoy the books I was assigned to study at school though. Right from the beginning, reading was a source of escapism for me. I wanted books that would transport me to another world. When I went to university, I found I couldn’t read for pleasure alongside all the textbook and study guide reading. Looking at more words on a page was the very last thing I wanted to do after spending all evening studying scientific papers. I didn’t read books at all for a few years until I moved somewhere with a bigger library and had the freedom to find my niche.
I always knew I was a decent writer because I won several awards for creative writing at school and had a few pieces published in the school magazine. I was editor for a club newsletter in my teens (printed, not emailed!) and would write web content for blogs and such. The first few words of Beyond the Gloaming Pass were written on a flip phone when I was bored at work. Yes, the kind of phone where you had to press each key repeatedly to get the letter you want. I copied all of this stuff into a Google Doc later, but it didn’t amount to much. I gradually progressed to writing isolated scenes whenever they came to me, often without much context around them. This went on for years. Eventually, I collected enough of them that I started to join them together into a coherent story, and that’s when I had to make some big decisions about how to develop actual characters and plot lines from this to turn it into a book.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I read fantasy almost exclusively, with the occasional diversion into pure science fiction or historical fiction. I like authors who put a lot of thought and detail into their world building and do their historical research where applicable. The cultures, science and ecology in high fantasy should feel plausible within bounds created by the author.
Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy was a huge inspiration to me because of how authentically she brought Russian folklore to life. It’s so real, you can almost forget you’re reading fantasy. There are moments in those books so tender it physically hurt to read. That’s what I look for in a book: authenticity, immersion, emotion.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
I wrote Beyond the Gloaming Pass because I wanted a classic fantasy narrative centred on mature characters with adult problems and adult relationships. I took the themes we know and love from the classics, but made it feminist and 19th century-ish. Lastly, I’m heavily inspired by video games and I wanted my world to feel lived in, the way an RPG open world feels lived in with NPCs going about their lives alongside – or in spite of – the main quest.
The result? A down-to-earth adventure where two women’s struggle with the challenges of “adulting” spirals rapidly out of control and throws them into a desperate struggle against overwhelming odds. There’s magic with limitations and consequences. The rich and powerful will bargain, threaten and manipulate to get what they want, often at our heroines’ expense. There’s a cast of complex characters with distinct personalities and a dry sense of humour.
Lured to a mysterious land by the promise of financial gain, Rubriel and Molindra are swept onto opposite sides of a bitter conflict that could destroy everything they hold dear. As forces beyond their control relentlessly tear them apart, will their bond prove strong enough to overcome the obstacles in their path?
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