Author: Mary Holland
Page Count: 374
Read It & Reap Date: June 25, 2013
Book Description: A divvy, a dying woman, and a promise.
Rhona has the divvy gift; with only a touch she can tell if a baby will be fertile or a sterile Shun, destined to be killed or outcast. The people of the Deom depend on the divvys for survival, but it is a hard and brutal gift. As long as Rhona’s mother was alive, Rhona had followed the old ways, but now her mother is dead and Rhona is free to live her own life. She has one last obligation to fulfill: honor her mother's dying wish to find a woman named Selina and offer her help.
Rhona has no idea who Selina is, but the best way to find anyone on Deo is to travel the Bone Road, the trade highway paved with the remains of their ancestors. And follow it Rhona does, accompanied by her young son Jak, straight into a twisted conspiracy of vengeance, death, rebirth, and the mystery of the Riders, men who never die and are bent on closing the Bone Road forever.
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Q & A with Mary Holland
Q: Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
A: Rhona is a very important woman in her society, but she has many responsibilities and obligations she is oath-bound to fulfill. She has, as the story opens, one last act to perform before she is free to do as she wants. She’s an extremely strong woman, emotionally, and she isn’t afraid to take chances and make decisions. Her son Jak is very centered and secure in himself, and he’s curious about everything. We meet him when he is twelve and he grows up during the story. The third main character, Aniles, begins the story being motivated only by revenge. That’s a hard dry place to be, and she spends a lot of the story fighting off things that try to mellow her or distract her from vengeance.
Q: What was your favorite scene to write?
A: The scene in the graveyard with Jak and Rhona, where she discovers what he’s done. It still makes the hair rise up on my arms when I read it. And my least favorite scene to write was the first chapter of Part 2: In The Nursery. I rewrote that bit about ten times before I was satisfied with it.
Q: How would you describe your writing style?
A: Straightforward and unadorned. I’m always going back and putting bits of description in, because I must remember the reader can’t see what’s inside my head. Someone once said no matter how well a scene is described in a story, the reader will default to the familiar. In other words, I can describe a house in great detail, but the house the reader sees will be one in their memory. In some cases you have to let the reader provide the embellishments, but you must give them somewhere to start.
Q: Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author?
A: Rhea Ewing has done my covers, both for The Bone Road and Matcher Rules, my first novel. I love working with her. I have the artistic skills of a moldy potato, so I tell her what I see on the cover and she tactfully steers me to something about 500 times better. We just finished the revision of the Ebook cover of The Bone Road. I thought it was hard to see in thumbnail size. So the Ebook and the paperback have different covers, but there are no changes or revisions in the text. Promise.
Q: What do you see as influences on your writing?
A: I’ve been reading genre fiction for years, especially fantasy, sci-fi, and mysteries. I admire Lois McMaster Bujold, Sheri Tepper, Dave Duncan, Elizabeth Lynn, and Ursula K. LeGuin, to name only the first few names in fantasy. In science fiction I go for character and plot over the science every time, so Theodore Sturgeon, Alexsi Panshin, and C.J. Cherryh, to name a few. I admire mystery stories, especially the classics by Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham, but I’m not sure they have influenced my writing except in the sense that everything I read influences it. I’d encourage anyone who is interested in genre to read the masters: John D. Macdonald, Peter O’Donnell, Lawrence Block, Georgette Heyer. I hate this slicing and dicing of genre into categories which get smaller and smaller every year. A good story is a good story whether it’s fantasy or a thriller or science fiction. Or Regency romance.
Q: Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?
A: I want to be right here, writing. I hope to have another three books out, and I want to have as many readers as it is possible to have.
Q: What do you do to unwind and relax?
A: Read. Or actually, reread. I have about 3,000 books in this house and I reread stories all the time. Familiarity with a good story does not breed contempt. I also play various addicting and time-wasting games on my Ipad. My husband and I spend a lot of time watching movies and television series. We’re currently hooked on “New Tricks”, a detective series from England. Thank heavens for the BBC. And we are watching, along with the rest of the universe, season 3 of Game of Thrones. I’ve read all the books so I know what’s coming but he hasn’t, so I have to be careful what I say.
Q: What book are you reading now?
A: Oh, dear. I’m reading about six books not quite simultaneously. The current stack includes Megan Whelan Turner’s The Thief series, Humphrey Carpenter’s biography of J.R.R. Tolkien, the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks, the Daylight War by Peter Brett, and The Sharing Knife: Passages by Lois McMaster Bujold. I’ve always been a very fast reader and I’ve never had any problem keeping plots and characters straight from book to book, so I stack them up by the best chair and grab whatever I feel like.
About the Author:
Mary Holland writes fantasy and science fiction. She's more interested how people would live in alien worlds than in the rocket ships they arrived on. She doesn't do vampires or dragons although that could change at any moment. She lives in the Santa Cruz mountains with several cats and a husband.