“Other writers definitely influence my writing. What encourages me and inspires me is when I read a good book. It makes me want to be a better writer.” – Kimberly Willis Holt
When I was first writing young adult literature, I was not only impressed with Holt’s work but also her comments on writing. “My biggest disappointment (as a writer),” she said, “is that once I’m finished working on the characters, I really do expect to see them in the flesh one day.” Like Holt, I’ve found it hard to “let those characters go” once I finish the book.
Best known for the novel When Zachary Beaver Came to Town – winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature – Holt was born into a Navy family on this date in 1960 in Pensacola, FL, but spent most of her childhood in Forest Hill, LA. Those “growing up” years inspired her award-winning first novel, My Louisiana Sky, while her experiences as a “Navy brat” are reflected in her Piper Reed series of books.
Holt has great advice for young authors who say they struggle with “wrapping up” a piece on which they’re working. “If you're having trouble finishing a book, it might be that you're trying to hard to fix it as you go,” she said. “Just finish the story, no matter how terrible you think that first draft is. Then let it cool off. In other words, don't look at it for a while. THEN you can rewrite it.”
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