Anna Yeatts: First of all, congratulations on “Your Past Life Interferes With My Very Important Studies”. Tell us the story that inspired this piece.
C.L. Holland: Thank you! The story came about as part of a writing challenge over at Codex Writers’ Forum. It was a prompt-based challenge, one of the prompts was to use one of Shakespeare’s plots or characters, and another was a title provided by Vylar Kaftan. The two glomped together, and I couldn’t let the idea go.
AY: Humor is always challenging to write. It’s so subjective. But you do a deft job in “Your Past Life…” of using both a non-traditional format and narrative to keep the reader’s interest. How did you decide to go this route?
CLH: The first line came to me first: Your past life drank all the milk again. It seemed like the sort of thing you’d leave in a note stuck to the fridge, and once I’d started it seemed like a good idea to carry on.
AY: Any advice for aspiring humor writers?
CLH: This is a difficult one because I don’t generally start out trying to write a humorous story. “Past Lives” is basically a twist story, so I’d say if you’re writing that kind of humor Chekov’s gun is as important, if not more so, than in other writing. The twist has to feel logical, or it will fall flat.
AY: What’s your writing process like?
CLH: It varies. For flash, it’s usually a mad dash to get it down in one sitting just before a challenge deadline. I rarely plan, although a couple of longer stories have been written backward since I knew how they ended but not how they started. I’ve recently taken to writing poems on my phone while commuting.
AY: What draws you to short fiction?
CLH: I like being able to get the first draft down in one sitting before the initial excitement wears off. That’s why I write so much flash, and why several of my longer stories started out much shorter.
AY: For readers not familiar with your style, how would you describe your work? Do you have a consistent style or do you float between genres?
CLH: My partner tells me it’s subversive, although I don’t see it. Mostly I write fantasy, with a little science fiction — I’d love to write a space opera. I also dabble in poetry.
AY: You won Writers of the Future. How has that affected your career?
CLH: Not as much as it could have — I don’t think I made the most of the opportunity. The event week came three weeks after I was made redundant, so when I got home, writing wasn’t at the forefront of my mind. But the workshop was a fantastic experience, and I wish I’d done more with it.
AY: The inevitable question… do you have a novel in the works?
CLH: I don’t. I have several trunked novels, but nothing I’m currently working on. Maybe that will change in November since I seem to do better at NaNoWriMo in odd-numbered years.
AY: What else about you might surprise the average reader?
CLH: I don’t want to be a full-time writer. I know it’s fashionable at the moment to say writing has to be your everything, but I quite like having the routine provided by a job. Also, having money is helpful.
AY: And finally, how do we keep up with you on social media?