Thursday, 8 October 2020

Interview with Holly Greenland

Today I am delighted to interview Holly Greenland

What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?

I am currently writing a murder mystery series. It is a cross between cozy mystery and contemporary women’s fiction. My sleuths are new mums, and there is a secondary story about the pressures of dealing with a new-born and the realities of post-natal depression. It sounds dark, but there is lightness to it too. Just like I found as a new mum – it’s a roller-coaster!

What made you choose that genre?

I have always loved detective fiction. I even studied it as a class for my Creative Writing MA. I love the golden age of mystery writing, and its rules, ripe for breaking. Murder on Maternity is a homage to some of the classic twists and turns, and avid readers of the genre can pick out the references which I hope is fun. I also loved the idea of exploring how Agatha Christie or similar writers might update and fill out female characters if they were writing today. My female leads are solving crimes just like Miss Marple, but they also have relationships, paranoia, jealousy and… children! We often have to do it all these days. 

How long does it take you to write a book?

I’ve written a kid’s book in just a few days, but my murder mystery took nearly four years beginning to end. This was in fits and starts alongside a young family and full-time job.  

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

I have always had to squeeze in writing when I can. Sitting quietly on the bunk bed while my son plays with lego on the floor, or on the sofa in the evening when everyone is in bed. I still work in communications, which I love, but keeps me busy. I went freelance in 2019 and am lucky to be able to pick and choose to take on fewer great projects now, leaving more time to write in working hours, which I am still getting used to. Mid mornings are best for me. I write in bursts of a few thousand words, then take some time out to think, maybe even over a few days, then back in again.

Tell me something about yourself your readers might not know.

Holly worked for eight years at the Houses of Parliament and she even got to watch the Queen arrive in her finery for the State Opening.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I’ve always written for work, whether it’s schools packs for the BBC, or social media posts and press releases for Parliament. But… I didn’t manage to sit down and write a full-length novel until I was off on maternity leave in 2016. As well as a new-born, I also had builders in 8am – 4pm for three months, so I’d head out to the coffee shop and write every day while the baby napped in the buggy. I revisited the novel over the coming years, but it was lock down that motivated me to go through the final phases of testing, editing, proofing and launching. So I was 38 when it arrived on people’s kindles or through the letter box - you are never too late to finish a novel.

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

I spend a lot of time with my family, I have a four-year-old and a seven-year-old who keep me very busy.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Just how many people you need to complete a book. You can imagine it’s a solitary activity, but from first readers, to proofers, designers, editors and bloggers, not to mention moral support when you are pushing it over the line, it really takes a whole gang of people. 

How many books have you written?

Two complete books so far, and a few on the go. My main focus is on the second in my Emily Elliot mysteries as a follow up to Murder on Maternity. This one sees her move into the toddler years and at the moment it’s set around a visit to a retreat during a very snowy winter, but that could develop. It’s a bit of a take on what a modern country house murder might look like and I’m working on a locked room element right now.

Do you Google yourself? What did you find that affected you most (good or bad)?

I love what RuPaul always says: ‘What other people think of me is none of my business’! Having said that, I am still growing as a writer and I do keep a close eye on reviews and constructive feedback I receive directly from readers. The most motivating feedback has been from female readers who have found reassurance from seeing how Emily deals with being a new mum. I wasn’t sure if that element would resonate, but it’s spurred me on to book two. 

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I remember moving between wanting to be a journalist and an actor. Fiction writing feels like a good place between the two, as you have to put yourself into the place of other people and characters, like an actor, but also shape a story for your audience, like a journalist.

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

Ooooh. Four, five, six!? There’s not enough hours in the day!


Holly Greenland has worked in communications and copywriting for over fifteen years and counts herself extremely lucky to be able to write for a living.

She originally studied Theatre and Literature at Royal Holloway, followed by a Creative and Critical Writing MA at Sussex University. Everything she learnt there influenced her career, but over the next decade or so she never quite seemed to find the time to focus on fiction.

Murder on Maternity is her debut novel. It all began in a coffee shop while she was on maternity leave herself, but thankfully she did not encounter any murderers. Holly lives with her family and seven fish just outside London.

Murder on Maternity is available on Kindle Unlimited or from £2.99 for the ebook:



Twitter: @holly_pocket_

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