Talking & Stalking With Holly Riordan

Who are you? What are you working on at the moment

My name is Holly Riordan, and I’m an aspiring science fiction and horror writer. Lately, I’ve been focusing my energy on creating short stories. I’ve recently gotten a few of my favorites accepted by Lit Select, Wolf Singer Publications, Flash Fiction Press, and Infective Ink. I also write occasional horror stories that appear on Thought Catalog and YA stories for All Women Stalk.

When you first came to NiTH I think it was early on in your writing career. How have things changed for you since those glorious days back in 2013?

NiTH was one of the first places that published my work back when I was in college. Since then, I’ve graduated with an English degree and have started focusing all my energy on my freelance work for women’s websites and my fiction writing. I’ve grown a lot as a writer over those few years by reading as much as possible, writing as much as possible, and never giving my brain a rest from trying to think up new story ideas.

Got any advice for writers looking to get into the world of online content writing and blogging

The Joker was wrong when he said, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.” If you want to be a writer, then you need to write now and worry about the payment later. I started out by doing content writing for free on All Women Stalk and eventually got offered a freelance job. Now (three years later) I’m getting paid to write for Thought Catalog, The Bolde, and The Talko, but at first I wasn’t making a dime. If you’re just starting out, you need to get your name out there any way that you can.

I remember you really liked the author Harlan Ellison. Is that still the case? What are the three top Ellison stories you would recommend?

Harlan Ellison is one of the best short story writers I’ve ever come across, aside from Ray Bradbury. My two favorite stories of Ellison’s are both contained in Deathbird Stories, which are called “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes” and “O Ye of Little Faith.” In terms of full-sized novels, I’ve been reading a lot of Neil Gaiman and Gillian Flynn (and even got a tattoo inspired by Gone Girl).

What’s one thing every 21st Century writer should know.

Now that anyone in the world can give their opinion over social media, you can’t take criticism too seriously. If someone has an intelligent piece of advice to offer you, then take it. But ignore the people who tear you apart you just for the hell of it. If you’re an aspiring author, there will be strangers who will attack your writing style, and then they’ll find you on social media and attack the way that you look. You can’t let it stop you from writing.

The one good thing about social media is that you’ll never have to come face-to-face with your haters. You can block anyone who calls you nasty names and it’ll feel like they never existed in the first place. Also, you have to remember that you aren’t required to read everything that’s ever been written about you. If you notice that you get a lot of love over Facebook, but pure hatred on Twitter, then don’t read through your Tweets as often–or at least, don’t read through them when you’re already in a bad mood and are having doubts about your writing. Wait until you’re in a healthier state of mind.

What’s the favourite story you’ve written recently that we can check out?

I recently had my short story, Reading the Roses, published on Thought Catalog . It’s a science fiction story about a young girl who is given insight into her future by a rose bush in her backyard.

Can you tell us a little about the process of writing it?

Thanks to Netflix, I’ve been watching a crummy science fiction show from the 90s called Sliders. It doesn’t have the best editing or dialog, but every episode shows the characters in a different parallel universe. One in particular showed a world where most of the population had psychic abilities, and since I’m always trying to come up with writing ideas while doing mindless things like watching TV, I decided I wanted to write a story that involved psychic predictions. The rest of the story just fell into place as I sat down in front of my computer.

Whenever I start writing, I only see a glimpse of the whole story. I never have an ending in mind. The lack of knowledge used to terrify me, but I’ve learned to embrace it. Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad, claims that he had no clue where his characters would end up, and in my mind, he created the greatest television show of all time. I don’t mind following in his footsteps.

As someone who jumps between fiction and non-fiction, can you riff about the differences and similiarties between both

All of the non-fiction writing I’ve been doing has actually helped me improve my fiction. When I write women’s articles, I’m meant to speak in a casual tone, like a friend chatting with another friend. I used to write my fiction in an authoritative tone to sound more professional than I actually am, but now I’m able to give my characters more believable voices that help my stories flow better. As for differences, the biggest change is that non-fiction is constrictive. I have to write relatable articles that women will want to click on, which means I need to talk about topics that come up in everyday life. But when I’m writing fiction, I don’t want the stories to be so relatable that they’re boring. I get to reach beyond the ordinary and create a place of my own that has (hopefully) never been seen by my readers before.


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