An Interview with Hollie Overton – Author of Baby Doll

If you read my previous post, a review of he book Baby Doll, you’ll probably be able to tell just how excited I am to have had the opportunity to interview Hollie about herself and what has to be one of the best books I’ve ever read!!!

Now, in every interview/book review I’ve done I think I’ve said it’s the best book I’ve read, hence why I’m now saying ‘one of’. I only ever used to read romance books or typical girly books, so since reading thrillers that grip you with all the twists and turns, I struggle choosing my favourite!!!!

To summarise Baby Doll briefly, as I’ve already done a full review, it’s about life after being kidnapped, after the escape.

Bet you’re gripped already.

Well… hold on to your hats baby dolls (see what I did there 😉 ) because I’ve only gone and bagged an interview with the author, Hollie Overton and boy am I excited to share it all with you!!!

Not only is she an amazing writer, she’s actually one of the loveliest people I’ve had the pleasure of working with, even if we are on opposite sides of the globe (I think, Hollie’s from America and I’m from the UK but my geography is far from brilliant).

So grab yourself a cuppa and enjoy…

Hi Hollie, 

Firstly I just wanted to tell you just how much I LOVED the book, it’s been a long while since I read a full book in a day. Also, thank you so much for the interview, I’m so excited to get to know a little more about you and some deeper thoughts from the story and I know that others who have loved the book will be also. 

1. Where did your inspiration for the story come from?

When I started writing Baby Doll, I was an unemployed TV writer, which meant I had a lot of time on my hands. At the time the Ariel Castro case was dominating the headlines. Castro’s victims, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus survived such a terrible ordeal and the media was obsessed with going over the details of their case. I kept
wondering what happens after they were rescued. What happens when you go
home? What happens to your relationships? I’m an identical twin and all I could
think about was how different my sister and I would be if we were separated as
teenagers. Our entire lives would have been altered. That was the jumping off
point for Baby Doll.

2. How long did it take you to write and what was the time between writing and publishing? 

From start to finish it was about a year and a half, but I wasn’t writing full-time. I work in TV and at the time, I was interviewing and developing shows. I wrote the first 90 pages over two weeks during the summer of 2013. I signed up for a writing class October and over the course of the next year, I finished and revised a draft in the fall of 2014. My TV agents at WME passed it along to their book department. My agent, Eve had really smart editorial notes and requested that I revise the manuscript. There was no guarantee of representation but I agreed with her notes. It took me awhile to implement them because I was getting married and juggling writing this book with my TV commitments. I finally resubmitted a new draft in the Spring of 2015. We received our first offer (Germany) in May of 2015 and sold it in the UK and US shortly after that. It was published July 2016 which goes to show how long the process can take from writing those first words to seeing your book on the shelf.

 

3. Do you prefer writing for book or screen?

I love writing TV and books for different reasons. When I’m writing TV, it’s a collaborative experience. You’re working with super smart and talented writers, building the show bit by bit, piece by piece.  That’s the upside. The downside is it’s not your show so your job is to bring another writer’s vision to life. I enjoy being part of the team and watching something come together but every writer wants to see their own vision come to life. Writing novels allows me to do that. My books are my vision, my world, my characters and my story for better or worse.  I feel lucky that I get to work in both mediums’.

4. In the bio section of your website, you talked about just how daunting it can be writing a book. What advice would you give to someone feeling the same way you did before writing Baby Doll?

Writing a book IS daunting but if you want to make it happen, set small manageable goals and it will happen.  Tell yourself that you’re going to write five pages a week. In one month you’ll have twenty pages. Keep doing that and in a year you’ll have 300 pages, basically a completed novel. I’d also suggest that you find a writer’s group, either in person or online. It’ll help you connect with other writers and you can inspire and encourage.

5. After the feelings you had before writing the book, how did it feel to see how much of a success the book actually was? 

It’s interesting because when I was writing Baby Doll, I never really thought about getting it published. I know it sounds like something writer’s say, but it was true. I was feeling a bit discouraged with my TV writing and I wanted to write something for that was for fun me. I purposely didn’t do a lot of research while I was writing. Once I was done writing Baby Doll, I started reading about how hard it was for debut novelists to sell their first books or even get published. So going in I had very low expectations. That made everything that happened after that even more special.

6. In a lot of books and films with twins, it talks about that “twin telepathy” and how if one twin is hurt or in danger, the other twin will know. Although Abby knew from the beginning that Lily wasn’t dead, Lily never sensed what her sister was going through. Do you think being a twin yourself, you have a deeper understanding of the bond between twins and so you have a more realistic knowledge to write about them? 

Absolutely. My twin sister, Heather, is my best friend, and we’re incredibly close. We hang out all the time and even when we’re not together I can sense when she’s stressed or upset and vice versa.  So much of their relationship was formed by our lives together. The black sweater in the book that Abby lost was something taken right from our lives. I loved the idea that something so innocuous, a stupid lost sweater that caused a fight would haunt Abby for years. I don’t think I could’ve written this book if I wasn’t a twin.

7. Something I found really interesting in the book, although it was literally a sentence, was the way you mentioned how Lily’s return was old news after a school shooting happened in Texas. Where did you get the idea to mention this from? Considering this is more than likely exactly what would happen in this circumstance, what do you think it says about America? (Wow that sounds like a question from an exam hahaha sorry it just really fascinated me this part but it’s something that I don’t think many other people would have remembered as much as the rest of the story).

I love this question and I’m very impressed that this line stayed with you. I’m embarrassed that I don’t remember what news event usurped the story of Castro’s victim’s, but I know there was one. That line was my way of commenting on way our media sensationalizes these tragic events and how quickly they’re forgotten when something new and terrible happens.

8. Which part of the book was the hardest part to write and why? 

The second half of the book was probably the most difficult because I wasn’t quite sure where I was going. I didn’t outline (which isn’t something I’d recommend) so I didn’t really know the ending. Once I reached the halfway point, I found myself stuck. I took a week or so and really brainstormed and locked down where I wanted the characters to end up. It wasn’t until I figured out the big twist that happens near the end of the book, that everything fell into place.   

9. Which part was your favourite to write and why? 

I really loved writing the scenes where Lily and Abby reunite and how they slowly get to know one another again. Those scenes really flowed because I just kept thinking about my sister and how we would react.

10. Being involved in screen writing already, is there chances that Baby Doll will be turned into a movie? (A lot of my family don’t read and after telling them about the book they all said they wished it was a movie because of how good it sounds).

That’s a popular question. I think It’s because so many books are turned into movies that people think it’s easier to get one made than it is. Right after I sold Baby Doll, I landed a producer and developed and wrote a script.  The producers decided not to make it. It was obviously disappointed but I know how the business works so I wasn’t surprised. I’m still hopeful that it will happen one day I’d love to see Baby Doll as a movie or even a TV show. Until then I’ll keep writing books.

11. What advice would you give to a budding writer, both book and screen? 

If you want to be a writer, you have to write. I’m always amazed when I meet writers who write one script or one book and nothing happens and they give up. The best writers are the most prolific. They’re constantly creating. I know people who wrote four books before they sold their first. The same goes for TV writers. It’s about learning the craft and then continuing to improve upon it. My other piece of advice is that you should ignore the naysayers. The world is full of people who are afraid and they let that fear keep them from pursuing their dreams. If you’re not careful they will spread that fear to you. Don’t let that happen. Keep writing and keep pursuing your dreams.

12. Are your other two books, The Walls and The Runaway, of the same style as Baby doll? 

The Walls tackles domestic violence. My mother survived an abusive relationship and it was an issue I felt strongly about and wanted to focus on. The Runaway also tackles parent/child relationships, as well as delving into the homeless and mental health crisis gripping LA, issues that are also important to me. At the core of my books, they’re all about strong women and their determination to survive the worst things life throws at them.

Thank you so much Hollie, and thank you for being involved!! I can’t wait to read your other books.

See… now you can all understand just how amazing Hollie is! Be sure to grab a copy of one of her books, and keep a look a look out for more reviews coming on my blog.

Before you go… Hollie, being the lovely lady she is, has even offered a couple of SIGNED COPIES of Baby Doll and The Walls for my darling readers.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply click on the link below and fill out the form!! The winner will be announced with a live video on Twitter at the end of November (just in time for Christmas)

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/P88QZSY 

Don’t want to wait? Purchase your own copy of Hollies books by clicking on them below:

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