Holly Peterson is the ‘New Times’ bestselling author of ‘The Manny’ (I loved that book). She was a Contributing Editor for Newsweek, an Editor-at-Large for Talk magazine and an Emmy Awardâ€“winning Producer for ABC News, where she spent more than a decade covering global politics. Her writing has been published in the ‘New York Times’, Newsweek, Vogue plus numerous other publications. Her brand new book is called ‘The Idea Of Him’.
- To the readers of the website, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
I started my career out as an ABC News Producer where I spent a decade mostly overseas in Russia and various places covering big stories for the network. It was a very exciting time filled with Gulf Wars, Russian Coups and insane trials like the O.J. Simpson trial that captivated America. In my thirties, I started writing pieces for magazines and decided the art of writing and reporting was ultimately more satisfying than all the insane logistics of television. Iâ€™ve written two novels now, ‘The Idea of Him’, and ‘The Manny’ and I still write magazine pieces all the time for all kinds of magazines.
- What is the story behind your new book ‘The Idea of Him’?
Writing novels is really no different from birthing children. We plan, we create, we add equal parts pain and anguish and excitement, and when it comes outâ€¦each one is miraculously unique. My new book, ‘The Idea of Him’, was very different from my first novel in that the story was harder to tell. This new book is much more poignant, not better, but a deeper emotional study.
Like one of those rocket style, delivery stories with panicked nurses and no time for anesthesia, my first novel, ‘The Manny’, came out quickly, written in the wee hours night. It flowed out of me every evening in six months record time after my family went to sleep. I couldnâ€™t write as fast as my mind was spinning out the pages.
I wrote this second novel during a time of change in my life. I wasnâ€™t as busy logistically this time: I wasnâ€™t keeping vigil at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital for an ill family member, working at a demanding (and failing) magazine, or arguing with plumbers over tile with a tortured renovation as I was during the time I wrote ‘The Manny’â€¦but during the writing of ‘The Idea of Him’, I was busier inside.
By that I mean, I was changing insideâ€¦busily changingâ€¦sometimes manic-ly changing. The only thing that calmed me down during this period was my newfound, (yes at age 42!), love of surfing and the healing powers of the oceanâ€™s saltwater.
In the past five years, I got divorced, adapted to that (kind of), helped my children function in a new family structure and all the while tried to figure out what propels people to love, to stay in relationships, to convince themselves this is the one, or, harder, to admit to themselves this actually wasnâ€™t the one.
I asked myself often, â€œWhat is love?â€ Is it a partnership that really works in tandem as I definitely had with my former husband? Was that real love or was that a really good pairing of two like-minded people with shared values and ability to get things done they as a team? Sounds a little dry, but, honestly, maybe it was. Maybe my marriage was more of an amazing partnership than real love. I love a lot about my former husband and admire him immensely but Iâ€™m not sure it was the right kind of love or we would have stayed together.
- What authors do you admire?
My favorite all time author is Truman Capote. I especially love his short stories. He is all â€œshow, donâ€™t tellâ€.
- If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
Not really, writing is all about expressing how you feel and how you uniquely see a situation. While my books arenâ€™t autobiographical, they have been mirrors into my feelings and experiences in a wayâ€¦so since I canâ€™t really change the flow of my lifeâ€¦my writing has simply followed behind it, capturing it in words.
- Who is favourite hero or heroine?
Well Iâ€™m going to have to be terrible and say my favorite heroine this year is Allie Crawford from my own book. She is a women trying desperately to break free of a tough relationship and realize that she will need to be on her own without clinging to a man in the form of a life raft to save her. I honestly right now canâ€™t think of many characters where the woman is learning to be on her own. I feel so much of literature is about women devastated because they canâ€™t (often tragically) have the man they want or needâ€¦or about women who â€œget the guyâ€ in the end. Can you think of literary heroines who work hard to feel strong on their own?
- Describe your writing routine.
I get up at 430 am, make a huge pot of tea and a protein shake, and write for 2-3 hours before the children wake up or the barrage of emails begin. Then after I take the kids to school, I write in the library until the kids get home. Then I work on job #2: MOTHERING hard until bedtime for all of us!
- How do you feel about the current state of the publishing industry? Do you feel like it is an exciting time for authors?
Well I think itâ€™s a confusing time for authors and publishers because itâ€™s so very hard to know what is going to work out in this environment when bookstores are closing, huge chains are closing. If people canâ€™t peruse books as easily as they used to, they how can they know about the selection? The question of what makes a book break through is more complicated than ever.
- If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
‘Summerâ€™s Crossing’ by Truman Capote
‘Disgrace’ by J.M. Coetzee
‘Tender is the Night’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
Itâ€™s a tremendous opportunity to write blogs and to actively post on sites and to connect through social media. Sometimes itâ€™s all just a big, strange Internet haze out there that is do disintermediated that itâ€™s hard to know who is listeningâ€¦however, there is a breadth of eyeballs out there to try to capture so it is definitely an exciting time to be starting out. I think old school real paper magazines is the best bet. I write for many free magazines they have in American loaded with advertisements, but many many people read these. I also have written for Vogue and all kinds of well-known magazines, but I find I like to get my name out there any way I can.
- When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
A huge cup of tea. Non-negotiable.
- And finally Holly, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
I am working on a new novel, kind of upstairs downstairs in bikinis about the local dwellers and the swell summer people that converge in the Hamptons.