El Holly likes to write, especially fantasy and poetical musings. Her fantasy adventure series, Phantasmic Wars, has been described by readers as “completely unique” and “very imaginative.” When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, teaching, drinking coffee, and going on random adventures with her family. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, their two kids, and a dog that is more of a fluffball than anything else.
1. Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
The featured book is The Book of Imagination, which is the first book in the Phantasmic Wars series. In it, readers are introduced to the main characters and to the world of imagination and dreams, Phantasmagoria. The series is about elementary (almost middle-school)-aged kids Tom, Katie, Chad, Sharice, and Melissa, who have to travel to the world of Phantasmagoria to track down three artifacts (pieces of reality) and bring them back to the real world before time runs out and both worlds collapse.
I chose to write this story because I wanted to write a series which celebrated the imagination. I started writing it when I was in college and finished writing the last book in the series over a decade after completing the first draft of The Book of Imagination.
2. Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
This depends on the book and what is happening in it. For example, I spent a few hours researching and watching YouTube videos on how to operate hot air balloons for a scene in the third book. Since my book series takes place primarily in Phantasmagoria, much of what is in the books is created from my imagination (and what I’ve learned along the way from doing lots of reading!)
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
I think the most difficult part of the artistic process for me is when I’m in the middle. Whether it’s in the middle of a book or in the middle of a series, I sometimes have a hard time pushing myself to continue. As soon as I’m over that hump and near the end, though, my writing picks up.
4. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Publishing my first book changed my process of writing because I found myself more interested in finding and fixing all those little errors. However, trying to do that as you write is really difficult, so I’ve got a process in place now which works well for me: write the first draft, have my editor (and good friend) read through and edit. Go back through her edits, make changes. Read through this second draft, make changes. Then, finally, I run the novel through different grammar-checking programs to check any other errors.
5. Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
I think my writing has been influenced by the many fantasy books I’ve read over the years. Some of my favorite writers are J.R.R. Tolkien, Tamora Pierce, Gail Carson Levine, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and Patricia C. Wrede. It’s hard to name favorites because there are so many more I’ve read and enjoyed!
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Currently I have a half-finished poetry collection and a half-finished YA fantasy duology, both which I hope to publish someday. As a high school English teacher, though, my writing slows down a lot during the school year.
7. What does literary success look like to you?
I think this really depends on the person. To me, it looks like someone who is writing and whose writing is being read by others. It’s even better if that writing inspires others!
8. What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved writing stories. Along the way, my family and friends and teachers have all encouraged me to pursue my writing. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
9. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to spend time with family and friends, hang out with my husband and two kiddos, play Dungeons and Dragons, exercise, go on walks with my pup, drink coffee, and watch sci-fi and fantasy shows and movies.
10. Do you have a website or social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) where readers can learn more about your work?
I do! Here are all the places where you can learn more about me and my books: