In 2003, I self-published a collection of the poems I had written over the years. I had tried to interest a publisher, but they were very exact in their requirements, whereas I knew exactly which poems I wanted to publish. Mine are a mixture of rhythm and rhyme, on a variety of topics, and I was satisfied with my decisions. So to keep control, I turned to self-publishing through the website lulu.com (lulu.co.uk).
Over the years, I self-published these four books of poetry and/or short stories and also took the cover photos. From Darkness Through Light features a photo of my daughter Emilia, now finding fame as lead singer of The Menstrual Cramps.
As my parents were journalists, I have always found writing factual books much easier than fiction. I often wrote little bits for my local newspaper, school magazines and gymnastics magazines in the 1980s.
In 2010, my book Un-Conventional: 13 Years of Meeting the Stars of Doctor Who was published by Hirst Books and I toured it around the country, appearing at different Doctor Who events. I later wrote about this experience in the sequel The Other Side of the Table. In 2015, my biography of the actor Anthony Ainley The Man Behind The Master was published by Fantom Publishing, first in hardback then later in paperback and audiobook.
My main love in life is gymnastics, which I discovered through watching Nadia Comaneci and Elena Davydova at the 1980 Olympic Games when I was ten years old. I now run a 16,000 member group on Facebook called Gymnastics – A Golden Era which has many famous gymnasts in it, including Olga Korbut, Nellie Kim and Natalia Yurchenko.
Because of my contacts in the sport, I decided it would be a wonderful opportunity to combine my love of gymnastics, history and writing by interviewing gymnasts who had competed for their countries over the decades. After all, everyone has a story to tell. How did it feel to win Olympic gold? How did you feel when you got injured and missed the Olympics? The Gymnasts in Conversation series was born. Their words, their photos, their stories. Some gymnasts have told me it’s the first time they’ve ever been asked certain things and what a privilege it is to be able to get their story in print. For me, it’s the best job in the world!
When I was a child, I loved getting my copies of The Gymnast and International Gymnast magazines and read every page. So, as an adult, I decided to make my own magazine featuring gymnasts’ own photos, interviews and articles I had written about various competitions and events of the past. Classic Gymnastics magazine was the result. If you had told my teenage self that I’d be writing and publishing a gymnastics magazine in my fifties, she would have been cartwheeling for joy!
The only thing to elude me was writing a novel. I have written several half-novels over the years, before having a huge crisis of confidence and running away shouting “I’m rubbish! I can’t write!” and I have loads of ideas written in note form on my laptop.
But in 2021, I finally finished a whole novel, thanks to my wonderful supportive writing friends online (Abi Yardimci, Anita Faulkner, Chick Lit & Prosecco girls – you know who you are!) and watching loads of online author interviews. I followed the excellent advice of “Just write the damn thing!” (other expletives are available) and stuck to a minimum of writing 1,000 words a day, every single day.
Welcome to Whitlock Close was finally finished – a kind of soap opera in a book set in the 1980s in a cul-de-sac in a Lincolnshire village. I sent it out to some agents and publishers and got as far as one requesting to see a full manuscript, but after waiting a year without success, I decided it was time to self-publish and get it into the world. It came out in May 2022 and has some lovely reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
This year, after doing a brilliant RNA online course with the outstanding Jessica Redland, I wrote my second novel Starting Again in Silver Sands Bay which came out in April 2023. I learnt so much from the course and this novel is a second chance romance between two single parents of eleven-year-old children. It takes place at the seaside and there are caravans, amusement arcades, cafes, a boating lake and the beach. It has lots of things going on, some drama and I have been told some readers have cried, but there are more laughs and a happy ending, so hopefully it’s a fun and uplifting read.
Out of all my books, I think I am most proud of these novels, because it took so long to get one finished and I had to work through so much. The inner critic has a lot to answer for! But I love it when people read my books and let me know what they think to them.
So, here are twenty years’ worth of my writing. Here’s to hopefully another twenty years or more. Oh and if anyone would like to offer me a publishing contract, let me know, ha ha!
Karen Louise Hollis xxx
2 thoughts on “20 Years of Writing Books!”
Really enjoyed reading about your writing journey, Karen. What an amazing training ground all those books will have been for you. That inner critic is a nightmare and it will probably return time and time again but just give it a loud ‘Shush!’ and keep believing and keep going. Thank you so much for the shout out. I’m honoured to have played a part in your second novel coming into being. Looking forward to seeing what happens for the third, fourth, fifth…. xx
Oh thank you, what a lovely comment! I’m sure you will continue to inspire me with my writing! xxx
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