This is one of our Inspirational Interviews in which we talk to people who have imagined big dreams, made them a reality, and are living a life they love. Today we are talking to Holli Moncrieff, a freelance journalist and editor who is writing her fourth novel — the ultimate haunted house story.
1. Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m a passionate, creative person who is completely in love with books, scary movies, animals of all stripes, and real licorice–you know, the black kind. I thrive on traveling and adventure, but I’m always happy to return home and curl up on the couch with my longtime boyfriend and our three cats. I think a hot bubble bath can solve almost any problem, and I have a serious love affair with cheese, potato chips, and those crunchy black cherries that are in season for about a minute. Thankfully, I’m equally obsessed with muay thai kickboxing (most of the time). I’ve been training since 1997 and last fought in November 2011.
I’ve been a writer in various forms all my life, was raised in the wilds of northern British Columbia, and currently make my home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. But a move to a warm climate is on the horizon–so far, we’re looking at the Canary Islands. Very exciting times ahead!
2. What does living a “super awesome life” look like for you?
Living a super awesome life is all about balance. It’s about being able to tell stories and help others anyway I can, but it’s also about being able to do the things that recharge me, like enjoying a relaxing bath and a good book. It’s about trying new things, challenging myself, and seeing the world. My bucket list is huge. The more things I can cross off, the better. If I could snorkel the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, visit the pyramids in Egypt and cuddle a panda in China, that would be a super awesome year for me.
3. What inspired you to become a writer?
My grandfather was a great oral storyteller, so maybe I inherited it from him. I’ve been writing books from the time I was five years old. I remember really wanting to beat Gordon Korman’s publishing record–he was only 14 when he was published and at the time that seemed soooo old to me. Unfortunately, Korman had a teacher who knew how to submit his writing to publishers and I did not. So I missed the boat on that one. My first books were illustrated stories about a family of fish who lived in terror of a bear who stalked them under the ocean. Hey, I was five! Shockingly, these remain unpublished.
4. What has been your biggest challenge since deciding to pursue writing professionally?
My biggest challenge has been maintaining my focus. There is so much I’m interested in and so much I want to do that other passions can consume me, leaving no time for writing. When I graduated from college I ran a freelance journalism business, and it got so busy that I didn’t have any time for writing fiction. I got to do some really cool things, like a month-long safari in Zimbabwe and tracking down a sniper here in Winnipeg, but it didn’t leave room for my other writing. I’m trying to put my novels first now. It’s an ongoing struggle, especially since writing is not something you’re instantly successful at. It takes a long, long time.
5. What advice would you give to women who want to become a writer?
It’s been said that writers need to do two things: read a lot and write a lot. I agree, up to a point. It’s much easier to read someone else’s work than it is to create your own. I’ve never met a writer who wasn’t also a bookworm. So I’d suggest reading a lot, but writing much more than you read. And submit your work continually–always have something out there in the world waiting to be accepted. Blow up your television, shun social media, and develop a really thick skin. Find someone who loves everything you write and marry that person (or just love them in return). Get a cat. Cats are great for writers. They’ll sit on your lap or on your desk, keeping you company but usually not bugging you. And they’re very inspiring. Oh, and the most important thing? Dream big. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.
6. What little things in life right now make you you do a happy dance? Big things?
Little things: the crunch of autumn leaves, the smell of bonfires, warm sunshine on a chilly fall day, ice-cold Diet Pepsi, the latest release from Stephen King, hugs, fuzzy socks, walking on a beach in my bare feet and finding the perfect shell (without stepping on it), and Zombie Repellent soap from the Rocky Mountain Soap Co. (It smells like licorice!)
Big things: Booking a trip like my adventure to Bali in January 2014. Having an agent or editor request my manuscript. Finishing a book. Getting a comment on my blog (it still feels like a big thing to me!) Finding out I made someone happy. Making people laugh.
7. In the movie of your life, who would you want to play you?
Julia Roberts, because we both have big smiles. I love her laugh and I think she’s beautiful. She seems like she would be a nice person in real life, too.
8. What is one thing you’d like to change about the world?
I wish people–all people, but especially those in power–would think in the long-term instead of the short-term, so they’d treat the environment and our wildlife with kindness and respect.
9. What quote best represents you or motivates you in your current place in life?
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi
10. What inspires you to continue living a life you love each day?
I hate to end on a sad note, but one of my dearest friends died suddenly when we were just seventeen. That experience forever changed me. She was so full of fun and there were so many things she wanted to do. From losing her, I learned not to take things for granted, to live each day to the fullest (as much as I am able), and to tell the people I love how I feel. I try to approach every experience with gratitude, because there were so many she didn’t get to have. The trip to Africa was for her. I love and miss her everyday.
Thanks so much for sharing, Holli!
P.S. If you want to check out some of Holli’s writing, she just launched a new blog series, Fiction Fridays, where she will be sharing an entire novel on her blog. How cool is that?!
P.P.S. Grab a fork and dig in because Cake for Breakfast is now available!