Let me introduce you to a new rising star of the thriller-book world: Hollie Overton. The US based author has just released her debut book, Baby Doll, a great novel. Here, she answered my questions over email. Please bear in mind that I have inserted some retrospective remarks, to ensure that the piece is more fluent. These are in bold.
Hello Hollie., thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Thank you for asking and thank you for reading Baby Doll!
Well, thank you for writing such a great book! You’ve now published a debut book; how did you come to write Baby Doll?
I credit unemployment for inspiring me to write Baby Doll. I was writing on the TV show, “The Client List.” IN 5H3 Spring of 2012, it was cancelled. I found myself writing TV pilots that weren’t selling and stressing about getting that next job. I felt creatively stuck. I decided that I needed to stop worrying about the outcome and just write something for the love of writing. It was the best decision I ever made.
Why did you choose to write a crime story?
I’ve always been fascinated by crime stories. In my house, watching Dateline was a family event. When the story broke about Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who held three women captive for ten years, I was obsessed. I kept thinking about my family, especially my twin sister, Heather. I couldn’t imagine being separated from her or what life would be like for both of us. I don’t really think I chose to write a true crime story. I think it chose me.
Wow; that’s very touching. Did you have to research it?
I did a fair amount of research. Baby Doll explores a girl who is kidnapped and held for eight years. I don’t go into a great deal of about the abuse that Lily, my main character endured. But I do deal with the emotional aftermath of sexual assault and domestic violence. I read a lot about specific types of crimes as well as the psychology of what the victims endure. One of my best friends, Giselle Jones is a social worker and she was a great resource, making sure that I was accurately portraying these characters and their experiences. I also consulted with Special Agent Shanna G. Daniels of the FBI’s Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit, who walked me through the procedures and protocol that occurs during a kidnapping and what happens when a victim comes home. She was very thorough, reading the entire manuscript and advising me on what could and couldn’t happen.
You must have felt very lucky to have her help. How did you create the situation round the twins?
Being an identical twin, I always knew the heart and soul of BABY DOLL was the twin relationship. Being an identical twin is an incredible thing. You have a soul mate, a best friend, someone closer to you than anyone in the world. You also have someone who, because of all those things drives you crazy. I really wanted to tell a story that captured all the nuances in the twin relationship.
You’re also a TV writer; how does that compare to being an author?
I feel fortunate that I get to tell stories for a living. The fun part about being a TV writer is that it’s a collaborative medium. The showrunner has a vision and you work with a team of other writers to bring that vision to life. It’s a fast paced environment that requires you to be quick on your feet, and forces you not to be precious about your own ideas. In TV writing rooms, the best idea wins. But that also means that a show, even an episode is never completely yours. The great thing about writing books is that every idea, every word on the page came from you, It’s your sole creation. On the flip side, it’s a very solitary endeavour. That’s why I love doing both. It really is the best of both worlds.
Will there be a sequel? (*Crosses fingers hopefully.)
There won’t be a sequel to Baby Doll. I loved writing these characters and telling their story but I feel like I left them in a good place. In my mind, they’re moving past everything that happened to them. I’d hate to mess up their wonderful new lives. But I am working on my 2nd novel, THE WALLS, a thriller set in Texas about a woman who works on death row. It’s a very different book from Baby Doll but I’m excited about it.
Well, I can’t wait to read that. What is your advice for aspiring authors?
Keep writing. No matter how many no’s you get or how many times people tell you that what you’re writing isn’t for them, keep writing. If you believe in your talents and you have stories to tell, that’s what matters. It may not be today or tomorrow but one day you’ll see results. And I know it’s hard (and I still struggle with it) but don’t’ compare yourself to other writers. Your writing journey is as unique as the story you’re telling. Focus on that.
Random: what is your favourite city and why?
New York City has my heart. I grew up in Kingsville, a small town in Texas. When I was thirteen, we went on a family vacation and I fell in love. Driving into the city, it was as if my entire life were in black and white, and NYC was Technicolor. The noise, the crowds, the diversity, Broadway and the Fashion District, the museums, the restaurants, and the subways… I loved it all. I was determined to move to New York and I lived there for five years during college. I call Los Angeles home now but I go to NYC at least once a year to see shows and experience everything I love about the city.
Thank you Hollie, for answering my questions, and Jess Guillver, the lady who allowed me to review Baby Doll in the first place. To buy, please click here.