Author Interview: H.M. Holten

  1. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you for inviting me, S.L. I’m happy to get this opportunity to talk about myself and my writing. 

Perhaps I should start at the beginning. I was born in Denmark in Copenhagen. Lived there for a long-ish time until I decided to move on. First station was London where I stayed for fifteen years. Nowadays I live in Germany. In other words, I’m a middle European citizen of the world. My first love was music, and I was educated to become an opera singer.

  1. What do you write (genre, length)? 

My first two books, part of a trilogy called The Triptych, are historical fiction—not remarkably old history but —starting at the end of the nineteenth century and going forward. Should I mention titles? I think I might. The first book—and my debut—is Snares and Delusions and the second, Woes and Wonders. In The Triptych, I put three generations under observation—their lives, their dreams and fantasies, and their loves and losses. A large part of the books take place during the two World Wars, seen from the perspective of Denmark. In the Great War Denmark remained neutral, whereas it was occupied by Germany through the Second World War. 

  1. What is/are your current project/s? Please give us some details. 

My current project is the last part of the trilogy, the title Secrets and Lies. My protagonist, Britta, is the daughter of Ellie, who lived and loved in the second part, and the granddaughter of Hedda, the protagonist of the first part. Britta must fight her own wars, and her dilemma is that her father’s family is pro-German. It may be necessary to mention that her father was a POW in Japan during the Great War and, although of German descent, returned to Denmark at the end of the war. That, and his German family, is the reason for his choice to send his three children to the German School in Copenhagen. 

  1. Who (author or otherwise) or what book inspired you to write?

I could mention many authors who were and still area an inspiration to me, spanning from Shakespeare to Murakami, and from Hans Christian Andersen to John Irving, not forgetting Alexander Dumas or Herman Hesse. That aside, it was my family history that made it imperative to write. The German/Danish love/hate relationship and the events that took place during and after both world wars became a compelling theme. It would not leave me alone. 

  1. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write, write, and write some more. Write every day. Don’t stop, whatever happens. The only way to learn the craft is through trial and error. On the other hand, be open for advice, but make sure to understand the difference between useful and empty suggestions. Make sure that you have excellent editors or learn the hard way. By that I mean that it is exceedingly difficult to spot mistakes in your own text, no matter how hard you are on yourself. 

  1. What do you do for a living?

At present, I’m drifting between careers. As an opera singer, I got sick and tired of the ‘modern’ take on historical themes. If you take a theatre piece out of the time it was written and/or the time it is portraying, it often ends up making no sense. Also, some German directors try to read sex into any subject, which is ridiculous—especially if the text and music doesn’t feed the idea. Alongside these considerations, my love for Jazz and musical has grown over the years. After all, I spent several years in London, teaching at several drama schools. Also, I worked with some crossover pianists and with Ian Adam (the teacher and mentor from I want to Teach the World to Sing). This inspired me to delve deeper into the ‘popular’ music, and I’m currently developing my personal singing style in the ‘jazzy’ realm. As a teacher the current pandemic has reduced my teaching opportunities severely. 

  1. Who is/are your favorite author(s)?

Don’t get me started! I could mention so many authors I love—and I did so already. It would be impossible for me to say that one or the other is my favourite. Look at it this way, one day you want to read something profound—the next you want something of a lighter muse. Who can say that one is better than the other? Today, I love Umberto Eco. Tomorrow it may be Jane Austen, or Sandy Bazinet. I adore authors like Dickens and George Elliot—and admire Frank Herbert as well as Ursula Le Guin. I can only say that I agree with Doris Lessing when she said: “I do think there is something very wrong with an attitude that puts a ‘serious’ novel on one shelf and, let’s say, First and Last Men on another.” This quote is from “Some Remarks” to the 1979 edition of Shikasta.

  1. What is/are your favorite book(s)?

My favourite book as a girl was Fra Piazza del Popolo (From Piazza del Popolo) by Vilhelm Bergsøe. Later, I discovered The Lord of the Rings. For another period, I was completely taken with John Fowles, the Magus. Nowadays, I share my time between the classics and many indie authors, which I also review. I’ve long been fascinated by A.S. Byatt’s books as well as Doris Lessing’s.

  1. What’s the best compliment someone can give you as an author?

The biggest compliment anybody could give me as an author would be to read —and review my books. Reviews are incredibly important for authors. I know that I don’t stand alone with that opinion. Sadly, it seems incredibly difficult for many authors to get reviews. 

  1. What is the strangest/most interesting/coolest/weirdest/scariest thing you’ve had to research for a book or short story?

That is an interesting question. When writing historical fiction, you constantly must do research. Sometimes it is unpleasant, like when researching Jewish children at the German School in Copenhagen before and during the occupation. At present, most of my research concentrates on this period. 

  1. What is the most difficult part of writing for you? Why?

I’m not sure, but—apart from finding time —my biggest difficulty writing could be over-researching. Then all the facts get overwhelming—and I begin to sound like a history professor. It’s something I’ve struggled with, but I’m getting to know the danger signs. Maybe, it’s getting so involved in the psychology of a person, that my writing gets muddled. Like anything in art, writing is a work in progress, and we as authors have a great advantage over stage artists, who must deliver on the spot.

  1. What is your favorite genre to read? Why?

I have an eclectic taste. I adore romance, giggle madly over humour, and get immersed in strange worlds. My thinking cap is immense when I read philosophy or profound psychological studies. Maybe, I have more historical than romance novels, but that doesn’t imply my preferment. Every mood is worth pondering. Every “story” has a merit inherit in its writing. 

  1. What are some little known facts about you? Hobbies, talents, anything?

Hidden talents? Can’t say that my talents are well hidden. I’m too exhibitionistic for that. Let me see. I paint and draw—and share my work on my blog and the social media. I’m an excellent cook—and worked at the Danish embassy in London—as a cook. I’ve learned to knit and crochet and sew —and made costumes for a few children’s operas while living in Denmark. By the way, I had about forty-eight animals at one time, also in Denmark, among them a cat and a dog, chickens, rabbits, sheep, a goat family, and a Shetland pony. It was a lot of work, but it was fun while it lasted.

  1. Do you like physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks better? Why?

My bookcases are close to exploding with physical books, but I read on any media. I have book apps on my tablet and my PC (Kindle, Kobo, and a collection of classical books spanning from Ovid to Jules Verne, etc.), and I’ve purchased a Kindle. My preference is to read on my tablet in the mornings, on my PC while working on reviews, and on my Kindle and physical books when reading in bed. That should cover my reading habits.

Find H.M. at the links below!

Twitter:  @HoltenHm

Goodreads

Facebook: @HmH24

Facebook: @ASingersPath

Blog: https://www.facebook.com/HmH24

Amazon Author Page

Books

Snares and Delusions

Woes and Wonders Paperback

Woes and Wonders ebook

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