Hi everyone! I was recently lucky enough to interview Karen Hollis, who kindly sent me a digital copy of The Abandoned House in exchange for an honest review. Before I get into the interview, I would like to say a massive thank you to her for her time and her kindness.
How old were you when you wrote your first book? What was it about?
I wrote one about gymnastics in the 1980s, I’d be a teenager then. It was profiles of my favourite gymnasts with photos I cut out of magazines. Writing gymnastics books is now one of the main things I do, I think I have 9 books out on gymnastics (often interviewing former gymnasts). I also have a magazine I do called Classic Gymnastics.
Who’s your favourite character in The Abandoned House?
Probably Elizabeth. Although she’s completely fictional, I really felt driven to tell her story. She was going to be quite evil, but developed differently than I had envisaged.
Which part of The Abandoned House was your favourite to write – Rebecca’s or Elizabeth’s?
Rebecca’s was the easiest! I had to go into some dark places for Elizabeth’s story. Plus I set Rebecca’s story in 2021.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Write every day! I found that getting into a writing routine really helped me get The Abandoned House finished. If it’s something you’re writing every day, the characters live with you, you’ll think of them a lot and ideas will come to you.
What inspired the idea of the ghost in The Abandoned House? Do you believe in ghosts?
Well, I’m not usually a reader of ghost stories at all, but I read The Quickening by Rhiannon Ward this year and I liked how she included a ghost in a way that meant you could believe in them, or not. I’m on the fence with ghosts really, I was in the same room as my mum when she saw a ghost once. But in The Abandoned House, only one person sees the ghost and it’s written in a way that you can argue it’s real or it isn’t, either viewpoint is valid.
What was the hardest scene to write in The Abandoned House?
The sexual abuse. I was sure it was going to be “behind closed doors” but it was still hard to write, because I “saw” it while I was writing it.
Which character in The Abandoned House is most similar to you?
Rebecca! She’s certainly not me, but I had a similar ex and my cat appears in it in a cameo role! I could certainly relate to her.
Do you have any plans for future books? If so, can you tell us a bit about them?
I will continue my gymnastics books, I’ve got the next one planned in my Gymnasts in Conversation series. I’ve also nearly finished writing my first novel which, at the moment, is called A New Start. It’s set in the early 1980s and is about a family who move from a city to a village so the daughter can go to a good secondary school. They move into a cul-de-sac and we follow the lives of the people who live there. So it’s got characters in it from toddlers to a guy in his nineties, there’s a village book club, a Twinning trip to France, all sorts! It’s a bit Maeve Binchy.
Do you have a key message you want readers to take away from The Abandoned House? If so, what is it?
Ooh I think I’ll let the readers decide that, but maybe that both women have difficulties to overcome, but get the better of the “bad guys” in the end.
Finally, in a sentence, how would you describe The Abandoned House?
A modern day love story with a spooky twist.
I hope you enjoyed this interview, and it inspired you to pick up The Abandoned House!