Rebecca Maye Holiday, author of Necromancy Cottage

Are you a full-time or part-time writer and how does that affect your writing?

I suppose that I’d consider myself a part-time writer. I’m a university student (I’ll be graduating this December), and before university, I studied Library Information Technology at a provincial community college, so writing has often been a part-time pursuit. I would like to write genre fiction as a full-time job; typically in Nova Scotia, that happens for authors who are able to establish government grants or special project funding, so I will probably keep writing as a part-time pursuit for the time being.

What are some day jobs you have held?

I have worked at a courthouse library, but most of my work has been volunteering. I’ve volunteered cutting fabric at a local sewing shop, I’m one of the judges for an annual children’s short story contest, and I’ve edited unpublished manuscripts for people who are in self-publishing and vanity press publishing, thus saving them the cost of a paid editor. Jobs are difficult to find in my province, especially for people in the arts and media industries. I do sell antiques and vintage books at a shop online, mostly to American collectors. So far the most valuable vintage book that I’ve been able to put up for sale is a first edition of Firestarter by Stephen King, autographed by him in 1980. As much as I would like to hold onto that one, I have to make student loan payments. I do keep a lot of the vintage books that I collect, though. I have a small but very nice collection of first edition hardcovers, including a copy of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn.

Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?

It depends. I’m a full-time student 8 months out of the year, and so I often write between classes. An interesting piece of trivia about my university – Lucy Maud Montgomery, the lady famous for writing the Anne of Green Gables books, studied here over a hundred years ago, on these same old grounds! I don’t know if she ever wrote any fiction while she was here, but I wonder how she found the right space in which to work. I usually go to the adjacent University of King’s College building, where I studied my Minor, and I write while in the corridor of one of its round stone towers (unfortunately also a beloved winter home for nesting mice). When I’m not in university, I write at night. I often complete short stories over the span of one night and then compile them for future releases. The days in Nova Scotia can get up to 30 degrees Celsius in the summer, and so it’s not really a pleasant time to do much of anything because it’s too hot. The nights are better for writing, and more atmospheric, too. Lots of wild animals visit at night (and so does the neighbors’ cat, who is a good friend to me).

What have you written so far?

So far my published works include Necromancy Cottage, Or, The Black Art of Gnawing On Bones (a large occult fantasy novel), a young adult paranormal mystery novella called The Beaches, a short story called The Creeping Charlies (a standalone), a novella called Listen Is Silent, Or, The Usurer, and a short story anthology called A Blurred Estuary of Demons. The majority of these works are set in Canada and feature female protagonists (sans The Beaches), as most of the books that I read when I was a child in the fantasy genre had primarily male protagonists. I suppose that I just wanted to try something else. When I was a child, female fantasy characters often consisted of figures like Hermione Granger, these bookish side characters who later might become love interests of some sort or another.

How did you decide how to publish your books?

I published my books through The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (which gives me my ISBNs, copyright registration, and imprint Sea Holly Books). I’ve used Lulu (an American-based print-on-demand service) to print some of my books, and proprietary software for other books, so my books are a mix of traditionally-published and self-published material. I had considered Kindle Direct Publishing, but I had some bad experiences with that company and most Amazon subsidiaries have caused me nothing but trouble, so I try to stay away from those. Working largely with the Canadian Federal Government has given my books copyright protection and established them in Canada’s national archives, so they are safer than they would be if I had used Kindle Direct to print my books.

Did you make any marketing mistakes that you would avoid in the future?

I should never have tried Goodreads Giveaways. I am not trying to run it down as a service, but it’s a financial loss for no reward. Goodreads Giveaways used to be free, as far as I know, but then the platform began charging authors upwards of $100 USD per giveaway, which means that the author or publisher has to take on this expense plus the cost of shipping the books to winners. There is no way to know whether or not any of the winners will actually review the books that they win. Goodreads Giveaways is not a terrible idea on principle, but it’s probably best for big-name publishers that can afford to take on the cost of these large-scale book giveaways.

Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?

My latest book is The Beaches, a young adult paranormal mystery novella set in Toronto, Canada. The book features a teenage boy moving to The Beaches neighborhood of Toronto with his single mother and his dog, Hogarth. He meets new friends, including a girl named Glyn who constantly appears in his front yard, claiming that his new house belongs to her. He starts to wonder about Glyn, because Glyn exhibits strange behaviors and is obsessed with a TV episode of Goosebumps titled “Welcome to Dead House” that was made back in the 90s; Glyn recognizes no modern media, and she often disappears at random, causing trouble and also bringing some eerie and mysterious questions to light. I wrote the book in February of 2022, during an ice storm in Nova Scotia that knocked out the electricity for two days. I initially had to write parts of it on paper by hand, and then type out a finalized manuscript. I was excited when the hardcover edition of the published book finally appeared in the mail for me to view after it had once only been written on scraps of looseleaf paper.

What is your next project?

I’m currently trying to write a quasi-sequel to Necromancy Cottage, Or, The Black Art of Gnawing On Bones, which is both my most well-known book and also my most controversial book, so writing any form of sequel or continuance will be difficult. Necromancy Cottage, Or, The Black Art of Gnawing On Bones has been plagiarized in the past by some party, and Goodreads has the plagiarist’s name listed as the primary author on the book’s metadata records (even though I hold the lone registered copyright for the book and all the legal title to it), and it was a long battle to get Amazon to finally stop selling the plagiarized edition of the book. Hopefully writing a sequel will connect Necromancy Cottage, Or, The Black Art of Gnawing On Bones back to me, since the book does not appear on my Goodreads author profile. I’m also writing another short story compilation, with no official title yet determined. I get a lot of impromptu ideas for projects.

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?

I would want every country in the world to have freedom of speech and expression. It is sad to know that some countries still ban books, censor topics like LGBTQ+ rights and pro-democracy values, and cover up government records of political corruption, racism, and human rights violations. As an author and a university student, and as a minority (I’m asexual and disabled), I believe that it is important that we all have a voice. We might not agree with every voice, but we do all deserve a voice. In light of my own country’s failure to speak on the residential school system here, which forcibly assimilated numerous Indigenous Canadians through abusive actions, and also the recent revelations of human rights violations in communist China against Muslims and ethnic Uyghurs, I can see in real-time the human cost of censoring voices. If I could change one thing about the world, it would be the hindrance of unique voices in our world.

Tell us something unique about you.

I’m the first student in my school’s history to study a Major/Minor combination in Law, Justice and Society, and Esoteric and Occult Traditions. I collect cat figurines, vintage plush carnival prize poodles, and OwlCrate Edition fantasy books. My family and I traveled from Nova Scotia to Florida in a van, from one Eastern state to the next, just before the 2016 Presidential Election. My little sister and I spent our 2019 February Holiday break in Times Square when we were supposed to be studying at home in Canada, and I wore black high heel shoes to climb boulders in Central Park.

Want to learn more about Rebecca Maye Holiday?

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