Happy Thursday, friends! As you have come to expect, this is the day where we open the kitchen door and invite in some of our alumni Starving Reviewees, to give them a chance to have a parley about their recipes, their future dishes, and all of that. Today, we welcome back H. L. Cherryholmes, author of This Shrinking World!
Please introduce yourself to my literary foodies!
H.L. Cherryholmes and the flavor is right there in my name!
Do you do any work outside of the writing kitchen? Any non-work interests?
I can stand the heat, so I stay in the kitchen. My other interests are film-viewing, photo-taking, and food-eating. Also, vodka.
What is your latest dish to be served up? Are there any past pieces of literary cuisine you think we should take a bite out of?
My menu is entirely taken up with my nine book fantasy series, The Lizard Queen. The first six books are out and ready to be devoured. The final three are out of the oven but cooling on the windowsill. They’ll be available for consumption by the beginning of next year. I also have two non-fantasy books published.
What made you want to put on the chef’s hat and whip up your own books?
I’ve always loved stories and storytelling. I believe it began with sitting at the kitchen table listening to my grandmother tell me stories about her life. Since I was very young, I didn’t have many life stories to tell so I started making things up as I played with my toys. Books soon became my favorite way to ingest the stories I wasn’t telling myself. Eventually, all this whipped up the desire to see my tales come to life and I got an MFA in playwriting. But I longed for a way to tell bigger tales and found that writing novels was the best way to create a story stew.
Do you have a genre of specialty or do you dabble? Why?
Although I’ve been focusing on fantasy for the past few years, I would say that I’m a dabbler. Again, it’s just about finding the right fixings to create the right story. One ingredient that I’m particularly fond of, which I’ve stirred into many of my works, is magic realism. That’s what led me to write an epic fantasy.
Style! Every literary chef aspires to have their own unique one! What do you think sets yours apart and why?
It’s all about the spices I’ve chosen for each dish, which makes every course unique.
Even the best of us find inspiration is the dishes of others. Do you have any literary inspirations, heroes, and influences?
E.B. White was my first favorite author and inspired my imagination like no one else. I’m also a big fan of Gregory Maguire in how he’s taken a tale we’ve been consuming for years and altered the recipe to make something familiar but with an entirely new flavor. Also a huge fan of Steven King, Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, and Margaret Atwood.
Let’s get into the meat and potatoes: the art and craft of writing itself! Do you have a preference of points-of-view when you write?
Third person limited, mostly. But, depending on the story I’m telling, I also like third person multiple.
Sparse or wordy, how do you like your descriptions served up? Are you a Hemmingway man or do you like some saucy adjectives with your nouns?
I suppose I’m more of a Hemmingway chef because I’ve often found that too many ingredients muddles the flavor.
Picking off the menu of base literary conflicts, what’s your favorite and why?
Internal conflict is the first thing I’d choose, but without external conflict it tends to be a tad bland so I’d also order that on the side.
What do you think is more important to your recipes, plot or characterization? Why?
I don’t think you can have one without the other; however, I believe you first need a character that you want to follow on the journey, even if you don’t know what that journey is going to be.
We all know that the first taste means the most! What do you do to get that first bite hook with your readers?
The most important of questions: Cake or pie?
Cake! But only if it has buttercream frosting. Not a fan of cream cheese frosting and whipped cream frosting is an abomination.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to aspiring literary chefs out there, what would it be?
That old adage of too many cooks is applicable in this, but the cooks in this case tend to be the voices in your head. Don’t edit yourself until you’ve reached the end. Don’t go back and fix something. Jot down a note and continue on. You’ve can’t know what it’s going to taste like unless it’s done.