Charlie Holmberg is a fantasy author who grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. Growing up, Charlie entered numerous writing competitions, without ever placing. That would prove to be no reflection on the career Charlie Holmberg would go on to have. Her writing would become a stronger focus whilst attended Brigham Young University, where Charlie majored in English and minored in editing. Those writing competitions reappeared, but this time she won them. Graduating in 2010, Charlie Holmberg would go on to publish numerous books, perhaps most notably The Master Magician, which was a Wall Street Journal bestseller, and had its rights bought up by Disney in 2016. Charlie Holmberg’s sixth novel, The Fifth Doll, is set to come out in August 2017. Please enjoy my interview with Charlie Holmberg…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
“I write books.”
I just started Matched by Ally Condie.
What’s your earliest memory of reading?
I remember reading a lot of Golden Books, by myself or with my mom. I especially liked The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey.
If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?
Oh man, that’s hard. How young are we talking? I can’t say I ever had a huge “wow” or learning moment with any specific book that I read, so I wouldn’t go off of that, just off of good stories. I do think everyone should read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis at some point in time.
Can you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote a bunch of garbage ones in elementary school for a Young Authors program they had. But my first real attempt at a novel? Yes. It was called Kaiku and the Ruby Necklace and I didn’t even get close to finishing it and it was absolutely horrid (and likely infringed on copyright, ha!).
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
Hmmm, this is a toss-up. My first job was working at a health-food store that had bad management, and I simply didn’t enjoy it. That, or the job I quit when I sold my first book. I worked as a technical editor for a big electrical company. I liked the work all right, but I, again, loathed management (and the company culture).
What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring writer?
a) Do a daily word count. Even if it’s just 500 words a day. You can write a book in six months on 500 words a day.
b) Do your homework. Read books on the craft and go to conferences. No one becomes a good writer by themselves.
Do you read as much as you’d like to?
For the most part, yes. My reading is a little eccentric. I’ll have a month where I’m crazy for books and I plow through a stack of them, and then I’ll go a month or two without reading anything. I suppose that when it rains, it pours.
What books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path?
Books in your genre. I read a lot of fantasy because that’s what I write. It’s important to know what’s being published, what works, and what doesn’t. I also highly recommend How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card, Save The Cat by Blake Snyder, and The Writer’s Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long.
Yes! A few. The first book I read more than once was Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I’ve read Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones multiple times (it’s a common comparison book for my own writing) and Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt two or three times, as well as Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. I really want to reread the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. I revisited all of these books because they have stellar story. They’re page turners, or they’re different. They’re the kind of books I want to write, the kind of stories I enjoy the most.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
I recommend the books listed above frequently, as well as The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater and An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. I also really love the Dragonsworn trilogy by Caitlyn McFarland, which isn’t well known but is excellent, especially for lovers of romance.
Who would you say are the three writers that continue to inspire you?
Brandon Sanderson, definitely. He’s my favorite writer and has been for a long time. He writes outside the box, and it’s always been my goal to write outside the box as well. I really love the resonance of Rosamund Hodge’s books, and though I haven’t read all her works, the magic of Diana Wynne Jones has always been inspirational to me.
What’s your favourite genre of book?
Romantic fantasy. Magic with kissing. Win-win!
What do you think a world without books would be like?
Boring and utterly uncreative. Forgetful.
Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?
Brandon Sanderson is the closest one who fits the bill.
Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?
Nah. There’s too much nostalgia to real books for them to ever be truly obsolete.
What book do you feel humanity needs most right now?
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson is an incredible epic without getting dirty. I love that series (and can’t wait for the next book!). I loved The Wheel Of Time by Robert Jordan, but that’s a major time commitment (but Lan from that series is my ultimate literary crush). I also really like The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
Outside of my book club, I plan to read fantasy (of course), and probably a little more non-fantastical romance, which is not something I usually dive into. Probably a bunch of historical fiction too (with kissing, of course).
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
Wow. This question takes some serious thought. Off the top of my head, maybe The Weird One on the Right: The Story of Charlie N. Holmberg.