Writer Spotlight Interview with Kathryn Holmes

Today Kathryn Holmes from New York City steps into the spotlight.

Kathryn welcome!!!

Kathryn and I also "met" at the WriteOnCon conference. She's originally from Maryville, Tennessee, but has called NYC home since 2004. Kathryn first worked as a magazine editor prior to getting her MFA in Creative Writing at The New School.

Kathryn Holmes
When she's not writing or editing (at the amazing Verbal Pyrotechnics, an online teen  lit magazine) you'll find her at the dance studio. 

Kathryn's manuscript is as unique and fresh as she is. After reading her pitch, I guarantee you'll never look at the subway trains the same way again ; )

Kathryn, tell us what manuscript you have out on submission now? (genre, title, word count)
I’m currently sending out my first novel, Wink, which is a YA Urban Fantasy complete at 102,000 words.

Love the title!!

Give us the three to four sentence pitch.

15-year-old Brooklynite Cordelia Wheaton leads a pretty normal life. That is, until she discovers that New York City’s subway trains are alive, and that she’s been chosen to work with the giant creatures, called Pergs. Soon, she’s juggling her life aboveground—dance classes, a needy best friend and a new crush—alongside secret Perg training sessions. But just as she begins to feel comfortable in her new underground world, MTA employees start disappearing, amid rumors of Pergs becoming mysteriously ill. Then, a bombshell drops: a power-hungry city councilman wants to replace the Pergs with mechanical trains. When Cordelia’s own mentor goes missing, she has to draw on every skill she’s learned to save him—and the entire Perg race.

 Cool!!! You have me intrigued and curious. Several questions pop into my head all at once and I wish I could read the ms to find out the answers!!!

Would you care to share the opening line or paragraph?

The tracks rumbled and light filled the tunnel, then shrank into two distinct side-by-side beams. A rush of warm wind blew my sweat-slicked hair away from my face. I held my arms out from my body, enjoying the breeze.

It was an F train. F for “Finally.”

The train pulled into the station, brakes screeching. And just before it passed me, it winked at me.

I turned to Liza. “Did you see—”  

Then everything went black.

Ahhh, hence, the title. Nice how you get us right into the story.

What is your least and most favorite word? Use each in a sentence, writing in the voice of one of your characters from any of your manuscripts.

I don’t know that I have a least favorite word! I honestly love words. Pretty much all of them. One of my favorites is “tintinnabulation” (the sound of ringing bells). I’m not sure whether Cordelia would normally use that one, but here goes: “The alarm clock went off at 7:00, and I smacked it, hard. Its pleasant tintinnabulation was the absolute last thing I wanted to hear, after last night’s Perg debacle.”

That's a tongue twister!!

What are you working on while you wait?

I have plans for Wink to be the first in a short series, and so I’m making a rough outline of what I’m currently calling Wink 2. However, I’d rather wait to actually write that until I get some interest in book one! I have another idea gestating for a Young Adult contemporary story about a girl in the small-town south (where I’m from) dealing with issues of faith and family, and considering rebelling against her upbringing for the first time. I feel like a small-scale, character-driven real-world story will be a good palate-cleanser for me after spending so much time in Wink’s Urban Fantasy world.

That's great that you enjoy and can write in various genres. Good luck!!

What book have you read in the past six mo that’s inspired you and why? 

I just finished Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and I loved the roller coaster of emotions throughout. It absolutely brought me back to the highs and lows of first love. In relation to my own work, I spent a lot of time world-building and figuring out how my characters interacted with the fantasy version of New York City I’d created. When I finished the first draft, I realized that the emotional element, what Perkins does so well, was missing. My protagonist wasn’t feeling things nearly as deeply as she should, or for as long as a normal person would, and it felt unsatisfying. When revising, I worked to integrate her emotional life into the various events and challenges she encountered. And I can only aspire for my protagonist and her crush to be as romantic as Anna and St. Clair! 

It's great when you can find inspiration and insight into your own work from another's. 

Do you have (if you were a teen, or had when you were a teen) a literary-character crush?

Definitely Mr. Darcy—the Colin Firth version.

LOL, seems to be a popular pick.  

Any random fun-facts you’d like to share about yourself?

I’m also a professional contemporary dancer—I’ve performed around New York with several different choreographers, and have presented my own work.

Wow, that's awesome!! And, I imagine you traveled the pergs, er, subway trains often.

When I’m not writing fiction, one of my side jobs is writing about dance; I used to be an editor at Dance Spirit magazine.

I co-founded Verbal Pyrotechnics, an online literary magazine for YA short fiction, nonfiction and poetry, with several fellow MFA grads from The New School. We are working on our second issue for launch in fall 2011, and take turns blogging on the Verbal Pyrotechnics blog.

The magazine is "dedicated to publishing the best teen literature on the Internet." From the first issue I had the pleasure of reading, they're off to an amazing start. Please be sure to check it out at the link above, (after you comment below : )

The other thing that’s taking up a lot of my time right now is that I’m getting married in November!
YAY!! Congrats. How exciting. I was married in November, too. On the 15th, er, (runs upstairs to look at the date on pthe icture in bedroom and comes back down), I mean the 18th (oops).

So many wonderful beginnings at once, best of luck with all of them. It's been a pleasure to get to know you and to learn about your manuscript and online magazine. Keep us posted on your success and thanks for coming by and stepping into the spotlight.


  1. I really love the idea of your story, Kathryn! Subway trains have always scared me a little bit, and definitely create a certain mystique...great for a fantasy.
    And tintinnabulation is my favorite word, too! (I think I even remembered to say so in my interview...)
    Finally, good luck with the wedding planning!
    Thanks for the great interview as always, Paula. (And I'm going to write down your anniversary before I forget it. :)

  2. Kathryn, congrats on your upcoming wedding!! Good luck with WINK, it sounds like a great adventure.

  3. Nice to meet you, Kathryn. WINK sounds marvelous, and I wish you luck finding a publisher for it.

    And congrats on your upcoming wedding. You are a busy person!


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