Corey Holst is a young adult/historical fiction author who will join us from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 3 in our pop-up book shop at El Dorado High School Holiday Boutique, 1651 Valencia Ave., Placentia.
When did you decide to try your hand at writing?
I have always liked the idea of being a writer because I’ve always been able to picture scenes in my head or imagine a location with such detail that, in my head at least, it feels like a place I’ve actually been to and not just a place that I have imagined. The one thing that held me back was that I never had any idea what I might write about.
I have always loved historical time periods and have a distinct fascination for castles. My dad’s favorite movie was always “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” and after seeing a production of James Goldman’s “The Lion in Winter,” I was intrigued by the idea that Richard the Lionheart and his scheming brother Prince John weren’t just part of a Robin Hood legend, but were real people with real problems. Then, one day, a few years later, the ending of a story popped into my head. I couldn’t shake it off. I let it stew in my brain for a while, coming up with ideas on how I could get characters to that point. I started writing out imagined conversations between characters that I hadn’t even defined yet. After a time, it was apparent I was onto something, and I decided to start from the beginning. Because I had very little idea of what I was doing, that first book, Defender of the Realm, took me four years to write. But I just kept plugging away at it because I knew I would get to that ending eventually, and eventually I did.
So, how did you get the idea for your second novel?
Originally, I had decided that Defender of the Realm would take place in the year 1174, but as I dug further into research, I found that year to be a very volatile time to be introducing my characters. A lot was happening in England in 1174, and I wanted to take more time in getting to know my characters, so I shifted Defender of the Realm to the year 1172. But when it came time to start writing the sequel I already had a wealth of research from 1174. Now that my characters were firmly established, it was relatively easy to drop them into the middle of all the turmoil that was going on that year in Henry II’s England. The research and the success of my first book really inspired me, and I finished Defender of the North in about a year and a half.
What are you working on now?
I am currently halfway through writing book 3 of the Defender of England series. After the rebellion of 1173-1174, King Henry did such a thorough job of defeating the dissidents that not much happened for the next decade (that I could find anyway). But I didn’t want to jump that far ahead in years for my characters. I liked them where they were. Instead of large battle sequences, I decided to stay closer to home. Defender of the Faithful concerns a brutal series of murders and forces the main characters to walk the line between truth and justice. Occasionally I go back and re-read the first chapter, and I have come to the conclusion that I am one sick puppy.
So, are you going to stick to the medieval time period for future endeavors?
No. Actually I now have several full outlines for new stories that are not medieval. One traces the origins of a pocketwatch given to me by my grandfather. It was originally purchased by his great-grandfather in the early 1800s, when he emigrated from Ireland to work on the railroads back when Wisconsin was the western frontier. Another outline I have is a New England ghost story with flashbacks to the Revolutionary War. My daughter and I brainstormed an outline for a fantasy involving dragons. I am even partially through writing a present-day terrorist thriller. There are lots of stories waiting to be told, I can’t wait to get to them all. Much like my first book, I’ll get there… eventually.
Both books are available in print, Kindle, and Nook. For more information, visit www.coreyholst.com.