“I spontaneously started writing poetry in the second grade and just never stopped.”
Coffin Bell: Introduce yourself / short bio / photo.
Holly Gaskin: I was raised on Long Island, NY. I started writing when I was in elementary school. The darkness crept into my material early, around 4th grade. I remember writing a haunted house story that filled a whole notebook. I probably was inspired by the horror movies my mom liked to watch on TV. My other passion is radio. I’ve been lucky to have a career in broadcasting pretty much since I left high school. These days, I live in upstate NY.
CB: What got you started writing?
HG: I spontaneously started writing poetry in the second grade and just never stopped.
CB: What is the most rewarding aspect of writing?
HG: Getting feedback from readers, especially at book signings. When I release a new book, I often get repeat customers who like to tell me what they thought of my last one.
CB: Do you have a designated space for writing?
HG: I don’t. I type everything on my laptop, but my desk is not an exclusive space for writing only. I find I do some of my best thinking in the early morning, at the laundromat.
CB: Are you a planner or a pantser?
HG: Well… both. I can plan and outline things to death, but then I go off in a different direction. Oftentimes, I’ll know everything except the ending: “Does the bear kill her? Does she kill the bear? Does she kill herself?” Then, just as I’m finishing the story, I’ll be like: “No! Wait! I have a better idea!”
CB: What advice to new and emerging writers could you give?
HG: Be open to constructive criticism. Listen. Don’t interrupt. Don’t object. Consider any and all suggestions. Keep what’s good, and throw away what you don’t need. Know that nothing is “perfect” the first time you write it.
CB: Who are your influences?
HG: I love Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I know that last one doesn’t fit with the others…
CB: Physical books or e-readers?
HG: Real books, except when traveling. A 500-page hardcover is hard to read on a plane and takes up too much space in a carry-on bag.
CB: Taphophobia is the fear of being buried alive. Tell us about your fears.
HG: Spiders. Got that from my mother, I think. One fear that developed later in life is old dolls. Not Barbies or Cabbage Patch… The kind you see in antique stores. Baby dolls with limp bodies, and little girl dolls with long curls and dead, unseeing eyes. I won’t even touch them!
CB: What draws you to dark fiction?
HG: I read Poe’s “The Telltale Heart” when I was 9, and it completely warped my young brain. I’ve never been the same since.
CB: Tell us about your book / publication / website / promotion.
HG: Not all of my books are still in print, but I am working on getting them all out there again. I recently re-released my first book, A Little Company, under a new title, In the Deep North Woods. It’s been heavily edited/ revised. It’s a suspense/ thriller set during the Great Depression. My second book, Tricked, is for the “tween” age, “Goosebumps” crowd. It should be back in print by Halloween, fittingly. I have two memoir-type books, Finding My Father, and My Life With Cats. Most recently, I put out a poetry anthology, titled Poems of a High School Loser. I’m not sure what’ll come next… that’s part of the fun of being a writer!
Read Holly Gaskin’s “Cinnamons” in issue 1.2 of Coffin Bell!