Holland House Interview
Posted on 17 September 2012. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
WriteWords talks to Robert Peett of Holland House- one publishing company with a group of dedicated imprints
Tell us all about you; history, ethos, aims, people involved
We are one company but with a group of dedicated imprints – literary fiction, crime and mystery, fantasy and sci-fi, and dark, strange and disturbing stories. We are especially looking for new writers, people with something different to say. Of course, each imprint has it own ethos and style. We are not out to become rich, we want to produce quality writing and to work with good people who are also good writers.
I handle Holland House literary fiction and mysteries, Sammy Smith is fantasy and science fiction, and Zoë Harris is Tenebris Books, dealing with the darker tales – the hardest of all to define.
My background is academic, mentoring, teaching, and editing work up to and including doctoral level, and in the art world; I have published both fiction and non-fiction, and also have mentored and taught in various subjects including Creative Writing. I also work as a freelance editor – I worked on both Sammy’s and Zoë’s books.
Sammy and Zoë are exceptional writers (look out for them very soon!), and both are excellent at networking and together we can edit pretty much anything. Rather nice people, too.
We are getting started now and the schedule of books to be released is building exceptionally well.
What excites you about a piece of writing- what keeps you interested?
It is very hard to explain or describe. In the end it comes down to what people call ‘voice’. We are looking for people who are distinctive even if they are working in a very traditional form; people who sound in some way authoritative. Of course we look for originality, but not the kind of originality which is forced or self-satisfied.
-and what makes your heart sink?
Ridiculously over-written purple prose is what hits first – we carry on reading but sometimes it’s like wading through treacle. Rich writing can be very fine – but some people believe they are not allowed to use the same word twice and so come up with ever more outlandish near-synonyms.
But worst of all is when the writer’s ego keeps leaping in front of the story and waving at you.
Can you tell us what makes a pitch/covering letter/synopsis/etc work best for you?
First, I am not much interested in the ‘pitch’. I have read at least one agent saying ‘if you can’t sell it to me, then how will you sell it to readers?’. The answer is ‘get a professional agent and publisher.’ Seriously, a good, clear synopsis helps enormously, a simple statement of what it is about. Then the first three chapters.
Tell us about a recent acquisition
This is difficult – something we haven’t yet signed contracts for, a book called ‘Sunflower’, is one of the best novels I have read in a couple of years The first draft is nearly 140,000 words and I pretty much read it on the screen in one sitting. And almost nothing happens!
But I would also mention the first book to come from any of the imprints – Non-Compliance, which will be out on Kristell Ink in November. It’s fast sci-fi with a pulp feel – and a great heroine. It even has a good love story developing.
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