My life is marked more by the few times I stopped writing than when I started. My first series was the Adventures of Heidi Bear, written at age eight and starring my stuffed teddy bear. Through several stapled books, she saved the jungle, tamed a pony, and discovered a long-lost sister. Like most fiction, it said more about me than Heidi.
The story that became Reforged started with a single image I found in National Geographic at thirteen: ruins in a desert. Don’t worry–I still have a penchant for the bleak and dramatic. I lay on my floor, scribbling into the night, missing the call for dinner as I squinted at my notebook, too engrossed to even turn on a light. I shared it with a few classmates who were also working on stories and we became a tiny critique group–complete with shipping and fan-girling!
That manuscript absorbed my teenage angst, rage and PTSD following an abusive relationship, and longing for a better world–a world with people who looked and loved like me. Thankfully books, just like people, are more than the sum of their parts.
Writing simmered on the back burner during undergrad until I graduated in 2013 with a B. S. in Bio and Archaeology. A degree superficially unrelated to creative writing.
Everything I do can be summarized by one word: digging. I could call it curiosity if I wanted to sound playful; I don’t. I’ve always equated archaeology and writing to one another. My mother encouraged literary writing while my dad recounted hitchhiking across the U.S. and serving in Libya and Germany in the U. S. Air Force. I tried to remember who I had been by excavating other people’s cultures and climbing mountains alone.
During the 2014 Granite State Comic Con I met two authors–Ariele Sieling and her friend Christopher Kellen. While impressed by the quality of both Ariele and Chris’s work, I wasn’t sure if “going indie” was for me. The idea percolated throughout that winter, the fallow time for an archaeologist. I phoned my best friend and critique partner the first week in January: “Let’s start a publishing company.”
Amphibian Press is dedicated to authentic stories, refusing to listen to the gate-keepers. Our writing and friendship weathered my divorce and diagnosis of a chronic illness, and countless seedy hotel rooms as I traveled to archaeological sites, stories in tow. And then the story birthed on my bedroom floor became my award-winning debut, Smoke and Rain.
Characters like me–who look and love differently, whose minds and bodies don’t work like most–remain my constant, and the drive behind my work as an archaeologist is the same inspiration for my writing. I’m searching for the truth in the story, the why and how of humans, whether 15,000 years in the past or on another planet.
I have many dreams about what the next few years will bring and I can’t wait to pour those experiences into Nel Bently’s adventures and the twisting, changing landscape of the Reforged universe. For now, I’ll keep digging.
Explore V’s complex and lyrical worlds in the fantasy quartet Reforged and her archaeological sci-fi series, the Nel Bently Books.
Smoke and Rain (Blood of Titans: Reforged 1)
What happens when heroes are as broken as the world they must reforge?
Travelers (Starsedge: Nel Bently Book 1)
No one fights dirtier than an archaeologist
V. S. Holmes is a gender-queer science fiction and fantasy author. She has written the REFORGED series and the NEL BENTLY BOOKS. Smoke and Rain, the first book in her fantasy quartet, won New Apple Literary’s Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in 2015.