Tonight we have the very cool Holly Gonzalez with us. Holly, whose novel Perfect World Somewhere came out last year, has several more projects lined up for 2016: a decopunk novel and a weird western trilogy. Pull up a chair and listen in as she reveals which punk genre she fell for first, what inspires her as a creative, and which underrepresented punk genre she thinks is the bees knees.
I was born and raised in California, though I’ve lived in Spokane, Washington now for almost eight years. I love the mountains, and the Pacific Northwest is the perfect home for me. I’ve been married for coming on eighteen years to my soulmate and partner in creative crime, Stephen. We have a fat, spoiled tuxedo cat named Vincent who rules our world. Some of my favorite things to do besides writing are hiking, horseback riding, going out to the pub with friends, taking long walks at night, vintage fashion and movies, music, and almost all things science fiction.
What road did you walk to become a writer/artist?
I’ve been a writer and visual artist for most of my life, and began making my own illustrated stories when I was around six or seven. I loved to read as a kid, and you could always find me at the library, or with a stack of books in hand. I moved on to writing poetry and sappy romantic fantasies in my teen years. By the time I was in my twenties, I started working on my first ‘serious’ project, a weird western/dark fantasy story. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I only dabbled with it for several years. I finished a few short stories here and there. My real breakthrough came in 2014, when I had a setback at my job. Tired of working for dead-end disappointments, I vowed to write seriously from that day on, with the ultimate goal of getting published. In a year and a half, I’ve now self-published a novel, several short stories, finished the first drafts of my weird western trilogy and a decopunk novel, and am now focused on getting them polished up and ready to pitch to agents. It’s been a long, hard crawl to get to this point, but it’s been endlessly rewarding.
Have you always been interested in punk fiction or is this a recent development in your life?
I’ve been interested in punk fiction specifically since I discovered Neal Stephenson and William Gibson in my twenties, but I can trace my love for ‘punk’ related material to when I first saw the movie “Blade Runner” as a kid. Cyberpunk was my first love, and is still one of my favorites to read and write. Almost all of my ‘punk stories have some element of cyberpunk woven into them. In November of 2014, I learned about the more obscure sub-genres of dieselpunk, decopunk, and atompunk. These are the basis of my current retro-future series, “The Family Of Earth”.
How did you end up getting involved with the Writerpunk group and Writerpunk Press?
I met Shawn Cosby through a dieselpunk group I admin on Facebook, and found information on the Shakespeare anthologies through his page. I was so excited to find this group, as up to that point ‘punk writers were kind of a rare breed in my circles. I started brainstorming a story for the current anthology right away.
What anthology are you helping with or hoping to help with?
I’ve submitted a decopunk retelling of “Annabel Lee” for the upcoming Poe anthology, which has been a lot of fun to write.
What inspired you to work on this specific project?
I’ve loved Edgar Allen Poe since I was in grade school, and I couldn’t resist taking part in an anthology devoted to ‘punking his work. “Annabel Lee” has always been one of my favorite poems. I studied it for ideas, and the themes of ‘envious angels’ and ‘devils under the sea’ captured my attention. The more I let my imagination run with it, the more detailed and exciting the world became. I’ve been working on a serial decopunk story on Wattpad for several months now, and decopunk is so rarely represented, so I chose this as the sub-genre. The Kingdom By The Sea became a gleaming, retro-futuristic 1920s-style city ruled by tyrannical angelic overlords. Elements of cyberpunk, fantasy, and noir also wove themselves into the tale. I hope others will enjoy reading it.
What it is about the punk genre that inspires you as a creative?
I love most forms of speculative fiction, and crossing genres. I’m also obsessed with retro-futurism, blending historical aesthetics with futuristic settings and technology. The ‘punk genre encompasses all of that. I also like the raw and gritty edge of punk in general, and the sense of rebellion. To me, anything ‘punk needs to have a do-it-yourself, finger in the face of the status quo feel to it. I’ve always been a goth at heart, but ‘punk resonates deeply with me as well.
Of all the various *punk genres and subgenres, which one would you like to live?
Though I’m obviously a deco-phile, I’d love to live in an atompunk/raygun gothic type of universe. Rayguns, bubble helmets, and shiny riveted rocketships would just be too much fun. I have an atompunk trilogy in the works, which I’m co-writing with my husband. Once I finish the deco side of the series with my upcoming novel, “Ruby Descent”, we plan to start writing the first draft.
Can you tell us a bit about some of the people that influence you the most?
My husband is my biggest inspiration. He’s my sounding board for new ideas, and my guinea pig beta reader. He always gives me solid and objective feedback, which I’m so grateful for. I’m also influenced by various writers. Some of my favorites are Anne Rice, Neil Gaiman, David Zindell, Clive Barker, H.P. Lovecraft, and many more.
Do you have a set routine when you work?
I must have music on, usually from a playlist I’ve made for the project at hand. I also light candles and incense to help set the mood. Killing online distractions like social media is important, too. Facebook is the nemesis of word count.
What is your favorite genre to read/write?
Definitely science fiction, with fantasy being a close second.
Do you have any work published outside of Writerpunk Press?
I have a self-published novel available through Smashwords or Createspace, and I have several short stories and poetry up on various sites. A good sampling of my current work is also on Wattpad. I’m so addicted to that website. My over-arching goal for this year is to get “Ruby Descent” ready to pitch to agents, and try to land a book deal.
What is your life like when you aren’t being one of those weird creative types?
Pretty down to Earth, actually. I’m really a homebody, but I do enjoy going out to eat, or for beers with friends. I like the outdoors, and like taking pictures of the place I explore. My husband and I spend a lot of time together. We love sneaking out for walks late at night, when the stars are out, and the streets are blissfully quiet.
What you have taken away from working with Writerpunk Press and the Writerpunk Facebook group?
This is the first time I’ve submitted anything to an anthology, and the first time I’ve ‘officially’ worked with editors. It’s been a great intro to the process. I’ve also loved seeing a bunch of ‘punk genre writers banding together to help such a great cause. Truly inspiring.
Do you have anything else you want to tell our adoring public or add to this interview in any way?
Reading is one of the greatest joys in life. Do everything you can to encourage the love of reading, both in yourself and others. For those of us who also write, reading is the most important way to learn the craft and better ourselves.
We agree! On that note, if you’re looking for something new to read, Holly has free stories available on Wattpad. If you’re interested in learning more about Holly’s projects, be sure to connect with her via Twitter, Facebook, or on her blog.