Holly J. Martin’s mother always told her she was in love with love. And guess what, she was right! After all, what is more, exciting than a crush? When Holly isn’t writing steamy, crush-worthy romance novels, she can be found running (she has several marathons under her belt), reading steamy romances (of course), enjoying a glass of wine with her husband (always her favorite crush), or binging on Netflix. As our Author of the Day, she tells us about her book, Princess.
Please give us a short introduction to what Princess is about.
Princess is a coming-of-age story about a young woman named Jack Elsie Johnson from Maine. She is the youngest child and only daughter of a family of ten siblings. Her mother died the day she was born so she was brought up by her father David, her nine brothers, and a French nanny that was her mother’s best friend. She was of course doted on at home and a little wild from growing up with all boys. The summer before her eighteenth birthday she and Jared Ross, a good friend of her brothers, fall in love. Her father discovers the relationship between his only daughter and the family friend “who is like another son.” David strongly disapproves, and suddenly Jack’s life is turned upside down when she is sent away by her father to a sinister halfway house for “wayward teenagers.” She ends up running away from the halfway house after being beaten almost to death, and that’s where her journey really begins as she learns to survive and thrive. Jack makes unlikely friends and forms a new family. Her father and brothers never stop looking for her, especially the love of her young life, Jared. When they finally find each other again, they must all face the pain of what happened seemingly an eternity ago before they can start to heal.
What inspired you to write about someone who escapes from an abusive halfway house?
I worked in the court system for seventeen years and I witnessed juveniles being sent to such facilities. Some were rough street kids, and some were simply naïve kids who had made a bad decision. I would guess that being sent to a juvenile detention center or a halfway house for wayward teenagers would be a nightmare for any teenager. And Jack Elsie Johnson is about a naïve as they come after being treated like a princess for her entire life. Her life takes a very cruel turn as she begins to navigate the real world.
Tell us more about Jack Elsie Johnson. What makes her tick?
Jack is a sweet and trusting girl. She is almost six feet tall and excruciatingly thin. She is very self -conscious and quite awkward around anyone not in her immediate family. She is also a genius savant regarding music. She considers herself an outcast but happily so. She had no desire to become like the mean girls that date her brothers, and she had little in common with females her age. But the flip side to her sweetness is that she was brought up a in a male-dominated household and coupled with her wild side, she is quite fearless.
Why Romance? What drew you to the genre?
I have had a book in my face from my earliest memories. I read everything from Nancy Drew to Little House on the Prairie. But when I reached puberty, I fell in love with teen romances. The more angst the better. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
When I was thirty, I wanted to lose the weight I had gained from having my two children so I took up running. I worked full time so I would get up at 4 a.m. to hit the pavement so I could get back and get ready for work along with getting my brood off to school. I’ve run countless 5k, 10k, half marathons and three full marathons. (The first took place in Las Vegas and involved running the Strip at night!).
Why did you pick Harmony, Maine as the backdrop for this story?
I actually grew up camping every summer in Harmony, Maine with my grandparents. Everything that is talked about in my books about camp is drawn from my own experiences. It’s a magical place.
Who is Jared Ross and what makes him so special?
Jared Ross grew up with the Johnson Family. He was their “summer brother” and best friends with Jack’s twin brothers, Ty and Bobby. He tried to fight the feelings he started having for Jack when she turned sixteen and he was in college. He was even warned by Jack’s father to stay away from his daughter. Their love was real and strong but it almost destroyed them both. In the end, it was what saved them.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
Yes. Jack’s brothers are larger than life and the sibling fighting and the loyalty they have towards each other is heartwarming and funny. Sometimes I never knew what the brothers would say or do. For most of my life I was an only child so big families always fascinated me. The interactions between the siblings are my favorite parts of the Johnson Family.
This is book 1 of a series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this?
This is a ten-book series and every book is a standalone novel. Book 1 is Jack Elsie Johnson’s story in which you meet all the brothers. After book 1, each brother gets his own standalone book. There are no cliffhangers, so you can read them in any order.
Interesting cover. Tell us more about how it came to about.
I work with Nate Allison from Hidden Gems. He is amazing. I email him a few specifics about the book and what the characters look like in my mind and he takes it from there and knocks it out of the park. He is the graphic designer for all ten books. (Only six are out now.)
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I create my stories when I’m running. As soon as I get back inside my house, I grab my notebook and write as fast as I can so I won’t forget anything! As far as an average writing day, I don’t have one yet. I still work full time at the State House in Maine but I am getting done after 27 years to write full time. I’m very excited and nervous about the life change.
What are you working on right now?
I finished my Johnson Family series and now I’m working on a standalone romance about a bartender and assassin. Wink.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I have a website that I post every new book launch and it also has a sign-up for a newsletter to get updates and thoughts from me a couple of times a month. https://hollyjmartin.com/
The other forms of social media I participate in are as follows: